Because I’m a realist and I know I’ll run out of time, I thought I’d throw my nominations for novella, novelette and short story together in one post.


  • ‘‘Times Table’’, Robert Shearman (Everyone’s Just So So Special)


Last year I joined the Last Short Story crew and seriously believed I’d read at least 400 pieces by the end of the year.  It was a rookie mistake.  186 short stories later and it looks like I only read one novella length piece worth nominating.*  That said, my reading fell significantly towards the end of the year and so I missed pieces like Kij Johnson’s “The Man Who Bridged The Mist,” which has garnered a bit of hype since its publication.

Rachel Swirsky, who read far more stories than I did this year, has this to say about 2011’s novellas.

That said, the story I have nominated is a real stonker.  Rob Shearman’s “Times Table”, which sits at the heart of his collection, starts with a strange premise – a girl who sheds her skin every birthday – and then grows ever more disturbing, especially when you discover that the shed skins are still “alive” and stored in the attic.  It’s a remarkable piece of prolonged, intense writing about identity and self-hood and… well… David Hebblethwaite says it better than me here.


  • ‘‘The Silver Wind’’, Nina Allan (Interzone 3-4/11)
  • ‘‘The Choice’’, Paul McAuley (Asimov’s 2/11)
  • ‘‘A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong’’, K.J. Parker (Subterranean Winter ’11)
  • ‘‘Purple’’, Robert Reed (Asimov’s 3/11)
  • ‘‘Restoration’’, Robert Shearman (Everyone’s Just So So Special)


Because I’m lazy I’ll point you to the Last Short Story website  for my thoughts on “The Choice” and “Purple”.

In regard to “The Silver Wind,” by Nina Allan I liked it far more than Martin Lewis who gave the story a bit of a roasting.  I’m not going to debate Martin’s thought here other than to say that I was more enamoured by the view point character.  However, that’s possibly because I’d read the piece as part of a collection where a variant of the POV character features in two earlier stories.  In other words, I’m not sure how I would have reacted to the story if I’d read it divorced of the collection in Interzone.  I still think I would have enjoyed it because of the high quality of the writing.

The K.J Parker is beautiful under-stated piece of second world fantasy about creative genius, betrayals and revenge, while Rob’s  “Restoration” is a brilliant, hilarious fantastical idea tinged with love and sadness.

Rachel Swirsky’s far more intelligent thoughts on the novelette’s can be found here.

Short Stories

  • ‘‘Younger Women’’, Karen Joy Fowler (Subterranean Summer ’11)
  • ‘‘Goodnight Moons’’, Ellen Klages (Life on Mars)
  • ‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
  • ‘‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’’, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld 4/11)
  • “Old Habits”, Nalo Hopkinson (Eclipse Four)

Again being lazy you can read my thoughts for “The Paper Menagerie”  here and for “The Cartographer Wasps” here.

As for the other three, “Goodnight Moons” is a tear jerking piece on space travel and motherhood, “Younger Women” is possibly the greatest vampire YA story ever told while “Old Habits” is a genuinely chilling slice of horror that should have featured on the Locus Recommended Reading List.

Rachel Swirsky also has plenty of interesting things to say about 2011’s short stories here.


*I thought I’d read more novellas but “The Silver Wind”, “The Choice” and “Purple” – which I thought were novellas – are novelettes, at least according to Locus.