Daily Science Fiction asked blogging readers to post a top-five list for the end of the year. I’ve been reading DSF fairly consistently since February 2011, so I figured it’d be a fun exercise in locking down my own aesthetic. As in, perhaps exploring what I gravitate to might help me figure out WTF my own fiction’s been up to lately. And I made a few arbitrary rules besides:
Rule 1: No big names in SF/fantasy. That took out James Patrick Kelly, Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Liu (that guy is everywhere, and his stuff is brilliant, IMO), Nina, etc. I’m sure I’ve missed many famous ‘uns, but I at least tried to knock out some of them. And if a few of the people on my list are totally famous, then oops research fail, me.
Rule 2: No one I’m connected to in any way. So, no Clarionauts or instructors from my Clarion year, and no 2-degree-of-separation folks. That took out Annie Bellet, Erin Hartshorn, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, etc.
Rule 3: I went with stories that lodged in my brain and stuck. This is in no way a systematic list; these are the stories my brain kept returning to poke at long after I’d read them. I’m sure it says far more about me than about the stories in question.
Lo, the list (with #1 being my most fave):
5. Study in Flesh and Mind, Liz Argall
4. The Black Spirits That Rage in the Bellies of Rogue Locomotives, Rahul Kanakia
3. Palindrome, Will Arthur
2. Cloaks and Gloves, Patricia Russo
1. Like Origami in Water, Damien Grintalis
I tend to like form-experiments and writers who have unusual styles, so that explains several of these. And then there’s that extrasensory bit, the “lodges in your brain and sticks” component, and that part is less explicable. Like, I am generally meh on immersive stories, the ones that drop you into a world and let you swim around in it, but Liz Argall’s strange artist studio just worked for me, as did Lee’s monster-scape. And Russo’s world was so beautifully off-kilter that I searched the DSF archives for an hour just to find that story (had forgotten author and title, but wow did the setting and plot keep with me). Eh, I always come back to “taste boggles,” even my own.