All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction from 2017

Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different. In 2017, we published 12 original novelettes and 28 short stories, plus 11 flash fiction pieces that ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to steampunk, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below, and you can also find Tor.com Publishing’s impressive output of novellas and novels here.

We are tremendously proud of our authors, illustrators, and editors for creating such wonderful short fiction this year. We hope that you will nominate your favorites for the Hugos, Nebulas, and other upcoming awards which honor outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror—but most of all, we hope that you have enjoyed reading these stories as much as we have!

 


Flash Fiction

Nevertheless She Persisted short fiction series

“Nevertheless She Persisted” became a galvanizing cry for people of all genders in recognition of the struggles that women have faced throughout history. On International Women’s Day, several of the best writers in SF/F today reveal new stories inspired by the phrase, raising their voices in response to a phrase originally meant to silence. This sci-fi/fantasy flash fiction collection features sharing unique visions of women inventing, playing, loving, surviving, and–of course–dreaming of themselves beyond their circumstances.

 

Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light!” by Kameron Hurley

Edited by Marco Palmieri

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted was an epigraph engraved at the bases of statues around the city, meant to dissuade women from fighting monsters. But to Moira, the epigraph inspired.

 

God Product” by Alyssa Wong

Edited by Miriam Weinberg

As she stood over the god taped down to the kitchen table, Caroline knew this was the only way to win Hyeon’s attention.

 

Alchemy” by Carrie Vaughn

Edited by Diana Pho

Performed endless experiments, recorded measurements and observations in careful writing on lined paper, pages and pages sewn up in books and neatly stored. How much of this acid added drop by drop to a powder of carbon, a scraping of iron, caused the reaction she desired?

 

Persephone” by Seanan McGuire

Edited by Lee Harris

They told us about the dangers of giving blood, broke it down bit by bit, but Mary said we had to…

 

Margot and Rosalind” by Charlie Jane Anders

Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

The doorbell rings as she’s giving the brain its nutrient bath. The Hyperbrain likes it when she scritches behind its temporal lobe, like a cat—if a cat was a biomimetic neural network that filled up your entire basement.

 

Astronaut” by Maria Dahvana Headley

Edited by Liz Gorinsky

Miss Baker was on a mission to defy gravity.

 

More than Nothing” by Nisi Shawl

Edited by Liz Gorinsky

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted in singing her pagan prayers.

 

The Last of the Minotaur Wives” by Brooke Bolander

Edited by Diana Pho

When the first of the Minotaur Brides was set to be a concubine in darkness, she was warned never to try escape. She was given an explanation: you are a monster, and below the earth you & your kind shall stay. Nevertheless, my darling calf, she persisted. And so too have we.

 

The Jump Rope Rhyme” by Jo Walton

Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

She persisted once. She persisted twice. She persisted three times…. On planets all over the universe / Kids jump their ropes to this counting verse

 

Anabasis” by Amal El-Mohtar

Edited by Liz Gorinsky

A warning is the same as a threat. Television teaches this. Is that a threat / call it a warning. Call it by a different name, and it changes.

 

The Ordinary Woman and the Unquiet Emperor” by Catherynne M. Valente

Edited by Liz Gorinsky

After long years, it came to pass that the Unquiet Emperor was seized with the desire to show his true heart to one of his subjects.

 

 


Short Stories

Microbiota and the Masses: A Love Story” by S. B. Divya

Edited by Carl Engle-Laird
Illustrated by Jasu Hu

Moena lives in a world of her own making, sealed off from the deadly pathogens of Bangalore in her own personal biome. But when she meets Rahul, a beautiful man working to clean up his city, her need for him draws her into danger. She will risk her health and her work to satisfy her lust for Rahul, and may find love along the way.

 

The Virtual Swallows of Hog Island” by Julianna Baggott

Editor Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Mark Smith

A programmer finds himself working for the self-proclaimed “Bad Boy of Virtual-Reality Therapy.” While his boss is breaking new ground and breaking the rules and his coworkers are engaging in questionable uses of the latest technology, the lonely programmer is in a state of mourning over his deep personal losses and must figure out his own form of therapy.

 

The Greenest Gecko” by Ploy Pirapokin

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Keren Katz

After an unusual public incident in which the frail, elderly president is revitalized, geckos are now considered to bring good luck. At the Ministry of Merit, Fon is secretly in charge of building the next Gecko Cannon for the family of president Bankim’s eightieth birthday. She is honored to be assigned this duty and works diligently to create and deliver this extraordinary machine.

 

The Old Dispensation” by Lavie Tidhar

Editor Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Wesley Allsbrook

A space opera adventure set in a universe controlled and run by Jewish religious authorities. An enforcer is sent to a distant planet where he discovers an android who changes his mind about what is right and wrong.

 

The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” by Matthew Kressel

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Scott Bakal

A science fiction story about a dying writer who is trying to finish one final novel on the distant planet he settles on for his demise. His encounter with a young girl triggers a last burst of creativity.

 

Ecdysis” by Julianna Baggott

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Keith Negley

Our young narrator has many skins. Shedding and taking on new ones help them to find their way back home after leaving to avoid more tragedies and assaults. But what price do they have to pay to acquire the one true skin that fits the best?

 

The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom” by Max Gladstone

Edited by Marco Palmieri
Illustrated by Micah Epstein

A stranger claiming knowledge of realms beyond the known world attempts to stop a war.

 

When Stars Are Scattered” by Spencer Ellsworth

Edited by Claire Eddy
Illustrated by Micah Epstein

Ahmed is a doctor working in a far flung outpost of humanity. His way was paid for by the leaders of his faith and his atheism is a guarded secret. His encounters with the “kite people” will cause him to doubt his whole worldview however when the aliens start dying and escalating tensions between religious extremists threatens to destroy the colony’s peace. “When Stars Are Scattered” is a moving story about alien contact, religious intolerance, and the redemptive power of the divine channeled through the spirit. Whether that spirit is human or alien.

 

Mental Diplopia” by Julianna Baggott

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Ashley Mackenzie

There seems to be a strange new disease spreading around the world. People are getting stuck in the past in mostly happy memories. They are straddling the line between now and then. Although the disease ends in death, the infected seem to go willingly. The epidemiologist seeks the answers to this viral mystery while she is falling in love and trying not to get infected.

 

Dark Warm Heart” by Rich Larson

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Samuel Araya

A horror story about a woman whose husband returns from the frozen Canadian North Territories, obsessed with texts he discovered there.

 

A Burden Shared” by Jo Walton

Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Illustrated by Richie Pope

What we do for one another is a mystery.

 

The Awakening of Insects” by Bobby Sun

Edited by Diana Pho
Illustrated by Gregory Manchess

Patterns emerge in the most unexpected places as a scientist studies the flora and fauna of a new world.

 

Sweetlings” by Lucy Taylor

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Miranda Meeks

A small enclave of people lives on the shrunken east coast of the United States, surviving and evolving as Earth’s seas rise.

 

Hexagrammaton” by Hanuš Seiner

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love
Translated by Julie Nováková.

Each man has a measure of luck given by destiny, but not a drop more. Has the luck of an unusual guide responsible for the passage of visitors into the deep buried bellies of alien ships just run out? His newest client, a young woman named Janita, proves to be a member of the resistance carrying in her body an alien civilization’s gift to humanity. Will either of them become the devil’s martyr? One story gives life to another, waiting all along…

 

Sanctuary” by Allen Steele

Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Gregory Manchess

An edge-of- your-seat hard SF adventure as colonists on a new world find that nothing is what they expected and that travelling to a distant star is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined . . .

 

Red” by Ramsey Shehadeh

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Chris Buzelli

A young man grieving for his lost sister steps into the world of their favorite board game, in a desperate attempt to find her.

 

Shape Without Form, Shade Without Color” by Sunny Moraine

Edited by Marco Palmieri
Illustrated by Robert Hunt

Haunted by starlings in the dark, a young woman spirals into an altered state of consciousness.

 

Bourbon, Sugar, Grace” by Jessica Reisman

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Jon Foster

A science fiction novelette about Fox, a young salvager living in a mining colony on an inhospitable planet abandoned by its owners once the mines were shut. When Fox is hired to find an object lost in a recent accident, she finds a mystery, an opportunity, and trouble.

 

eyes I dare not meet in dreams” by Sunny Moraine

Edited by Marco Palmieri
Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

Undead girls begin re-entering the world of the living, emerging from refrigerators.

 

The White-Throated Transmigrant” by E. Lily Yu

Edited by Marco Palmieri
Illustrated by Linda Yan

After a bird fatally collides with her car, a troubled young woman’s life changes irrevocably.

 

Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Victo Ngai

Xin is an ansible, using her song magic to connect the originworld of the Imperial Authority and its far-flung colonies— a role that is forced upon magically-gifted women “of a certain closeness”. When a dead body comes through her portal at a time of growing rebellion, Xin is drawn deep into a station-wide conspiracy along with Ouyang Suqing, one of the station’s mysterious, high-ranking starmages.

 

The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Victor Mosquera

A powerful science fiction story about an architect on Earth commissioned to create (via long distance) a masterwork with materials from the last abandoned Martian colony, a monument that will last thousands of years longer than Earth, which is dying.

 

These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Sam Weber

A horror tale about the Witch Bride, second wife of a King, and the discord between her and her young stepson.

 

The Martian in the Wood” by Stephen Baxter

Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Mark Smith

In the aftermath of the First Martian War, England seemed to once again become a green and peaceful place, if one haunted by the terrible events in Surrey that had happened in those early years of the century. Although people hoped and prayed peace had come, they were wrong. Across the gulf of space, plans were being drawn, but before they could bear fruit a terrible discovery was made deep in Holmburgh Wood, one that would tear a family apart and shock the world.

 

The Library of Lost Things” by Matthew Bright

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Red Nose Studio

Welcome to the Library of Lost Things, where the shelves are stuffed with books that have fallen through the cracks—from volumes of lovelorn teenage poetry to famous works of literature long destroyed or lost. They’re all here, pulled from history and watched over by the Librarian, curated by the Collectors, nibbled on by the rats. Filed away, never to be read. At least, until Thomas, the boy with the secret, comes to the Library.

 

The Lamentation of Their Women” by Kai Ashante Wilson

Edited by Ann VanderMeer

The Prince of Darkness selects a young woman from the Bronx as his chief lieutenant. Content warning for mature themes and graphic violence.

 

Crispin’s Model” by Max Gladstone

Edited by Marco Palmieri
Illustrated by Samuel Araya

A contemporary Lovecraftian tale of art, obsession, and elder gods.

 

The Future of Hunger in the Age of Programmable Matter” by Sam J. Miller

Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Goñi Montes

A group of friends, a pair of lovers, and the tussle between love, addiction, and what comes next. Otto, a former addict, grateful and indebted to his lover Trevor, is faced with temptation and the threat of disaster, but he’s fighting it. Fighting it in a future where matter can be reprogrammed and anything could happen, good or bad.

 


Novelettes

A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Sam Wolfe Connelly

A disturbing horror novelette about a British expatriate at loose ends who is hired by her friend to temporarily care for his young, orphaned nephew in a remote castle-like structure in Germany.

 

The Atonement Tango” by Stephen Leigh

Edited by George R. R. Martin
Illustrated by John Picacio

One act of terrorism changes the life of Michael “Drummer Boy” Vogali forever in Stephen Leigh’s “The Atonement Tango.” Now without his band, Joker Plague, Michael must figure out a way to re-build his life–and seek revenge in this novelette set in the Wild Cards universe.

 

Extracurricular Activities” by Yoon Ha Lee

Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Micah Epstein

A space opera adventure set in a distant future where an undercover agent has to go behind enemy lines to recover a lost ship and a possible traitor.

 

Losing Heart Among the Tall” by A.M. Dellamonica

Edited by Christopher Morgan
Illustrated by Richard Anderson

In this Stormwrack universe adventure, the crew of the Nightjar find a merman of the fleet wounded and stranded in the ocean, Gale’s sister, Beatrice, is forced to take a back seat while Gale and Parrish work to find out who would assault a member of the nation of Tallon’s intelligence service. They soon discover a plot that could shake the foundations of the fleet and Beatrice might be the key to preventing a catastrophic disaster.

 

Come See the Living Dryad” by Theodora Goss

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Allen Williams

A fantasy about a contemporary woman investigating the murder of an ancestor suffering from a rare disease who was a famous sideshow attraction in the nineteenth century.

 

Excerpts from a Film (1942-1987)” by A.C. Wise

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Illustrated by Ashley Mackenzie

A disturbing horror novelette about a young woman, who like many others, goes to Hollywood to become a star and is haunted by the murders of several other aspiring actresses. And of her influence, rippling up through the years, on the man who “discovered” her and on film itself.

 

When the Devil Drives” by Melinda Snodgrass

Edited by George R. R. Martin
Illustrated by John Picacio

Once an assassin and spy, superpowered ace Noel Matthews confronts unexpected enemies after discovering a dead body on the job in this Wild Cards story.

 

Uncanny Valley” by Greg Egan

Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Illustrated by Mark Smith

Immortality, but at what price, in what form, and how could you be you? In the near future it’s possible to build a new you, a better you, one that could carry on forever. But if you could carry on, if you could make choices about who you would be forever, how much of your past would you bring with you? Would you be tempted to maybe . . . edit? Adam isn’t all that he used to be, but he wants to be.

 

Party Discipline” by Cory Doctorow

Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Illustrated by Goñi Montes

In a world where most of us are just surplus population, certain temptations are acute indeed.

 

Angel of the Blockade” by Alex Wells

Edited by Cory Skerry
Illustrated by Micah Epstein

Nata spends her time zipping through the black in her ugly yet bad-ass spaceship, taking pride in being the best smuggler the Imperial regime has never caught. When she takes on an expensive mystery cargo, however, the risk reaches far beyond her pride.

 

The Tablet of Scaptur” by Julia Keller

Edited by Ali Fisher
Illustrated by Micah Epstein

In the 23rd century, there is a radiant world of endless summer where peace is maintained through emotional surveillance performed by a peculiar device called the Intercept. When Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, is smuggled an artifact covered mysterious markings, it’s up to her and her friends to decipher the message.

 

This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer

Edited by Ann VanderMeer
Illustrated by Armando Veve

An alien invasion comes to one man’s doorstep in the form of a story-creature, followed by death and rebirth in a transformed Earth.

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