Previously on Hugo Choices:
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 (voxday.blogspot.com, 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.
Next time BEST FANZINE!