It’s a grand time to be a fan of short-form speculative literature. There are dozens of magazines, many of which are consistently amazing, publishing hundreds of stories on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Here’s the problem: there are dozens of magazines, publishing hundreds of stories.

It’s not possible to read every story that comes out, but you also don’t want to miss the good ones, right? “Best Of” anthologies help with that, but those aren’t out until the next year. Plus, have you noticed how overly white and male the editors of those anthos are? Not a knock, just an observation.

Here at io9 I have my regular fiction recommendation column (do you read it? You should!) where I signal boost the stories I like. I am still only one reviewer, and there are still hundreds of stories.

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Thus I’m implementing a new quarterly Best Of The Year (So Far) column wherein I invite both io9 readers and folks who review short stories on a regular to list their top recommendations. Since it’s the end of June and thus right at the mid-year mark, I figure this is a good time to get started.

This time around I asked Brit Mandelo, Charlotte Ashley, Amal El-Mohtar, and Terry Weyna to join us. I gave them the difficult task of picking three or four favorite fictions and I did the same (except I cheated and picked five).

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Here are my picks for best of the year so far:

Sacred Cows: Death and Squalor on the Rio Grande by A.S. Diev | Giganotosaurus [my review]

Entanglements by David Gerrold | The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (May/June 2015) [my review]

Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar | Lightspeed Magazine: Queers Destroy SF! [my review]

These Eyes Are Not My Own by Jennifer Nestojko | Crossed Genres Magazine [my review]

The Great Silence by Allora & Calzadilla & Ted Chiang | e-flux journal [my review]


Brit Mandelo is one of the curators of Tor’s Short Fiction Spotlight, reviews and discussions of sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative short stories, novellas, and novelletes in the U.S. and abroad. She is a writer, critic, and editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide.

Brit’s picks for best of the year so far:

Tin Cans by Ekaterina Sedia | Weird Fiction Review [Brit’s review]

“even though it’s super, super dark”

Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu | Uncanny Magazine [Brit’s Review]

A Shot of Salt Water by Lisa L. Hannett | The Dark [Brit’s review]


Charlotte Ashley curates Clavis Aurea, a biweekly short story review column at Apex Magazine. She’s a writer, editor, critic & bookseller in Toronto, Canada. In addition to her gig at Apex (where she is also Reprints Editor), she has reviewed for ChiZine.com, The Quill & Quire and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find her on Twitter @CharlotteAshley or at her blog.

Charlotte’s picks for best of the year so far:

Planet Lion by Catherynne M. Valente | Uncanny Magazine [Charlotte’s review]

Wild Things Got to Go Free by Heather Clitheroe | Beneath Ceaseless Skies [Charlotte’s review]

Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer | Clarkesworld [Charlotte’s review]


Amal El-Mohtar, an author, editor and academic, writes in-depth reviews of short stories in her column Rich & Strange at Tor.com. You can read her other fiction reviews on NPR Books and Lightspeed Magazine.

Amal’s picks for best of the year:

The Heat of Us: Notes Toward An Oral History by Sam J. Miller | Uncanny Magazine

“I found this short story even more impressive than “We Are the Cloud” in its execution, pace, and use of voice. I love reading Miller make fantasy out of collective action, seeing super powers not in individuals, but in mobilisations of community. I recommend listening to CSE Cooney’s reading of it as well.”

And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander | Lightspeed Magazine [Amal’s review]

The New Mother by E. J. Fischer | Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine [Amal’s review]

The Boatman’s Cure by Sonya Taaffe in her collection Ghost Signs [Amal’s review]

In Loco Parentis by Andrea Phillips | Escape Pod [Amal’s review]


Terry Weyna is a reviewer for Fantasy Literature. In her Magazine Monday series she writes about science fiction, fantasy and horror magazines with a focus on short fiction.

Terry’s picks for best of the year so far:

Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu | Uncanny Magazine [Terry’s review]

Meshed by Rich Larson | Clarkesworld [Terry’s review]

The Sixth Day by Sylvia Anne Hiven | Beneath Ceaseless Skies [Terry’s review]

Cult by Brian Evenson | Nightmare Magazine [Terry’s review]


Your turn, io9 readers: which stories did you read this year that completely blew you away and, should you have the ability to nominate them for major awards, you would do so without hesitation? The comments section is yours!

Top image: Galen Dara artwork for “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail of Dead.”