Friday, 20 June 2014

Short stories on the Hugo 2014 ballot

This time I've read and reviewed all the Hugo short stories. There's only four of them this year and, of course, they are the shortest fiction category. I quite liked most of them, and I think they will be hard to rank. Right now the Swirsky and the Chu are vying for first place in my mind (with the others not far behind).

On a side note, it's really pleasing to see how wonderfully diverse this category is. There are two queer stories and two stories featuring non-western cultures (Chinese and Thai). Whatever else you might want to say about the Hugo ballot, what I've read so far (these and some novelettes) has been pleasingly diverse and varied.

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky 

(Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

Well that escalated. What starts as a fantastical story describing the world in the title and beyond, end on a pretty depressing note. I liked the story more for that, but do not mistake this for happy light reading. Also, quite short for the bracket.

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar 

(Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

There are two possible meanings to this title, if you think about it, and the story leans towards the less obvious (to me, anyway) alternative. Not a conventional story and a pretty good read. (And yes, there are selkies in it.)

illustration by christopher silas neal
Illustration by Christopher Silas Neal

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu 

(, 02-2013)

An interesting high-concept that takes a back seat to a very human story (and I don’t think that’s a bad thing). In a world where, for no known reason, water falls on you when you tell a lie, a young(ish) man navigates his relationships and, in particular, the decision to finally come out to his parents.

illustration by victo ngai
Illustration by Victo Ngai

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt 

(, 04-2013)

Probably my least favourite of the bunch. I liked the Thai culture aspect, but the story itself wasn’t as serious as the other three and so didn’t really do it for me. It was vaguely amusing but not, to me, funny enough to make up for the lack of seriousness.

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