This is it, my friends. You've stood by as I've shipped my favorite relationships. And while I've shivered under the covers waiting desperate for dawn thanks to my favorite horror. And while I've wept enough rivers of tears to sail an armada on because of my favorite emotional stories. And even while I've revved my engine and worn my sunglasses at night in honor of my favorite ACTION! of 2015. But now we come to the final Sippy category, a category so mysterious that it defies the very nature of definitions...I think... Because the final Sippy category is--
The "Where We're Going We Won't Need Categories" Sippy
for Excellent I'm Not Sure What in Short SFF
Sometimes there are stories that just refuse to be placed into a specific box. Stories that, when looking back on them, I can't quite pick out one element that made them memorable. Not that the stories from previous categories were at all simple, but these ones feature cakes made from dead people and were-helecopters and fox spirits and just so many things that made me want to honor them for being...well, strange. And amazing. So instead of thinking of myself as lazy, I will try to think of this category as the wide net to make sure I don't let any really weird tales slip away. And the winners are...
THE BIG SIP:
Cake, okay. Yes, it's about family and expectations and about roles and about love and loss. But cake. Cake is the heart of this story, the ritual of it and the striking imagery and the care required. It's about generations and about building something together, something perfect and fleeting to celebrate a life in the face of death. And it does it with a subtlety and a beauty and a magic that is irresistible and alive. And really, that cake...
THE REGULAR SIPS:
I love how this story manages to tell a compelling and layered story with a nice pacing and a sense of urgency that manages to respect a person's choice to turn away from violence. Another that defies the tropes of former killing machines, what shines in this story is how two people come together to solve a problem for everyone without having to kill or maim or destroy. The story proves that you can have a plot that is, well...peaceful, but quite exciting.
2015 saw a number of interesting shifter stories, but this one wins hands down with its creative tweaking of a classic genre element, introducing a werehelicopter living on the edge of past tragedies. About war and healing and erasure, it takes what might have been a gimmick and gives it depth and a great depth and nuance. There's so much going on in this story, the impotent rage and promise of violence and the worlds of loss.
It can be rather risky to take a careful look at depression and suicide in a metaphoric and speculative way, mainly because there seem so many ways to do it poorly or with a heap of insensitivity. But here is a story that looks with an unflinching clarity at both in a way that doesn't blame those struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and instead stands up to ask why those people, the actual victims, are treated like criminals and traitors and ungrateful bastards. It's a dark story and a heartbreaking one and a damn good one.
This story looks at family and gender and guilt and abuse and features a fox and a person trying to decide how to navigate a deeply complicated situation. Sharp and sensual and steeped in tragedy, the story does an amazing job exploring fluidity and choice and cost. Sometimes there are no options that prevent harm, and sometimes to embrace yourself you will have to hurt others, and the story doesn't blink as it pushes toward an ending that is difficult and very nicely handled.