I haven't been writing long enough to have any rightful claim to cynicism, yet when I hear about bookstore closings or read essays announcing the death of this form or that form, no flourish of footwork can keep me from stepping into a steaming mound of negativity. In fact, I reckon most mornings are punctuated with some grand anguished gesture: lying face down on the floor, shaking a fist at the sky. But looking at the spread of stories this year I feel something altogether different. Dare I call it optimism? (Yikes. Even the word makes me shudder.) From when I joined this project two years ago, the number of journals on my reading list has very nearly doubled. It seems for every journal or press that folds, two more come in to replace it. More impressive is how many of these newcomers leapfrog the customary growing pains and emerge fully formed, publishing first-rate fiction right out the gate. As a result, this year boasts a greater range of journals than any previous list (besting last year's high-water mark). And I continue to marvel at the new and innovative approaches writers are bringing to the short form, the unexpected ways in which they access the human heart. Very short fiction is as vital and restless as ever, and not even in the most cynical of moods can I deny that simple truth.

Included here are the stories that made us want to shout from the top of a mountain (and by "mountain" I of course mean Twitter). So skim, scan, browse, survey, peruse. Read one story or two stories or five stories or all fifty. There's no wrong way to experience this list.

Thank you to Lily Hoang for somehow, miraculously, managing to contract the longlist into a lean, mean fifty.

Thank you to Seamo for tagging the main page.

Thank you to Scott Garson for all of his hard work these past four years and for giving me the tremendous opportunity to emcee this year.

Now for the good news/bad news portion of this introduction. Which do you want first? I'll begin with the bad. Scott has opted for a reduced role in the construction of next year's longlist. (But if it means more Garson writing gets out into the world, then I'm all for it.) The good news: Laura Ellen Scott and Greg Gerke have kindly agreed to join the Top 50 crew. Welcome aboard! To christen this sleek new editing vessel I'll now smash a bottle a champagne against the side of my monitor.

Oh no…

Notes on Eligibility:

The Wigleaf Top 50 are chosen from a Longlist of 200 stories. Stories have to be at or under 1000 words to be eligible, and must have been posted sometime during the previous calendar year. Stories in blogzines are not considered (unless the blog is part of a larger journal with external hosting). Reprints are not considered. Stories appearing in journals based outside the U.S. are not considered (unless that journal's billing is explicitly international). Stories that are not published and/or archived in HTML are not considered. Stories without unique HTML urls are not considered, unless they are part of sets by the same author. And stories written by Wigleaf editors or appearing in Wigleaf itself are not considered. If you're an editor and want to make sure that your mag's vsf is considered for the next Wigleaf Top 50, please shoot us an email.

Ravi Mangla lives in Fairport, NY. His very short stories have appeared in many online and print journals.

To link to this directly: http://wigleaf.com/11top50foreword.htm

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