Hugos 2023: Best Novelette

6) “The Difference Between Love and Time“, by Catherynne M. Valente

Second paragraph of third section:

I’ve seen them everywhere. Still do. The space/time continuum gets around.

I’m afraid that these abstract tales of romance involving ineffable archetypes don’t do much for me. It will probably win the award.

5) 时空画师,海漄 / “The Space-Time Painter”, by Hai Ya

Second paragraph of third section:

功夫不负有心人,此后周宁又数次目击鬼影。鬼影形成的原因仍然笼罩在一团迷雾之中。它随机出现在地库附近,预示着之前的推测不无道理。周宁单枪匹马,举步维艰地摸索着真相,明明已经锁定了它的轮廓,却又无法更进一步,他渐渐开始焦躁起来。因此,当这晚再次遇见鬼影,并与它捉迷藏似的追逐了好一阵之后,周宁终于爆发了。眼看着它即将再次没入墙面,周宁抢先一步,试图将其拦截。这本是他情急之下的条件反射,自然也不可能有什么效果,鬼影很快便消失不见了。His hard work paid off, and Zhou Ning saw the ghost several times after that. The reason for its appearance remained murky. It randomly appeared near the basement, indicating that the previous speculation was not unreasonable. Zhou Ning groped for the truth alone, and with difficulty. He had already established its outline, but he couldn’t go any further. He gradually became anxious. So one night, after what seemed to be a long game of hide and seek with it, Zhou Ning finally exploded into action. Seeing that it was about to disappear into the wall once again, Zhou Ning attempted to cut ahead of it and stop it. This was a conditioned desperate reflex, and naturally, it had no effect, and the ghost quickly disappeared.
(My translation)

Great that we have a Chinese-language story in the top six in this category, but this is a fairly standard haunted museum tale, with some nice local Beijing colour which however doesn’t elevate it past fifth place for me. (No translation was provided, but it’s easy enough to run the text through the online resources.)

4) “A Dream of Electric Mothers”, by Wole Talabi

Third paragraph (there are no sections):

“Are you okay?” I ask my colleague, the honorable minister of information and culture, who is fiddling with his bronze-framed spectacles nervously as we exit the white-walled womb of the secure ministerial conference room. He was one of only two dissenting votes in the cabinet and the only cabinet member I have ever engaged with more than a professional politeness since I was appointed by the Alaafin three months ago. This is the first consultation I will be a part of, but the records show that he voted against the previous four as well. I have come to like him, but I find his apparent resistance to the consultation curious, especially since he is the one that will be responsible for the report and official broadcast once we are done.

Interesting speculation of combining ancient wisdom with information technology in an alternative history West Africa.

3) “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You“, by John Chu

Second paragraph of third section:

He always fights as though his only hope is to win on points. That doesn’t matter so much. One time, someone lands a lucky punch and breaks his hand on Tom of Finland Guy’s body. The guy’s face is flushed. He winces and howls in pain. Everyone backs away from him then runs away. The punch itself doesn’t even register on Tom of Finland Guy. He just stares at his midsection.

This has by far the best title of anything nominated in any category for this year’s Hugos. It’s a fun and passionate story about having a crush on the guy in the gym, who turns out to have divine superpowers.

2) “We Built This City“, by Marie Vibbert

Second paragraph of third section:

Her mother bursts into the room the second she arrives, a tiny tornado with a gray buzz cut. “Are you okay? Did anyone get violent?”

It’s odd how little sf we get that addresses the future of labour relations. This is a nicely observed vignette of a dystopian future city on the edge of nowhere, where the maintenance workers are in conflict with the management.

1) “Murder By Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness“, by SL Huang

Second paragraph of third section:

Only, at the same time “Sylvie” was driving Ron Harrison into a panic, someone named Sylvie was sending very similar messages to a hedge fund manager in Connecticut, a museum curator in British Columbia, and a political consultant in Florida, along with thirteen other men identified so far. Millions of messages over dozens of services, spanning across a full decade.

I thought this was very good, a reflection on the current state of AI, told in the authentic voice of an investigative journalist, getting in a few digs of social commentary as well, with hyperlinks to genuine media articles. It gets my vote.

2023 Hugos:
Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Series | Best Graphic Story or Comic | Best Related Work | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist | Lodestar Award for Best YA Book | Astounding Award for Best New Writer