Like last year, I undertook a project to read the short fiction nominees for this year’s Hugo Award. (I undertook a similar Nebula short fiction reading project this year, too.) All the Hugo nominees were available online for free reading. Hooray for the Internets!
Overall, this was a fun project. However, I am still coming to terms with the fact that my tastes do not always mesh with those of the award-nominating populace. I guess I still have the misconception that award-nominated fiction represents the best of the best. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I expect all the stories to be 5-star knockouts. This just isn’t the case.
That said, all but one of the stories were good or better. I was somewhat disappointed by the McDonald story, especially in light of how much I enjoyed River of Gods, but otherwise this is a strong batch of stories; stronger, I believe, than this year’s Nebula nominees. Coincidentally, two of the Hugo-nominated novellas (by Melko and Shunn) are also 2006 Nebula nominees.
While I’m comparing, the 2007 Hugo nominees contain a much larger percentage of science fiction stories than the Nebula nominees, which is fantasy-heavy. Oddly, my usual indifference towards fantasy seems to have been overruled in the Hugo nominees. The few that are here made quite good impressions. The Nebula ballot had some stories that left something to be desired.
In a nutshell, then, here are my impressions of the stories in each category, sorted from most to least enjoyable, except where ties are indicated by rating. Linked story titles point to the online versions. My winning picks are the tops ones listed in each category.
“Lord Weary’s Empire” by Michael Swanwick
“The Walls of the Universe” by Paul Melko
“Inclination” by William Shunn
“Julian” by Robert Charles Wilson
“A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed
“All the Things You Are” by Mike Resnick
“Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” by Geoff Ryman
“Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth” by Michael F. Flynn
“Yellow Card Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi
“The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald
“Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt
“The House Beyond the Sky” by Benjamin Rosenbaum
“Kin” by Bruce McAllister
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
“Eight Episodes” by Robert Reed
Reviewlettes of the stories follow….
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