RogerBW's Blog

Hugo 2017: Novelette 03 July 2017

These are my thoughts on the Hugo-nominated novelettes. If you're planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until you have done so.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock: vaguely SF porn of the sort that might have been published by a girlie mag in the 1980s. The plot is summed up in the title (and she has laser nipples). This feels like a joke that I'm not getting.

The Art of Space Travel, by Nina Allan: the head of housekeeping at a Heathrow hotel waits for some of the astronauts going on the second Mars mission to pass through, and wonders about her missing father. The emotional part is resolved in a very obvious way; the science-fictional part isn't resolved at all, and ends up being just pretty but irrelevant background.

The Jewel and Her Lapidary, by Fran Wilde: gruesome fantasy as a small society comes apart. There's an interesting idea in the gems that whisper horrors but can be usefully magical if cut and set, and another in the relationship between gemcutters and rulers, but I never felt engaged.

The Tomato Thief, by Ursula Vernon: fantasy Western that takes a sudden turn into the strange ("Salt, flour, coffee, and sugar were the only things Grandma Harken bought at the store, and the store could only get them in because Father Gutierrez was on good terms with the train-priests"); the plot is straightforward but the world and people are fascinating.

Touring with the Alien, by Carolyn Ives Gilman: enigmatic aliens are the excuse for a meditation on the nature and necessity of consciousness, something I've seen done before but which still works pretty well. Less good on the characterisation, but the plot mostly makes up for it.

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay, by Alyssa Wong: fantasy Western with cosmic powers that don't really help much, written in distancing second-person present.

Most of these do not strike me as good enough to be "Hugo-quality" (I can't define it but I know it when I read it, and it's there in other categories). I don't know what else was published last year, and these may well be the best of the bunch, but while a Hugo is inevitably a best-of-the-year award that doesn't mean that everything nominated is good enough that I'm happy to vote for it. Still, two solid entries here.

Voting order:

  1. The Tomato Thief, by Ursula Vernon
  2. Touring with the Alien, by Carolyn Ives Gilman
  3. The Jewel and Her Lapidary, by Fran Wilde
  4. (No Award)

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 02:15pm on 03 July 2017

    Touring with the Alien sounds lovely, but I doubt I will ever read it because I don't do ereaders and very rarely by magazines or collections.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 02:21pm on 03 July 2017

    It's freely available on-line at Clarkesworld.

  3. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 12:43pm on 04 July 2017

    Yes, reading on a screen for enjoyment is a thing I find unenjoyable.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 12:45pm on 04 July 2017

    I do see your point, but… you could print it. It's not very long.

  5. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 12:44pm on 05 July 2017

    I could, but I don't have a printer. Now isn't that ironic.

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