Editor's Desk: 2020 Reader's Poll Finalists
In late January, we held the first phase of our annual Clarkesworld Magazine Reader’s Poll for best story and cover art. Maintaining the model we’ve used in recent years, the nomination phase took place online and lasted just under two days. The narrow window has continued to prove effective at minimizing the effects of ballot-stuffing and campaigning without having a significant impact on the participation level.
This year, it seemed clear from the start that a small group of works were destined to become finalists, but as the deadline approached the border blurred. At the buzzer, six stories tied for fifth place. Voters clearly felt passionately about these works, so it seems only fair to include them all as finalists, as a tie-breaker just didn’t seem fair. They are worthy contenders, after all.
Without further ado, here are this year’s finalists presented in alphabetical order:
- “An Important Failure” by Rebecca Campbell (Novelette, August)
- “The Translator, at Low Tide” by Vajra Chandrasekera (Short Story, May)
- “Helicopter Story” by Isabel Fall (Novelette, January) Not currently available online.
- “One Time, a Reluctant Traveler” by A. T. Greenblatt (Short Story, July)
- “Distant Stars” by P H Lee (Short Story, April)
- “Lone Puppeteer of a Sleeping City” by Arula Ratnakar (Novelette, September)
- “Ask the Fireflies” by R. P. Sand (Novelette, September)
- “AirBody” by Sameem Siddiqui (Short Story, April)
- “To Sail the Black” by A.C. Wise (Novelette, November)
- “A Stick of Clay, in the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential” by JY Neon Yang (Novelette, May)
Best Cover Art
“Alien Scout” by Arjun Amky (November)
“Home Planet” by Beeple (April)
“Monk's Mirror” by Joseph Diaz (August)
“Family Portrait” by Yigit Koroglu (July)
“Ancient Stones” by Francesca Resta (October)
Congratulations to all our finalists!
Now it’s up to you to pick the winner in each category. Go to:
And rank the stories by your order of preference. Voting will close on February 15th at 8PM EST and the winners will be announced in our March issue.
Speaking of awards, DisCon III—the 79th World Science Fiction Convention—has opened the nomination period for this year’s Hugo Awards. Since there are still a few people who continue to nominate Clarkesworld for Best Semiprozine, I’d like to once again remind you that we haven’t been eligible for that award for a long time. Give your nomination to one of the many fine semiprozines out there instead. You can find a list at semiprozine.org.
Beyond that, at present, there isn’t a category for professional magazines, but you can nominate me for Best Editor Short Form if you are so moved, and of course, all our original fiction is eligible in their respective categories. The list of those works and the appropriate category for each story was included in last month’s editorial at clarkesworldmagazine.com/clarke_01_21/. Our 2020 cover artists are also eligible in the Best Professional Artist category.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that each little nod you give means a lot. Recognition doesn’t pay the bills, but it has value, particularly after all everyone’s been through in 2020.
Thank you and happy voting!
Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He is a ten-time finalist and current winner of the Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form), has won the Chesley Award for Best Art Director three times, and received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award from SFWA in 2019. His latest anthology, New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction (co-edited with Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang), is now available from Clarkesworld Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.