The end of Hugo voting is coming up at the end of the month, and I am more or less on top of reading the fiction nominees this year! What’s more, for the first time ever, I’m going to be attending the WorldCon in London this year! Is anyone else that I e-know going to be there?
I’m planning to do a few short opinion posts, to give my top pick(s) of each category. All the nominees can be found on the Hugo website. Today, I’m covering short fiction. From longest to shortest, the short fiction categories are novellas, novelettes, and short stories.
For the novellas, my favorite is Catherynne M. Valente’s Six Gun Snow White. The language of the novella is as lovely, poetic, and chaotic as I have come to expect from Valente. It is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, but it also incorporates Native American mythology and ‘wild west’ culture. This one struck me as a little bit similar to Deathless, in the way it combined folklore with a haunting emotional story.
The novelette category had some really strong contenders, and I’m down to three that I would be especially happy to see claim the prize. By a hair, my favorite was The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling, by Ted Chiang. This novelette covered the development of technology that allowed people to maintain an easily searchable, permanent record of their entire life. The story explored the possible effects that this, and other kinds of recording technology, might have on people, their relationships, and their perceptions.
My other two favorite novelettes were Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Lady Astronaut of Mars and Aliette de Bodard’s The Waiting Stars. The Lady Astronaut of Mars involves the difficult choices of an elderly astronaut whose husband is terminally ill. It's a very effective emotional story, though it's extremely sad. I don’t want to give away the main plot twist of The Waiting Stars, but it takes place within Aliette de Bodard's Xuya universe. I think the story still works well if you aren't familiar with the universe (I wasn't), but it might take a little longer to figure out what's happening.
As for the short stories, I came down in favor of The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere, by John Chu. The story imagines a world where telling lies causes one to be mysteriously drenched in water. The premise is used for emphasis in a story of love and family drama.
What were your favorites this year?