Hugo Nominations – Best Novella, Best Novelette & Best Short Story
Once again, I must confess to dereliction. I can count the genre short fiction published in 2013 that I read in 2013 on the fingers of one hand. I’ve read considerably more in the last two months or so but nowhere near enough. Luckily, there are better curators out there:
- Abigail Nussbaum on novellas, novelettes and short stories
- Rachel Swirsky on novellas, novelette and short stories
Nussbaum opens her post by saying:
They also reaffirm my belief in the vibrancy and relevance of the genre short fiction scene. I don’t know another genre in which ordinary readers habitually get excited about short stories the way that SFF readers do, and in which those stories are an integral part of the conversation surrounding the genre. I certainly don’t know another genre in which short fiction venues are proliferating–whether it’s online venues or original anthologies (often funded by Kickstarters). Far more than the best novel category, it seems to me, the short fiction categories give us a glimpse of the genre’s present state – and of its future – which is why it’s so important to me that they represent the richness and diversity of what’s being published.
I’m not sure I quite agree. There is obviously something unique about the speculative fiction short fiction landscape and worth cherishing. But whilst short fiction is part of the conversation, the discourse remains dominated by novels. At the moment, short fiction strikes me less as a glimpse into the genre’s future than a parallel universe and that is where I think the Hugos and the other short fiction awards have a role in shining a spotlight, amplfying the conversation and bridging the gap.
- Spin by Nina Allan (TTA Press)
- Black Helicopter by Caitlín R Kiernan (Subterranean Press)
I was also planning to nominate ‘The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself’ by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books) but he’s done that himself and saved me the bother.
I’ll confess I spent more time looking for a tweet from Howard Mittelmark suggesting that a novelette was “an omelette with a little book in it” than I did actually reading them. I think it is a silly term and, like several Hugo categories, is not in common usage outside the genre. Compare and contrast, for example, the Wikipedia article for novelette with those for novella and short story. Then wince a bit at the way SF shoves itself into the latter two.
A counter-argument for retaining the category put forward by Nussbaum is that “the short fiction categories, with their wider perspective and lower stakes, give a better snapshot of the field and its interests” than Best Novel. I would agree that removing Best Novelette and having five slots for novels, five for novellas and five for short stories would leave the awards unbalanced. My solution would be to have a ten slot shortlist for stories up to 17,500 words (there’s probably an argument for having ten slots for Best Novel too).
Best Short Story
With the above in mind and given I haven’t finished reading yet, here are ten short stories I enjoyed:
- ‘Deux Ex Arca’ by Desirina Boskovich (Lightspeed)
- ‘Your Figure Will Assume Beautiful Outlines’ by Claire Humphrey (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
- ‘A Visit To The House On Terminal Hill’ by Elizabeth Knox’s (Tor.com) – more here
- ‘Let’s Take This Viral’ by Rich Larson (Lightspeed)
- ‘Inventory’ by Carmen Maria Machado (Strange Horizons)
- ‘Dead Fads’ by Maureen F McHugh (Lightspeed)
- ‘The 9th Technique’ by China Miéville (The Apology Chapbook)
- ‘Selkie Stories Are For Losers’ by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons) – more here
- ‘Free Fall’ by Graham Templeton (Clarkesworld)
- ‘Sing’ by Karin Tidbeck (Tor.com)
You will notice that almost all of these stories were published in small online magazines. If you are less of a purist than me, you might consider these venues for Best Semiprozine.