Favorite Short Fiction of 2021

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)

2021 in Review

What did I manage to accomplish in 2021?

Finished writing The Land of Two Moons. This happened in February, and is one of the only “actual” resolutions I made at the end of 2020. The story is done! I’ve posted all of it on this website as well as a reflection post and some information about the world.

Started rewriting Samael. Although I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, I got further in the story than I ever have before. I haven’t finished the outline – which was one of my December 2021 goals – but that will be done in 2022. Hopefully I’ll finish writing Samael in 2022 as well.

Wrote 161 blog posts. This is more blog posts than the previous 6 years combined. As it turns out, I have quite a bit to say about various things. I started writing about things other than writing again; I wrote reviews, started a series of posts called “Nostalgia Time”, wrote about my conlangs, started a series of recommendation posts, and started the Let’s Make a Conlang series.

Cleaned up most of my conlangs. This was mostly done by the end of May. I standardized the documentation and dictionaries for my conlangs, as they were a serious mess. This was what allowed me to start writing blog posts about my conlangs in the first place.

Read 1003 individual things. I set out to clear out my reading list, and along with the new stuff that was released each month, I ended up reading A LOT of things. My original goal was only to read 365 things, but I hit that back in May. This is the breakdown per month:

  • January: 52
  • February: 76
  • March: 93
  • April: 94
  • May: 63
  • June: 51
  • July: 71
  • August: 63
  • September: 78
  • October: 120
  • November: 96
  • December: 146

Got a new job and a credit card. After some nonsense with a job that was supposed to start in January but didn’t, I got a new job! Also, I did get a credit card and am using solely to pay for streaming services and online purchases.

There will be a post next Wednesday on what I intend to accomplish in 2022. My goals are still pretty vague at the moment. Hopefully I’ll manage to come up with something concrete by then!

Let’s Make a Conlang: Soleisu Week 4

<< Let’s Make a Conlang: Soleisu Week 3 | Let’s Make a Conlang: Soleisu Week 5 >>


This was another busy week. After a very long time, I finally decided on a stress system for Soleisu! And that is…no stress at all. Each syllable has the same “weight” to it, and none are stressed more than the others. I’m not quite sure what this is called linguistically.

I also worked out some “number words”. These aren’t numerals, but words that are used in place of any kind of number-marking on nouns. These words are miska, meaning “some, not many” and tima, meaning “many, a lot, a large number”. I’m sure I’ll create more “number words” in the future.

Words Created This Week

ensi /en.si/ n. tree

miska /mis.ka/ num. some, not many

nimu /ni.mu/ n. cloud

piya /pi.ya/ n. sky

osei /o.sei/ adj. bright

teiru /tei.ru/ adj. dark

tiku /ti.ku/ n. light

tima /ti.ma/ num. many, a lot, a large number


<< Let’s Make a Conlang: Soleisu Week 3 | Let’s Make a Conlang: Soleisu Week 5 >>

Lexember 2021

This December, I decided to create an entirely new conlang, Soleisu. Like all new conlangs, it needed a lot of words. And what could possibly be better for new words than Lexember?

Day 1 / 2021-12-01

kala /ka.la/ n. – language

Despite this being day 1’s word, it was actually created on December 4th. It was, however, the first word to have an actual meaning assigned to it. I thought that having the word for “language” very early on would be useful.

Day 2 / 2021-12-02

/ly/ n. – fish

This is one of the test words I created when I was working on the conlang’s phonology. It was originally /lu/, but I changed it to /ly/ when I realized I wanted a short word with that /y/.

Day 3 / 2021-12-03

tolko /tol.ko/ n. – moon

A test word that gained a meaning on December 4th. This one shows one of the conlang’s syllable-final consonants, /l/, which can only occur in the middle of a word – never at the end of one.

Day 4 / 2021-12-04

yene /je.ne/ n. – sun

Another test word. /j/ using <y> is the reason /y/ is represented with <ü>. Umlauts don’t exist anywhere else.

Day 5 / 2021-12-05

hali /ha.li/ n. – star

After “sun” and “moon”, I decided it would also be good to have a word for “star”.

Day 6 / 2021-12-06

selio /se.li.o/ n. water

I was pretty stumped this day. I’d decided to stick with nouns until I had the time to create more grammar, and I couldn’t think of any nouns I wanted to create words for. I settled on “water” as it would probably end up being useful in compound words and example sentences.

Day 7 / 2021-12-07

palha /pal.ha/ n. fire

Then I decided to stick with the element theme.

Day 8 / 2021-12-08

mailke /mail.ke/ n. dirt, earth

Day 9 / 2021-12-09

kannai /kan.nai/ n. person

I very quickly got sick of elements.

Day 10 / 2021-12-10

nalai /na.lai/ n. thought

Day 11 / 2021-12-11

laati / la.a.ti/ n. memory

Day 12 / 2021-12-12

lunta /lun.ta/ n. secret

This word is partially inspired by Irish rúnda, which means “secret”.

Day 13 / 2021-12-13

se /se/ prn. I, me

I figured it might be useful to finally create a first person pronoun.

Day 14 / 2021-12-14

anali /a.na.li/ v. to shine

This is the first verb created for Soleisu!

Day 15 / 2021-12-15

katnei /kat.nei/ v. to see

Day 16 / 2021-12-16

itali /i.ta.li/ v. to speak

I decided it would be useful to create more verbs for future grammar tests.

Day 17 / 2021-12-17

satoi /sa.toi/ v. to read

Day 18 / 2021-12-18

salkai /sal.kai/ v. to walk

Day 19 / 2021-12-19

matni /mat.ni/ v. to think

Day 20 / 2021-12-20

selini /se.li.ni/ v. to flow (water)

Day 21 / 2021-12-21

soleisu /so.lei.su/ n. river

Day 22 / 2021-12-22

silu /si.lu/ n. mountain

Day 23 / 2021-12-23

kesli /kes.li/ v. to sing

Day 24 / 2021-12-24

ika /i.ka/ n. house

Day 25 / 2021-12-25

soi /soi/ n. food

Day 26 / 2021-12-26

nome /no.me/ adj. black

Day 27 / 2021-12-27

nimu /ni.mu/ n. cloud

Day 28 / 2021-12-28

ensi /en.si/ n. tree

Day 29 / 2021-12-29

piya /pi.ja/ n. sky

Day 30 / 2021-12-30

tiku /ti.ku/ n. light

Day 31 / 2021-12-31

osei /o.sei/ adj. bright

Recommendations: December 2021

Fiction

First Leaf by Elise Stephens (FIYAH)

Just One Step, and Then the Next by E. N. Díaz (Clarkesworld)

Missing Dolls Around the World by Ai Jiang (The Dark)

Red is Our Country by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko (Lightspeed Magazine)

The Age of Swirling Mist by J. F. Gleeson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

The Cold Calculations by Aimee Ogden (Clarkesworld)

The Calendar of Saints by Kat Howard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

The Tinder Box by Kate Elliot (Tor.com)

To New Jerusalem by Farah Kader (FIYAH)

Vegvísir by David Goodman (Clarkesworld)

Nonfiction

A Universe of Possibilities: Planets of Red Dwarfs by Julie Nováková (Clarkesworld)

From the Sense of Wonder to the Sense of Wander by Francesco Verso (Apex Magazine)

Podcasts

16.49: Magic and Technology: Two Sides of the Same Coin (Writing Excuses)