These aren't just my favorite stories of 2016, though. The Sippys have categories, five in all, celebrating different aspects of SFF. From stories that made me afraid to go to sleep or left me a ball of tears and feelings huddled in the corner, I want to look at the different ways that SFF can be effective. And my categories might seem a little…odd, but that's just part of the fun. Each category has five picks, four Sippy Award winners and one Big Sip Award winner. So yes, without further ramblings on my part, let's kick things off with…
The "I'd Ship That" Sippy
for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF
"Superior" by Jessica Lack (The Book Smugglers)
I admit it: I might have a particular love of queer romantic superhero stories. But this story goes beyond just being a superhero story. It's a story that complicates what it means to be a hero and looks at two young men finding in each other inspiration to change and be better. It's an incredibly cute and touching story with its share of more poignant moments. Delightful! Check out my full reviews here & here.
"The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles" by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #203)
This story does a lot of interesting things with relationships. I love the way that the world is built, with two primary relationships that are separated by night and day. And how even that doesn't really work to free people from the binaries that close in around them. That act like prisons. It's a fascinating and moving story that examines gender and will and transformation. Check out my full reviews here & here.
"1957" by Stephen Cox (Apex)
Where to even start with this story. First, it is amazing. Second, it is probably the darkest piece to end up in this category, as the relationships that it examines aren't always the most consensual of things. This story looks at longing and at situation, fantasy and reality, and how people can make different choices that they thought they'd never make. It's an amazing and powerful piece and definitely one of my favorite stories of the year! Check out my full reviews here & here.
"The Book of How to Live" by Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
It should come as no surprise that a Birdverse story has once again appeared in this category. The relationships in the settings are so foundational to everything that goes on. This story focuses on resistance, yes, but also on the relationships between people of different power levels, the magical and the magicless. How that imbalance can impact relationships—on societal level and a very personal one. How it can divide or unite people. It is a fantastic story! Check out my full reviews here & here.
Okay, and now it's time for...
Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap (The Book Smugglers)
Okay, so this story just came out, and I'd be a little worried about being too close to my initial reaction to the story if it wasn't SO FUCKING AWESOME! Seriously, the story is incredibly concerned with its relationships. The relationship between the five main character, mostly—their friendship that becomes literally the key to saving the universe. But it also features familial relationships, romantic relationships, and the many complex ways that our relationship webs affect our lives. It's also an amazing celebration and deconstruction of the magical girl trope and is just so much fun. I'm afraid that, coming out so late as it has, it might be overlooked by a lot of people, but FOR FUCK'S SAKE READ THIS STORY. It is beautiful and wrenching and hopeful and strong and I will gush about it all day. Check out my full review here.
So much thanks to all of the authors of these amazing stories! And please stop back in next week when I'll share the winners of The "I'm Sleeping with the Lights On" Sippy for Excellent Horror in Short SFF!