January is the time for looking back and looking forwards – it’s when people blog about what they’ve read and enjoyed, when reading lists appear and when “best of” anthologies are finalised.
In the last few years, I’ve singled out one story annually- previously “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley, “Signs of the Times” by Carole Johnstone and “Ptichka” by Laura Mauro.
I have to admit that I’m woefully behind with my reading but of what I have read from 2015, a few things spring to mind immediately.
I have to confess a bias in that Cate Gardner is my friend but I do genuinely admire her work which is steeped in darkness, loss and grief. She has a unique take on the world. “The Bureau of Them” is her novella, published by Spectral Press. Black Static has featured her short stories this year, including “When the Moon Man Knocks” in Issue 48.
In that same issue of Black Static was “The Suffering” by Steven J. Dines. I’ve always enjoyed his writing but I hope he’ll forgive me for saying that there’s been a change in what he’s had published this year. It feels raw and heartfelt, as if he’s struck a particularly rich vein of inner-strange that’s enriched his fiction. I think it heralds more exciting things to come. I know many people would pick his other story – “So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words” (Black Static , Issue 46) but I’m going with “The Suffering” because it’s unrelenting in its horror.
The final story is pure fantasy- “The Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson, which can be read in its entirety here. What appears initially to be a frothy historical drama is a tale of self interest and ambition versus responsibility and love. Kelly Robson pulls off the fantastic elements with aplomb. It’s already appeared on many reading lists.
Gardner Dozois has included her other excellent story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill”, in his upcoming Year’s Best Science Fiction (Thirty-third Annual Collection). This first appeared on the Clarkesworld website.
As to my own stuff, a lot of people have been very kind about “Fabulous Beasts”, so thank you for the support.