1) “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang
This really blew me away. I wasn’t sure at first; Chiang’s trademark is to tell us of emotionally complex material with an apparent air of academic attachment, and that only works if there is an original idea to use it on. But, gosh, here Chiang takes the concept of being able to reconstruct accurately what you did and said at past times in your life, and shows that facts are not really always very helpful in getting to grips with feelings – either in traditional low-tech societies, or in contemporary families. For me, it sailed through the Philip K. Dick “My God! What if..?” test.
2) “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
I’ve sometimes found de Bodard’s richly detailed Vietnamese spacefaring future a bit too different from my personal experience to properly appreciate, but I loved this story and was all set to vote for it (until I read the Chiang). It is a great tale of personal identity, artificial intelligence and family dynamics across the generations, mingling together tropes from cyberpunk and space opera and making them her own. Great stuff.
3) “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal
This story somewhat controversially was not included on the list of finalists last year, despite having sufficient nominations; now that it has actually been published in written form, it deservedly is on the list. I liked very much the descriptions of a recently settled Mars, and a child survivor of disaster who grows up; I was less convinced by the nature of the narrator’s key personal dilemma, or by the choice she made.
4) No Award
5) “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen
A story about a near future space conflict between a gender-balanced US military and the Chinese. I was startled to read of “the familiar hammer, sickle and stars of the People’s Republic of China”, and there were some other editing fluffs that I did not expect to see from Analog (“assuming the worse”, several uses of “i” where “me” would be more usual). Leaving those niggles aside, basically this story could have been written in the 1950s, and I think the genre has moved on just a bit since then.
6) “Opera Vita Aeterna”, by “Vox Day”
I’ve already written about the deficiencies of the Latin in this story (and Stephanie Zvan has analysed its linguistic deficiencies more generally). A very clunky beginning settles into an elf doing undergraduate theology and an attempt at a sentimental ending. Not quite as bad as I had expected, but still not very good. Certainly by some way the worst story on the ballot.
Even if that were not the case, the fact that the author has unapologetically called a black writer a “half-savage” and defended throwing acid into the faces of feminists is something that I cannot ignore. You vote how you like, I am putting it last.
You can vote in this year’s Hugos, and the 1939 Retro Hugos, by joining Loncon 3 at http://www.loncon3.org/memberships .
2014: Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Related Work | Best Graphic Story | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Professional Artist | Best Fan Artist
1939: Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Professional Artist