June 30, 2017
Hugo Voting: Short Stories
I'm on vacation through next week, and I intend to use my time to finalize my Hugo voting. (The deadline is July 15.) Let's start out with my ballot for Short Story.
"Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," Brooke Bolander, Uncanny Magazine, November 2016
"That Game We Played During the War," Carrie Vaughn, Tor.com, March 2016
"An Unimaginable Light," John C. Wright, God, Robot, Castalia House
"A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers," Alyssa Wong, Tor.com, March 2016
"Seasons of Glass and Iron," Amal El-Mohtar, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press
"The City Born Great," N.K. Jemisin, Tor.com, September 2016
Left off ballot entirely: "An Unimaginable Light"
This story is, to put it plainly, an abomination. It was a cliche-ridden, thesauri-exploding, poorly constructed, badly edited, stupid polemic mess. For an author who constantly decries "message fiction," the message (politically correct robots bad, humans good) is so in your face as to drown out what little qualifies it to be considered a "story." Ugh. After reading this, I need that fifteen minutes of my life back, along with a gallon of brain bleach.
6) No Award
5) "A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers"
I generally love Alyssa Wong's work, but this one didn't quite connect with me. It was beautifully written, but in the end it just felt hollow.
4) "That Game We Played During the War"
This is a thoughtful exploration of war and its aftermath, and what it means to win and lose, as expressed through a telepath and a non-telepath playing a game of chess. (Although if we're talking about games expressing the human condition, it would have been much more interesting if Vaughn had had the characters play bridge.)
3) "The City Born Great"
Last year's Best Novel winner, N.K. Jemisin, wrote this as what she calls a "proof of concept" (e.g., a trial run) for a new series. It's a modern fantasy wherein certain cities in the world gain their own sentient life, and this story details the birth of New York. It's good in and of itself, but the series based on it (which I've had the privilege to see a possible outline for, as one of her patrons) promises to be fantastic.
2) "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies"
This is short, brutal, and unforgettable. The author obviously had in mind the Hamilton tagline: "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story." This story is for the forgotten, fridged women in so many tales, wrapped in a beautiful, shimmering, righteous fury.
1) "Seasons of Glass and Iron"
This story really spoke to me. It's a reconstructed fairy tale of female friendship and women saving each other, told with lovely, understated prose. As with all the best fairy tales, it says so much about modern life, about abuse and gaslighting and double standards, and the poison heaped upon beautiful people.
(I also wish the Hugos had a Best Anthology category. The Starlit Wood was one of the best anthologies I've read in years.)
Next up: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.