Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Best Novelette - My Hugo Ballot

All of the nominees for Best Novelette are available for free online - woo hoo! This means I finally get to start working on a category!

This is my tentative ranking for 2015 Best Novelette - subject to change as we get closer to the voting deadline. Spoilery thoughts about the stories will be behind the cut, at the end of this post.

  1. No Award
  2. The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014) - Available for free here
  3. "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale" by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014) - Available for free here
  4. "Championship B'tok" by Edward M. Lerner (Analog, Sept. 2014) - Available for free here
  5. "The Journeyman: In the Stone House" by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014) - Available for free here
  6. “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014) - Available for free here
[1] Rabid Puppies block vote only
[2] Sad Puppies block vote only
[3] common to both block vote ballots
[4] everything else

The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

The love of a man's life breaks up with him, and the world turns, quite literally, upside-down. This story takes us briefly through the aftermath and his journey towards healing. It's very well written. It makes you feel like you're there. Sortof. But there just wasn't enough in the story to grab me and get me past the greater part of my mind that was screaming "But..... Physics....!" I mean, I get that it's all a metaphor. Your world has been turned upside down by the rejection of your heart's true love, and you have found a way to find beauty and wonder and your own self in this new upside-down world. But sheesh! I'm not a fan of depressing themes anyway. And going into detail about how lots of people and babies and pets died.... OK, really. Just stop it.

"The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale" by Rajnar Vajra

"A silver Venusian, a golden Martian, and an Earthling walked into a bar." Our trio of Exoplanetary Explorer cadets get into a bar fight, are punished with a crap assignment, and find themselves in the right place at the right time to provide the breakthrough in first contact communications with a newly discovered intelligent alien species. It took a little while for it to hook me, but then I really quite enjoyed this story. A lot of interesting ideas, a little humor, a well-told fun story. I wish it had appeared on a legitimate ballot.

"Championship B'tok" by Edward M. Lerner

A spy story set in the medium future, with humans and aliens and other aliens and hints at more. Some interesting ideas in this story. I also really enjoyed the multiple layers to the story. The game of "Championship B'tok," an alien game that is to chess as chess is to rock-paper-scissors, is being played out on many levels, and we have hints that we don't EVEN know the half of it. I enjoyed the scienciness. In general, though, I'm not a fan of stories where aliens infiltrate our society, whether to boost our technological progress or to stifle it. I think we're quite capable of our own brilliance as well as our own fear and stupidity. Also, well... not a lot happened. This story feels like the introduction to a novel. A set up for the real story to come. Also, a little dry, kindof similar to the first half of Stross' nominated novel last year, only without the trying to be funny.

"The Journeyman: In the Stone House" by Michael F. Flynn

I gave this story about a half dozen pages, and gave up, bored. It seems to be a Conan/Lone Ranger and Tonto-esque duo in an old west /fantasy setting, on a world where "starmen" crash landed and several distinct societies grew up out of the survivors long long ago. Most of the people don't remember their peoples ever being starmen. Manly heroic man, snarky sidekick who talks like the stereotypical Tonto, girl who I'm sure will turn out to be a princess. Yawn. This story has the feel of a number of the stories I read for the retro Hugo's last year - stories written 75 years ago. Only the retro Hugo nominees often had a charm to them that is lacking in this piece. The world, and society, has changed a lot in 75 years. Moving on.

“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart

This story was difficult to read. The writing was clumsy, to me. I powered through it anyway. Pretty much, a colony of Earth men have been conquered by this strange multi-gendered alien species who are keeping us down, and have taken from us what should rightfully be ours. We fight back against our persecutors by practicing our religion at them, and thereby destroy them. Hmm.... I have a feeling I've heard this story before..... And it's just not retold well here, at all. Wow, it's a good thing we've got a ballot full of swashbuckling tales that don't focus on a social message. </sarcasm> The message here is not even a little bit obscure.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm still working through the slate. I tend to read haphazardly, grabbing a short story, followed by a novella, followed by a novellette. So the only one I've read in this category so far is "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium". It certainly wasn't the best story I've read recently, but I did enjoy it. If it was your least favorite, that actually makes me excited to read the rest of the slate.

    I haven't read what you wrote about the other stories, because I wanted to avoid spoilers, but I have to ask, did you really not think a single one was worthy of the award? Or was this a protest vote against the 2 puppy slates?

    1. Hi Jeff!

      Wonderful! I hope that does mean you're going to love the other four stories. Of course, we may just have different tastes in SFF. Which is also awesome. :)

      I will most likely vote all Puppy slate block-vote nominees below No Award, in response to their stated intentions to break the social contract to make people angry and/or destroy the Hugos, all of their (well, some of their) current backpedaling aside. I will try to read them all, and will rank them below "No Award" accordingly.

      In the case of this ballot, I didn't think the one non-Puppy was worthy of the award. There is one Puppy I might have thought worthy of the award, if it had been a legitimate ballot.

      I like to have a complete category to work through all at once, so I can better compare the works to each other. So I'm working my way through the novels I already own, re-reading the nominated ones, because I know the voter's packet will be out by the time I'm ready for the one novel I don't own. I'll have to wait for more of the short fiction to appear for free online, or for the voter's packet, before I start working on the other categories. I usually buy what I can of the nominees while waiting for the voter's packet; not this year.

      Are you blogging your way through the nominees this year too? I'd love to read your thoughts, and add you to my list of Hugo bloggers ----->

    2. I will definitely write a blog post about my votes once I've finished all the nominees. I probably won't do as you've done here and write an individual post about each category. (Although, I'm unpredictable, and you never know what I'll do.)

  3. My blog is at My post will probably follow be similar to the one I wrote last year: However, I should warn you that I blog about lots of other things that are not science fiction related, as well.

    I'd be interested to see what other blogs are on your Hugo bloggers list. Do you have a list of links anywhere?