Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

2012 Hugos: Best Novelette

Once again, thanks to the Hugo Voters Packet, I have been able to read the five nominees in the Best Novelette category and decide how to rank them.

6) "Ray of Light", by Brad Torgersen. This actually has a better plot than my last-place picks in the Best Novel and Best Short Story categories - the Earth has been largely destroyed by aliens who arbitrarily block out the light of the Sun, and our hero is part of a small underwater community surviving on geothermal heat from continental rifts - but is delivered in excruciatingly basic style with occasional solecisms. It is the only story in this category that fails my embarrassment test.

5) No Award. I might not agree with people who vote for three of the other four, but I could at least see that there are points in each that are worthy of merit.

4) "Fields of Gold", by Rachel Swirsky. I feel a little sad at putting this fourth, because I did quite enjoy it. The central character, having died, finds out the truth about his wife and his other past lovers from the superior vantage point of the afterlife. However, I couldn't decide whether or not we were supposed to think it was funny - perhaps a mis-match between American humour and that of the rest of the world; the line about President Garfield particularly struck a dissonant note for me. So into fourth place it goes.

3) "The Copenhagen Interpretation", by Paul Cornell. I had read this for the BSFA Awards (which it won) and read it again this week. This is mostly jolly good fun, with a gonzo reinterpretation of scientific and political history, centred around a British intervention in Denmark in a steampunkish universe with folding spacetime. Lots of Stuff Happens, though not to a completely satisfying conclusion. Still, I enjoyed the ride.

2) "What We Found", by Geoff Ryman. This won the Nebula in this category last weekend, against much the same competition, a story of a Nigerian scientist who discovers a scientific effect whereby your experiments basically stop working, amid much more detail about his extended family. Judged as a piece of prose, it is probably the best of the nominees. I mark it down, however, because the sfnal element is actually rather minimal - the narrator's researches are barely counterfactual and I did not really feel they were crucial to the family history. Great style, not quite so sure about the substance.

1) "Six Months, Three Days", by Charlie Jane Anders. Sometimes I am an unashamed romantic, and I just loved this story of two people in contemporary New York who are both attuned - but perhaps differently so - to the passage of time throughout their entire lives, and whose love affair lasts for six months and three days. It may be thirty years since I last read F.M. Busby's "If This Is Winnetka, You Must Be Judy", whose protagonists are in a similar (but not identical) situation, but it remains a vivid memory for me of time travel and lost love. Anders has I think successfully updated that brilliant tale for the 2010s, including giving the same name to her female protagonist. The lovers' personal dynamic also reflects different philosophies of predestination, choice, and responsibility, and grabbed my heartstrings. An enthusiastic first preference from me.

See also: Best Novel | Best Short Story | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Fan Artist
Tags: hugos 2012

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