MY AWARDS ELIGIBILITY POST FOR 2022

This has been *a year* hasn’t it? I am still grateful for all the thing I managed to achieve. And there were some new and exciting ones! I sold four stories to different publications (some publications were new for me!) and even had the pleasure to write a story for the Wordcraft Writers Workshop powered by Google! Writing Worm-Mothers was a unique experience and I am humbled by the amazing group of authors who took part in the workshop.

Currently, I am guest-editing the Dread issue of Apparition Lit with Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas. The Apparition Team is a dream to work with and very patient as we learn the ropes of the magazine.

Since not all my stories are out yet–there is a story in the Deadlands that I am super excited to share with you at the end of the year–I will be updating the last entry later with a link. But for now here are the stories I published this year. I hope you’ll find something you like. Let’s go!

Here are the stories I published this year and are eligible for awards:

Of the Body – short story – 4300 words – Beneath Ceaseless Skies, issue #365

Sali and Osarah are going to have a baby together, but first they have to hunt and kill the animal that is pregnant with it.

This one started out mostly with vibes. I had the image of a dead deer with a newborn human baby inside it. This thought was so alien to me, so strange, that I had to make it either a far future science fantasy or some secondary world set on another planet. To be honest, more than half of the story is still in my head, and there is more science fiction in there than what’s on the paper. Perhaps in the future there is a novella or two to be found in there. This story is on the Nebula Recommended Reading List!

“What if, I think. What if she is both? She is of the Body, like all of us, and she belongs to it as much as all of us. She could belong to two different worlds. In the end, they are still one.”

Bonesoup – short story – 2400 words – Strange Horizons

Dina’s grandmother never lets her have sweets, yet she cooks up a storm for the other children in the neighborhood. A story about family, food, intergenerational trauma, and a cannibal granny!

Bonesoup_SiteThis story poured out of me one night almost completely formed. It’s a sort of heartwarming horror version of the witch from Hansel and Gretel with a lot of Greek family dynamics and intergenerational trauma thrown in the mix. I am still absolutely in love with the illustration Dante Luiz made for it and that’s why I used it as a featured image. This story is also on the Nebula Recommended Reading List!

“For a moment—perhaps it was my sweet-tooth brain—she looked mostly made of custard, her eyes were two pastel blue candied almonds, her chin was a shortbread biscuit. But parts of her were still meat. Her hair was black, and slick down her shoulders like always. I looked away and the image was gone.”

This Village – flash fiction – 800 words – Uncanny Magazine, issue #46

The unnamed narrator crossed a path and found themselves in a village unlike any other before.

Triantafyllou Issue 46 Story Tile

This story sprang from a Codex writing contest, during Week 3 and I am really glad that it did. It might be small but I found that people enjoyed reading a piece of hopeful fiction at a time when the news were not good at all. Very proud of this little story.

“There is always a trail wherever you live. You just have to find it. If you peer through an opening framed by two linden trees. If you follow the foam of the waves on a cold night. If you are not afraid to crawl into the long narrow caves that open like mouths on jagged rocks. You will see them. They all lead here. To this village.”

A Harvest of Bones – short story – 2700 words – The Deadlands

In a village ravaged by war, soldiers come to take away sons and husbands. This is the last night, the night the women must decide what to do. How will these bones they unearthed help them?

This story is an older one of mine. It had many near misses in the submission process and I am very happy it has finally found its home. It is dear to my heart because of the weird premise and coincidentally it features another cannibal granny! I swear I wasn’t doing it on purpose before but now I might start to…

““This is not a cemetery, it’s a bone garden,” Nana said. “Don’t let the stones fool you. These were added later by priests and nuns who didn’t know any better.” She spat on the hard ground as if the stone were an affront to her and grabbed her pickax. “The dead don’t rest here. They are only waiting.””

Thank you for taking this journey through my year. If you enjoyed any of these stories it would be an honor if you voted for them for awards. I hope the new year bring stability and hope to all of us.

Worm-mothers – Google’s Wordcraft Writers Workshop

Would you still love me if my story was a worm?

The cat is out of the bag! I was part of a group of 13 author to write with Google’s Wordcraft (one of the latest generation of large language models). Wordcraft is one of the largest language models, trained with a massive amount of text into predicting the words that will follow or perform a series of tasks the author instructs it to do using prompts with specific parameters.

The story I wrote is called “Worm-Mothers” and it’s as weird as it sounds. 😆 It’s about a world with strange creatures, demanding strange sacrifices.

Each author created a diverse array of stories and engaged with Wordcraft in their own unique ways. For me, the process was more or less having fun and playing around with the tool while I familiarized myself with its interface and what it could do. It turns out in my particular case Wordcraft was used in two ways: 1) For brainstorming purposes, giving me the initial seed of an idea. The weirder the better. 2) For worldbuilding and honing details on the nature of the creatures in my story.

For other writers it was a poetry generator or a research tool, for others is was a problem-solving companion. It was, of course, not perfect as it needs the user to guide it and select the fitting parts to incorporate in a story, but it was still a fascinating experiment with a machine learning writer.

The “Worm-Mothers” got a shout-out at CNET which is pretty cool! I hope you will read and enjoy that little story.


You can read the stories and learn more about Wordcraft here.

Dizziness of Freedom

Brief Notes on Dread

 

This is a companion piece to Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas‘s post A Door into the Uncertain. It’s like a nesting doll of dark delights, and if you click on either of us the other one pops out too! In a non-scary way of course…

The Apparition Lit team has decided to extend Halloween season for all of us well into November! Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas and I are guest-editing the Dread issue, which opens for submissions November 15-30. Thank you for this dreadful/wonderful gift Apparition Team! Apparition Lit’s initiative to work with different guest editors in order to showcase different perspectives on storytelling and different authors/editors is one to look up to. With Nelly we go back to 2019 Clarion West class. I always admired her inventiveness when it came to story telling and the ease with which she can evoke dread in just a couple of sentences. So this is a dream coming true for all of us! 

Dread, unlike a jump scare is not a fleeting moment. It is a steady and increasing condition of unease. A house of wrongness built with uncertainty. For me, uncertainty plays a great part in the buildup of dread. It’s when you know something really bad is about to happen but you can’t explain how you know. And not being able to explain it keeps you always alert, always waiting. The tension never releases. And that’s when the story pulls the rug out from under your feet.

We walk around the world looking for signs of danger, of impending doom, personal or collective. It’s a survival thing. But sometimes these signs are not tangible or quantifiable. Sometimes the wrong thing can just be a familiar face smiling at you the wrong way. Or an object left somewhere it shouldn’t have been. A smell that takes you back to some dark place you had forgotten.

Dread is realizing every ghost story you ever been told is true, because the past is coming to haunt you. It’s already haunting you. It’s not personal. It is just history written with the blood of the innocent, just like in “Laal Andhi,” by Usman T. Malik.

Other times it is personal. Like in “Sharp Things, Killing Things,” by A.C. Wise. Sometimes what comes to haunt you is something that’s been coming for a long time. It’s because of something you did, or something you think you did but you are not sure. The dread comes from slowly realizing what you were capable of all this time. That you are both the victim and the monster of your own story.

Dread can be not recognizing your best friend. The person you’ve been to Hell and back with and now you are not sure if they are even human anymore or if they are something else. Something containing a piece of Hell within, just like in “The Blood Drip,” by Brian Evenson.

And sometimes like in Ian Muneshwar’s “Dick Pig,” dread can be a literal house of wrongness that you can’t stop from going deeper and deeper inside. And when you finally reach its guts, you know that’s where you’re meant to be all along. The dread stops being yours and belongs, perhaps, only to the reader.

I want to know your definition of dread. What keeps you on edge. What are the monsters that you check for every time you enter a dark room, and how do they torment you? Lure me into your own version of unreality and let me be both uneasy and glad to be there.

 

NEW STORY OUT: OF THE BODY

So stocked to announce that my first publication in Beneath Ceaseless Skies is out! “Of the Body” is a fantasy story set in a world where animals carry and give birth to human babies. Sali and Osarah are going to have a baby together, but first they have to hunt and kill the animal that is pregnant with it.

It’s a story about a family’s persistence, the symbiotic relationship of human and nature, community, and adaptation. It’s in the wonderful company of Adam R. Shannon‘s story “Five Aspects of River and Sky”, a story that also deals with themes of human vs nature, adaptation and moving forward. I couldn’t have asked for a better story-match.

I wrote this story at the beginning of 2021. I stumbled upon a prompt about a dead deer and a human baby on Codex Writers’ Forum and things just clicked in my mind. I wanted a world where things where so interconnected to each other that humans would be born of animals. And I wanted people to still be stubborn and still make mistakes when it came to their relationship with nature. Because humans don’t learn easy.

Many questions were born from this idea. What would happen to the humans then? Would they find their way to each other despite being born of a different species? And if they did, how would they then view their animal mothers? Who did the babies really belong to? A considerable amount of denial would have to exist for them to not recognize that in fact they were part of both worlds. And so this story with one of the wildest premises I’ve written was born.

We arrived to this world, fresh and ignorant, and stood separate from it. All living things shared one single breath. It was the Body revealing itself to our ancestors. We stood on top of the Body, walked around it, dove into its guts, yet we did not see it.

This story was a bit out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed stretching my writer’s muscles. If you want to listen to the story here is the Podcast version of it. I hope you like it! 

NEW STORY OUT: BONESOUP

 

My story “Bonesoup” is out in the new issue of Strange Horizons! This is my second appearance in a magazine I really love and I am so excited! 

The amazing Dante Luiz picked my story and created a gorgeous and chilling illustration based on it. It’s the one you see as a featured image at the top. I just can’t stop staring at it and finding new details that fit my story’s themes so well. 

The story sprung from a strange thought I had one night (more like super early morning…) about the Witch from Hansel and Gretel having children of her own, and what if these children carried on the cannibalistic tradition. It was not meant to be set in the modern-day, rather than set in some unspecified place that had a Middle Ages/fairytale feel. What happened, of course, was that the minute I sat down to write the story it became a modern-day Greek story about a grandmother trying to feed her granddaughter “good food” with references to the Greek Famine, and the occupation syndrome, and all the baggage the past carries. 

 

For a moment—perhaps it was my sweet-tooth brain—she looked mostly made of custard, her eyes were two pastel blue candied almonds, her chin was a shortbread biscuit. But parts of her were still meat.

 

This is a dark story that invokes a lot of uneasiness, but underneath it all there is love that binds the family of the story together. Food is love after all. I hope this story resonates with you. 

 

NEW STORY OUT: THIS VILLAGE

Wall of Roses by Elaine Ho

I am happy to announce that my story “This Village” is out today in Uncanny Magazine issue #46, in which features a breath-taking cover and a company of excellent writers. 

This story sprang from a Codex writing contest, during Week 3. By that time I had already written another story for the contest which turned out to be a short story instead of a flash. Then a week of no story at all. This one was a desperate attempt to actually nail the flash length after a long time of not writing any. I was so absorbed by the form that I only saw the themes the story grappled with after I had finished and had gotten the first feedback. 

The story talks about literally building your own safe space (or safe house for accuracy’s sake,) and having people urging you on and supporting you in the process. It also talks about resisting forces that might try and stop you. Someone who critiqued this story called it ominous positivity and support and I think that’s exactly what it is. 

If you peer through an opening framed by two linden trees. If you follow the foam of the waves on a cold night. If you are not afraid to crawl into the long narrow caves that open like mouths on jagged rocks. You will see them. They all lead here. To this village.

The story went out today during a very difficult time, while things already look pretty bleak around the world. I hope that anyone who needs a little positivity–even if it is the ominous kind–and finds this story, will feel a little more hopeful, or just escape for a little while in that village.  

Love, always. 

The Giants of the Violet Sea is a finalist for the Nebula Award and an Ever-Shifting Lexicon!

My novella “The Giants of the Violet Sea” is a finalist for the Nebula Awards! I did not make a blog post at the time the nominations were announced because I was so overwhelmed (again). But I am deeply honored to be nominated for a Nebula Award for a second year in a row. I really did not think it was possible so when I found out I was stunned!

Shout-out to all the wonderful fellow nominees especially fellow novella finalists. Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Aimee Ogden, Premee Mohamed, Zin E. Rocklyn, and E. Catherine Tobler. And special shout-out to the great Martha Wells who declined her nomination to make space for other voices! I am extremely honored to be on the Nebula list with all of you.

In other wonderful news, the lovely Simone Heller launched her newsletter The Ever-Shifting Lexicon. It will feature the experiences of writers who write in English as a second (third?) language. Simone was kind enough to interview me for the first installment of the newsletter and I found the response to the interview illuminating. Especially the part about remembering the sound of a word instead of the word itself and having to hunt down the actual word, seems to have hit home with a lot of ESL writers. I find writing in English far less lonely now and it is mainly because I see my experiences reflected in others. It’s wonderful and encouraging. I am excited and intrigued to read the whole series of interviews and understand how each of us experiences the same process.

If you want to read my interview which Simone very eloquently named The Musicality of Language you can click here.

I hope you can find something in there that resonates with you no matter what your first language is. Some experiences can be universal.

Two readings and New story out: Tomatoes!

The past week had been a busy one! Because of scheduling I ended up doing two readings back to back. The first reading I did was for the wonderful Story Hour, organized by the awesome Laura Blackwell and Daniel Marcus. I read my dark fantasy story “We Are Here to Be Held.” I was paired with Michelle Belanger, whose reading I enjoyed immensely, and I ended up having so much fun! The fundraiser I chose for the reading was Letjaha, a network of assistance for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. The video of our reading has been uploaded on Facebook where you can watch it without an account. It has currently amassed 4k views!

unnamedThe second reading I did was for Strong Women-Strange Worlds. This time I read a flash horror story called “Cherry Wood Coffin.” This was a lot of fun too, and I got to hear excerpts from some pretty amazing books that varied a lot genre-wise. All the readers were incredibly talented people and I am honored to have been in their company.

On to another piece of news, my short story Tomatoes is now free to read in Khōréō, issue #1.4! There is also a stunning reading of the story by the amazing Kat Kourbeti. This story was the first one I wrote during Clarion West. It happened because I had read Yoko Ogawa’s story “Tomatoes and the Full Moon” in her collection titled “Revenge” and was hellbent on writing a story that had “Tomatoes” in its title. Stephen Graham Jones was our instructor for that week and he was just the right person to help me figure out the focus and the ending of this story along with my wonderful classmates.

[Twitter]-Tomatoes-teaser

It is the story of two witch sisters as they navigate their own duty to their family at the cost of their freedom. It’s a story with Greek sensibilities, especially when it comes to families and filial duty. It’s also a story about the dangers of greed. But there’s also magic, and darkness and body horror and of course, tomatoes.

The story was reviewed at Tor Nightfire! The wonderful Aigner Loren Wilson had some nice things to say. Here is an excerpt:

Triantafyllou balances the dark in the story with the emotional pulse of a family falling apart and dying, and in the process creates a wonderfully touching account of death and love.

I hope you give this one a read and enjoy it!

Two of my stories made it on the Locus and Nerds of a Feather recommended reading lists! Also I’ll be on a Stabbycon panel!

I am thrilled to announce that both my novella The Giants of the Violet Sea and my short story How the Girls Came Home are on the Locus Recommended Reading List! It has been a privilege to have two things on this list. I still can’t believe it! 

This means that the Locus Awards are open for anyone to vote and even write in their own choices from last year! If you’d like to vote for the stories you loved last year here is the link. I would be honored if you considered any of my stories. 

Furthermore, The Giants of the Violet Sea is on the 2022 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Recommended Reading List fot the novella category! Nerds of a Feather is a 2021 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine and an awesome site all around so being included on their list makes me swell with joy. Check out their list and recommendations to discover new writers! 

Finally, I will be taking part in StabbyCon this year! StabbyCon is an online convention organized by Reddit’s r/Fantasy community and the programming is super cool! I will be on the panel Putting Your Heart on the Page: Writing from the Margins (Short Stories) with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Johannes T. Evans and John Wiswell. An awesome group of people who I am sure will have many interesting things to say. Our panel will be help on Feb 7th, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT.

Come and asks us some questions and check out all the other interesting discussions happening between Jan 31st and Feb 11th! 

AN INCOMPLETE LIST OF BEAUTIFUL STORIES (and some essays!) THAT HAVE KEPT ME COMPANY THIS YEAR (BY PUBLICATION MONTH).

This time I made the small effort to add a few words alongside the stories. There might be typos but I did my best. Thank you so much for your words everyone ❤

The Unrepentant, by Derrick Boden, in Escape Pod, (January)

This is such a roller-coaster of story. Packed with action and twists, it is also a sharp commentary on a bleak future that seems not too far off.

My Mother’s Hand, by Dante Luiz, in Constelación (January)

This is an amazing story about witchcraft, identity and bodily autonomy. A man’s hand is possessed by his witch mother’s ghost. I really loved the worldbuilding and the way the possession progresses. The ending is both cathartic and triumphant.

There, in the Woods, by Clara Madrigano, in The Dark (January)

A disturbing story about going back to a place that made you uncomfortable as a child. About feeling powerless as you slowly lose the things that shaped your identity as an adult. The feeling of doom stays with you for a long time after.

Secrets of the Kath, by Fatima Taqvi, in Strange Horizons (January)

This is a story of many layers that slowly peel away one after the other to reveal the ugly core of oppression. But the puppets know, just like the earth knows and all the women before. And now it’s the protagonist’s turn to know and to act.

From Witch to Queen and God, by L. D. Lewis, in Mermaids Monthly (January)

A gorgeous anti-colonial take on the Sea Witch with amazing characters and very smart solutions to the problems that arise. The ending was chef’s kiss.

Laughter among the Trees, by Suzan Palumbo, in The Dark (February)

A story about immigration and what it means to not fit in, but also sibling rivalry and survivor’s guilt. All these themes are woven masterfully into this chilling horror story.

The Antagonizer, by Gardner Mounce, in Hobart (February)

This one is a surreal take on the already surreal and bleak office culture. The sharp commentary is not lost but neither is the tender core of the story. 

Fanfiction for a Grimdark Universe, by Vanessa Fogg, in Translunar Travelers Lounge (February)

I just love stories inside stories, and this one is so satisfying because it offers so many different version of what this story could be in another place and another time, and what it ultimately becomes. The sweetness that reveals itself under the hard armor of war and desolation.

The Taste of Your Name, by Amal Singh, in Translunar Travelers Lounge (February)

A very strong issue of TTL! This story was a sensory feast and made me so hungry! I just love all the descriptions of taste. It is bittersweet story, but ultimately full of hope that love and family can be in balance like the tastes in a favorite dish.

The Mathematics of Fairyland, by Phoebe Barton, in Lightspeed (February)

A wonderful mix of fairytale and science fiction in way that makes the story feel fresh and compelling. It’s full of heartache and grief and how far one can go for love.

We Are Not Phoenixes, by John Wiswell, in Fireside (March)

This is such an emotional but also delicate story about end-of-life care. It’s compassionate and full of meditations on disability and how magic can being people a little closer and make life a little brighter.

Colors of the Immortal Palette, by Caroline M. Yoachim, in Uncanny (March) – novelette

I just love how this story is sectioned according to a specific color that lends its qualities to the entire period it titles. The historical details and the vividness of each period left me breathless. A story about who gets to really be immortalized through art and what representation means. Just gorgeous.

The Center of the Universe, by Nadia Shammas, in Strange Horizons (March)

This is such a smart story in a way that feels organic. It takes tropes and twists them around to reveal the wound that’s been bleeding all this time. It’s about who gets to be the protagonist of their own life. In the world we live in, many people don’t even get the chance to tell their own stories the way they chose to. Really powerful stuff that will stay with me. 

All Worlds Left Behind, by Iona Datt Sharma, in Khōréō (April)

This story rings so devastatingly true. It’s a portal story but also a diaspora story. People as the only connection one has to certain places that might become lost in time as generations come and go. Heart-rending and hopeful!

Jenny Come Up the Well, by A.C. Wise, in PodCastle (April)

This had such a beautiful imagery. Mythical creatures and humans band together to break free from injustice and intolerance. I am so glad about that ending! It was a rollercoaster to get there and it felt so well-deserved.

A House Is Not a Home, by L Chan, in Clarkesworld (April)

If “There will come soft rains” was both more optimistic and complicated and there was the moving PoV of the abandoned house, it would be this story. So, so smart!

Eighteen Days of Barbareek, by Rati Mehrota in Uncanny (April)

What an amazing piece. It drew me in from the first sentence. Dry humor contrasted with a ghastly war imagery and a bitter conclusion that still leaves a sliver of hope sneak in at the end.

Forward, Victoria, by Carlie St. George, in The Dark (April)

This is a horror story with a breakneck rhythm. It grabs you from the start like a slasher movie (and it’s a big nod to slasher movies) and you keep reading transfixed, even though you can see how things might play out. Even though you know things always play out like this in horror movies. Brilliant.

Unnamed, by Monte Lin, in Cast of Wonders (April)

This is a story of names and idenity but also a story about finding your place in complicated and confusing world, especially as a young person. The author builds the characters so fast and deaftly, and we can’t help but share the sense of dissoriantation and ftustration the protagonist goers through. The ending is so movign because it comes full circle. 

Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse, by M.L. Krishnan, in Apparition Lit (April)

This is such an amazing story, subverting tropes unapologetically with a sharp sense of humor. I just love the uncompromising protagonist who gets what she deserves at the end.

“The White Road; or How a Crow Carried Death over a River” by Marika Bailey, in FIYAH (April)

Broadfeather the crow is in search of a name of her own. So she leaves the nest in search of one. What happens after is a tale of immense pain. A story of reclaiming names and lives stolen. It’s bleak but also hopeful and full of amazing worldbuilding.

Like Birdsong, the Memory of Your Touch, by Izzy Wasserstein, in Fantasy Magazine (May)

This story is written in a stream of consciousness style that really blurs the lines of past, present and future. I read it in one breath. One breath was all it took for the entire world and a relationship to unfold and end in front of my eyes in the most poignant and chilling ways.

Peristalsis by Vajra Chandrasekera in The Deadlands (May)

Like Nadia Shamma’s story, Peristalsis asks questions about whose narrative this is. Who are the characters and who are the spectators. Or is everything part of a larger scheme of things that neither characters or spectators can see, and they are all being pushed along a dead narrative, until the end of the Universe? Gorgeous prose.

Blood in the Thread, by Cheri Kamei, in Tor.com (May)

This is a retelling of “The Crane Wife” and what a retelling it is! Georgeous prose that waves the original tale with the modern version about a make up artist and her actress lover and it elevates both in one heartbreaking and poignant conclusion. There is so much emotion here. 

Balfour in the Desert, by Fargo Tbakhi, in Strange Horizons (May)

Balfour and his companion chase an elusive creature through the desert. The Englishman, Balfour, is the PoV for most of the story, but is he really someone to root for? And is the creature the real danger here? This piece does amazing things with its metaphors and symbolisms. The author captures the greed of the protagonist as such an innate quality to him, that he literally feels like himself only when he takes and destroys. The caring nature, hopelessness and righteous anger of his companion is so pulpable, that any victory, however small, feels like the biggest triumph. 

To Rise, Blown Open, by  Jen Brown, in Anathema (May)

A nuanced and complicated super hero story about trauma and complicated relationships but also about change and perhaps the hope of healing. So full of emotions.

Bones in It, by Kristina Ten, in Lightspeed (May)

“Give me something with bones in it!”

Wow, this story could have gone so dark. And it is dark if you really think about it. But Kristina keeps the tone and the prose light with her masterful humorous prose and her keen eye for irony. In her hands, the story becomes whimsical and mythical, but so very grounded it could just as well have happened to someone you know. 

Oh, and please call me tenured professor. 

Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte, in Uncanny (May/June)

This is a story of family and self-acceptance. The protagonist struggles with themselves first and foremost and then with the father or the peers. What they gain in the end is a quietly triumphant love for one’s self and hope for the future.

Unseelie Brothers, Ltd. by Fran Wilde, in Uncanny (May/June) – novelette

This was such a wonderfully fresh take on a few fairytales, and the important of sacrificing parts of yourself in order to gain your heart’s desire. Is it worth it? This is an answer one can only give for themselves. Plus show stopping magical dresses!

A Welling Up, by Natalia Theodoridou, in Strange Horizons (June)

This story is hypnotizing and inescapable. There is a lingering sadness in it that draws you in. It will remind you that people can be vert similar but also far apart, like tiny islands in the ocean.

All This Darkness, by Jennifer R. Donohue, in Apex (June)

The mines are closing and the adults are too preoccupied with finding a way to pay the bills. But their children still crave their missed chance. The chance to enter the mountain and go deep inside its belly. This is a surreal story that’s both dark and charming with a very effective prose.

Three for Hers, by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko, in Podcastle (June)

I love a tale of revenge as much as the next person. But this is so much more. The worldbuilding here is amazing, especially when it comes to the rules of the Margrave and how firm but also slippery they can be. Because for those who hold the power there aren’t really any rules.

Data Migration, by Melanie Harding-Shaw, in Strange Horizons (July)

A very effective and realistic depiction of a near-future environmental Apocalypse. What makes this story stand out and become really extraordinary is the way the author handles the form by taking advantage of negative space and the fact that the protagonist tries against all odds to hold on to hope as well as pass it on.

The Child Feast, by Kaitlyn Zivanovich, in Pseudopod (July)

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, and how you seemingly succeed, you can’t really save your child from the witch’s house. This is horror. Real, tangible, inescapable horror. Very well-written and heartbreaking story

Our Days of Tear-stained Glass, by Avra Margariti, in Baffling Magazine (July)

I just love this piece and the poetry it carries within each sentence! A fabulous story about loving impossible things and persisting, even if those things are giant mermaids with shipwrecks wedges between their sharp teeth!

Across the River, My Heart, My Memory, by Ann Leblanc, in Fireside (July)

This story took some unexpected turns from the get-go but we slowly piece together the image of an unusual community of people and their legacy, still looking out for each other ever after they lose their human form. And even when they are treated with cruelty, they still strive for community and improvement.

Mushroom Head, by Marla Bingcang, in Apparition Lit (July)

If grotesque beauty and fungi horror had a child this would be it. This is a horror tale were the language and the description take center stage, and offer a chilling sensory experience. It is also the tale of a family’s desperation and hunger, and there is another horror tale hidden inside the first one like a matryoshka doll of terror.

Faithful Delirium, by Brent Lambert, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (July)

A powerful story about religious fanatisism and the pain and destruction it can cause to meet a pointless goal. That plot twist was everything. Chilling.

Cocoon, by H. Pueyo, in Strange Horizons (August)

A beautifully rendered and gutting piece of flash that deals with dementia. You feel the sadness and the tenderness of the piece from the first line to the last.

Before the Haze Devours You, by Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas, in Lightspeed (August)

How can someone fit so much worldbuilding, pain and redemption in such a short space? This is a bit over flash-length but it’s tense and emotional and everything in space!

Immolatus, by Lyndsie Manusos, in The Dealands (August)

I love a ghost bride story and this one does not disappoint, especially when there is delicious revenge. The descriptions of the ghost bride corpses and how they find each other are chilling!!!

A Guide to Snack Foods After the Apocalypse, by Rachael K. Jones, in Diabolical Plots (September)

Well, this was terrifying. I love the structure of this piece and how the distraction of rating snacks adds to the real horror of what is happening. Also that ending!

Sía, by Lizz Huerta, in Lightspeed (September)

Liz Huerta can’t write a story that won’t have me hooked from start to end. Have you ever thought of what would happen if ancestors got another chance to fight each other and try to right part of the wrongs of colonialism? This story is both hilarious and heartbreaking and combines so many truths and concepts in a brilliant way. But it’s also a story with warmth and the value of family, of someone who knows you intimately and looks out for you even after death.

Questions Asked in the Belly of the World, by A. T. Greenblatt, in Tor (September)

This story examines a society were everyone can and should be an artist but also an art critic. A society that those who can’t produce art or discuss it are considered redundant. This story hit hard with its message and the world-buidling was strangely wonderful.

Down in the Aspen Hollow, by Kristiana Willsey, in Uncanny (September/October)

If there is one person can take a murder ballad and breathe new life into it, that’s Kristiana. This is such an enchanting tale of heartbreak and slow, delicate revenge, that feels right in the way it feels in ancient stories.

Mulberry and Owl, by Aliette De Bodard, in Uncanny (September/October)

A story about the aftermaths of war and whether reconciliation can truly happen. I loved the back and forth between Thuỷ and Owl, and the idea that survival can be its own kind of atonement or revenge.

Hold Your Breath, by K.C. Mead-Brewer, in Uncharted (October)

Oh my, this is a very creepy story. A house It’s a story wrapped around a thick mist of expectations about oneself, about sex, about the things we leave behind before we enter the world as adults and about what kind of humans we are going to be from now on.

Those Virtues, Those Poisons, by Martin Cahill, in Beneathe Ceaseless Skies (October)

A deeply emotional story. It literally goes through the entire spectrum of the MC’s emotions, and it does so eloquently. A journey of self-exploration with the self as the main antagonist. Giant serpent is a giant plus for me too!

Small Monsters, by E. Lily Yu, in Tor (October)

This is a story full of monsters. It’s strange and beautiful, ponderous and vivid, dark and tender and it hides a great truth inside. It’s the kind of story that I aspire to write in the future.

Caw, by WC Dunlap, in Nightmare (October)

Lovely body horror. Like “The Birds” but more terrifying and with themes of trust and group dynamics. In a life and death situation would you trust a stranger or choose darkness?

Not Quite What We’re Looking for Right Now, by Jana Bianchi, in Fireside (October)

A very short but very smart piece about art and how it can impact real people. This flash takes full advantage of its format and it manages to be really funny while saying something important.

Sorry We Missed You! by Aun-Juli Riddle, in Khōréō (November)

This is such a wonderful and quiet story. It unfolds delicately, with a great warmth that makes the grief underneath a little sweeter and more bearable. Because family and love can be found in a bowl of potato noodles even when you are planet-hoping. 

What Floats In a Flotsam River by Osahon Ize-Iyamu, in Strange Horizons (November)

This gorgeously surreal story has a strong environmental message but also a deeply social one. A message about the power of the masses and the importance of working as a group in order to achieve any kind of meaningful change, but also the importance of individual expression and validation. 

For Want of Milk, by Grace P. Fong in Uncanny (November/December)

This story was both hard and soft in all the right places. I love where Grace took the story. I did not see it coming but it made perfect sense!

The Cold Calculations, by Aimee Ogden, in Clarkesworld (December)

This story is far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not about rage for me (it has that too for obvious reasons). It is about wanting to change something and making the effort to do so. Even if it’s something seemingly small and insignificant. Like the ending to a story.

Writing You, by Sharang Biswas, in Lightspeed (December)

Flaying your boyfriend has never been done so beautifully. Two people make plans on how to mourn the passing of their lover in their own personal way. The language really shines here and reverbarates with musicality, but it’s the end that will get you like a small knife in the ribs. 

Essays:

Using Unreliable Narration to Create Voice, by Priya Chand, in SFWA blog (February)

Seduced by the Ruler’s Gaze: An Indian Perspective on Seth Dickinson’s Masquerade, by Sid Jain, in Uncanny (March)

Death and Wednesday, by Suzan Palumbo, in The Deadlands (May)

Un/Reliable: Reflections in The Drowning Girl, by Jordan Kurella, in Mermaids Monthly (June)

WWXD: A Warrior’s Path of Reflection and Redemption, by C.L. Clark, in Uncanny (July/August)

The Bad Dad Redemption Arc Needs to Die, by Nino Cipri, in Uncanny (July/August)

We Are the Mountain: A Look at the Inactive Protagonist, by Vida Cruz, in Fantasy (August)

Worldbuilding with Legs: Incorporating Insects into Your Stories, by Premee Mohamed, in Fantasy (October)

Liminal Spaces: Shelters and Cells, by Avra Margariti, in Strange Horizons (November)

Creating Character Arcs in Games Writing, by Natalia Theodoridou, in SFWA blog (December)