The Year in Review 2022 by Paula Guran
First, I want to rave. It took me most of 2022 to finally catch up to online periodical The Sunday Morning Transport. Julian Yap, editor-in-chief, and Fran Wilde, managing editor, publish a single science fiction or fantasy (sometimes dark) short story (almost) every Sunday. Free subscribers receive one story a month. Paid subscribers receive one story each week, 50 weeks a year. Last year’s contributors included Max Gladstone, Karen Lord, Kij Johnson, Kat Howard, Elsa Sjunnesson, Kathleen Jennings, Sarah Monette, Juan Martinez, E.C. Myers, Maureen McHugh, Sarah Pinsker, Yoon Ha Lee, Michael Swanwick, Brian Slattery, Malka Older, and many more. Looking ahead, 2023 includes stories from Yoon Ha Lee, Marissa Lingen, Rachel Hartman, Ellen Klages, Erin Roberts, Marie Brennan, Rachelle Cruz, Rick Wilber, Cadwell Turnbull, Darcie Little Badger, and, of course, more. Seldom, if ever, has any online (and maybe print) periodical debuted with such consistently high-quality writing. Nowadays, all-original anthologies are few and far between, let alone un-themed ones. TSMT is well worth the subscription price as it equals at least two anthologies worth of great fiction a year. (Not to mention you should now go catch up on the 50 tales from 2022). Sure, you may prefer some stories over others, but they are all worth reading. I cannot recommend it more highly. So, go forth and discover for yourself already.
Once again, real life intruded far too much for me to read all the great novels published in 2022. My favorites included A. G. Slatter’s gorgeously written, deeply dark, deliciously rich, and magical The Path of Thorns (Titan); Book of Night by Holly Black (Tor) which introduces a fascinating world where shadows can be altered for various purposes (at a cost, of course); and – second in the Great Cities duology – The World We Make (Orbit) by N.K. Jemisin (who, once again, packs an incredible amount into a single, fascinating book). I am also enjoying Rebecca Roanhorse’s fantasy series Between Earth and Sky. Its second novel, Fevered Star (Saga), like its first, Black Star, presents fabulous worldbuilding and superb characterization.
There are always great single-author collections every year. Probably (I have a nagging feeling I am forgetting something) my three favorites were Breakable Things (Undertow) by the ever-unsettling Cassandra Khaw; Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller, who has a knack for striking deep into both a reader’s heart and gut, and the richly imaginative (and often dark) Our Fruiting Bodies: Short Fiction by the legendary Nisi Shawl (Aqueduct).
This last year was a bit stronger than 2021 for original anthologies. Among my favorites were Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction (Tordotcom) from a trio of editors: Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda K Knight which showcases the diversity of fantasy and science fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora with 32 stories. I consider Conjunctions an anthology rather than a periodical, even though it appears twice a year. Conjunctions:78: Fear Itself, edited by Bradford Morrow, presents some of the best literary horror around. Jonathan Strahan’s Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance was also good. A mix of top-notch science fiction and fantasy that demonstrates (as the editor puts it) that time travel is ‘‘a great narrative device.’’
One non-fiction book I want to mention is The Rise of the Cyberzines, the final volume of Mike Ashley’s five-volume series, which follows the history of science-fiction magazines from their beginnings in the 1920s to (with this entry) their presence on the internet. Okay, for upwards of $130, you may not want a personal copy, but urge your library to purchase.
Although again I am probably forgetting something, I’ll mention four novellas. Rebecca Campbell’s The Talosite (Undertow) posits an alternate World War I era in which the dead can be resurrected. Pomegranates (PS Publishing) by Priya Sharma came out very late in the year but should not be overlooked. It combines myth (Persephone in the Underworld) with the reality of climate change. The Bone Lantern (Absinthe) by Angela Slatter concerns a young witch determined to find her own way. Like The Path of Thorns, it is set in the author’s imaginative Sourdough world. Nghi Vo’s Into the Riverlands (Tordotcom), the third of her The Singing Hills Cycle, offers more first-rate storytelling and again features the wandering cleric Chih.
I know I’ve forgotten to mention far too much. I always do. But at least y’all can be assured that what titles I did remember to include are worthy of your attention.
Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron OH, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.
This review and more like it in the February 2023 issue of Locus.
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