6) “A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad. Opening dialogue in third section:
Kleekai Greyhound (K.g1-09030)
hey mentor figure! guess what?
Constant Killer (C.k2-00452)
You have a new display name?
Sorry, this is a story with cute doglike killer robots, and I can't stand stories about cute robots. It's not you, it's me.
5) “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson. Second paragraph of third section:
The second thing I do is gather Marisol and our baby and take them to the infirmary to see Eileen.
Sorry again, it's a zombie apocalypse story, and they don't do anything for me, even with added insightful interrogations of gender roles and motherhood.
I liked all the rest.
4) “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell. Second paragraph of third section:
The afternoon is sluggish. There are four more visitors, none of whom stay long enough to check the basement for treasure. The hours chug by, and Mrs. Weiss spends most of the time on her phone.
Lovely story about a haunted house that just wants to be happy and have a family living in it comfortably. Veers towards horror but not very horribly. Will probably win.
3) “Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher. Second paragraph of third section:
“You have eaten my ship,” said their captor. “I have spent five thousand years here, building it up, and you have eaten it. It will take me another five thousand to repair it. What say you?”
A story with AIs which are definitely not cute at all, but grappling with an unfair universe and concepts of truth and falsehood. Memorably done.
2) “The Mermaid Astronaut”, Yoon Ha Lee. Second paragraph of third section:
But Kiovasa could only think of how she was going to lose her sister, and Essarala felt the weight of the witch’s shell knife, carried in a pouch of gold-washed chainmail, as though it would drown her.
Fantastic evocation of colonialism, body dysphoria and the differential passage of time, in dialogue with Ursula Le Guin.
1) Little Free Library, Naomi Kritzer. Second paragraph of third section:
She could see the Little Free Library from her living room window, and watched the first day as some of the neighborhood kids stopped to peer in. When she checked that afternoon, she noticed that Ender’s Game, Dragonsinger, and Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine had all been taken. The next day, someone had left a copy of The Da Vinci Code, which made her grimace, but hey, there were people who adored that book, so why not. She put in her extra copy of Fellowship of the Ring along with two Terry Pratchett books.
I don’t know about you, but we have two little free libraries within a stone’s throw of our house. But what if they really were gateways to another world, as we always like to say that books can be? Short but very effective, and gets my vote.
2021 Hugos: Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Series | Best Related Work | Best Graphic Story or Comic | Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form | Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form | Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist | Lodestar | Astounding