Favorite 2018 Short Stories

by Cam N. Coulter


Posted on January 19, 2019 reading


Photo of an open book with a pair of glasses on top

Last year, I wrote a short fiction review column for Skiffy and Fanty. By my count, I read almost 300 pieces of short fiction originally published in 2018. There’s also an uncounted number of short stories that I started reading but didn’t finish. I also read one anthology and one collection of short stories that were published before 2018, both of which were awesome.

It turns out I definitely have favorite magazines and authors and themes.

Magazines. Uncanny Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine reliably published stories I loved. I really loved Capricious and Anathema as well.

Authors. With any of these authors, it was a safe bet that I’d love the story: Bogi Takács, Carrie Vaughn, Katharine Duckett, A. Merc Rustad, Nino Cipri, and K.M. Szpara.

Themes. As you’ll notice below, the bulk of stories that resonated with me were feminist and represented QUILTBAG+ characters. Other themes that resonated with me included dis/ability, community, religion.

Here are my favorite pieces of short fiction that were originally published in 2018:

You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can’t Help Me” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny Magazine Issue 23) – MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE YEAR! About family, found family, dinosaurs, and a trans romance. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

“Volatile Patterns” by Bogi Takács (Capricious Issue 9: Gender Diverse Pronouns) – a SFnal take on cultural appropriation of dress that kinda feels like Star Wars meets Ann Leckie. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Sandals Full of Rainwater” by A.E. Prevost (Capricious Issue 9: Gender Diverse Pronouns) – if you’re interested in linguistics, worldbuilding, immigration, and/or gender, read this. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

“Phaser” by Cameron Van Sant (Capricious Issue 9: Gender Diverse Pronouns) – a wild, funny story that’s also a sophisticated take on the complexities of gender identity. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Four-Point Affective Calibration” by Bogi Takács (Lightspeed Magazine Issue 93) – an engaging and beautiful story about aliens, immigration, communication, and being understood. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Where Would You Be Now?” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com) – a prequel to Carrie Vaughn’s awesome Coast Road series that’s about rebuilding a better world after an apocalypse. Feminist, concerned with birth control, and features a queer romance.

Graveyard Girls on Paper Phoenix Wings” by Andrea Tang (Glittership) – an awesome story about a trans girl finding herself, finding acceptance and love, and finding her people at a cemetery that’s haunted by gossiping ghosts. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Assistance” by Kathryn DeFazio (Escape Pod) – a mundane yet moving story about a nonbinary person with anxiety who’s emotionally supported by an assistive android. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Don’t Pack Hope” by Emma Osborne (Nightmare Magazine) – short, powerful tale + zombie apocalypse + trans perspective.

Sucks (to Be You)” by Katharine Duckett (Uncanny Magazine Issue 22) – social media succubus! (Reviewed in more detail here.)

One Day, My Dear, I’ll Shower You with Rubies” by Langley Hyde (PodCastle) – a genocidal wizard is put on trial years after the war, and his daughter is called to testify against him. She won’t forgive him, and he won’t apologize. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

I Sing Against the Silent Sun” by A. Merc Rustad and Ada Hoffman (Lightspeed Magazine Issue 97) – if you like space opera and poetry, read this. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

In the End, It Always Turns Out the Same” by A.C. Wise (The Dark Issue 37) – a smart, dark take on the Scooby Doo formula. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Every Good-bye Ain’t Gone” by Eden Royce (Strange Horizons) – a séance wherein spirits are summoned not by crystal balls or ouiji boards but rather with food. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Dead Air” by Nino Cipri (Nightmare Magazine Issue 71) – a fascinating, haunting audio transcript. Nita’s working on a sociologically-influenced art project. “It’s an ethnography of the people I fuck.” That’s what Nita tells Maddie, her latest … interviewee. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Versions of the Sun” by A.J. Hammer (Anathema Issue 5) – a fascinating, beautiful take on prophecy, destiny, and rebellion. If you like stories about religion or stories that interrogate the trope of “the chosen one,” read this. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

Maria’s Children” by Tobi Ogundiran (The Dark Issue 40) – a tough, powerful story about toxic masculinity and patriarchy. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

“Nation Building and Baptism” by Octavia Cade (Capricious Issue 10) – following climate disasters, the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand are welcoming refugees and building a nation dedicated to conversation. A warm, hopeful tale. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

How to Identify an Alien Shark” by Beth Goder (Fireside Fiction) – flash fiction about an ECONOMIST ALIEN SHARK INVASION :D

The House on the Moon” by William Alexander (Uncanny Magazine Issue 24: Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction!) – a lighthearted yet serious story about disability. What’s the best way to illustrate the constructedness of (dis)ability? Move a European castle onto the moon. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sandelson by Margaret Killjoy (Strange Horizons) – a fun, powerful, and heartbreaking story about trolling, capitalism, and immigration.

Talk to Your Children about Two-Tongued Jeremy” by Theodore McCombs (Lightspeed Magazine Issue 102) – It turns out that Two-Tongued Jeremy, the latest study app, can be terribly abusive to middle schoolers. A smart and challenging story about capitalism, exploitation/manipulation, parenting, and success. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

How to Swallow the Moon” by Isabel Yap (Uncanny Magazine Issue 25) – This lovely novelette features a moving queer romance, a rad monster, and wonderful Filipino-inspired worldbuilding. (Reviewed in more detail here.)

The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine Issue 25) – a ghost story about a folklorist studying ghost stories.

The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine Issue 25) – a hilarious reversal in which an array of seductive mythical beasts find themselves pining after a young woman.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash


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