On Gardner Dozois, Short Fiction, and 150 “New” Writers For Your Consideration

On Sunday May 27th Gardner Dozois passed away. On Friday June 1st, essentially through happenstance, I ended up buying several boxes containing hundreds of used copies of Analog and Asimov’s, most of the latter from Dozois’s incredible editorial reign. Unpacking these and perusing their contents accentuated the sense of loss I’d been experiencing since Dozois died, but the experience also hit me in another way. The sheer volume of his editorial contributions was staggering. (And I wasn’t even thinking of his thirty-five years of annual reprint Year’s Best collections, or his many other anthologies, or his consistently interesting short fiction reviews in Locus). How many writers had Dozois discovered and encouraged and promoted over the years? How many voices had he amplified?

In a 2013 interview, Dozois said, “Even after all these years, finding a really first-rate story is still a thrill, one I want to share with others.” I know I’m not alone in feeling a deep sense of gratitude that Dozois did indeed share so many first-rate stories with us through the decades.

I’m not an editor, but as a reader I likewise find it thrilling to discover a new story that speaks to me. And as a writer I also like to shine a spotlight on what I consider strong work, particularly in the field of short fiction. I don’t do this as much as I’d like to, and that thought has been on my mind for some time. I do make a conscious effort to cover short story collections and anthologies in my review column at IGMS, I love taking the opportunity to promote short story writers on the Locus roundtable blog, interview them for the ’zine Words, and so on—but it doesn’t feel like quite enough.

To this end, a few years ago I started a Facebook group dedicated to discussing science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories. Posts have been sporadic and the group hasn’t taken off in the way I know it has the potential to. It’s easy, after all, for us to get sidetracked away from short fiction. Many conversations on social media, even in writers’ circles, tend to focus almost exclusively on novels—when not talking about movies, TV series, comic books, video games, politics, and so on.

Dozois’s passing, and holding all those issues of Asimov’s in my hands five days later, got me thinking about short stories again.

Which brings us to June 5th. Catching up on various reviews feeds and websites, I discovered a series of wonderful short fiction round-up posts by Maria Haskins at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog. I was particularly impressed by Haskins’ breadth of coverage, both in terms of markets and aesthetic sensibilities.

My hunger for short stories recently re-awakened, I noted down, in a casual way, the names of a few writers recommended by Haskins—and promptly added Haskins herself to my working list. Most of these authors were “new” in a double sense: they hadn’t been publishing for a long time, and I personally hadn’t encountered their work before.

Initially, you have to understand, I was simply writing them down so I wouldn’t forget them. But looking up their names led to several more names, which in turn led to bibliographies with markets I was woefully behind on, which in turn led to finding more new writers, and so on.

The list grew and grew.

As it did, I realized it might be fun to share it with others. After all, it can be challenging for writers in the fantastic genres who work primarily at short lengths to get the attention they deserve. As my compilation of names expanded, I also found myself codifying certain principles for inclusion/exclusion on the list, to keep things somewhat sane.

In short:

  • My primary reference tool to look up writers quickly became ISFDB. I know it has limitations, but that’s what I used.
  • I decided to place an arbitrary cut-off at 2012. Intuitively, a writer who had been at it for more than six years didn’t really feel “new” to me. As I said, I know this is arbitrary. I could have just as easily chosen 2015 or 2010. And I’m sure I could look for psychological reasons to explain why I placed the cut-off at 2012, but ultimately it doesn’t matter; that’s what I went with. Any writer with an ISFDB credit prior to 2012 was ineligible.
  • To be included on the list, a writer had to have a writing credit in 2018. I wanted to find “new” writers still actively publishing.
  • I looked at a variety of markets, but I didn’t try to be comprehensive, I didn’t follow formal criteria for what markets to include or exclude, and I was often guided by whimsy. Wheee!
  • I do tend to read short fiction regularly, and so I left many writers off because they simply weren’t new to me. But even here I wasn’t always consistent.
  • I started to get tired around 130 names in and decided to stop at 150. Again, no specific reason. I could have brought the list to an end at 50 or 100 or pushed on until 200 or beyond. But I did notice the cumulative total of stories at 150 names was approaching 1,000, which seemed like more than enough…

Here’s the list, arranged in chronological order by year of the first story credit according to ISFDB, and alphabetically by first name within each year:

Author Year of First Story
(ISFDB)
# of Stories
(ISFDB)
Arkady Martine 2012 12
George Nikolopoulos 2012 14
J. B. Park 2012 8
Julie C. Day 2012 15
Laura Mauro 2012 11
M. E. Garber 2012 10
Megan Lee Beals 2012 7
Michael Wehunt 2012 26
Nino Cipri 2012 15
Rich Larson 2012 72
A. T. Greenblatt 2013 11
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam 2013 35
Emily B. Cataneo 2013 20
Emma Osborne 2013 6
Irette Y. Patterson 2013 4
J. W. Alden 2013 8
José Pablo Iriarte 2013 14
Julia August 2013 14
Julie Novakova 2013 8
L. S. Johnson 2013 17
Marie Vibbert 2013 17
Michael Harris Cohen 2013 4
Natalia Theodoridou 2013 34
Sean Patrick Hazlett 2013 13
Timothy Mudie 2013 7
Alison McBain 2014 9
Alison Wilgus 2014 4
Charlotte Ashley 2014 9
Elliotte Rusty Harold 2014 9
Jeremy Szal 2014 18
Karlo Yeager Rodríguez 2014 7
Lilliam Rivera 2014 3
Michael Ezell 2014 7
Rebecca Campbell 2014 13
Sherri Cook Woosley 2014 4
T. R. Napper 2014 14
Walter Dinjos 2014 10
Wendy Nikel 2014 30
A Que 2015 5
Aimee Ogden 2015 18
Allison Mulder 2015 7
Anna Zumbro 2015 7
Bao Shu 2015 3
Hamilton Perez 2015 6
Hanuš Seiner 2015 3
Iona Sharma 2015 9
Janna Layton 2015 4
Jason Kimble 2015 9
Jennifer R. Donohue 2015 4
Jonathan Edelstein 2015 8
Kay Chronister 2015 7
Laurence Raphael Brothers 2015 11
Maria Haskins 2015 15
Premee Mohamed 2015 12
Tamara Vardomskaya 2015 5
Tiah Beautement 2015 2
Anya Ow 2016 6
Benjamin C. Kinney 2016 9
Beth Goder 2016 8
Brandon O’Brien 2016 5
Cae Hawksmoor 2016 3
Dagny Paul 2016 3
Derek Lubangakene 2016 2
Erin Roberts 2016 3
G. V. Anderson 2016 3
J. D. Moyer 2016 5
Jon Lasser 2016 5
Langley Hyde 2016 4
Lora Gray 2016 6
Matt Dovey 2016 10
Matt Thompson 2016 6
Michael Reid 2016 5
Rèlme Divingu 2016 3
S. Qiouyi Lu 2016 12
Ville Meriläinen 2016 11
Amanda Helms 2017 6
C. L. Clark 2017 2
Cadwell Turnbull 2017 4
Dare Segun Falowo 2017 2
DaVaun Sanders 2017 4
David VonAllmen 2017 2
Eleanna Castroianni 2017 4
Finbarr O’Reilly 2017 1
Giovanni De Feo 2017 2
Hadeer Elsbai 2017 2
Innocent Chizaram Ilo 2017 3
J. E. Bates 2017 4
J. R. Dawson 2017 4
Jaime O. Mayer 2017 2
Joanne Rixon 2017 4
John Cooper Hamilton 2017 3
Kathleen Kayembe 2017 2
Kathrin Köhler 2017 2
Lina Rather 2017 6
M. J. Pettit 2017 4
Osahon Ize-Iyamu 2017 3
Pip Coen 2017 5
R. S. Benedict 2017 2
Regina Kanyu Wang 2017 2
Rivers Solomon 2017 1
Stephanie Feldman 2017 2
Stephanie Malia Morris 2017 3
Suzan Palumbo 2017 3
Tariro Ndoro 2017 2
Theodore McCombs 2017 2
Vina Jie-Min Prasad 2017 4
Vivian Shaw 2017 2
Adrienne Celt 2018 1
Alix Harrow 2018 1
Amman Sabet 2018 2
Andrew F. Kooy 2018 1
Armando Saldaña 2018 1
Beesan Odeh 2018 1
Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley 2018 1
Bryan Camp 2018 1
Carrow Narby 2018 1
Chelsea Muzar 2018 1
Dee Warrick 2018 1
Edith Hope Bishop 2018 1
Emma Törzs 2018 1
Izzy Wasserstein 2018 3
Jack Westlake 2018 1
Jamie Berrout 2018 1
Jiang Bo 2018 1
John P. Carr 2018 1
Kai Stewart 2018 1
Kathryn McMahon 2018 1
Lindiwe Rooney 2018 1
Makenzi Newman 2018 1
Marc A. Criley 2018 1
Mary Kuryla 2018 1
Melanie West 2018 1
Melion Traverse 2018 1
Phoenix Alexander 2018 1
R. K. Kalaw 2018 1
Randall Andrews 2018 1
Ray Mwihaki 2018 1
S. L. Scott 2018 1
Sam Rebelein 2018 1
Samantha Mills 2018 2
Samuel Jensen 2018 1
Sara Beitia 2018 1
Senaa Ahmad 2018 2
Stephanie Charette 2018 1
Talisen Fray 2018 2
Vincent Michael Zito 2018 1
Walker McKnight 2018 1
William Campbell Powell 2018 1
Xiu Xinyu 2018 1
Zina Hutton 2018 1

 


Please keep in mind, this list is in no way meant to be all-encompassing or intensely rigorous or canon-suggesting or awards-consideration-related or anything like that. It’s a personal, provisional snapshot, subject to the constraints I mentioned above. I made it for fun!

That said, I’d be pleased if it inspired the reading of short stories and got folks talking about writers who may otherwise pass under the radar. “Fighting the good fight,” as the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog tweeted at me. In that sense, this list is in the spirit of Dozois’s editorial work, a tiny tribute to his vast enterprise.

Most of all, I’m hoping you’ll look at it and say things like, “What?! This writer is obviously missing!” or “Yes, we all know about that writer, did they really need to be on yet another list?” and so forth. Add your own names, using whatever criteria you decide—and if you’d be so kind, do so in the comments, so we can all benefit.

traveler-silverbergAlvaro Zinos-Amaro is the author of the Hugo- and Locus-finalist Traveler of Worlds: Conversations With Robert Silverberg (2016). Alvaro has published many stories, essays, reviews, and interviews, as well as Rhysling-nominated poetry.

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