Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 Hugo Nominees - Short and Novelette round-up

Short story was a tough decision. The only story I actively disliked was “Bride of Frankenstein,” although “The Moment” didn’t do much for me either. Neither story seemed to be saying anything all that interesting. On the other hand, “Spar” really jumped out at me as something special, but I also really enjoyed “Bridesicle” and “Non-zero Probablities.” For those two latter stories, my only complaint was that I liked them so much I wanted more. “Spar” I didn’t really want more of, which I guess is an accomplishment for a short story. In other words, on an intellectual level, and as an appreciation of the craft of short stories, “Spar” wins hands down. But I actually enjoyed reading the other two stories as much, with the edge probably going to “Non-Zero Probablilities.” I guess I’ll vote with my head rather than my heart.
  1. “Spar” Kij Johnson
  2. “Non_Zero Probablities” N. K. Jemisin
  3. “Bridesicle” Wil McIntosh
  4. “The Moment”
  5. No Award
  6. “Bride of Frankenstein” Resnick
Novelette’s an easy one for me though. I enjoyed all six of these stories, but five of them were mild “likes.” I’ve ranked them below, but 2-6 (and especially 4-6) are virtually tied. “The Island,” “Sinner, Baker, etc. etc.” and “One of Our Bastards” each presented original and exciting worlds, but I often found those worlds needlessly complex, especially in this short format, where you don’t really have time for effective world-building and detailed plot and character development. “It Takes Two” and “Overtime” gave us contemporary stories with speculative fiction twists. They were nice, but they also felt a bit inconsequential – the former focusing on an erotic tryst and the latter edging into slapstick. Swirsky’s story, however, really grabbed me and touched me in a very surprising way. It’s the least cutting edge of the six – it’s basically an Asimov robot story with a touch more emotional and psychological complexity – but maybe that’s a virtue (at least, from this reviewer’s prespective). Swirsky’s story is not only my favorite Hugo-nominated novelette, it’s my favorite short fiction of 2010 that I’ve read.
1. “Eros, Philia, Agape” Rachel Swirsky
2. Sinner Baker
3. “It Takes Two” Griffith
4. “Overtime” Stross
5. “The Island” Peter Watts
6. “One of Our Bastards is Missing” Paul Cornell

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