I’ve finished my reading for the Hugo nominees. While I’m still digesting what I think and what I want to say about the last few stories, I have sorted out my feelings enough to know how I will vote. As the votes are due by July 31, I’ll try to post the rest of my notes in the coming week, but some of them have given me a lot to chew on.
For me, Julian Comstock is the clear standout. It involved me in its world and leaves me still thinking and talking about it. The City & The City and The Windup Girl are better at describing setting and characters than telling a story. Palimpsest is too rich for my taste, Boneshaker too thin. WWW:Wake is just awful.
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
The City & The City by China Miéville
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
What I suspect will win: The Windup Girl
I enjoyed reading all of these, so none of them really stands out either at the top or the bottom. The God Engines has a great concept and theme, which mostly overcome the stilted style it has saddled itself with. “Act One” hits all its marks, but I feel like there’s something missing and I haven’t yet put my finger on it. Shambling Towards Hiroshima and The Women of Nell Gwynne’s succeed most where they’re silliest and the silly peaks early. “Vishnu at the Cat Circus” and “Palimpsest” both have tons of goshwow tech and “what is going on” moments. The former made me feel like I wasn’t working hard enough to read it and the latter made me feel like it wouldn’t make sense no matter how hard I tried to puzzle it out.
The God Engines by John Scalzi
“Act One” by Nancy Kress
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker
“Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald
“Palimpsest” by Charles Stross
What I suspect will win: “Act One”
Here, “Eros, Philia, Agape” stands out. It explores themes of love, possession, and desire in a way that move me enough to sigh and say “Wow” at the end. Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” was fascinating but fell apart. “The Island” was well-told but depressing. “It Takes Two” bored me, “One of Our Bastards is Missing” confused me, and “Overtime” didn’t do anything for me.
“Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky
“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster
“The Island” by Peter Watts
“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith
“One of Our Bastards is Missing” by Paul Cornell
“Overtime” by Charles Stross
What I suspect will win: “The Island”
BEST SHORT STORY
This time, the stand-out story was at the bottom. The others are decent, but I can’t apply any superlatives to them. “Non-Zero Probabilities” is charming, and I wish there was just a bit more. “Bridesicle” does the best job of telling a story and gave me a “wow” moment at the end, but it’s so icky. “The Bride of Frankenstein” is a slight story with redeeming qualities. “The Moment” is dazzling, if hard to follow, and ruins all its effect by pandering at the end. “Spar” makes me wish the memory erasing drugs in “It Takes Two” really worked, except that might me incautious enough to read it again.
What I suspect will win: “Bridesicle”