Hugo Shorts 2019: The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T.Kingfisher (Uncanny)

Of the two short stories I hadn’t already reviewed is also humorous and styled around folk tales. In this case the story switches the convention in a more direct and less dinosaur related way:

The men were faerie boys, first to last, tall and sharp-boned, with cheekbones like swords. The selkie was a great hulking brute with his sealskin draped around him, muscle smoothed with a layer of fat, and a gleam in his eye like the last light on the sea.
The horse was a horse, except when he wanted more beer, and then he was a man with a mane of black hair and eyes that glowed like rubies in his face.

They sat around the fire, far from the fae court, and stared into the flames. Fire is older than faerie-kind and even they can be hypnotized by its dance.

“What gets me,”
said one of the men finally, “what really gets me is that she went and married the blacksmith.”

“She” being the eponymous Rose MacGregor, a woman more cunning than a pooka, more fae than a fairy and more irresistible than a selkie,

We meet each of the broken hearted magical folk in turn, drowning their sorrows after their encounter with Rose MacGregor.

Cheeky and funny, there’s not much more else to say about it. It’s hard to do it justice in a review as it’s strength is in the execution. It’s nice to have funnier and fun stories as finalists.

13 thoughts on “Hugo Shorts 2019: The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T.Kingfisher (Uncanny)

  1. I like that there’s a constituency for fun and funny stories in short – e.g. Cat Pictures Please and Fandom For Robots in previous years.
    This was on my longlist, but I read it after I’d already gone through the pain of deciding a provisional list and I honestly couldn’t decide what to drop in its place, so I’m delighted it made it on without me.

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  2. I was thrown by the title* but was amused by the story. It will probably go on the list of T Kingfisher stories that I am compiling to give to my junior Ursula Vernon Fan when she is older.**

    * Shouldn’t it be “The Rose MacGregor Admiration and Drinking Society” (i.e. the society for admiring Rose MacGregor and drinking.) The actual title suggests to me that the Faeries are drinking Rose MacGregor and admiring her.
    ** I already gave her “Nine Goblins,” which she adores. The gruesome violence didn’t faze her, probably because the kitten was ok, and she loves to regale us with choice quotations. Most recently it was the bit about elven veterinarian with his arm up a laboring unicorn mare. Hmmm, maybe it’s time for her to try some James Herriott.

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    1. Theoretically, based on their synopses, the Vernon/Kingfisher stories should not be up my alley. I’m not really into folktale and fairytale retellings, and much prefer science fiction to fantasy.

      And yet, I still find that her stories hit the mark with me: Castle Hangnail, Summer in Orcus, The Clockwork Boys, The Wonder Engine, and especially Swordheart. I think it’s that her protagonists are ordinary people who are deeply pragmatic and practical, and that she somehow manages to successfully meld sarcastic humor with kindness and darkness with hope — while completely avoiding the saccharine quality to which a lot of fantasy falls victim.

      This won’t be the first story on my ballot, but I absolutely think it deserves its nomination.


  3. It was definitely entertaining. (I liked the pooka insisting, “We are efficient!”) However, I don’t think it’s really award-worthy. Making me smile isn’t quite enough.


  4. I liked this story a lot and nominated it. I also gave it to my Mom, because she liked “The Tomato Thief” so much and she nominated it as well.

    I also feel that there is a place for lighter and funnier stories on the Hugo ballot and there usually are one or two, even if they rarely win. Besides, this story does something interesting with a classic fantasy/fairytale trope (to be fair, so does Brooke Bolander’s dinosaur fairytale) unlike most of the other fairytale/mythology retellings on the Hugo ballot.

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