May 2nd, 2018


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The 1943 Retro Hugo finalists for Best Novella

I found the top spot very easy to place here. I'm not so certain of my other rankings, but here’s where I am right now.

6) “Asylum,” by A.E. van Vogt

Second paragraph of third section:
He dismissed that particular problem as temporarily insoluble, and because actually—it struck him abruptly—this girl's size was unimportant. She had long, black lashes and dark eyes that glowed at him from a proud, almost haughty face. And that was it; quite definitely that was the essence of her blazing, powerful personality.
Wasn’t really convinced by this (and turns out it is the first part of what ultimately became a novel, Supermind). Space vampires and superhuman intelligences are overseeing New York, and the Great Galactic’s agent in our midst is revealed.

5) “Hell is Forever,” by Alfred Bester

Second paragraph of third section:
She went through the veil sharp on Finchley's heels, that short, slender, dark woman; and she found herself in the dungeon passage of Sutton Castle. For a moment she was startled out of her prayer, half disappointed at not finding a land of mists and dreams. Then, with a bitter smile, she recalled the reality she wanted.
Five protagonists accidentally summon a god who condemns each to an individual hell. They are not very nice people in the first place, and there are some unfortunate stereotypes.

4) “Waldo,” by Robert A. Heinlein

Second paragraph of third section:
Harkness said, “Really, Dr Stevens—”
I liked this much less than I remember doing when I first read it. Waldo’s not a terribly attractive protagonist, and his arc is rather improbable.

3) “The Compleat Werewolf,” by Anthony Boucher

Second paragraph of third section:
The two men next to them began singing "My Wild Irish Rose," but trailed off disconsolately. “What we need,” said the one with the derby, “is a tenor.”
Much more entertaining, though the gender attitudes have not aged well; chap discovers that he can get the girl and foil Nazi spies by turning into a wolf.

2) “Nerves,” by Lester del Rey

Second paragraph of third section:
“Verry ssorry, Dr Ferrel, to bother you. Verry ssorry. No ether pleasse!”
I found this really fascinating - it's the story of a nuclear accident in a near future America, where the Japanese are allies again, and political interference in the accident has potentially catastrophic consequences. We now know that nuclear engineering has worked out very differently, but I really liked this attempt to read the future into what little was known in 1942.

1) “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” by Robert A. Heinlein

Second paragraph of third section:
He continued to hold the Tribune in front of his face as if reading it. “I see him,” he said quietly. “Control yourself. Yuh'd think you had never tailed a man before. Easy does it.”
I really liked this when I first read it 30 years ago, and it hadn't lost much in the intervening decades - Heinlein in fantasy mode, approaching Philip K. Dick in some ways, with the young couple at the centre of the narrative discovering that our world is very different from what they thought. Gets my top vote, and I am sure it will win.

2018 Hugos: Novel | Novella | Novelette | Short Story | Related Work | Graphic Story | Dramatic Long | Dramatic Short | Professional Artist & Fan Artist | Series | Young Adult | Campbell Award
1943 Retro Hugos: Novel | Novella | Novelette | Short Story | Dramatic Short | Fan Artist

The Clarke shortlist: Goodreads/LibraryThing stats

Following on from my post on the long list, here are the Goodreads and LibraryThing ownership and ratings stats for the shortlist.
Goodreads LibraryThing
owners av rating owners av rating
American War — Omar El Akkad 70396 3.83 632 3.86
Borne — Jeff VanderMeer 50713 3.91 565 3.9
Gather the Daughters — Jennie Melamed 16643 3.66 130 3.48
Spaceman of Bohemia — Jaroslav Kalfař 9580 3.87 122 4.1
Sea of Rust — C. Robert Cargill 8563 4.14 113 4.14
Dreams Before the Start of Time — Anne Charnock 816 3.51 24 3.3

The one that I really didn't see coming was Dreams Before the Start of Time, which I really liked (though I liked the other three BSFA finalists more).

Note the high reader ratings for Sea of Rust, though it's also worth saying that it's tough to maintain high average ratings as the number of readers goes up, so Borne is doing well too.