Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hugo nomination possibilities, short fiction

Okay, then, let’s just get right to it. Hugo nomination recommendations in short fiction. (I haven’t read enough 2015 novels to speak sensibly on that category.) This is, indeed, mostly the contents of my Best of the Year collection, with a few added that I couldn’t use for one reason or another (length, contractual issues, etc.). And let's add the obvious -- I miss things! Even things I read. There have definitely been cases where a story I didn't pick seemed to me on further reflection to be clearly award-worthy.

The Two Paupers, by C. S. E. Cooney (Fairchild Press)
“Gypsy”, by Carter Scholz (Gypsy plus …F&SF)
“The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred”, by Greg Egan (Asimov’s)
“The Bone Swans of Amandale”, by C. S. E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
“The Boatman's Cure”, by Sonya Taaffe (Ghost Signs)
Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand (Open Road/PS Publishing)
Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Penric's Demon)
Teaching the Dog to Read, by Jonathan Carroll (Subterranean)
Sunset Mantle, by Alter S. Reiss (Tor)

In all these cases the order is semi-meaningless -- possibly the top couple are likely to make my nomination list, beyond that, I'm pretty torn! This list, I will say, seems highly tilted to Fantasy – only the Egan and Scholz stories are SF, but they are both brilliant SF, the hardest stuff, and highly politically charged. Indeed, politics are also central to Cooney’s “The Bone Swans of Amandale” and Reiss’s Sunset Mantle. Perhaps it’s in the air? Besides politics, wonderful prose is a key feature of several – both Cooney stories, and also Taaffe’s and Hand’s. (Which is not to say the others aren’t well written, but the prose isn’t as front and center in them.)

“Twelve and Tag” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s)
“Acres of Perhaps” by Will Ludwigsen (Asimov’s)
“The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld)
“Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathagan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus)
“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Analog)
“The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus)
“This Evening’s Performance” by Genevieve Valentine (The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed)
“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (Uncanny)
“My Last Bringback” by John Barnes (Meeting Infinity)
“The Deepwater Bride” by Tamysn Muir (F&SF)

So this list has, by my definition, only three Fantasy stories as against eight SF stories. And not so much directly political work as the novellas, either, nor as much prose-besotted work. (Though Valente’s certainly qualifies, in a very, er, colorful way!) The impacts are different – as they should be – Bossert is twisty hard SF, Ludwigsen is moving contemporary fantasy, McDonald and Valentine are steam- (or diesel-) punkish, though not traditionally so. Muir evokes Lovecraft – not something you see too often in my lists of favorites! Bolander is non-stop, and pretty violent, noirish action adventure, but with pretty cool SF ideas as well.

Short Story:
“Mutability” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s)
“Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip)
“The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link (Strange Horizons)
“The Astrakhan, the Homburg, and the Red, Red Coal” by Chaz Brenchley (Lightspeed)
“Hello Hello” by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions)
“Consolation” by John Kessel (Twelve Tomorrows)
“The Daughters of John Demetrius” by Joe Pitkin (Analog)
“Unearthly Landscape by a Lady” by Rebecca Campbell (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club” by Nike Sulway (Lightspeed)
“Little Sisters” by Vonda M. McIntyre (Book View Cafe)
“Asymptotic” by Andy Dudak (Clarkesworld)
“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)
“Today I Am Paul” by Martin Shoemaker (Clarkesworld)
“Drones” by Simon Ings (Meeting Infinity)
“The Graphology of Hemorrhage” by Yoon Ha Lee (Operation Arcana)
“Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson (
“The King in the Cathedral” by Rich Larson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Time Bomb Time” by C.C. Finlay (Lightspeed)

The one story this year that came out of nowhere to stun me was “Mutability”, for what that’s worth. Again, not as much Fantasy. Beyond that, all I can say is – these are a bunch of outstanding stories. Read them!


  1. Here via BlackGate via File770. Great list! "Today I am Paul" and "The Game of Smash and Recovery" were incredible and both are locked in on my Hugo nominations ballot. Time Bomb Time is pretty damn good as well; it's a contender.
    (Cat Pictures, Please--very good, but not as good as Cat Rambo's "You Have Always Lived in the Castle" or my favorite story of the year, "I am Gralnaak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies... Ask Me Anything."

  2. I noticed that you listed "Asymptotic" as a short story, but according to the Clarkesworld eligibility list it's a novelette.

    1. I round things to the nearest 100 words, and so I had it in my spreadsheet at 7500 words (I see that Clarkesworld says 7507). It's eligible in either category, but for Andy's sake I guess we ought to settle on one, and I suppose novelette makes sense.