Hugo Choices 4: Best Short Story

Previously on Hugo Choices:

Current Hugo State of Play

Hugo Choices 1: Best Novel

Hugo Choices 2: Best Related Work – The Story of Moira Greyland

Hugo Choices 3: Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Best Short Story

A very mixed category with most of the various consequences of Castalia House’s briefing campaign on display.

Two self-excluding works are:
“If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (, Jun 2015)
“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
The first is a clumsy pastiche of Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were A Dinosaur My Love” and the second is a story (more of a scenario with some speaking parts) about the Chinese government using biological weapons in Africa which manages to combine scary-Chinese racist tropes with African racist tropes in one package.

That leaves three at least semi-legit nominees:
“Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)

My ranking goes:

1. “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015). Maybe not the best short story of the year but clever and insightful. I like explorations of what artificial intelligence might be like that doesn’t rest on soulless-calculator-Vulcan cliches.
2. No Award. Usefully Alyssa Wong is a nominee for a Campbell Award and so her Nebula Award-winning story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” is in the Hugo Packet as a sample of her writing. So it is an obvious pick for a comparison work for this category. It is further down the horror axis then I like but it is an excellent example of great writing in support of a strong story. Are the other nominees close to that? Nah. So No Award gets the number 2 spot.
3. “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015) Yeah, its OK. Nothing wrong with. It reminds me of some of the quality of works we saw last year from the Sad Puppy slates – you can see why somebody would publish and you aren’t going to resent having read it if you come across in a magazine but it isn’t particularly notable or amazing. It does gain a degree of surreal humour if you read it in the voice of Patrick Star from Sponge-Bob Square Pants.

4. Speaking of surrealist humour: Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services). Now, we prejudging the WORK, not the meta social-media performance art that is Doctor Tingle. It isn’t unfunny, the wider joke of the pastiche of erotic/pornographic fiction requiring a perfunctory plot prior to genital contact is a bit hackneyed. It is going on my ballot but below No Award. Yes, yes, it is tempting to vote it 1 as a kind of behaviour randomisation raised a middle finger at the Rabids but they won’t care sufficiently for that to be worthwhile.
5. Um, that’s it.


18 thoughts on “Hugo Choices 4: Best Short Story

  1. I find this category presents a special flavor of frustration. Like you, I feel that Cat Pictures, Please is a worthy Hugo contender and belongs above No Award. (I might reach the same conclusion on Asymmetrical Warfare — it is a borderline case.) But it was not even my favorite Naomi Kritzer story of the year*, and it bothers me to give it first place given that.

    *So Much Cooking owes me for the loss of one pair of fuzzy warm socks. And yes, I know it was a novelette, not a short story, but it bothers me anyway and apparently I feel as though I have some right to gripe about this on your blog. I’m sorry.


  2. I love “So Much Cooking,” too. But “Cat Pictures, Please” was on my Hugo ballot for best short story, and I’m not at all sorry to vote for it.

    I *do* wish I had four other worthy stories to choose from on the ballot, obviously. There were some great stories published this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read Asymmetrical Warfare yet, but I wouldn’t be shocked if you’d just predicted the final result.

    It’s a bit sad that Cat Pictures doesn’t have some serious competition to go up against. I think there would have been some interesting conversations about the value of a fairly brief lighter story vs some of the “heavier” possibilities in the category.


  4. I nominated “Cat Pictures, Please”, and the fact that it finished #1 in legitimate non-slate , despite coming out over a year before ballots were cast, proves that a lot of people genuinely liked it and thought it deserved to be there. So the only question here is what goes below NA and what gets left off entirely. For me, it’s CP,P, then NA, then the sublime Dr. Tingle, and there endeth the ballot. I’m not ruling out Chuck for Best Related Work of Pomo Meta Persona for next year.


  5. Next year Chucks new site “TheRabidPuppies.COM”. Should win something.

    BTW, Chuck is pushing “The Fifth Season” on his site.

    Personally, I think Chuck is a hard backaroo and deserves an award for proving “Love is Real”. Not to mention standing up to Voxman and the Mean Dog Blues. And being best writer in Billings.


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