This is the time of year when writers and editors put up posts detailing their award-eligible work from the year now passed. And although I wrote about twenty stories in 2011, I didn’t submit anything until near the end of the year, so there’s nothing of my own that’s eligible for anything.
(I did contribute to K. Sekelsky‘s wonderful book The Time Traveler’s Pocket Guide, which was published in 2011. Don’t let the fact that she’s my fiancee dissuade you from checking out the book. It’s a funny illustrated guide to time travel and a perfect gift for science-fiction fans.)
But despite my own paucity of publications, I can at least recommend some fine stories that I read in 2011. I’d be very surprised if these didn’t end up on some of ballots I’m filling out this year.
Novelette: “Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz. I can’t always make time to read the long stories at GigaNotoSaurus. But this was a recommendation that I saw elsewhere, and I’m really glad I made the time for this one. Somewhere, I saw Ferrett describe this story as “Little House on the Prairie on a space station”, which is such a perfect tagline that I can’t add anything else to it.
Short Story: “Chrestomathy” by Anatoly Belilovsky. This was the first of Anatoly’s stories that I read, and it blew me away. It’s an alternate history of a world where Pushkin didn’t die in his fateful duel, and is told via a collection of excerpts from others he influenced. After reading this, I went and read as much of Anatoly’s work as I could get my hands on (in addition to Ideomancer, you’ll find his name in Stupefying Stories and Kasma SF), and I’ve loved it all.
Flash fiction: “Like Origami in Water” by Damien Walters Grintalis. I don’t know of any major awards that have a separate category for flash fiction, and I’m not going to argue right now that they should. (But maybe?) But the weekday flash stories from Daily Science Fiction have become almost a morning ritual for me. As soon as I read this one, I immediately wished that I thought of the idea — but if I had, I doubt I could have executed it half so well.
Not that this really matters, but I didn’t know Ferrett, Anatoly, or Damien before I read these stories. I have talked (electronically) to each of them since then — mostly just to say “Your story is awesome!” — but you can be sure these are the recommendations of a fan with no ulterior motives.
I should also add that I read plenty of other worthy stories in 2011 that will be rounding out the rest of my nominations for the Nebulas and Hugos. But in the interest of keeping this list manageable, I decided to stick with these three, which now rank among my favorite stories of any year. Let me know in the comments what other great stories I may have missed!