Saturday, February 3, 2018

2018 Hugo Recommendations: Novelette

This is my long list of novelettes I’ve considered for nomination, largely the list of those I put in the Recommended Reading section of my Locus reviews (with a few additions).

Daniel Abraham, “The Mocking Tower” (The Book of Swords)  
Nina Allan, “Neptune’s Trident” (Clarkesworld, 6/17)
Charlie Jane Anders, “A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime” (Cosmic Powers
G. V. Anderson, “I Am Not I” (F&SF, 7-8/17)
Dale Bailey, “Come As You Are” (Asimov’s, 5-6/1)
R. S. Benedict, “My English Name” (F&SF, 5-6/17)
Maggie Clark, “Belly Up” (Analog, 7-8/17)
Samuel R. Delany, “The Hermit of Houston” (F&SF, 9-10/17)
Christopher East, “An Inflexible Truth” (Lightspeed, 8/17)
Greg Egan, “The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine(Asimov’s, 11-12/17)
Greg Egan, “Uncanny Valley” (, 8-17)
Kate Elliott, “’I am a Handsome Man’ said Apollo Crow” (The Book of Swords)  
Max Gladstone, “Crispin’s Model” (, 10/17)
Theodora Goss, “Come See the Living Dryad” (, 3/17)
Robert Grossbach, “Driverless” (F&SF, 3-4/17)
Austen Habershaw, “The Masochist's Assistant” (F&SF, 7-8/17)
Maria Dahvana Headley, “Black Powder” (The Djinn Falls in Love)  
Simone Heller, “How Bees Fly” (Clarkesworld, 2/17)
Chi Hui, “Rain Ship” (Clarkesworld, 2/17)
Xia Jia, “Goodnight Melancholy” (Clarkesworld, 3/17)
Mary Robinette Kowal, “The Worshipful Society of Glovers” (Uncanny, 7-8/17)
Yoon Ha Lee, “Extracurricular Activities” (, 2/17)
Yoon Ha Lee, “The Chameleon’s Gloves” (Cosmic Powers)
Will McIntosh, “” (Asimov’s, 3-4/17)
Sean McMullen, “The Influence Machine” (Interzone, 3-4/17)
David Erik Nelson, “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” (F&SF, 11-12/17)
Suzanne Palmer, “Books of the Risen Sea” (Asimov’s, 9-10/17)
Suzanne Palmer, “The Secret Life of Bots” (Clarkesworld, 9/17)
Susan Palwick, “Remote Presence” (Lightspeed, 4/17)
K. J. Parker, “Message in a Bottle” (The Djinn Falls in Love)  
Tony Pi, “That Lingering Sweetness” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 4/27/17)
Sarah Pinsker, “Wind Will Rove” (Asimov’s, 9-10/17)
Vina Jie-Min Prasad, “A Series of Steaks” (Clarkesworld, 1/17)
Robert Reed, “Leash on a Man” (F&SF, 9-10/17)
Robert Reed, “Dunnage of the Soul” (F&SF, 1-2/17)
Alastair Reynolds, “Night Passage” (Infinite Stars)
Kenneth Schneyer, “Keepsakes” (Analog, 11-12/17)
Hanus Seiner, “Hexagrammaton” (, 5/17)
Lavie Tidhar, “Waterfalling” (The Book of Swords)  
Genevieve Valentine, “Intro to Prom” (Clarkesworld, 10/17)
Will Waller, “Phantom Architecture” (Rivet Journal, Fall/17)
Peter Watts, “ZeroS” (Infinity Wars)
Alex Wells, “Angel of the Blockade” (, 9/17)

The top candidates for my ballot are:

1.       Yoon Ha Lee, “Extracurricular Activities” (, 2/17) – a quite funny, and quite clever, story concerning the earlier life of a very significant character in Lee’s first novel, Ninefox Gambit. Shuos Jedao is an undercover operative for the Heptarchate, assigned to infiltrate a space station controlled by another polity, and to rescue the crew of a merchanter ship that had really been heptarchate spies, including an old classmate.

2.       Suzanne Palmer, “The Secret Life of Bots” (Clarkesworld, 9/17) – a very old bot on a battered Ship trying to stop an alien attack on Earth. It shows a surprising amount of initiative – even, one might say, imagination – in dealing with the Incidental. Might that not be useful in dealing with the aliens? Or might bots have their own ideas about their own place?

3.       Samuel R. Delany, “The Hermit of Houston” (F&SF, 9-10/17) – This is set some time in the future, in a strange future, hard to get a grip on (the best kind), from one angle seeming sort of pastoral utopia, from other angles utterly horrifying. It’s mostly about the narrator’s long-time lover, an older man named Cellibrex (sometimes), and about the hints he lets drop of some of the true nature of this future. There is extremely interesting treatment of gender, and of politics, and of law and custom and memory – and I don’t get everything that’s going on in the story, in a good way.

4.       Will McIntosh, “” (Asimov’s, 3-4/17) -- The story is scary, and morally provocative, and resolved with honesty. It’s about a man using an AI service to meet potential partners, and finding a really interesting woman – but somehow she never wants to meet in real life. Of course, she’s an AI – and the protagonist doesn’t react very well to that revelation.

5.       Peter Watts, “ZeroS” (Infinity Wars) -- posits a technology that turns soldiers into non-conscious actors – for it turns out the unconscious has spooky abilities. Which are pretty scary for the humans who end up sort of “riding” their unconscious – especially when they learn what their “zombie” selves are capable of. For an extra fillip of spookiness, the story is told from the POV of a soldier who actually died, and who has been resurrected by this particular technology – at an increasingly horrible price.

6.       Hanus Seiner, “Hexagrammaton” (, 5/17) –  A man serves as a sort of intermediary to Europans who have survived an alien virus, guiding a young woman to visit her father when he realizes she is infected with the virus – and with a purpose. Another thread shows a man – the same man? – in prison – and somehow both these threads seem to turn on understanding the alien language, and its multiple meanings for the same sentence. The linguistic weirdness reminded me of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”, and though it’s not THAT good, it’s pretty weird cool stuff.

The other stories on the verge are Kenneth Schneyer’s “Keepsakes”, Alastair Reynolds’ “Night Passage”, Daniel Abraham’s “The Mocking Tower”, and Kate Elliott’s , “’I am a Handsome Man’ said Apollo Crow”.

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