“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal
A family on generation ship saves all important data through an AI personality. Apparently it is so poorly constructed that a dropping it shakes a wire apart from its socket, and prevents it from accessing the long term memories. And apparently those who developed the system were brain dead and didn't plan for any backups. Well, that accident reveals that not only the system is poorly constructed and poorly fault tolerant, it is extremely poorly programmed as well - someone with dementia can hack the system so badly it can not be restored. The writing is ok and strives for emotion, but the premise and logic are so horribly bad, that irritation over those prevented any possible emotions.
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson
A young girl has to bring her pony (with wings, a horn and ability to speak) to a party where the pony has to lose two of the skills. All metaphor, nothing else. Very short story,
“The Things” by Peter Watts
John Carpenter's The Thing from the monsters point of view. Naturally he(it?) has motivations and goals of his own, and doesn't consider himself as on monster or as a "bad guy" ( or as an individual at all as matter of fact). A fairly good story, very well written, but somewhat too derivative.
“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn
A kind of postapocalyptic story about a future where there are strict quotas for everything, from fishing to getting children. A fishing group is led by a woman who originally has been born without valid permits and there some resentment against her for that reason. Another fairly good story, probably best of bunch. Not that it means much.
The average quality was probably the worst in this category. Once again I wonder how these stories managed to be nominated. Where is for example “Red Letter Day” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (the winner of Analog's reader survey), which is by far better story than any of these? Two of the stories were fairly good, two were so bad or irritating that I am going to place them below “no award”.
1. “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn
2. “The Things” by Peter Watts
3. No award
4. “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal
5. “Ponies” by Kij Johnson