Novellettes is second Hugo category I have finished reading. Here are my thoughts about nominees and my ballot:
“The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi
A Political refugee from Laos works on a internet news portal, and has some trouble with his employers as his writes from uninteresting, depressing subjects as extinction of butterflies and global warming instead of stories with real interest. As pedophile rock stars running away from the police. Well written, very good story. But I really don’t see why this is science fiction - it seems to happen a few years in the future, but that is about all.
“Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel
Jane Austen characters meet Mary Shelley characters, written in Austen style.
Well written, slow moving and not much happens, except a lot of discussion about relationships in best Jane Austen style. Isn't bad, but nothing very special either. And the Frankenstein parts seem mainly to be based on movies on the subject, rather than to the original novel which is kind of disappointing.
“The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner
A young boy finds an alien ray-gun from a forest beside a small crater. Owning the gun and keeping it secret molds his life and loves. Excellent and entertaining story, written in bit fairybookish style. Very good ending which even manages to be bit chilling in contrast of light tone of story, especially if you consider the implications.
“Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick
Two old men try to find a magic shop where they used to frequent as children. Not so surprisingly, they find it with the same sales clerk. Typical Resnick’s magical realism story . Very good if you are in to this sort of stuff, a bit too sweet for me, and I didn’t totally understand the motivations of another of the main characters.
“Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear
Shoggots (which are apparently imaginary beasts from Lovecraft’s horror novels) are real animals which once a year migrate to shallows. A black scientists comes to study them just before second World War. There are several references to Lovecraftian stories. Nicely written, but pretty inconsequential story in my opinion, personally I have never really cared about horror genre in literate or Lovecraft. Maybe if I were familiar with those I would be able to appreciate this story more.
I believe overall quality was better last year in this category, and last year's winner was clearly better than any of these stories. It was interesting to note that two of the stories were literary pastiches at least to some degree. I enjoyed most Gardner’s story so I am entering it at the first place. I even toyed putting “no award” next, as none of remaining stories was something I really loved - but I didn’t hate any of them either. And I won’t be slitting my wrists if any of them wins. I am predicting a win for Resnick’s story.
My votes will be in this order:
1. “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner
2. “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick
3. “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel
4. “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi
5. “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear