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 2018, we published 14 original novelettes and 15 short stories 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!
“You Know How the Story Goes” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
It’s the same old story. Take a chance and pick up a hitchhiker…
“Our King and His Court” by Rich Larson
A futuristic story about a high-ranking soldier in a criminal gang who has conflicting loyalties to his monstrous boss and that boss’s innocent young son.
“Under the Spinodal Curve” by Hanuš Seiner
Near the vast steelworks of Karshad, a journalist has fallen in love with the residual personality of a metallurgist, but what will happen when realliance—and forgetting—comes?
“Played Your Eyes” by Jonathan Carroll
A fantasy about a woman bequeathed an odd gift by a former lover who broke up with her, then died—his handwriting. Why did he do this and what does it mean?
“The Heart of Owl Abbas” by Kathleen Jennings
A composer in an unstable city-state accidentally discovers the perfect singer for his work—a clockwork man—and sows the seeds of revolution.
“Worth Her Weight in Gold” by Sarah Gailey
A slyly funny, raucous adventure in the alternate America of Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow.
“Into the Gray” by Margaret Killjoy
One is the Lady of the Waking Waters, an immortal mermaid. The other is a thief, who steals lives until a wish can be fulfilled, and a life-changing choice must be made.
“The Guile” by Ian McDonald
When an AI that monitors casino gambling in Reno taunts a magician by revealing all his tricks, the magician is determined to exact his revenge.
“Yiwu” by Lavie Tidhar
For a humble shopkeeper in Yiwu, it’s a living, selling lottery tickets. Until a winning ticket opens up mysteries he’d never imagined.
“Black Friday” by Alex Irvine
In a dark future America where consumerism and gun culture are unchecked, a young family teams up to celebrate the first shopping day of the Christmas season in the most patriotic possible.
“Meat And Salt And Sparks” by Rich Larson
A futuristic murder mystery about detective partners—a human and an enhanced chimpanzee—who are investigating why a woman murdered an apparently random stranger on the subway.
“The Need for Air” by Lettie Prell
A mother. A son. A virtual world they both share where each could live forever and achieve their fullest potential. Until one of them decides that isn’t enough for life.
“Loss of Signal” by S.B. Divya
Toby Benson has a chance to make history. The first mind to circle the moon without a body in tow. It’s a golden opportunity, perhaps the only chance for a 19-year-old whose body failed him to become immortal. But as he reaches the dark side of the moon and loses signal from Earth, the cold of space threatens to overwhelm him.
“The Kite Maker” by Brenda Peynado
When an alien walks into a human kite maker’s store, coveting her kites, the human struggles with her guilt over her part in the alien massacres…
“AI and the Trolley Problem” by Pat Cadigan
A provocative story about the relationship between the humans on a British airbase and the AI security system that guards that base. When a group of humans are killed, the question is who is responsible and why.
“The Ghoul Goes West” by Dale Bailey
A fantasy novelette about two brothers, both obsessed with movies—one a not-very-successful screenwriter, the other an academic.
“Where Would You Be Now?” by Carrie Vaughn
The world as they know it is ending; a new one is taking its place. Among the doctors and nurses of a clinic-turned-fortress, Kath is coming of age in this new world, and helping define it. But that doesn’t make letting go of the old any easier. “Where Would You Be Now?” is a prequel to the novel Bannerless, a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.
“Evernight” by Victor Milán
A Wild Cards novelette, “Evernight” takes readers down to the depths of the Parisian catacombs.
“Breakwater” by Simon Bestwick
An engineer is caught up in the war between humans and mysterious creatures beneath the seas that are destroying coastal cities around the world.
“The Flight of Morpho Girl” by Caroline Spector and Bradley Denton
Adesina, known as “Morpho Girl,” is used to handling the weird that is her everyday, but life has dealt her a tricky new hand. What’s a newly-teenaged joker need to do to catch a break?
“Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly
The mission: to survey the galaxy and beyond. An endless stream of probes and starships heading out into the universe, surveying, cataloguing, assaying. Forever. And on board those ships, the intrepid explorers who give it all meaning.
“Recoveries” by Susan Palwick
Two women who have been friends since they were children—one a recovering alcoholic brought up by parents who believe they’re alien abductees, the other an orphan with an eating disorder—contend with a secret that might doom their friendship.
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly
A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge.
“The Nearest” by Greg Egan
When a detective, a new mother, is assigned to the case of a horrific triple murder, it appears to be a self-contained domestic tragedy—but it slowly becomes clear that something much darker may be at play.
“No Flight Without the Shatter” by Brooke Bolander
After the world’s end, the last young human learns a final lesson from Earth’s remaining animals.
“Triquetra” by Kirstyn McDermott
After marrying the prince and having her own child, Snow White visits her stepmother—promising to kill her in ever more horrible ways, at the same time attempting to stay away from the mirror that started it all.
“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” by Daryl Gregory
When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.
“Fitting In” by Max Gladstone
A Wild Cards story. A failed contestant of the superhero reality TV show, American Hero, Robin Ruttiger now works as a high school guidance counselor to reluctant students. Things change, however, when a favorite bakery in Jokertown becomes a target of vandalism, and Robin realizes he can play the hero after all.
“The Word of Flesh and Soul” by Ruthanna Emrys
The language of the originators defines reality, every word warping the world to fit its meaning…