Short stories is the first Hugo-awards category I have finished reading. I am still going thorough the other categories, but it seems it will take some time (Anathem is a bit on the thick side.. .. and text in it is something not to be read very fast).
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
Fantasy story about a circus act, some monkeys, mystery and finding one’s own place in the world. Very well written, but a bit too much fantasy for me. Strange things happen, but with no real reason, or with no good explanation. I have always suspected when reading this type of story that even the author couldn’t give explanations to most things left unexplained.
“Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick
A robot working for a priest in a small congregation gets taste of religion. Another well written, pretty typical Mike Resnick story. The allegories a more that a bit heavy-handed, and there are some major problems with logic. A robot which is supposed to be absolutely logical (as stated in the story) doesn’t find anything contradictory or illogical in the bible? And falls for religion?
“Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
Extremely short story about monkey working with potter’s wheel. Pretty good, but nothing special. I really don’t understand why this story was nominated over so many other good stories, I can’t find it special in any way. Nice little mood piece, but that’s it.
“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
Robots which use pressurized gas loaded from a special reservoir for sustenance, live on a large, closed world. A scientist type among them tries to find out who their brain works among other things. Excellent, very well written and thought provoking story,
“From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick
Story starts straight away in action. Human station on an alien planet has been attacked, and sole survivor, his AI survival suit with a personality modeled on his girlfriend killed on the attack and an alien must make a hasty escape. The start of the story is a bit confusing, as fairly little back-story is given. The story improves a bit towards the end, when it comes a bit easier to understand just what the hell is going on. I wonder if this story is a part of some series?
The best story was very easy to pick. The other places aren’t so clear. Nothing was bad, or so horribly irritating like the last years “Last Contact” was - however, the Resnick‘s robot story is pretty irritating in it‘s saccharine style. Second place was mainly due to the quality of writing. First I was not going to use the “no award” category, but after some thought I have decided to put "no award" to fourth place. Kowal's story's nomination really baffles my mind. Why? Even Resnick's nomination is easier to understand.
My votes will be in this order:
1. “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
2. “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
3. “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick
4. No award
5. “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
6. “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick