2009 Hugo Nominees: Short StoriesApril 26, 2009 at 12:15 am | Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Short Stories | 3 Comments
Tags: Hugo Awards
Continuing my commentaries on this year’s short fiction nominees, let’s take a quick look at the Hugo awards. As I said in my post on Nebula nominees, I usually can’t get into short stories. This group? Well, not bad. Nothing amazing, but nothing dire, so that’s better than some previous years. There are no spoilers in my remarks.
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s) — This was also nominated for the Nebulas so I’ve already talked about it. Basically one of these fantasy stories that’s an exercise in style more than anything else. This is nice enough reading but not a compelling story.
Article of Faith by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe) — It wouldn’t be a Hugo ballot without a horrendous short story, and here it is. For the life of me I can’t imagine how this could have been considered award-worthy. I think there need to be more SF stories that seriously examine religion rather than merely dismiss it, but this…this gives the religious SF story a bad name.
Evil Robot Monkey by Mary Robinette Kowal (Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, volume 2) — An unusally short story that despite being short manages to have a bit more to say than the other nominated monkey story. Like basically any story of this length, it has one thing to say. It does a pretty good job saying it. I don’t think that’s really award-worthy, though.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two) — If you’ve read Chiang’s other work (and you should have), this doesn’t actually break any new ground. He uses a marvelous bit of world-building as the vehicle for his further reflections on the meaning of life. I say it doesn’t break any new ground because the philosophy here is very much in the vein of “Story of Your Life” and “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”. Like basically all of Chiang’s work, “Exhalation” is fascinating and compelling.
From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s) — Out of all the nominees this one is the most traditionally structured story, which these days is somewhat rare for this length (of course it just barely slides in under the novellette wire length-wise). The world was interesting and the writing was effective. In fact, pretty much everything was great except the story actually being told, which wasn’t all that interesting to me. Unfortunately I exalt plot over other things so this left me feeling vaguely disgruntled, but it’s worth still worth reading.
As I expecting going in, the Chiang story was my favorite, with Swanwick’s a somewhat distant second. That’s two more stories than I typically like on a Hugo short story ballot, so all in all it seems like a good year.