Issue 185 – February 2022


Editor's Desk: 2021 Readers' Poll Finalists

In late January, we held the first phase of our annual Clarkesworld Magazine Readers’ 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 proven an effective tool in our efforts to minimize the effects of ballot-stuffing and campaigning. We did observe a slight increase in efforts this year, but even removing those, this year’s poll had our highest participation levels ever.

This year, it was never apparent which works were destined to become finalists. Everything was in flux right down to the final hours. In the end, ties in the fiction category yielded eight finalists. As in the past, we’ve chosen not to implement a tie-breaker and have passed all eight stories into the final round. We missed having a similar situation happen in the art category by one vote, placed in the final minutes of voting.

Without further ado, here are this year’s finalists presented in alphabetical order:

Best Story

  1. “Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma” by R.S.A. Garcia (Novella, 1/2021)
  2. “Homecoming is Just Another Word for the Sublimation of the Self” by Isabel J. Kim (Short Story, 3/2021)
  3. “The Failed Dianas” by Monique Laban (Short Story, 2/2021)
  4. “You Are Born Exploding” by Rich Larson (Novelette, 12/2021)
  5. “Sarcophagus” by Ray Nayler (Novelette, 4/2021)
  6. “Yesterday’s Wolf” by Ray Nayler (Short Story, 9/2021)
  7. “The Cold Calculations” by Aimee Ogden (Short Story, 12/2021)
  8. “Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer (Novelette, 6/2021)

Best Cover Art

Space Cadet
“Space Cadet” by Pascal Blanché

“Isolation” by Matt Dixon

“GUYS! Don’t Lose Hope” by JC Jongwon Park

“Forward” by Wenjuinn Png

“Suspire” by Yuumei

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, Chicon 8—the 80th 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

Beyond that, at present, there isn’t a category for professional magazines, but you can always 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 Our 2021 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 the rough couple of years we’ve all had.

Thank you and happy voting!

Author profile

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.

Share this page on: