This is the first category where I have read all nominees. I am going to read all nominees of all fiction categories even if it might be hard - at least those two John C Wright stories I have already read, seem to be quite “interesting” and I am not exactly looking forward to reading the other nominees. All expect one of the nominees got their nomination from the “puppy lists”, lists which were designed by Americanocentric people from religious far right, who believe that recent nominees have been too diverse (and apparently far too well written, at least it seems so). And a mystic alliance of “social justice warriors” has been scheming to rob the valiant writers of “real” science fiction from well-deserved nominations. Those claims are pretty ridiculous as there have been several nominees and even winners which represent very well such science fiction they claim has been neglected. But those books were written by women - or worst of all, by John Scalzi, who writes mostly exactly the type of fiction the “dog lovers” claim has been neglected. But he happens to be a liberal and that is apparently one of the worst crimes there possibly can be. There is some evidence, that the more lunatic slate, the “rabid dogs”, which was organized by the openly racist Vox Day got its’ votes from the supporters of “gamergate” scandal – that is from those people, who have rotten their brains by playing too much computer games. The nominees of that list seem to be mostly pretty horrible, at least those I have read so far. In this category, there was only one nominee, which didn’t originate those slates – and that wasn’t very good. It is hard to understand how those sad wankers selected these stories for their lists. There were several from Analog (which actually _has_ been neglected in the nominations even in my opinion) – but they were nowhere among the best novelettes published last in the Analog magazine. None of them was even in the top two in the reader poll of that magazine. If either of those two stories (Life Flight by Brad R. Torgersen and Persephone Descending by Derek Künsken)– incidentally I nominated both of them for Hugos– were on the list, I would have put them above the “no award”. Due to bad or at best insignificant writing, I will vote “no award” for the first place in this category.
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
The only story in the category which is not from either of the puppy lists. Unfortunately, it isn’t too good, either. A man has broken with his girlfriend and the world turns upside down. Literally. People who were unfortunate enough to be outside are falling up to the sky, fishes which jump up out from the water are trapped on air a fall upwards (the water itself doesn’t fall down strangely enough). The man starts a journey with his girlfriend’s fish to find his former love. A very metaphoric story, so implausible that it is laughable and with extremely irritating characters. In normal year, this would have a solid contender of fourth or fifth place.
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
Humans have lived on an alien planet, but alien have come and conquered the colony. They control the level of technology humans can use. The aliens have a severe hang-up about any ditches or anything buried. A human dies and the burial causes some "slight" consternation among the aliens, so much that the trying to decide between exterminating the humans of abandoning the planet. A pretty stupid story. Takes its time to get going and then ends very suddenly. The writing felt clumsy and hard to get into and the ending was ridiculous.
“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
A group of aliens live on a moon of Uranus. They apparently tried to invade the Earth, but were defeated. The remnants live on the moon in a kind of reservation. They have had some accidents which are being investigated. They might also have some hidden agenda. And there might also be something even more secret going on. A part of a series and feels fairly separate as itself, but the story ends with a cliffhanger. I haven’t been a great fan of this series and I don’t love this instalment, either, but perfectly ok story. As a part of series, the story isn’t a really good nominee to begin with.
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
A group of some sort of “space cadets” take part in a bar room fight. As a punishment, they must join a mission to a planet with apparently intelligent life, which has so far resisted all attempts of communication. Most life forms, especially the plants on the planet are extremely dangerous. One of the cadets claims that he will succeed at something dozens of scientists have failed: he is going to open the communications. Very much reminiscent of Heinlein’s juveniles - not as well and entertainingly written, but not too bad. Not great or unusual in any way, but readable in spite of somewhat irritating characters. In normal year a solid contender of third or fourth place.
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)
Continues an earlier story. A pair of friends are drafted to an army which fights against green-skinned men. The story apparently happens on a planet which was colonized by humans centuries ago and some high-tech relics might still be around somewhere. For most part the technology is medieval, but the green-skinned ones seem to have muskets and primitive cannons. Little happens in the story. The bulk of the tale is taken by a very detailed description of battle, which at places seems almost like a transcript of a war game which is interspaced with light humorous banter. The writing is pretty good, but again: where is the plot? As a part of series, the story isn’t a really good nominee to begin with and it doesn’t work very well alone.
My voting will be:
1. No award
2. “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
3. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
4. “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)