Hugo Award winners will be announced on Saturday at CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, being held virtually from New Zealand. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. NZST, 6 p.m. CDT Friday Chicago time, so I’ll be able to watch live. George R.R. Martin will be toastmaster, along with some special guests.
I’ve read all novelettes, which are stories between 7,500 and 17,500 words, and here are my votes. (My votes for the short stories are here.) Overall, the stories cover a fair spectrum of current science fiction and fantasy, and if you never read in the genre, this is as good an introduction as any. You may find some of the stories move you in a different way than they moved me. (SFF Book Reviews offers some divergent opinions.)
6. “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2019)
A mystery writer finds a man dead, apparently in an accident, and eventually learns the truth. While the story is complex and creepy, it never develops much tension, and, for my tastes, it’s resolved too easily.
5. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, 10 July 2019)
A cat battles Satan for the soul of a poet. Light and stylish, this is perfect for cat lovers and preserves the place for humor in the genre, which is hard to do and, in my opinion, never done often enough.
4. “Away With the Wolves” by Sarah Gailey (Uncanny Magazine: Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue, September/October 2019)
Can a werewolf story be sweet and gentle? Yes. And in my opinion, there’s always a need for sweet and gentle stories in the genre.
3. “The Archronology of Love”, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, April 2019)
Everyone in a colony on a distant planet died while investigating strange alien technology, and researchers have come to find out why. Some of the dead were loved ones. In a way, the story is one long, slow goodbye — or rather, the search for a way to say goodbye.
2. Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection, Amazon)
Bitter anger propels this story as the protagonist discovers a lack of beauty and truth, and the means to recover it. Wonderfully told, but for my tastes, didactic — still, the underlying premise rings true.
1. “Omphalos”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation, Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador)
What if Creationism were true? That is, what if God created the universe 8912 years ago? We could still learn a lot from archeology and other scientific studies. But what if we learned something we didn’t want to believe? The story carefully questions that premise, but I’m a little disappointed by the ending, a conclusion that many people in our own universe have already reached.