“Eros, Philia, Agape”, Rachel Swirsky
An heiress who has some serious father issues has a robot boyfriend. She wants that the robot is independent and happy, but that causes some unforeseen consequences – the robot decides it is better that they do not live together, and there is something he wants to do. Very well written, not entirely logical story, but enjoyable nevertheless.
“It Takes Two”, Nicola Griffith
A business woman has very important business negotiation, and as part of that, she ends up in a strip joint. As a major surprise, for both parties she and a stripper fall head over heel in love with each other. And there is a reason why that happens. Fairly average story. It takes at least halfway before there is any speculative material.
The Island”, Peter Watts
A spaceship in the far future is building portals for ftl-travel. Due to relativistic speeds millenniums have passed. As they are ready to create another portal, they find a kind of living Dyson-sphere. If they create the portal as planned, the creature will be killed. But changing the plan isn't so easy, as the ship is mainly controlled by not too bright, not too flexible AI. The idea was ok and the writing was good. Unfortunately, the story concentrated mainly to plotting and machinations of humans and AI on-board the ship, and almost ignored the living sphere which would have more interesting detail.
“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, Eugie Foster
A world where everyone wears a mask. The mask thoroughly defines the person. Everyone must change the mask every day, to wear same mask too often is considered perverse and even criminal. But does everyone have a mask?
Another story that is extremely well written. The idea is fairly good, not too logical. I really didn't get the end “twist”, and I didn't find it believable or reasonable.
“Overtime”, Charles Stross
Worker working for a some kind of secret government organization has to be on call for Christmas. The organization apparently deals with some supernatural phenomena. He must spend the holidays apparently empty office building. Or is there something happening, what is that bearded evil looking man wearing red clothes doing? A Christmas story. Not especially good, I really wonder why this was nominated? Not bad, but especially good story either. Probably it was published just before nominations, and stuck to the mind of some voters who read little sf.
“One of Our Bastards is Missing”, Paul Cornell
I am entirely sure if the story was happening in some kind of alternative steampunkish past, or in fairly far future where countries of early 19th century have come back. The princess of British empire is almost kidnapped from a wedding, there are plots by Prussian nobles, interdimensional holes and so on. As a whole not too bad story, but there probably are more stories happening in the same background. I am not sure this worked perfectly alone.
This category was not too strong, clearly worse than last year, when most of the stories were pretty decent. Well, almost all, except the one which won. None of stories was truly remarkable. Rachel Swirsky's story was the first I read, and I enjoyed it, but I was pretty sure that something would be better. I was wrong. Eugie Foster's story was a Nebula winner, and it was good, but not exceptional. The last place was fairly easy choice, and other places fell fairly easily to their places.
1.“Eros, Philia, Agape”, Rachel Swirsky
2.“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, Eugie Foster
3.“One of Our Bastards is Missing”, Paul Cornell
4.The Island”, Peter Watts
5.“It Takes Two”, Nicola Griffith
6.“Overtime”, Charles Stross