Best short stories of the year (so far)

As 2014 edges into its last few months, I want to highlight those short stories which have impressed me this year and which will be on my shortlist for next year's award nominations.

Here's my first group of must-read stories:

  • "Steppin' Razor" by Maurice Broaddus from Asimov's Science Fiction, Feb. 2014.
    This impressive steampunk novelette is a great introduction to Maurice's fiction. The story is set in an alternate-history Jamaica, where competing factions and beliefs compete for dominance and power.
  • "When it Ends, He Catches Her" by Eugie Foster, Daily Science Fiction.
    This story is both touching and disturbing, and an beautiful elegy on life and death. I was blown away by this story when I read it and immediately knew it'd be on my year's best list, with this story ranking in my mind with Eugie's Nebula Award winning "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast." I only wish I'd been able to tell Eugie how much I loved this story before she passed away.
  • "Marielena" by Nina Allan, Interzone 254
    I've long been a fan of Nina Allan's beautiful stories, and "Marielena" must surely rank among her best. The story is the tale of a refugee in near-future Britain who is both haunted by a literally demon from his past who lives alongside the demons of the present and future.

In the coming weeks I'll highlight other stories on my emerging year's best list. I also suggest checking out K. Tempest Bradford's weekly io9 columns, which are essential reading for anyone who loves genre short stories.