This week I’m looking at the Best Novelette and Best Short Story category finalists, yes, including Dr Tingle’s work. Both categories have a large increase in nominating ballots, with Best Short Story more than doubling from 1174 ballots in 2015 to 2451 this year; while Best Novelette didn’t quite manage to increase that much, going from 1031 ballots to 1975 this year.
- “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015) – Honestly, this piece didn’t appeal to me in the least. It reads as an attempt to be edgy and something or other without giving me anything I could identify with. Yes, as always, your mileage may vary.
- “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) – It’s a shame this work has a bit of a slow start, because it builds to a powerful story. Personally, I’d have started it about 1/3 of the way in, and Heinleined the Weber-esque details of the way the weaponry and space warships worked, but obviously a lot of people disagreed.
- “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015) – This story was interesting enough, but it didn’t really leave much of an impact. The main idea isn’t all that original (Dayworld was I think the first to play with this), and there’s something underlying the piece which leaves a bad taste – although I will say the author’s perspective isn’t exactly what one would call approving of the kind of government that implements a solution like the one in the story.
- “Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner) – Stephen King shows why he is Stephen King – this piece is creepy, intriguing, and covers a whole lot of dark aspects of humanity in a way that’s never too overt.
- “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) – I have to say I didn’t find this story that interesting, but the payoff was worth following it. Like the other piece in this category from There Will Be War Volume X, it’s a worthy but flawed submission which raises some interesting questions without managing to rise to the kind of standout piece I’d want to see. Since none of the other entries did either, I’m not sure which way I’ll vote.
Best Short Story (2451 nominating ballots) (1174 in 2015)
- “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015) – This story is cute and quirky, but ultimately forgettable. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there also doesn’t seem to be much that really pulls one in.
- “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015) – Another cute piece, but with a liberal side of “hmm” that kept me thinking after I’d finished. This is one of my personal contenders for this category.
- “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015) – As an unabashed parody, this work is skating the edges of eligibility, but then, so did the story it parodies (yes, yes, you may append “in my opinion” to everything I say in all these posts). I honestly don’t see this as being worth a Hugo, but I’m all of one voter.
- “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) – This story is my other personal contender: it’s interesting from the start, told largely from the perspective of a protagonist who most readers here would consider “the enemy” and makes a number of damn good points about where national interests and ethics collide.
- Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services) – Well. First up, this work isn’t shameless or unrepentant porn. That would imply the possibility of shame or repentance. It’s positively gleeful porn dancing around the room shaking its booty at you, while still being a moderately respectable science fiction piece with some interesting perspectives on isolation and the tricks one’s mind can play in such circumstances. Frankly, with a pretentious title it would probably get more than a few literary types all hot and bothered. I can’t say if it’s good porn because I don’t read enough porn to judge (nor do I intend to rectify that shortcoming – because I’m already reading multiple entendres into everything I write).
Next week – assuming I don’t lose what passes for my mind in the interim – will be Best Novella and Best Novel. Possibly with an option on Worst Kitten Wakeup Call at 5 AM Damn It.
And, as always, read all of them yourself and make your own decisions.