written by David Steffen
It’s award season again, and these are the nominees for the Hugo Award, voted by supporting members of this year’s WorldCon. This category covers fiction of less than 7500 words. I love to use the Hugo Awards as a recommended reading list, and I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I do!
1.“STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
Written as a heavily-annotated synopsis for a research paper about the life-or-death choices of self-driving cars. I love stories that are written as documents, and this has three levels: the synopsis, the annotations by the editor suggesting changes, and the responses from the author responding to the editor’s suggestions. (“STET” means “let it stand” when responding to editorial suggestions). This hits a lot of my favorite things, between an emotional story, a document-style format, several layers of storytelling, and very concise format. There is a very emotional story here, but much of it is inferred from the tone and the atypical wording for a research paper and the responses to that. Loved it.
2. “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
Fairy tale about a trio of velociraptors and the prince who is too foolish to ignore all of the warnings. Hilarious and fun spin on fairy tales with a non-human point of view and follows through on its exemplary title.
3. “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
A group of fairy folk are pining over Rose MacGregor, the one who got away. They are so accustomed to being the ones to be pined over, they’re not sure what to do with themselves when it happens in reverse! This is an entertaining reversal that has the feel of tall tales from the fey about this unconquerable person unique in a world of otherwise entirely conquerable people.
4. “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
Based on apparently true piece of documentation showing that George Washington purchased “nine negro teeth”, this tells the stories of the nine people whose teeth became part of George Washington’s dentures, and what made each of them who they were and how their tooth’s presence affected Washington. With the format this is a small collection of flash fiction with a common theme, interesting and compelling and each one very brief and to the point.
5. “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
This is the story of the boy who will become the court magician, always hungry to learn the secrets of the tricks, who will keep on no matter the cost. This is a story of power and the power behind the power, where there is always a trick behind everything.
6. “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
This is a story about witches and librarians and kids desparate for escape, and how a witch librarian would try to help them. Portal fantasies have always been one of my favorites, so this is up my alley