Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Hugo Ballot Discussion: Novellas

Since the Hugo ballot was announced over the weekend, I'm going to run a few blog posts discussing the works in the fiction categories. This is the first post in that series, in which I will talk a bit about the shortlisted novellas (and link to my earlier more detailed reviews of them). Why am I starting with novellas? Because I happen to have read the entire shortlist already.

In the meantime, if you haven't yet, you can check out the full Hugo ballot at Tor.com. Below I have reproduced the novella shortlist with links to my reviews of each novella. Each got a full standalone review except for "And Then There Were (N-One)" by Sarah Pinsker, in large part because I read that one in Uncanny and didn't realise it was a novella at the time.

Best Novella

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
“And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)
Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing)

This is a really strong category and, for me, ranking these novellas comes down more to personal preference than any sort of objective writing quality. Some of these just resonated more with me than others. All of them tell interesting stories from interesting and relatively uncommon points of view, and there's quite a bit of diversity on display. The struggle to rank them is real.

That said, my favourite, long after reading them all, is All Systems Red. But I wouldn't put any of the others out of the running (not even River of Teeth, which made me sad with its hippo violence). This is a category that could swing in any direction.

(What exciting times we live in that there aren't any Puppy nominees to discount. Hopefully, we're passed all that now.)

Have you read these novellas? Which was your favourite?

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