Hugo Musings – Short Stories

The time has come for me to go through works nominated for the Hugo Awards this year. I am almost sure I won’t manage to vote in every category (I never do) but I hope to be able to cover at least some of them. I thought that I may write some of my thoughts – and here I am. First of all I must mention that there will be some spoilers in this post. If you haven’t read the stories and you don’t like spoilers it may be best to refrain from continuing reading this post.

Short Stories

Firstly I must admit that somehow the Short Stories category this year was not exactly to my taste. I definitely won’t say the works were bad – this would not be true. Yet somehow they were not as appealing to me as some of the stories in previous years were. Still what struck me was the level of positivity in the works. I don’t mean that they were all joyful – yet they were evoking some positive thoughts. When reading them one by one I wondered whether it is possible that after the very hard year we all had to endure we preferred more positive works. Considering the Novelette category this theory proved to be wrong. Maybe it was just a coincidence? Or maybe I was looking at the stories through the rose coloured glasses?

The story I found most powerful is Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse. I am not a specialist when it comes to zombie narratives. I have seen some movies but it was never the genre I was looking for. In this work by Rae Carson I found the topic both interesting and refreshing. The world is not a good place but protagonists manage to live there. When the story was close to an end I was sure it won’t be be a positive one – yet I was proved wrong. One may argue whether positive ending is better than the one I was expecting. For sure it emphasized the message the author wanted to pass. I may be snippy and point out to some aspects of worldbuilding that were not perfect. There are some issues in it but it was not the idea for the story. I don’t believe we should criticize it for minor issues when the more important aspects are well designed.

Hugo Award standing on the table with some papers. The base is closed in a box and only the rocket itself is visible.
Wondering who will receive the Hugos this year.

Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell is a nice reading. Having the haunted house as a narrator is interesting in itself. Adding father showing so much care for his daughter is a bonus. This short work was the most positive of the stories nominated in this category. It was not the best but quite enjoyable. It somehow resonated to me with The Mermaid Astronaut by Yoon Ha Lee. They are not similar. Both in terms of plot, characters, narrators and even message they differ visibly. Yet somehow they evoked similar feelings when I was reading them. The story of Mermaid astronaut was obviously taking from The Little Mermaid. However it was not a retelling. Instead author took some motifs but rearranged them to create a new story and add it a different meaning.

I love the idea for Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer. First of all I like the concept of Little Free Libraries. I saw one when I visited Slovakia two years ago and it was lovely. Yet in Kritzer’s story the library is not just a way to share books with others. It also functions as a portal to another world. And being able to witness how the books I know were read by another race was a thing.

A Guide for Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad was nice and positive but not to my taste. It was too easy the foresee certain things. The idea for the robots to have obligatory duties to help newer ones is quite good. Yet the idea and general feeling is not enough for me to fully enjoy this story.

Metal Like Blood in the Dark by T. Kingfisher made a nice reading. The idea for innocent AI having to learn how to lie and kill is really interesting. How author managed to tell the story is also important. I liked how everything was described and how the characters behaved. I found it quite convincing. It may not be the best of the nominated works but still quite a pleasant one to read.

The order in which I covered the stories is not the one I used on the ballot.

My next post will be posted within three weeks.

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