Tangent Online 2021 Recommended Reading List

Tangent Online 2021 Recommended Reading List

As with previous years, this list is not meant as comprehensive, there being a number of items we didn’t see, especially at the novella length. As was the case with the last several years, we narrowed our focus (with some exceptions) to those stories published in professionally paying markets as defined by SFWA.

There are 300 stories on this year’s list (down 72 from last year’s 372): 235 short stories (down 78 from last year’s 313), 53 novelettes (up 8 from last year’s 45), and 12 novellas (up 2 from last year’s 10). As with any such list—especially ours with its ever-changing reviewer staff—different reviewers bring different perspectives on how to approach stories, how they are thus measured, and of course the stories themselves are of different “quality” (up or down) if such a thing as quality can be measured by any objective standard. However, it does seem as if each year has its own nebulous, general level of quality, with some years being commented upon in retrospect as great years for quality fiction and others not so much. There are just too many variables to nail down as to why any given year—or recommended reading list—has more or fewer stories placed on it by a different cast of reviewers, each of whom brings their own individual set of standards to the fiction they read.

Such a list as the one below brings to it a rather broad cross section of the genre’s readership (i.e., that nameless reader at which short fiction venues are always aiming to attract). Some reviewers are relatively new to SF/F, while others have a long relationship with the genre but may not have experience at the reviewing end of the process. There are those who have read extensively for decades and who have experience at reviewing as well; there are a few selling writers who know from experience what goes into crafting a work of fiction, and there are those with an academic viewpoint and wide knowledge of the genre who bring a more critical approach to the fiction they review, and then place on this list.

As is our custom, there are four sections to each length category. Those making the list in the short story, novelette, and novella lengths but having no stars, and those with either one, two, or three stars, according to how well the reviewer or reviewers valued a particular story. From time to time you will see more than a single reviewer’s initials following a given entry. We have placed the story in the category receiving the most stars. Thus, it is possible that while one reviewer placed a story on the list without any stars, another also placed it on the list but with one or more stars, thus elevating that story to the higher ranking. Where there are more than one reviewer’s initials following a story recommendation, they appear in no particular order, thus making it impossible to determine which of the reviewers provided this higher ranking. Conversely, it is also possible that each reviewer held the same opinion of any given story.

If a story is placed in an incorrect length category, please let us know and we’ll be happy to correct the oversight. Reviewers are free to place stories on this list from any of their reading during the year, and are not restricted to those venues covered here, nor to publications they have personally reviewed.

If you would like to review for Tangent Online, knowledge of the SF/F/H genres is a must, and reviewing experience is highly preferred. Interested parties may contact the editor here. Please note that Tangent Online is a fanzine (eligible for Hugo award consideration in the fanzine category) and does not pay its contributors.

(Cover above for Aurealis SF #145, October 2021. Cover artist is Atelier Sommerland.)

2021 Reviewer names and initials

Christos Antonaros (CA), Mike Bickerdike (MB), Richard Cartwright (RC), Tara Grimravn (TG), Kevin P Hallett (KPH), C. D. Lewis (CDL), Michelle Ristuccia (MR), Chuck Rothman (CR), Seraph (S), Victoria Silverwolf (VS), Dave Truesdale (DT).

I wish to thank the reviewers for the time and energy they have devoted to reading and reviewing this year’s offerings. Without them, no Tangent Online and no Recommended Reading List; they’re the ones who make it all work. Thanks are also due those who sent material for review, and of course our loyal readership throughout 2021—our 28th year since that first, slim July/August 1993 print issue was mailed out.

Below are covers from original anthologies, or reprint collections which included original fiction appearing on the list. We were not able to review as many as in past years due to staff shortages, so additional reviewers are welcomed. Magazine covers (print and online) are interspersed throughout the list in no particular order.





Short Stories

Integral Nothings” by Robert Reed (F&SF, 1-2/21) SF (KPH)

No Stone Unturned” by Nick Wolven (Asimov’s, 1-2/21) SF (MR)

“Your Own Undoing” by P H Lee (Apex #121, 1-2/21) F (VS)

Colombina” by Jelena Dunato (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #320, 1/1/21) F (KPH)

“Yearning” by Maya Beck (Strange Horizons, 1/4/21) F (VS)

“The karyōbinga sings to Jiro” by Ryu Ando (Strange Horizons, 1/11/21) F (VS)

“Across From her Dead Father in an Airport Bar” by Brian Trent (Flash Fiction Online #88, 1/21) SF (VS)

Unstoned” by Jason Gruber (Diabolical Plots #71, 1/21) F (KPH)

The Dead Man” by Jack van Beynen (Grimdark #25, 1/21) F (TG)

The Only Cure” by Hûw Steer (Grimdark #25, 1/21) F (TG)

Rotten Little Town: An Oral History (Abridged)” by Adam-Troy Castro (Nightmare #100, 1/21) H (TG)

Darkness Metastatic” by Sam J. Miller (Nightmare #100, 1/21) H (TG)

I Let You Out” by Desirina Boskovich (Nightmare #100, 1/21) H (TG)

The Incorruptible World” by Anjali Sachdeva (Lightspeed #128, 1/21) SF (TG)

Answering the Questions You Might Have About the Kharbat” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed #128, 1/21) F (TG)

Photometric Evidence of the Gravitational Lensing of SAC23820 by a Nonluminous Low-Mass Stellar Object” by Jay Werkheiser (Analog, 1-2/21) SF (KPH)

What Were You Thinking” by Jerry Oltion (Analog, 1-2/21) SF (KPH)

A Working Dog” by Anne M. Gibson (Analog, 1-2/21) SF (KPH)

#Selfcare” by Annalee Newitz (Tor.com, 1/21) F (TG)

The Vanishing Bride” by William Paul Jones (Flash Fiction Online #89, 2/21) F (TG)

Vixen” by Hannah Whiteoak (Flash Fiction Online #89, 2/21) F (TG)

Sunflowers” by Maura Yzmore (Flash Fiction Online #89, 2/21) SF (TG)

The Silver Light of Forever” by Mike Adamson (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #47, 2/21) F (TG)

Winter Luck” by Evan Dicken (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #47, 2/21) F (TG)

Escape from the Sunset Vista” by Anthony W. Eichenlaub (On Spec, 2/21) SF (CR)

“And Should I Fall Behind” by Greg Wilson (On Spec, 2/21) SF (CR)

“Pokey Potz, Come Out to Play” by Colleen Anderson (On Spec, 2/21) F (CR)

“Barefoot and Midnight” by Sheree Renée Thomas (Apex #122, 3-4/21) H (VS)

“A Love That Burns Hot Enough to Last: Deleted Scenes from a Documentary” by Sam J. Miller (Apex #122, 3-4/21) F (VS)

The Bletted Woman” by Rebecca Campbell (F&SF, 3-4/21) SF (MB)

The Pizza Boy” by Meg Elison (F&SF, 3-4/21) SF (MB)

If a Tree Doesn’t Fall” by Jerry Oltion (Analog, 3-4/21) SF (MB)

The Trashpusher of Planet 4” by Brenda Kalt (Analog, 3-4/21) SF (MB)

“The Language of Leaves” by Ville Meriläinen (Galaxy’s Edge #49, 3-4/21) F (VS)

“A Clean and Liquid Madness” by Andrew Dykstal (Galaxy’s Edge #49, 3-4/21) F (VS)

“Mouth” by Sasha LaPointe (Strange Horizons, 3/1/21) F (VS)

“The Two Festivals that Cannot Coexist” by Liu Cixin (Future Science Fiction Digest #10, 3/21) SF (VS)

That Which Crawls from Dark Soil” by Michael Kelly (Nightmare #102, 3/21) H (TG)

It Accumulates” by Joanna Parypinski (Nightmare #102, 3/21) H (TG)

Dead at the Feet of a God” by Izzy Wasserstein (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #325, 3/11/21) F (KPH)

Masquerade Season” by ’Pemi Aguda (Tor.com, 3/21) F (MB)

Delivery” by Tyler Keevil (Black Static #78/79, 3/21) F (TG)

Of Wrath” by Zandra Renwick (Black Static #78/79, 3/21) F (TG)

Close Enough to Divine” by Donyae Coles, (Fantasy #65, 3/21) F (S)

Next Door to Gallipoli” by David Harris (Aurealis #138, 3/21) F (KPH)

The Colors of Sand” by Anna Winterstein (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #326, 3/25/21) SF (KPH)

Payload” by M. Stern (Startling Stories #34, Spring 2021) SF (TG)

Heart of a Hitman” by Rie Sheridan Rose (Startling Stories #34, Spring 2021) SF (TG)

Totality” by Andre E. Harewood (Startling Stories #34, Spring 2021) SF (TG)

Red Dragon” by Shadrick Beechem (Startling Stories #34, Spring 2021) SF (TG)

Cradle of the Deep” by Mike Chinn (Startling Stories #34, Spring 2021) SF (TG)

The Developmental Adventures of Phil” by Jason A. Adams (Pulphouse #10, Spring 2021) F (KPH)

Vamp Until Doomsday” by Stefon Mears (Pulphouse #10, Spring 2021) H (KPH)

The Family in the Adit” by A. T. Greenblatt (Nightmare #103, 4/21) H (KPH)

Complete Exhaustion of the Organism” by Rich Larson (Lightspeed #131, 4/21) SF (KPH)

“I Will Never Fly Again” by Jonathon Mast (DreamForge Anvil #2, 4/21) F (VS)

“The Life & Death of Mia Fremont: An Interview with a Killer” by A.K. Hudson (Apex #123, 5-6/21) F (VS)

Drunkard’s Walk” by James Enge (F&SF, 5-6/21) F (MB)

“The Snows of Maxwell Montes” by C. Stuart Hardwick (Galaxy’s Edge #50, 5-6/21) SF (VS)

“Mr. Komatsu Hates Cats” by Cheng Jingbo (Galaxy’s Edge #50, 5-6/21) SF (VS)

“Best-Laid Plans” by David D. Levine (Clarkesworld #176, 5/21) SF (VS)

“The Ecology of the Engineered Oyster” by Andrew Kozma (Flash Fiction Online #92, 5/21) SF (VS)

Stars Shine in Earth’s Sky” by Bo-Young Kim (On The Origin of Species, 5/21) SF (KPH)

Absolutes” by Jay Werkheiser (Analog, 5-6/21) SF (MB)

“The Thrower and the Catcher” by David Hartley (Incorcisms, 5/21) F (VS)

“Stories My Mum Told Me” by Erin A. Sayers (Aurealis #140, 5/21) SF (VS)

The Palace in the Moonlight” by Howard Andrew Jones (Lightspeed #132, 5/21) F (MB)

Negative Space” by Tim Waggoner (Nightmare #104, 5/21) H (TG)

The Cabbit” by Maria Dong (Nightmare #104, 5/21) H (TG)

The PILGRIMs Guide to Mars” by Monique Cuillerier (Diabolical Plots #75, 5/21) SF (TG)

Like Birdsong, the Memory of Your Touch” by Izzy Wasserstein (Fantasy #67, 5/21) SF (KPH)

Poubelle” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld, 6/21) SF (MB)

“Tower of Ivory, Tower of Horn” by Reno Evangelista (Strange Horizons, 6/7/21) F (VS)

“The Woods Echo Back” by Tania Fordwalker (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #331, 6/3/21) F (VS)

We Will Weather One Another Somehow” by Kristina Ten (Diabolical Plots #76, 6/21) F (KPH)

The Port of Le Havre, Night Effect, 1873” by Christine Tyler (Fantasy #68, 6/21) H (TG)

“The Cure” by A.J. Cunder (Mysterion, 6/21) SF/F (VS)

“Haja Hoje” by Anna Martino (Strange Horizons, 7/5/21) F (VS)

“Data Migration” by Melanie Harding-Shaw (Strange Horizons, 7/12/21) SF (VS)

Bearing the Flame” by C.A. Barrett (Mysterion, 7/21) F (MR)

Ember” by Anjali Patel (Flash Fiction Online #94, 7/21) SF (TG)

Breathe” by Adam Fout (Flash Fiction Online #94, 7/21) SF (TG)

Hand-Delivered” by Robert Runté (On Spec #116, 6/21) SF (KPH)

“What Waves Wash Up” by Alexis Kaegi (Deep Magic #73, Summer 2021) F (VS)

“The War Within” by N. V. Haskell (Deep Magic #73, Summer 2021) F (VS)

He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars” by Grace Chan (Clarkesworld #178, 7/21) SF (KPH)

Outliers” by A.M. Shine (Grimdark #27, 7/21) SF (TG)

Island of Sin” by Jack Murphy (Grimdark #27, 7/21) F (TG)

The Tesseract” by Evan Marcroft (Grimdark #27, 7/21) H (TG)

Tubes” by Jeremy C. Shipp (Grimdark #27, 7/21) SF (TG)

Gingerbread” by Lindsay King-Miller (Grimdark #27, 7/21) H (TG)

A Softness of the Heart” by Lulu Kadhim (Fantasy #69, 7/21) F (KPH)

Now We Paint Worlds” by Matthew Kressel (Tor.com, 7/21) SF/F (TG)

“Birth” by M. Stern (Weirdbook #44, 7/21) F (VS)

“Okiko’s Doll” by Stefano Frigieri (Weirdbook #44, 7/21) H (VS)

A Smell of Jet Fuel” by Andrew Dana Hudson (Lightspeed #134, 7/21) SF (MB)

Jesting Pilate” by Lee Allred (Pulphouse #12, 7-8/21) F (CR)

Exchange Policy” by Scott William Carter (Pulphouse #12, 6-7/21) SF (CR)

Laugh Track” by David H Hendrickson (Pulphouse #12, 6-7/21) SF (CR)

Virtual Oracle” by Leigh Saunders (Pulphouse #12, 6-7/21) F (CR)

The Penitent” by Phoenix Alexander (F&SF, 7-8/21) F (KPH)

“Old Ghosts” by Greg Mele (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #49, 8/21) F (VS)

The Clock, Having Seen Its Face in the Mirror, Still Knows Not the Hour” by Adam Stemple (Clarkesworld #179, 8/21) SF (MB)

“Cocoon” by H. Pueyo (Strange Horizons, 8/2/21) F (VS)

The Songs Her Mother Used to Sing” by Aimee Ogden (Flash Fiction Online #95, 8/21) F (TG)

Machine Love” by Joy Kennedy-O’Neill (Flash Fiction Online #95, 8/21) SF (TG)

“Fermata” by Sarah Fannon (Diabolical Plots #78, 8/21) F (VS)

“Vocation” by Jessica Snell (Mysterion, 8/21) SF (VS)

Now Will You Listen” by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Nightmare #107, 8/21) H (TG)

Cadaver Dogs” by B. Narr (Nightmare #107, 8/21) H (TG)

Huddle” by Monica Joyce Evans (DreamForge Anvil #4, 8/21) SF (KPH)

Survival, After” by Nicole J. LeBoeuf (Apex #124, 7-8/21) F (CDL)

Eilam is Forever” by Beth Dawkins (Apex #124, 7-8/21) SF (CDL)

“Devil-May-Care” by Michael Gardner (Aurealis #144, 9/21) F (VS)

Room to Live” by Marie Vibbert (Analog, 9-10/21) SF (MB)

The Soul is Ten Thousand Parts” by Chelsea Obodoechina (Analog, 9-10/21) SF (MB)

All Us Ghosts” by B. Pladek (Strange Horizons, 9/6/21) SF (TG)

It is a Pleasure to Receive You” by Ziggy Schutz (Clarkesworld #180, 9/21) SF (KPH)

Kirishitan” by Marshall J. Moore, (Mysterion, 9/21) F (S)

Frost Bloom” by Gillian Daniels (Nightmare #108, 9/21) H (KPH)

Gift for the Cutter Man” by D. Thomas Minton (Apex #125, 9-10/21) SF (KPH)

“Paper of Elephants” by Brenda Cooper (Clarkesworld #181, 10/21) SF (VS)

“Nemesis and the Sorcerer” by R.K. Duncan (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #340, 10/7/21) F (VS)

It’s Real Meat” by Kurt Pankau (Diabolical Plots #80, 10/21) H (KPH)

Litany in the Heart of Exorcism” by Sarah Pauling (Flash Fiction Online #97, 10/21) F (TG)

Like Feather, Like Bone” by Kristi DeMeester (Flash Fiction Online #97, 10/21) H (TG)

Caw” by W. C. Dunlap (Nightmare #109, 10/21) H (KPH)

“The Last Days of Summer in the City of Olives” by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #341, 10/21/21) F (VS)

Every Single Brian” by Yang-Yang Wang (Lightspeed #137, 10/21) SF (KPH)

Pumpkin Riders” by Steve Oden (Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, 10/21) F (KPH)

“Root Mother” by Adria Laycraft (Shapers of Worlds, Volume II, 10/21) F (VS)

“I Remember Paris” by James Alan Gardner (Shapers of Worlds, Volume II, 10/21) F (VS)

“Dream Eater” by Nemma Wollenfang (Things with Feathers: Stories of Hope, 10/21) F (VS)

“Yin-Yang” by Cayce Osborne (Things with Feathers: Stories of Hope, 10/21) F (VS)

“Ephemeralities” by David Cleden (Things with Feathers: Stories of Hope, 10/21) SF (VS)

“The Ones Who Made the Crossing” by F. T. Berner (Things with Feathers: Stories of Hope, 10/21) F (VS)

“Family History” by R.W. Wallace (Pulphouse #14, 10-11/21) F (VS)

No Say” by Jonathan Louis Duckworth (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #342, 11/04/21) F (KPH)

“Muallim” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s, 11-12/21) SF (VS)

“Mom Heart” by Will McIntosh (Clarkesworld #182, 11/21) SF (VS)

“City of Eternity” by Pan Haitian (Clarkesworld #182, 11/21) F (VS)

A Vast Silence” by T. R. Napper (F&SF, 11-12/21) SF (MB)

A Sports Story” by Brenda Kalt (Analog, 11-12/21) SF (MB)

From the Maintenance Reports of Perseverance Colony, Year 12” by Jo Miles (Analog, 11-12/21) SF (MB)

Caoimhe’s Water Music” by Mjke Wood (Analog, 11-12/21) SF (MB)

Who Smiles Last” by Fulvio Gatti (Galaxy’s Edge #53, 11-12/21) SF (KPH)

Lies I Never Told You” by Jaxton Kimble (Diabolical Plots #81, 11/21) F (KPH)

“Little Lila” by Susannah Rand (Strange Horizons, 11/29/21) SF (VS)

The Redemption of Brother Adalam” by K. D. Julicher (Writers of the Future #37, 11/21) F (MB)

The Skin of My Mother” by Erik Lynd (Writers of the Future #37, 11/21) H (MB)

“Fear To Tread” by Patrick Thomas (Devilish & Divine, 12/21) F (VS)

“The Fox’s Daughter” by Richard Parks (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 12/2/21) F (VS)

“Coiffeur Seven” by Kiran Kaur Saini (Strange Horizons, 12/6/21) SF (VS)

“There Are Angels and They Are Utilitarians” by Jamie Wahls (Diabolical Plots #82, 12/21) SF/F (VS)

The Plague Puller” by Manish Melwani (Nightmare #111, 12/21) H (DT, MB)

Robin’s Last Song” by Nina Munteanu (Apex #128, 12/21) SF (KPH)

Samsăra in a Teacup” by Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Apex #128, 12/21) SF (KPH)

Soul’s Wager” by K. J. Khan (Mysterion, 12/21) F (KPH)

“Dandelion Brew” by Ana Sun (DreamForge Anvil #6, 12-1/21-22) SF (VS)

“Sidha” by Bruce McAllister (DreamForge Anvil #6, 12-1/21-22) SF (VS)

“Severed Ties” by R.W. Wallace (Pulphouse #15, 12-1/21-22) F (VS)


Short Stories One Star

Daughters with Bloody Teeth” by Marika Bailey (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #321, 1/14/21) F* (KPH)

Changing Eyes” by Douglas P. Marx (Analog, 1-2/21) SF* (KPH)

Her Black Coal Heart a Diamond in My Hand” by R. K. Duncan (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #322, 1/28/21) H* (KPH)

The Redemption of Declan Callahan” Steve DuBois (Aurealis #137, 2/21) F* (MR)

Me Two” by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown (Lightspeed #129, 2/21) SF* (KPH)

Of Course You Screamed” by Sharang Biswas (Fantasy #64, 2/21) F* (S)

Flight” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Fantasy #64, 2/21) F* (S)

The Tyger” by Tegan Moore (Tor.com, 2/21) F* (MB)

“Between the Worlds” by Lee F. Patrick (On Spec, 2/21) F* (CR)

The Code for Everything” by McKinley Valentine, (Fantasy #65, 3/21) F* (S)

Milestone and the Fifth World” by Marissa James (Mysterion, 3/21) SF* (KPH)

A Stranger Goes Ashore” by Adam R. Shannon, (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #328, 4/22/21) F* (S)

“Perfectly Painted Lies” by Brittany Rainsdon (Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021) SF* (CR)

The Plus One” by Marie Vibbert (F&SF, 5-6/21) F* (MB)

In-Flight Damage” by Sara Kate Ellis (Analog, 5-6/21) SF* (MB)

Hassan the Executioner Walks Out of Jawasar for the Last Time” by R. K. Duncan (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #330, 5/20/21) F* (KPH)

Province of Man” by Jaime DiNote (Freehold: Defiance, 5/21) SF* (RC)

Hypnopompic Circumstance” by Gene Doucette (Lightspeed #132, 5/21) SF* (MB)

By Our Own Hands” by Anya Leigh Josephs (Fantasy #67, 5/21) F* (KPH)

Super Sprouts” by Ian Creasey (Asimov’s, 5-6/21) SF* (MR)

A Tableau of Things That Are” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed #133, 6/21) F* (MB)

Follow” by T. R. Siebert (Future Science Fiction Digest #11, 6/21) SF* (KPH)

The Bridge” by Daniel G. Keohane (On Spec #116, 6/21) F* (KPH)

Tulip Fever” by Bo Balder (F&SF, 7-8/21) SF* (KPH)

Mamá Chayo’s Magic Lesson” by Tato Navarrete Diaz (F&SF, 7-8/21) F* (KPH)

I’m Feeling Lucky” by Leonid Kaganov (Clarkesworld #178, 7/21) SF* (KPH)

The Jewels of the Mermaids” by Marisca Pichette (Grimdark #27, 7/21) F* (TG)

At the Periphery” by Benjamin Peek (Nightmare #106, 7/21) H* (KPH)

A Magical Negro” by Ezekiel James Boston (Pulphouse #12, 6-7/21) F* (CR)

“Walking the Dog” by J. Steven York (Pulphouse #13, 8-9/21) SF* (CR)

“Tanknological Superiority” by Hank Davis (World Breakers, 8/21) SF* (RC)

Eat and be Eaten” by J. L. Akagi (DreamForge Anvil #4, 8/21) F* (KPH)

Yesterday’s Wolf” by Ray Nayler (Clarkesworld #180, 9/21) SF* (KPH)

The Haunted Hills Community and Country Club” by Lincoln Michel (F&SF, 9-10/21) F* (CDL)

Seedling” by Octavia Cade (F&SF, 9-10/21) F* (CDL)

The Measure of a Mother’s Love” by Z. T. Bright (Galaxy’s Edge #53, 11-12/21) SF*


The Source” by Matitias Carosella (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #343, 11/18/21) F* (KPH)

Entanglement, or How I Failed to Knit a Sweater for My Boyfriend” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed #139, 12/21) F* (KPH)

Hydration” by Alan Dean Foster (Gunfight on Europa Station, 12/21) SF* (MB)

Ghost Blue, Ghost Red” by Malda Marlys (Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, 12/21) F* (KPH)


Short Stories Two Stars

The Artist, the Engineer, and the Sleeping Dog” by Robert J. McCarter (Pulphouse #10, Spring 2021) F** (KPH)

“Geiger’s Escape” by Kajetan Kwiatkowski (Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021) SF** (CR)

“The Best Chocolate Cake Has a Touch of Bitter” by Alice Towey (Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021) F** (CR)

Every Nook and Cranny” by Daniel Baker (Aurealis #139, 4/21) F** (CA)

Bones in It” by Kristina Ten (Lightspeed #132, 5/21) F** (MB)

Semper Malevolem” by J.F. Holmes & Jason Cordova (Freehold: Defiance, 5/21) SF** (RC)

My Heart is at Capacity” by TJ Berry (Asimov’s, 5-6/21) SF** (MR)

How to Train Your Demon” by Lisa Lacey Liscomb (F&SF, 7-8/21) F** (KPH)

Sometimes Boys Don’t Know” by Donyae Coles (Nightmare #106, 7/21) H** (KPH)

Family Bonds” by RW Wallace (Pulphouse #12, 6-7/21) F** (CR)

“The Man who Married his Wife’s Thigh” by Bonnie Elizabeth (Pulphouse #13, 8-9/21) F** (CR)

“Till Death” by R.W. Wallace (Pulphouse #13, 8-9/21) F** (CR)

“Knowledge Blooms” by Rob Vagle (Pulphouse #13, 8-9/21) F** (CR)

“Daughter Of the Mountains” by Kacey Ezell (World Breakers, 8/21) SF** (RC)

What Sisters Take” by Kelly Sandoval (Apex #124, 7-8/21) F** (CDL)

How to Be Good” by R. Gatwood (Apex #124, 8/21) SF** (CDL)

Ice Fishing on Europa” by Erin Barbeau (F&SF, 9-10/21) SF** (CDL)

Split the Baby” by Carl Taylor (F&SF, 9-10/21) SF** (CDL)

An Hour to Ames” by Dan Reade (Analog, 11-12/21) SF** (MB)

Inkmorphia” by Julianna Baggott (Nightmare #110, 11/21) F** (KPH)

“The Tannfé” by Verity Borthwick (Aurealis #146, 11/21) H** (CR)

“The House That Hungers” by Maria Lewis (Aurealis #146, 11/21) H** (CR)


Short Stories Three Stars

The Fear of Missing Out” Robert H. Cloake (Asimov’s, 1-2/21) SF*** (MR)

All That Perfect Blue” by Laura Gray (Aurealis #139, 4/21) SF*** (CA)

Traces” by A.E. Decker, (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #328, 4/22/21) F*** (S)

Solitude” by Jessica Schlenker (Freehold: Defiance, 5/21) SF*** (DT, RC)

Among the Marithei” by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Asimov’s, 5-6/21) SF*** (MR)

Social Distance” by Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta (We Shall Rise, 6/21) SF*** (RC)

A Thing or Two” by Kacey Ezell (We Shall Rise, 6/21) SF*** (RC)

The Best Part of Waking Up” by Mike Massa (We Shall Rise, 6/21) SF*** (RC)

“Dyma Fi’n Sefyll” by David Weber (World Breakers, 8/21) SF*** (RC)

To the Honorable and Esteemed Monsters under My Bed” by E.A. Bourland (F&SF, 9-10/21) F*** (CDL)



Damocles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, 3-4/21) SF (MB)

“The Second Celeste” by Alberto Chimal (Future Science Fiction Digest #10, 3/21) SF (VS)

The Equations of the Dead” by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed #131, 4/21) SF (KPH)

“Vanishing Point” by Robert V.S. Redick (Clarkesworld #176, 5/21) F (VS)

Last of the Wolves” by Bo-Young Kim (On The Origin of Species, 5/21) SF (KPH)

The City of Kindness” by Jonathan Edelstein (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #329, 5/6/21) F (KPH)

Dancing on Spun Sugar” by Meghan Feldman (Analog, 5-6/21) SF (MB)

The Red Mother” by Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com, 6/21) F (KPH)

“Long Day Lake” by Joe McDermott (Analog, 7-8/21) SF (VS)

“For the World’s More Full of Weeping” by Andrew Dykstal (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #333, 7/1/21) F (VS)

“Access Denied” by Baden M Chant (Aurealis #142, 7/21) SF (VS)

“Skin Deep” by Alan Brennert (Tor.com, 7/21) SF (TG)

“The God Skrae Eats Death” by Stephen Case (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #335, 7/29/21) F (VS)

Pace Car” by Lyle Hopwood (Interzone #290/291, 8/21) SF (KPH)

Aptitude” by Cooper Shrivastava (Tor.com, 8/21) SF (MR)

L’Espirit de L’Escalier” by Catherynne M. Valente (Tor.com, 8/21) F (MR)

Now You See Me” by Justin C. Key (Lightspeed #135, 8/21) F (KPH)

“Billie the Kid” by Rick Wilber (Asimov’s, 9-10/21) SF (VS)

“Old People’s Folly” by Nora Schinnerl (Future Science Fiction Digest #12, 9/21) SF (VS)

Dog and Pony Show” by Robert Jeschonek (Clarkesworld #180, 9/21) SF (KPH)

“An Exchange of Values, Conducted in Good Faith” by David Tallerman (Mysterion, 10/21) F (VS)

“The Only Road” by Susan Forest (Shapers of Worlds, Volume II, 10/21) F (VS)

The Enfield Report” by Christopher Bowthorpe (Writers of the Future #37, 11/21) SF (MB)

“Hānai” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s, 11-12/21) SF (VS)

“For We Are Many” by Paul Lucas (Cirsova #9, Winter 2021) SF/F (VS)

“To the Sound of a Silent Harp” by William Huggins (Cirsova #9, Winter 2021) SF (VS)

Winner Takes All” by Alex Shvartsman (Gunfight on Europa Station, 12/21) SF (MB)


Novelettes One Star

Interludes With the Gunwright” by Jonathan L. Howard (F&SF, 1-2/21) SF* (KPH)

Table Etiquette for Diplomatic Personnel, in Seventeen Scenes” Suzanne Palmer (Asimov’s, 1-2/21) SF* (MR)

By the Will of the Gods” by Charles Q. Choi (Analog, 1-2/21) SF* (KPH)

Obelisker Adrift in the Desert” by K. H. Meridian (Clarkesworld #173, 2/21) SF* (MB)

We, the Girls Who Did Not Make It” by E.A. Petricone (Nightmare #101, 2/21) H* (KPH)

Tail Call Optimization” by Tony Ballantine (Analog, 3-4/21) SF* (MB)

Sarcophagus” by Ray Nayler (Clarkesworld #175, 4/21) SF* (MB)

“Veins of My Sister” by Marie Croke (Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021) SF* (CR)

The Metric” by David Moles (Asimov’s, 5-6/21) SF* (MR)

Little Animals” by Nancy Kress (Clarkesworld, 6/21) SF* (MB)

Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, 6/21) SF* (MB)

Preserved in Amber” by Samantha Murray (Clarkesworld #178, 7/21) SF* (KPH)

Without Lungs or Limbs to Stay” by Shauna O’Meara (Interzone #290/291, 8/21) SF* (KPH)

Anything Short of Death is Survivable” by David Anaxagoras (Lightspeed #135, 8/21) SF* (KPH)

Questions Asked in the Belly of the World” by A. T. Greenblatt (Tor.com, 9/21) SF* (KPH)

Sixers” by Barbara Lund (Writers of the Future #37, 11/21) SF* (MB)

Half-Breed” by Brittany Rainsdon (Writers of the Future #37, 11/21) F* (MB)

Last Stand on Europa Station A” by David Boop (Gunfight on Europa Station, 12/21) SF* (MB)


Novelettes Two Stars

Mixed Marriage” by Dan Helms (Analog, 1-2/21) SF** (KPH)

The Demon Sage’s Daughter” by Varsha Dinesh (Strange Horizons, 2/8/21) F** (S)

Concerto for Winds and Resistance” by Cara Masten DiGirolamo, (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #327, 4/8/21) F** (S)

Año Nuevo” Ray Nayler (Asimov’s, 5-6/21) SF** (MR)

Tweak” by Taimur Ahmad (Asimov’s, 7-8/21) SF** (MB)

Laki” by Eleanor Arneson (F&SF, 11-12/21) F** (MB)

Doc Holliday 2.0” by Wil McCarthy (Gunfight on Europa Station, 12/21) SF** (MB)


Novelettes Three Stars

Every Breath a Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer” by Cat Rambo, (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #327, 4/8/21) F*** (S)

“New England’s God” by Lee Allred (Pulphouse #13, 8-9/21) F/H*** (CR)



“Glitch” by Alex Irvine (Asimov’s, 3-4/21) SF (VS)

“Submergence” by Arula Ratnakar (Clarkesworld #174, 3/21) SF (VS)

“Master of Rods and Strings” by Jason Marc Harris (Vernacular Books, 7/21) H (VS)

On the Origin of Species – And What Might Have Happened Thereafter” by Bo-Young Kim (On The Origin of Species, 5/21) SF (KPH)

“Sleep and the Soul” by Greg Egan (Asimov’s, 9-10/21) F (VS)

The Silence Before I Sleep” by Adam-Troy Castro (Analog, 9-10/21) SF (MB)

Pervert Blood” by Mike O’Driscoll (Black Static #80/81, 11/21) H (KPH)


Novellas One Star

The Dark Ride” by John Kessel (F&SF, 1-2/21) F* (KPH)

Invasive Species” by Catherine Wells (Analog, 3-4/21) SF* (MB)

On the Origin of Species” by Bo-Young Kim (On The Origin of Species, 5/21) SF* (KPH)

The Humdinger” by Rhonda Pressley Veit (Black Static #80/81, 11/21) H* (KPH)


Novellas Two Stars

Refugees” by Robert Grossbach (F&SF, 5-6/21) SF** (MB)


Novellas Three Stars



[Unfortunately, Deep Magic closed shop this year, but we felt the following cover deserved a wider audience.]

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