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Hugo novelettes

Here are my votes for the Best Novelette category, in reverse order.

6) "Eros, Philia, Agape" by Rachel Swirsky is, unfortunately, a story about a sexy anthropomorphic robot who decides to find his soul - told from the point of view of his lover, which is original, but I still hate stories about cute robots.

5) I had formatting difficulties with Peter Watts' "The Island", and while the author deservedly gets my sympathy for his recent difficulties with the US legal system, I didn't get much out of his story; at first I did not understand what was going on, and then when I worked out that it was about a mother and her estranged son trying to avoid a collision with an intelligent Dyson sphere, I found I didn't really care, and didn't understand the ending either. (I had similar problems with his Hugo-nominated novel, Blindsight; I was obviously feeling more forgiving when I read it.)

4) "One Of Our Bastards is Missing", by Paul Cornell, concerns an attempt to kidnap a British princess from her own wedding, in a world plagued by folds in space with other dimensions easily accessible. I was a bit puzzled by some of the details (what's the relevance of the interplanetary picture painted at the start? are Prussia and Sweden Catholic countries in this timeline? perhaps explained elsewhere) but quite enjoyed the pacing.

3) "Overtime", by Charles Stross, is another in his series of stories about the Laundry, the secret but very bureaucratic British government agency dealing with the occult. It is a Christmas story for everyone who is annoyed by the recurrence of cloyingly sentimental tales by Connie Willis on the Hugo ballot: Santa Claus as eldritch horror, combined with the ghost of future office politics. Quite a long set-up but a very satisfactory payoff. (One amusing misprint - a reference to the "stationary cupboard" made me wonder about the mobile ones... Also SHAPE is not in Brussels.)

2) "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" by Eugie Foster - previously reviewed here. (Won the Nebula.)

1) "It Takes Two", by Nicola Griffith: it took me about halfway through this story about a Californian businesswoman who has an unexpectedly wild experience at a strip club in Atlanta to work out what the sfnal element actually was. But then I felt the story paid off immensely - a really tangled tale of what happens when you let people mess with your brain, and whether or not you can trust your own emotions. Held my attention all the way.

Previous Hugo roundups: Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Graphic Story

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