I'm still a week away from releasing my picks for the year's best SF/F stories and novels (although you can see my work-in-progress list here). Until then I wanted to highlight two new authors whose short fiction caught my eye in 2016.
A. T. Greenblatt is an engineer and writer who has published a handful of short stories since 2010 but really stepped up her fiction in the last two years with publications in places like Strange Horizons and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I loved her 2016 story "A Non-Hero’s Guide to The Road of Monsters" in Mothership Zeta. The story is a fun take on familiar fantasy hero quests, making lighthearted yet quite serious points about the types of people we classify as heroes and monsters.
I also really enjoyed Greenblatt's "They Said the Desert" in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This more disturbing story follows a trader crossing a desert which killed someone she loved. Greenblatt creates an epic world here which I found fascinating.
Harmony Neal has taken a similar publishing path as Greenblatt, with her stories appearing in small magazines in recent years before stepping up with her newest fiction. Her short story "Dare" in Black Static 53 focuses on a group of high school girls daring each other to do truly horrible things to each other. This is one of the year's most disturbing horror stories I've read this year.
I also really enjoyed Neal's weird SF story "Alts" in Interzone 267. This story focuses on a group of altered humans forced to attend a hellish self-help group. As with "Dare" this story is very focused on the characters and their lives, making the reader relate to the story's people and events as if you experienced them yourself.
I suggest people both read these stories and keep an eye out for upcoming fiction from A.T. Greenblatt and Harmony Neal. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of their work.