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Hugo Short Fiction Recap

The short answer: Yuck. Well-earned No Awards for all three categories (Short Story, Novelette, Novella).

The somewhat longer answer: I've read (and posted brief reviews of) all the short fiction nominees on this year's Hugo Ballot. I only found one of the fourteen Puppy nominees that could be called "good" (Kary English's "Totalled"). Everything else on the slates pushed by Brad Torgersen or Vox Day suffers from one or more fatal flaws:

  • Incomplete stories (4): "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium", "Championship B'tok", "Flow", "The Journeyman: In the Stone House"

  • Stories full of "Tell, not show" errors (2): One Bright Star to Guide Them, "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds"

  • Stories without a protagonist I cared about (2): "Pale Realms of Shade", "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds"

  • Stories where the author had problems with scale (3): "On a Spiritual Plain", "A Single Samurai", "Turncoat"

  • Stories where I didn't buy part of the worldbuilding, science, etc. (7): "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium", "Flow", "The Journeyman: In the Stone House", "On a Spiritual Plain", "The Plural of Helen of Troy", "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale", "Turncoat"

  • Stories where I didn't buy one or more key plot points (5): Big Boys Don't Cry, "The Plural of Helen of Troy", "A Single Samurai", "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale", "Turncoat"

  • Stories with no action (1): "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds"

  • Stories with sloppy editing (9): "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium", Big Boys Don't Cry, "On a Spiritual Plain", One Bright Star to Guide Them, "Pale Realms of Shade", "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds", "A Single Samurai", "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale", "Turncoat"

This list doesn't include other problems that I've had with individual Puppy stories (such as blatant misogyny and overly heavy-handed religious messaging), as some folks might consider them to be features rather than bugs.

There was one non-Puppy short fiction nominee ("The Day the World Turned Upside Down"); alas, it suffers from worldbuilding that I just could not buy into, not to mention the least likeable main character on the entire ballot.

I'm still appalled at the slate-nomination shenanigans of both the Sad and Rabid puppies. Before I started reading the nominated works, I decided that any slate-nominated work had to truly great to beat No Award this year, while anything from Castalia House (Vox Day's personal press) had to be mind-blowingly excellent to get above No Award. I did, however, commit myself to giving the slated works a fair chance. Overall, I'm glad I did; Kary English is clearly a talent to watch, and Michael F. Flynn's Journeyman stories could make a fun (if fluffy) novel. For that matter, some of the John C. Wright entries could turn out nicely with some serious editorial effort. However, too many of the nominated works weren't worth the time it took to read them.

As things stand, none of this year's Short Story, Novelette or Novella nominees are worthy of a Hugo. Sadly.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/198575.html - comment wherever you please.

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