2009: The Year in Short Stories

Most of the published short stories (as opposed to drafts of friends’ stories) I read in 2009 were from online magazines.

I read them on my computer or downloaded them to my Palm Pilot and read (or listened to) them while I was commuting.  I noticed that I’ve got less patience with stories I read in electronic format.  If I’m sitting down with a book, I’ll generally give a story more of a chance.  But with stories in electronic format, if they haven’t grabbed me by the first paragraph, I’m likely to discard them and move on to the next one.

I didn’t read any original anthologies last year.  I just got my hands on Eclipse 3, The New Space Opera 2 and The Apex Book of World SF and am looking forward to reading them this year.

Here are my ten favorite short stories I read in 2009 (several of them were published a few years ago).

Death and Suffrage
Dale Bailey
The dead have risen and are voting democrat.  Funny and moving.

Shoggoths in Bloom
Elizabeth Bear
Winner of the 2009 Hugo for best novelette.  An interesting and thoughtful blend of Cthulhu mythos and race relations.

The Tale of Junko and Sayuri
Peter S. Beagle
A slow-paced, but carefully drawn tale of mythical creatures in ancient Japan.

Ted Chiang
Along with Greg Egan, Ted Chiang is my favorite short story writer.  I don’t think there is anyone else that compares with the sheer granduer of Egan’s and Chiang’s ideas.  Exhalation won the 2009 Hugo for best short story.  It’s a bit drier and slower than some of Chiang’s other stories, but still contains some remarkable ideas.

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast

Eugie Foster
Manages to successfully pack a whole range of interesting world-building ideas into a short story.

A Study in Emerald
Neil Gaiman
Sherlock Holmes versus Cthulhu.  What’s not to love?

Neil Gaiman
A quirky, fun story in an unusual format.

Article of Faith
Mike Resnick
A robot wants to know why he is excluded from the church’s congregation.

The Death of Che Guevara
Lewis Shiner
A thoughtful alternate world history story speculating on what might have happened if Che didn’t die in Bolivia.  I loved it, but I suspect that if you’re not familiar with Che’s history, a lot of the story might be lost on you.

From Babel’s Fallen Glory We Fled
Michael Swanwick
A well-crafted story with interesting aliens and technology.

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