(Note: This is the latest in an ongoing series discussing as many of the 2015 Hugo nominations as I can, and why I will or will not vote for them.)
As soon as I started reading this, I thought: "Hot damn! A competently written story!" I had almost forgotten such a thing existed.
Unfortunately, that's about all I can say for it. I'm a bit surprised Analog published this; it doesn't seem like their kind of thing, although I will admit it's been a few years since I've been a regular reader. I'm sure it will appeal to some people, but to me it was so relentlessly dull and mediocre I couldn't get into it. The characters didn't interest me at all (and the nearly complete lack of women didn't help). Nothing much seemed to happen, and in the very last paragraph, when Rist lowered himself to the Bottom Lands, I decided I didn't care if his biter-web broke and he plummeted all the way to the bottom. (Mercifully, the story ended there.)
(This is the last of the Novella nominees available for free. I did look up a Kindle sample of Tom Kratman's "Big Boys Don't Cry" on Amazon and read it all the way through, but within the first couple of pages it became clear that this was just more Castalia House-published, Theodore Beale-edited, badly written weapons porn. Just no, people.)
(It also cemented my conviction that my vote for Best Short Form/Long Form editor, whatever it may be, will not go to Theodore Beale/Vox Day under any circumstances. If an editor is supposed to be judged by his/her output...well, as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Beale's output should be flushed down the toilet. It consists of stuff that a decent editor would have never let see the light of day, and neither it nor he is worthy of a Hugo.)
Now. How will I vote in this category?
It's quite simple. That handsome gentleman, that lovely lady, the Honorable Noah Ward, takes this one in a runaway.
I don't feel the least bit guilty about this, either. In my view, nothing in this category is Hugo-worthy, and most of it is downright stupid. So just remember this for next year, kids: If you want votes, nominate better stories!
Now: On to the novelettes (for real this time).