Normally I write up full reviews for each of the Hugo novels I have time to read, but I had already read and reviewed Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy here last year, just follow the link if you want to read it.
The Hugo Awards Best Novella category covers stories between 17,500 and 40,000 words. See here for a full list of the nominees this year.
“Obits” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the novelette category this year. It was published in Stephen King’s short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
Mike Anderson takes a job at the online celebrity gossip mag Neon Circus writing joke obituaries of recently-deceased celebrities. His article becomes one of the most popular in the magazine. After he is turned down for a raise in frustration he writes an obituary about his boss to blow off steam and his boss dies unexpectedly that same day. Does his writing have the power to kill?
“And You Shall Know Her” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the novelette category this year. It was published by Lightspeed, and you can read it here in its entirety or listen to it in audio.
Rhye is a cyborg freelancer working with her partner Rack on whatever jobs they can find that suit their skills. Rack specializes in cyberspace hack-jobs, diving into corporate networks to liberate valuable data. Rhye’s specialty is more on the physical side of things; she is a killing machine with her pistols.
“Folding Beijing” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the novelette category this year. It was published by Uncanny Magazine, a magazine that debuted in 2015, and you can read it here in its entirety.
In the future, Beijing is not just one city, but three. The five million residents of First Space have the city for 24 hours at a time and have the most enviable prestigious jobs. The twenty-five million residents of Second Space have the city for 16 hours at a time and have jobs of middling prestige and power and pay. The fifty million residents of Third Space struggle to scrap out a living, and mostly spend their time sorting the recycling of the other two spaces. One of the three is active at a time, and during that time the residents of the other two sleep in a deep drugged sleep with their buildings folded up tightly underground and out of the way.
“Space Raptor Butt Invasion” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the short story category this year. It was self-published on Amazon. As you might expect, it is chock full of explicit sexual content, and is… I guess you’d call it absurdist erotica? Satirical speculative erotica? I don’t know, something like that. So, if you are averse to explicit sexual content, well, you’re going to want to skip this one.
So… if you haven’t been following the Hugo Awards closely these last couple of years, your first question is probably “How in the world did erotica end up on the Hugo ballot, no matter how speculative it may be? Well, if you asked that, you are right; its presence on the ballot is highly unusual. This year and last year have been very unusual years all around for the Hugo awards. It is a long story and one that would certainly overshadow this review were I to include it here, but bottom line: It is not what one would normally expect as a Hugo finalist. But it is a Hugo finalist in this unusual year, and it was included in the Hugo packet (a downloadable collection of many of the eligible works provided to voters) and I decided I would read it and review it. So here we are.
Asymmetrical warfare is one of the Hugo Finalists for the short story category this year. It was published by Nature Magazine’s Futures feature, and you can read it here in its entirety.
“Asymmetrical Warfare” is a science fiction story written as a military mission log from the point of view of militant starfish-like aliens invading earth with the hopes of proving earthlings’ battle prowess as a way of inducting the species into the Galactic Union. The aliens have made the assumption that earthlings are anatomically similar to themselves (including body regeneration) because of the commonly used five-pointed stars on earthling spacecraft.
“Cat Pictures Please” is one of the Hugo Finalists for the short story category this year. It was published by Clarkesworld Magazine, and you can read it here in its entirety or listen to it in audio.
The protagonist of “Cat Pictures Please” is an AI written as the core of a search engine algorithm. As the story points out, an AI isn’t needed to find things that people search for, but it is needed to find what people need. The search engine knows a lot about people, including things they will not share with each other.
Less than a month ago, just before the Hugo Award voting deadline, I gave a preliminary review of the first 100 pages or so of the Hugo-nominated novel The Three Body Problem. I gave the partial review then to get it published before the Hugo deadline, but since then I’ve finished reading. This review will be pretty brief because I don’t want to spoil everything, and the truth about what exactly explains the weirdness that’s happened so far in the book takes a while to unroll.
I’ve been reading as fast as I can before the Hugo voting deadline on July 31st, but there’s been a bunch of things competing for my time (most recently the Welcome to Night Vale novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor) and so I haven’t been able to read as many of the nominees as I like. I am only part way through The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu, but since the Hugo voting deadline is almost here I wanted to give a partial review–I’ll give a complete review when I have had the time to finish the book.
The story starts in China in 1967, during the Cultural Revolution (a social-political movement started by Mao Zedong whose stated goal was to preserve the “true” Communist ideology from the corrupting influences of capitalist and traditional elements from society. Ye Zhetai is a physics professor at the time, trying to teach his students without coming under the ire of the movement, but in a debate about relativity he is struck dead. His daughter Ye Wenjie follows in his footsteps, becoming a physicist as well, and ends up being recruited for a top-secret research project.