Saturday, June 9, 2018

My Hugo award votes 2018 part 2: short stories

The short stories were also excellent and it was not easy to find the voting order. Once again I started from the last and the second to last stories, which were fairly easy to decide. After that, the order of the stories could almost be totally interchangeable. All stories were well written and most of them were entertaining and good reads.

“Carnival Nine.” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)

A wind-up “toy” who lives in a world filled with other wind-up toys (the spring is wound by the “maker” every night). Sometimes the spring is wound tightly and more can be accomplished in a single day, sometimes it is wound lightly and it isn’t possible to move far from home. Zee usually has a lot of turns, but when she and her lover build a new “toy”, the “child” has just a few and is severely “handicapped” because of that. The story is well written and examines the burden of the parents who have special needs children, a bit too obvious an allegory. The ending of the story is sad but a little too soft, like a spring which loses its tension for the last time.

“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand.” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)
A tour of a museum filled with rooms with strange curiosities, starting with “A Hallway of Things People Have Swallowed” and following in the same vein. The writing is fine, but I don't get the point of the story at all. There are most likely some subtle allegories going on here, but I can’t gather enough interest to think about them.

“Fandom for Robots.” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)
An old robot who is in a museum (and is the only self-aware robot ever) starts to watch an anime series and becomes a fan – then takes part in the fan scene, writes fan-fiction and takes part in discussions. A light-hearted and fun story.

“The Martian Obelisk.” by Linda Nagata (, July 19, 2017)
Everything has gone wrong and the people of Earth have mainly given up hope. A billionaire and a first-class architect are building an obelisk to Mars on an abandoned colony site, using remote building technologies. The obelisk is supposed to last millennia and to serve as a tombstone of sorts for humanity. There has been a real colony on Mars, but it hasn’t had any radio contact for years and it is supposed to be lost. But now a vehicle is closing in on the obelisk. A very good and moving story, well written and offering small glimmers of hope.

“Sun, Moon, Dust.” by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
A farmer gets a magic sword as a gift from his dying grandmother. The sword contains three mighty warriors which can be summoned when needed. They could teach him swordplay and other military arts so that he would become an unbeatable conquering warrior. But he has so much farming to do and so little interest in fighting. A very nice, warmly amusing, and well-written story.

“Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™.” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)
A man who plays an Indian in some sort of virtual reality adventure meets a man, Wolf, who doesn’t join the “dream quest” as he is supposed to, but wants to meet him in real life. The men meet, befriend, drink and talk together until the Wolf starts to take over the life of the protagonist. But who is who in the end? The writing is fairly good, but the point of the story remains a bit unclear.

My voting order will be:

1. "Sun, Moon, Dust.” by Ursula Vernon
2. “Carnival Nine.” by Caroline M. Yoachim
3. “Fandom for Robots.” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
4. “The Martian Obelisk.” by Linda Nagata
5. “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™.” by Rebecca Roanhorse
6. “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand.” by Fran Wilde

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