Sunday, December 17, 2017

Best Short Fiction 2015-2017

A new feature this year, a natural outgrowth of the annual Best-Of lists, the Short-Fiction Honor Roll is a recognition of some (though by no means all) of the finest achievements in the not-as-easy-as-it-looks craft of the erotic short story. While these may be tough times for the genre in general (see my introduction to the Best of 2017 here), erotica remains one of the few places left where short-form fiction continues not only to survive, but flourish. 

I've read hundreds of short stories in the six years since starting EftBB, and it has occurred to me that a lot of very fine stories often get lost in the voluminous shuffle of anthologies--great as many of those collections can be. Too often, customer reviews focus on a few stories by the reviewers' favorite authors (names they recognize) at the expense of work by dozens of talented writers who deserve as much if not more notice. 

It's extremely rare to run across a collection in which every story is a masterpiece, though it does happen  on occasion (check out Rose Caraway's marvelous Libidinous Zombie from 2015 for example, probably the finest quality-over-quantity anthology compiled in the last decade). But, let's be honest, there are a lot of anthologies which simply aren't very good overall. Too much emphasis on variety can kill just as surely as too narrow a focus on a single subgenre or kink. In either case, a discriminating reader may be lucky to find one or two decent stories in a collection of otherwise mediocre material. But what's to become of those diamonds in the rough? It's been said of fine handmade cigars (of which I am something of an aficionado) that "the best one you ever smoked can be sitting in the same box right next to the worst one you ever smoked..." I may not cherish the box itself, but I surely remember the pleasure I got from that one extraordinary smoke...  

And so it is with the twenty-eight short masterpieces listed below. These are the stories that have stayed with me, moved me, haunted me, made me feel, and think, and laugh, and say "Damn! That was good!" even years after I finished reading. 

Long live the short story and the authors and readers who love them! (TAS)

Erotica for the Big Brain's Short Fiction Honor Roll (2015-2017)

The Pier by Night (Janine Ashbless) (Sinful Pleasures (ed. Lisa Jenkins))
The Black Orchid (Jo Henry Wolf) (Sinful Pleasures)
Lazy Sunday (Tony Flyer) (Sinful Pleasures)
Aljanar Ruwa (J.S. Emuakpor) (Wanderlust  (ed. Megan Lewis))
Zero Gravity (Valerie Alexander) (Hotel (ed. Megan Lewis))
Grey Bar Motel (Arden Ellis) (Hotel)
Odd Man (Sonni de Soto) (For the Men and the Women Who Love Them (ed. Rose Caraway))
Winning Big (Charlie Powell) (For the Men)
Enhanced (T.J. Christian) (For the Men)
Sanctum (Dee Maselle) (Love and Lust in Space (ed. Jennifer Denys))
Behrouz Gets Lucky (Avery Cassell) (Best Lesbian Erotica 2015 (ed. Laura Antoniou))
Arachne (Catherine Lundoff) (BLE 2015)
Kiss of the Rain Queen (Fiona Zedde) (BLE 2015)
Michael’s Moment (Kate Ellink) (Tonight She’s Yours (ed. Rose Caraway))
The Miller's Daughter (Michael M. Jones) (Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms (ed. Sacchi Green))
Wood Witch (M. Bird) (Witches, Princesses...)
Penthouse 31 (Brey Willows)  (Witches, Princesses...)
Toads, Diamonds, and the Occasional Pearl (Emily L. Byrne) (Witches, Princesses...)
Jericho (Megan Arkenberg) (Thrones of Desire (ed. Mitzi Szereto)
At the Sorcerer's Command (Kim Knox) (Thrones of Desire)
Flesh and Stone (Sacchi Green) (Thrones of Desire)
The Last Sacrifice (Zander Vyne) (Thrones of Desire)
Canvas (Malin James) (Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 Vol. 2 (ed. Rose Caraway))
Sweet Hel Below (Janine Ashbless) (Dirty 30 Vol. 2)
Thunderclap (Sommer Marsden) (Dirty 30 Vol. 2)
Torrid Zone (Elliot Delocke) (Dirty 30 Vol. 2)
Thief  (Michael Lewis) (Dirty 30 Vol. 2)
Life Drawing 101 (Brantwijn Serrah) (Dirty 30 Vol. 2)

1 comment: