Anyway, having already polished off several of the other categories, I spent parts of today browsing through this year's nominated novelettes (all available online for free), and without much difficult ranked them thus.
6) "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone
A story about a Mormon missionary converting giant space whales which live in the heart of the sun. Also he is conflicted about the beautiful non-Mormon scientist on the team. Written from the heart, just not very well. Edited to add: What do I know? It won the Nebula!
5) "The Jaguar House, in Shadow" by Aliette de Bodard
I may just be getting old, but although I really like de Bodard's prose style, I'm afraid that when I finished this story I still had absolutely no idea what it was about.
4) "Plus or Minus" by James Patrick Kelly
This is actually a half-decent effort, Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" re-written for a crew of cloned teenagers. But I found the pacing very odd, with the final denouement taking place off screen, and the world-building didn't quite gel.
3) No award.
I think I'm more brutal on this than a lot of people. But I'd be a bit embarrassed if any of the above wins.
2) "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele
A sympathetic account of a guy who goes mad while on mission on a near-future Mars, and who finds his path back to healing through immersing himself in classic sf stories set on the planet. Will appeal on some level to all of us who read sf. Some obvious echoes from Steele's other stories, both the Coyote series and his award-winning "The Death of Captain Future", but developed differently here.
1) "Eight Miles" by Sean McMullen
This was the first one of these stories that I read, and none of the others really matched it - a quasi-steampunk tale of ballooning in 1840, our narrator dealing with a weird semi-human woman who has descended from Tibet (or elsewhere?), and the capitalist who is determined to exploit her. I was particularly impressed by the way McMullen was able to widen the focus as the story went on, and certainly it's the only one of these that I will still be thinking about next week.