Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Hugo-eligible short fiction Apr-Jun 2015: my first take

Following on from my previous post, and using the methodology explained here, I've read through the fiction output of, Clarkesworld, Asimov's and Strange Horizons for the second quarter of this year in quest of stories to nominate for next year's Hugos. (I am also in principle reading Subterranean Press's output, but they don't seem to have published original fiction in those three months.)

I wasn't as blown away in general by what I read in this round. Perhaps I was just in a bad mood, but two stories in particular which have had a lot of love elsewhere, "The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn", by Usman Malik, and "Waters of Versailles", by Kelly Robson, didn't push my buttons. I felt the first was not convincing on Pakistan or plot, and the second was surely done better by Vonda McIntyre in The Moon and the Sun. The story I liked from from this period was "Ambiguity Machines: An Examination", by Vandana Singh, which goes on my long-list.

Clarkesworld also failed to really engage my enthusiasm. Again, I'll note that "For the Love of Sylvia City", by Andrea M. Pawley, and "Forestspirit, Forestspirit, by" Bogi Takacs, have got fans elsewhere but didn't quite grab me. The one story I'd consider nominating from issues 103-105 is the very first, "The Empress in Her Glory", by Robert Reed, which seemed to me to take Childhood's End in a new direction. On the other hand, that same issue had a story by an author who I'm simply not going to read, and issue 104 had a story about a cute anthropomorphic robot, one of my least favourite tropes.

There are only two issues of Asimov's to consider here, April/May being a double, but I found it by far the best hunting ground. Again, the very first story, "The New Mother", by Eugene Fischer really impressed me, and I'm a bit surprised not to see it more widely recommended (other than by Amal El-Mohtar). From the same issue, I liked "Willing Flesh", by Jay O'Connell which hit a sore spot for me, and from the June issue I liked the musical story "Our Lady of the Open Road", by Sarah Pinsker, though was not quite as convinced as some others are by "The End of the War", by Django Wexler.

Finally, Strange Horizons seemed to me to have had a three strong months. I was amused that it published two gay time-travel romance stories in succession, "Utrechtenaar", by Paul Evanby (1, 2) and "What We're Having", by Nathaniel Lee. The latter is very sweetly done (and also scratches my cookery itch) but I don't think I can nominate or vote for a story which is essentially about a magic saucepan. The former really impressed me with sense of place and time, and educated me about a historical event of which I was unaware. Among what seemed to me a strong line-up, I was also impressed with "Nine Thousand Hours", by Iona Sharma.

Score so far of stories I am considering for nomination:

Allen M. Steele, "The Long Wait" (Asimov's, Jan 2015)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch "Inhuman Garbage" (Asimov's, Mar 2015)
Lois McMaster Bujold, Penric's Demon (Spectrum)
Eugene Fischer, "The New Mother" (Asimov's, Apr/May 2015)

Eneasz Brodski, "Red Legacy" (Asimov's, Feb 2015)
Vandana Singh, "Ambiguity Machines: An Examination" (, Apr 2015 - at 7800 words it just scrapes into this category)
Sarah Pinsker, "Our Lady of the Open Road" (Asimov's, Jun 2015)
Paul Evanby, "Utrechtenaar" (1, 2 - Strange Horizons, June 2015 - surprised to find it only 9,000 words)

Short Stories
L.S. Johnson, "Vacui Magia" (Strange Horizons, Jan 2015)
Kelly Robson, "The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill" (Clarkesworld, Feb 2015)
Nino Cipri, "The Shape of My Name" (, Mar 2015)
Robert Reed, "The Empress in Her Glory" (Clarkesworld, Apr 2015)
Jay O'Connell, "Willing Flesh" (Asimov's, Apr/May 2015)
"Nine Thousand Hours", by Iona Sharma

Well, I'm half way through the year and have enough to fill one category and almost enough to fill each of the other two.

There are a few other recommendation sites out there; my approach so far has been to read the stories, then check back with Rocket Stack Rank, Ladybusiness and Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag to see what I may have missed. The last of these has a number of other useful links as well.

I'm going to take a break from 2015's short fiction now and read up on the offerings of 1940 for the Retro Hugos, following up on my recent posts on the eligible stories and their availability.
Tags: hugos 2016

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