The Hugo Novelette nominees

Five – well, four – decent stories in this line-up. For further opinions see Rich Horton, Abigail Nussbaum, and the readers of Vector (with links to other reviews, here, here, here, here and here). [ETA: also Ian Sales.] As before I’ll list them in reverse order of preference:

5) Alistair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders, by Mike Resnick: two old men rediscover the magic shop of their youth. One accepts a new life, the other doesn’t; not really much happening, and rather sentimental. (One of the old men is called Nate Silver, but this is probably a coincidence.)

4) Pride and Prometheus, by John Kessel. Jane Austen meets Mary Shelley, as Mary Bennett of Pride and Prejudice has a brief flirtation with Victor Frankenstein. It’s a lovely idea of crossover fanfic, but the idiom isn’t quite there and the ending a bit weak. Somewhat surprised that this won the Nebula.

3) Shoggoths in Bloom, by Elizabeth Bear. Bear won a Hugo last year for another story featuring monsters on a beach, and this will no doubt do well. An African-American biologist visits the shoggoths living on the coast of Maine, while war brews in Germany across the ocean. The setting – human and natural – is well realised; again I was a little disappointed with the ending.

2) The Gambler, by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is a great near-future fairy-tale story contrasting the central character’s youthful experience of escaping a monarchist coup in Laos with his difficulties operating as a journalist in an online media company. Bacigalupi skewers celebrity culture rather well, with a slightly laboured but worthy point about how the real news gets lost. (But he can’t spell Aung San Suu Kyi’s name.)

1) The Ray-Gun: A Love Story, by James Alan Gardner. Sometime I’m just a soppy romantic, and while this is possibly not as good literature as some of the above, I enjoyed it more than any of the others and so it gets my vote. A young boy discovers an alien ray-gun and it comes close to ruining his life. You don’t have to be a literary genius to interpret the ray-gun as any juvenile obsession, potentially even sf itself as a fandom. But it tugged at my heartstrings and won my affection.

So, once again my vote actually goes to the one story which was not included in the e-book package from the WorldCon. (But Ian McDonald tells me that his The Tear is now included in the pack.)

One thought on “The Hugo Novelette nominees

  1. Just to put you out of your misery (if you were in that state):

    ((n-1)2+1) * ((n+1)2+1)
    = (n2 -2n +2) * (n2 +2n +2)
    = n4 + 2n3 + 2n2 – 2n3 – 4n2 – 4n + 2n2 + 4n + 4
    = n4 + 4

    For n=1, ((n-1)2+1) = 1 and so n4+4 is a prime number, but otherwise n4+4 will be composite.

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