The “I’m Sleeping with the Lights On” Sippy Award
for Excellent Horror in Short SFF
Now horror to me has to do a lot with feeling. About fear, particularly. And stories, especially SFF stories, can approach fear in many different ways. They can get us to look at the mundane differently by treating with teh supernatural. They can remind us of the terror of the unknown, and the unknowable. They can present us with a situation and setting where the rules as we know them don’t apply. Where anything might happen. 2017 was, perhaps aptly, a great year for SFF horror. The world has done a thorough job of showing us all just what a dark and forbidding place it can be, and a bit of that can be seen reflected in the horrors crafted in these tales. But for most of them the stories don’t stop at the revelation of horror. They keep going, reaching past that horror and to a place where ghosts are put to rest, hungers are fed, and we can all live in a better place. So please join me is celebrating this year’s winners!
The Regular Sippys
"Can Anything Good Come," Suyi Davies Okungbowa (The Dark) (Short Story)
This story of shopping and deals is gripping and flows with a wonderful voice. There’s a slide from boredom into wonder into terror that is hitting and that kept me smiling until it had me hiding under the covers. About cost and bargains, it’s fun even as it’s not light on scares.
Apex) (Short Story)
Okay so this is a story about infestation and invasion that is so incredibly creepy while also being rather adorable. Seriously it’s one of those stories where I can’t decide if I want to coo and invite the darkness in or run away and leave only fire in my wake. Just a delightful and delightfully creepy story.
Gothic and tense, a story about hunger and about isolation, this piece revels in the horror of atmosphere and location. Taking place far away from the prying eyes of the city, the story shows what is lurking just outside, what is waiting to feed. Visceral and disturbing, it’s sure to satisfy those wanting a bit more grisly a read.
The Dark) (Short Story)
Playing with the tropes of horror, and especially horror movies, this story blends a surreal style with a heavy and powerful prose to explore victims and predators and the idea of innocence. Sharp and full of anger and pain, the piece shows the power that can come from rejecting the common narratives and forging a new story, one that doesn’t always end in the same comforting tragedy.
"You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych," Kathleen Kayembe (Nightmare) (Novelette)
What impresses me most about this story is that it tells three different kinds of horror stories at the same time, each character trapped in their own hell, each bearing the weight of family and betrayal and injustice in different ways. Each new perspective deepens the story, and the horror, by revealing yet more pain and need for resolution, weaving it all together until it can be brought out and exorcised. The character work is powerful and the magic carries the gravity of family, the oldest of connections and bonds, and how it can be warped, twisted, and made into something monstrous. Even so, the story is also about old wounds being cleansed and, if not healed entirely, at least fading into scars. There’s a hope that, for as toxic as family can be, it can also be redemptive and triumphant, and I love how the story ties it all together.