A co-editor called 2017 a dumpster-fire of a year. In many ways, that’s exactly what it felt like. One piece of trash igniting another and another until we were all tarnished with soot and stuck with a lingering smell.
Yeah. We’re ready for it to be over too. If you kept your head down and stuck in a book this year, we can’t blame you. Reading can be a mirror to the world, a window to a new universe, or a blanket to hide under. There is one constant perk and that’s the quality of stories that our editors read this year. Check out our favorite short stories, poems, and books of the year.
Short Story: The Selkie Wives by Kendra Fortmeyer, Apex Magazine (Apr 4, 2017) (This story stayed with me for months. I love the revisionist style and repeated starts and stops.)
Poem: Apathetic Goblin Nightmare Woman by Cassandra Khaw, Uncanny (September 2017) (I’m not a huge poetry reader but the title hooked me and the writing kept me interested)
Book: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (This isn’t a recent publication but I discovered the novel this year. It’s middle-grade but the depth of the writing, the prose, and the characterization is amazing)
Short Story: If We Live to be Giants by Allison Mulder, Fireside Fiction (September 2017). (A short but extremely effective piece about family.)
Poem: The Slowest Way to Hades by Jungmin Kim, Strange Horizons (July 10, 2017). (At the end of all things, we will still be sisters. If you want to pierce me in my black heart, just use the reminder that sisterhood, despite everything, is forever.)
Book: Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer (Victorian London. Fencing. Sisterhood. Demons. Queer characters. Delightful prose. I could keep going, but this book was basically written just for me.)
Short Story: Itself at the Heart of Things By Andrea Corbin Shimmer Magazine (Issue 38, June 30, 2017) Co-editor Rebecca suggested we read this one and I’m indebted to her because of it. This story is the best of what speculative fiction can be, full of heart and history, but strange and dreamlike. Just an incredibly beautiful, and beautifully written, short story.
Poem: Taken by Rupi Kaur. In the dumpster fire of anguish that is 2017, when hate and anger are so easy to default into, this poem floated up in my feed with perfect timing this past October, as a reminder to be different. She shared this on Instagram way back in 2015, it’s from her book of poetry, Milk & Honey.
Book: The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. I rarely read nonfiction, but this story about murders of multiple, wealthy Osage families in Oklahoma held me spellbound for the three days it took me to devour the entire thing. The book focuses on the investigation in 1920s, and how this particular investigation created the modern FBI, but it digs much deeper into the deadly, systemic racism that is at this country’s core. It’s a book that enraged and devastated me. I highly recommend it.
Short Story: Cake Baby (A Kango and Sharon Adventure) by Charlie Jane Anders, Lightspeed Magazine (Issue 90, November 2017). I double dog dare you to read this first line and tell me you aren’t hooked: “Kango and Sharon first met at a party, one of those lavish debauch-fests where people fly in from all over the galaxy wearing sentient fetishwear that costs a whole asteroid belt.” Plus, the Constantly Infallible Smarter Than Everyone Supreme Reasoner Mega Genius Droppoloorg spouting circular logic feels very 2017.
Poem: “Mourning Meal” from the collection of horror and sci-fi poetry and short stories How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison. This collection won the HWA Bram Stoker Award for poetry in 2011, but I didn’t discover it for myself until this year. “Mourning Meal” makes my eyes burn every time I read it. So if 2017 left you raw with emotion and you want to poke your feelings with a stick, read this.
Book: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire. This is the second book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. The first book (Every Heart a Doorway) sucked me in, and I’m ridiculously excited for the third (Beneath the Sugar Sky) to come out in January 2018. (See? 2018 is already looking up!) This is a prequel to book one but could be enjoyed as a stand-alone. As always, McGuire gives her reader an immersive experience with rich prose and vibrant characters. I would follow her young protagonists down a mysterious staircase any day.
Featured image by freestocks.org