I read so much in 2021 and loved a lot of stories. Narrowing this list down to one story per month was pretty difficult! There’s so much good stuff out there. This is the stuff I’d vote to get awards, if I did that sort of thing.
You can check out the Recommendations category for all the stories (and more) I particularly liked in 2021.
Just One Step, and Then the Next by E. N. Díaz (Clarkesworld)
Quintessence by Andrew Dykstal (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Small Monsters by E. Lily Yu (Tor.com)
Sometimes You Get the Bear by Tim Pratt (The Deadlands)
Terra Rasa by Anastasia Bookreyeva, translated by Ray Nayler (Clarkesworld)
The Burning Girl by Carrie Vaughn (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
The Demon Sage’s Daughter by Varsha Dinesh (Strange Horizons)
The Lay of Lilyfinger by G. V. Anderson (Tor.com)
The Woman Who Destroyed Us by S. L. Huang (Lightspeed Magazine)
When You Die on the Radio by Adam R. Shannon (Lightspeed Magazine)
Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine)
Where Things Fall from the Sky by Ally Wilkes (Nightmare Magazine)