Monday, January 30, 2017

Hugo Nomination Thoughts: Short Fiction: Short Story

Short Story

“Empty Planets”, by Rahul Kanakia (Interzone, January/February)
“Red in Tooth and Cog”, by Cat Rambo (F&SF, March/April)
“Red King”, by Craig de Lancey (Lightspeed, March)
“That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn (, March)
“All That Robot Shit”, by Rich Larson (Asimov’s, September)
“Openness”, by Alexander Weinstein (Beloit Fiction Journal, Spring)
“Between Nine and Eleven”, by Adam Roberts (Crises and Conflicts)
“Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son”, by Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan (Strange Horizons, August 1st and 8th)
“In Skander, for a Boy”, by Chaz Brenchley (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 16)
“Laws of Night and Silk”, by Seth Dickinson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 26)
“Ozymandias”, by Karin Lowachee (Bridging Infinity)
“A Fine Balance”, by Charlotte Ashley (F&SF, November/December)
“Rager in Space”, by Charlie Jane Anders (Bridging Infinity)
“Innumerable Glittering Lights”, by Rich Larson (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
“Dress Rehearsal”, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Now We Are Ten)
“Something Happened Here, but We’re Not Quite Sure What it Was”, by Paul McAuley (, July)
“I’ve Come to Marry the Princess”, by Helena Bell (Lightspeed, November)
“A Non-Hero’s Guide to the Road of Monsters”, by A. T. Greenblatt (Mothership Zeta, July)
“Things With Beards”, by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld, June)
“The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory”, by Carlos Hernandez (The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria)

Lots of stories listed there, and they are all good stuff. Noticeable is, of course, Rich Larson, who really had an excellent year. I think there’s a nice mix, too, af fantasy and SF, some funny stories, some quite dark, hard SF, far future SF, action, philosophy. I’m leaning towards the top five listed stories (though, really, as with the other categories, all these stories are worthy) for my nomination ballot. To consider those a bit further:

“Empty Planets” is an achingly beautiful and rather melancholy story set in the very far future, with a diminishing human race realizing it is alone in the universe. The story focuses on two people from the younger generation, one of who, a “recontactee” from a generation ship, looks for evidence of intelligence among distant gas clouds.

“Red in Tooth and Cog” is a sometimes whimsical, clever, and also quite affecting, story about abandoned robots in a city park who have created their own ecology. The combination of sweetness and sharp imagination really grabbed me.

“RedKing” tells of the title computer game, that causes its users to become killers, and a “code monkey” whose job is to analyze the software, both to understand what makes is dangerous, and to find evidence against the maker – but that job is by its nature dangerous. It’s a slick, exciting, and scary story.

“That Game We Played During the War” is a moving piece set in the aftermath of a war between a telepathic race and non-telepaths, and two people who met during the war, and played chess together, working out how to play even while one is a telepath, and how they try to come to terms with peace.

“All That Robot Shit” is (I believe) Rich Larson’s preferred title for the story published in Asimov’s as “All That Robot …”. It’s about a robot and a human after an apocalypse of some sort which means there probably aren’t many more humans – and about the robot’s cooperation with the human – but more importantly his love for another robot. 


  1. I think you mean Mothership Zeta, not Mothership Zero.

    Is the Beloit Fiction Journal available online at all?

    1. Oh, thanks, obviously I did mean Zeta. (Alas, it looks like Zero might represent the number of future issues, however.)

      I read "Openness" in Weinstein's collection CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD (which I highly recommend), and I credit Beloit Fiction Journal because it appeared their first, but I've never seen a copy. (One of my college roommates had transferred from Beloit (to the University of Illinois, where I went), and he had a teeshirt reading "Harvard, Beloit of the East". I think most good small liberal arts colleges have teeshirts like that, mind you.)

  2. ...or the one I had, which said "Harvard: Stanford of the east".

    I realize I've read just two (2) of the stories you list. Good grief!