In her lovely book Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life, Anna Spence says of The Wilds: “It looks like a book of fairy tales. And there is most assuredly some strange shit inside. There are medical spas with flesh-eating procedures and pirates. There are old ladies with robot legs. But there are also girls and women very much rooted in the realities of their existence. These stories are expansive in subject matter and deal with complete relationships and emotion.”
I’ve compiled 100 must-read SFF short story collections so you can set out devouring these bite-sized chocolaty treats of weird worlds and astounding stories too. I tried to pick newish authors and collections, so you won’t find any of the Pulp and Golden Age writers on this list (well, I snuck in an Ursula Le Guin, but it’s a new release!). There are 60 collections of individual author’s short stories, and 40 anthologies of multiple authors. For the anthologies, I only used an editor once. Many editors compile a ton of anthologies, like John Joseph Adams, Terri Windling, and Ellen Datlow. But I wanted to give as diverse a list as possible, so I only listed one by these editors.
Garden and Gun “asked experts at independent bookstores across the South for the summer reads they’re recommending to book lovers right now.” Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC describes The New and Improved Romie Futch as “a magical realism Southern gothic novel about this middle-aged, often drunk, often broke taxidermist. Sort of dark, very funny.” Check out the list here.
I love The Georgia Review and am stoked to have a story in the Summer 2017 issue. For a limited time, you can access it online. A random snip: “In the vast boudoir of a Gordes mansion, a kaftan-clad OB-GYN smeared Aquasonic gel upon the pop star’s belly. Despite her devotion to natural childbirth, the goddess could not resist the reassurance of a fifth-month ultrasound, and Carlo held her sweaty hand. Her doula and midwife, also wearing white tunics, chanted ancient Sumerian fertility hymns as the OB-GYN pressed the diva’s bulging abdomen with her magic wand.” Read more here.
According to Elle (India), fans of Black Mirror should read The Circle (Dave Eggers), The Status of All Things (Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke), and my story collection The Wilds:
A disabled elderly woman gets bionic legs,a middle-aged woman participates in grotesque rejuvenation therapies on a Carribean island and a teenaged girl finds herself embroiled in the weird schemes of her friend’s wacky grandmother. Julia Elliott’s debut collection of genre-bending stories mix gothic elements with a dystopian bent and a healthy dose of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. The stories are filled with dark humour and unexpectedly poignant moments.
For other TV-related book recs, check out “What you should be reading based on your favorite TV show.”
I wrote a warm fuzzy story about motherhood for the Fall 2016 Conjunctions: Other Aliens. From a recent NewPages review: “The result of their love is Adelaide, a child who is not entirely human and uses serrated gills inside her mouth to feed on her mother’s blood. The narrator’s world is changed forever as she copes with the pain and joy of becoming a mother. Elliott’s prose is excellent and her story stands out as one of my favorites in this collection.” Hoping for a reprint in Mothering Magazine: “Ten Tips for Gently Weaning Your Blood-Suckling Alien Baby.”
Julia Elliott’s stories are creepy—but in a good way. A girl wearing a crown of bird bones is taken captive by a pack of wild boys; an old woman in a nursing home explores with her robotic legs; a spa in the Caribbean overs gruesome treatments. These works of short fiction vacillate between weird and wonderful and through them, Elliott redefines the “Southern Gothic” genre.
For over three decades, Conjunctions has been a haven for weird and innovative writers, and I’m proud to have another story (“Clouds”) in this amazing anthology edited by author Bradford Morrow. Other Aliens “collects works of literary science and speculative fiction: innovative short stories, poetry, and essays that explore the vast precincts of unfamiliarity, of keen difference, of weirdness and not belonging.”