My Hugo shortlist for novellas
The novella category was fairly good, clearly better than last year - but that not saying much as last year most of nominees were pretty bad (and the winner was hideous - the most blatant home field win since Hominids). There three good stories, which weren’t very easy to put in order, and two stories which I am apparently just too stupid to understand.
I also really wonder what it was that these stories got nominated over some clearly better ones, especially why Tenbrook of Mars by McLaughlin wasn't nominated is really strange. (except that those casting nominating votes seem really, really, hate Analog and think that anything published in that magazine is worthless). Other noteworthy stories which are in my opinion better than most of those which got nominated are Hob Carpet and The Room of Lost Souls from Asimov's.
The Political Prisoner by Charles Coleman Finlay
A story about former political officer of a religious dictatorship who is taken to a concentration camp for forced labor after a coup. Good, exiting and well written story. However, it could be argued that the story isn’t really science fiction, as all events in the story might have happened in any generic gulag, the oppressed gene modified people might have been Jews or some other persecuted group and so on. Very good and moving story nevertheless.
“Truth” by Robert Reed
A very strange prisoner is kept under the most careful guard possible in underground prison. There is extremely good proof that his has come from the future among a larger terrorist group which is planning to change the world. His main interrogator has just committed suicide, and his replacement is brought in. Meanwhile, the world seems to be going to hell…
Pretty good story, the first part seems to go on for a bit too long, the ending is very good.
“The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress
A few old people living in a supported living home start to experience strange spells where they feel as part of something greater and then lose their consciousness. The attacks repeat more and more often, and they start to be more profound. Eventually they even seems to have effects to the outside world.
Very good story, well told. The weaker part was the ending which felt a bit rushed and not entirely satisfying.
“The Tear” by Ian McDonald
Galaxy has apparently been inhabited by humans long ago, and there are many different types of humans who are each adapted to different local conditions. One type is able to hold several personalities or ”aspects” at the same time and switch between them, another appears to be more of a kind of hivemind. The last mentioned are for some reason chased by ruthless enemies. And there are complicated space battles, love and so on. In fact too much seems to be happening just for a longish novella, with too many abrupt changes of viewpoint written by overtly long and complicated sentences. This is another story where I felt that I am just too stupid to appreciate the literary fine writing. At places reading was more than a bit of a struggle.
“True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow
Post singularity (?) intelligences live fight and love. Or at last it seems so. Extremely hard story to get into. I am just probably too stupid for it, but I couldn't care of the "characters" at all or really follow what they were doing. I must confess that I had give up after about 40% of the story as I just couldn’t give a sh*t about what the characters were doing or about the storyline.
I think my votes will be in this order:
After thinkin about it for a few days, it wasn't so hard to put these stories in order after all.
1. “Truth” by Robert Reed
2. ”The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay
3. “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress
4. "The Tear” by Ian McDonald
5. No award
6. “True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow