Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

My votes for BSFA Short Fiction 2016

There's no overlap at all between the BSFA shortlisted Short Fiction and the Hugo finalists. It's also striking, I think, that all of the BSFA shortlist first appeared in print, whereas none of the Hugo finalists did (several appeared simultaneously in print and electronic publication). I found my final ranking easy enough to make.

6) “Taking Flight”, Una McCormack

Second paragraph of third section:
For a whole day the shuttle followed the coastline south along ragged shores and pristine sands. Shortly after dawn of the second day, we reached the silver-streaked triangle of a river delta and struck south-west into the interior.
Only four pages; read like a short extract from a longer story, didn't really work for me.

5) “Presence”, by Helen Oyeyemi

Third section has only one paragraph, so here it is:
For most of their lives she and Jacob had both been afraid of the same thing: not being deemed worthy to share a home with a family. They were both foster kids. Nobody ever said you were unworthy, not to your face, but there was talk of adults and children not being 'the right fit' for each other. The adults were the ones who decided that, so when 'fit' was brought up they were really talking about the child. This left Jacob, and Jill, and Lena (Jill's one-time foster sister during an idyllic but brief lull) ever ready to have to leave a home, or to be left. Jacob became extremely capable, a facilitator, someone you wanted around because he smoothed your path - whether through his skill as a polyglot or his general aura of 'can do'. Lena was pretty much lawless; she used to wear a pair of sunglasses on the back of her head and a badge that said HELL, which she tapped whenever anyone asked her where she was 'originally from' and she was so clearly somebody you could trust with your life that reform always seemed possible for her. Jill advanced an entirely false impression of herself as biddable and in need of protection. Ah, I'm just a little chickadee who won't survive the winter and this I nestle under your life sustaining wing. Far from original, but it worked.
I didn't really work out what was going on here - the narrative seemed to be about differing time perceptions and the effect on your family life but the point eluded me.

4) “Liberty Bird”, by Jaine Fenn

Second paragraph of third section:
He rotates Liberty Bird and peels away from the Reuthani Clan liner; the huge blunt needle is strung with spoked rings, their sizes and positions determining their place in this microcosm of clan life: engineering, living suites, gardens, entertainments and accommodation for the few thousand citizens permitted to accompany their betters off world for this annual jamboree. In a touching if tacky gesture, a block of portholes in the central midtown ring have been selectively lit to spell out the words Good Luck Kheo.
Short piece which at first appears to be about an aristocratic space racer but then turns out to be about queer identity in a repressive society.

3) “The End of Hope Street”, by Malcolm Devlin

Second paragraph of third section:
This house was owned by Marlon Swick, and he lived there with his partner of eight years, Julia Prinn. It was another Saturday and they had spent the afternoon at his mother's house in Barnstaple. She spent the whole time they were there talking about children. She'd always wanted grandchildren she'd said, and she said it with one of those pointed expressions which was probably supposed to be subtle, but really wasn't.
Much better. More horror than fantasy, creepy unexplainable catastrophe happens to middle-class suburban English people.

2) “The Apologists”, Tade Thompson

Second paragraph of third section:
I deliberately interrupt Katrina's morning routine. She goes to the gym at six oh five every day, and she likes to start with the cross trainer. I do not let her on this day. I stand on the pedals back to front and I sing The Boys are Back in Town' at the top of my voice. Katrina sees me and freezers.
Rather good and bleak post-apocalyptic story, with a very unpleasant narrator who gets his come-uppance.

1) The Arrival of Missives, Aliya Whiteley

Second paragraph of third section:
I write of how I am inspired to teach by my own instructor, and how I am already of use to him in the classroom. I write of my knowledge of Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare, of Keats, of my understanding of the parts of Chaucer that are considered suitable reading, and of how I excel at the multiplication of large numbers. I am proud of how the passion within me becomes visible on the page.
This novella is along as all the others put together (must be bumping up against the 40,000 word limit) - and I think it's as good as all the others put together as well, a splendidly creepy story of a West Country village just after the first world war and how one young woman becomes the instrument of preventing future conflict. Only a short extract is included in the BSFA short fiction publication - it's well worth hunting down to read in full, and I hope that the relative lack of availability won't hurt its chances. (On the other hand, it's the only one of the shortlisted stories that is available electronically at all, I think.) Gets my top vote, firmly.

Novel | Art | Non-Fiction | Short Fiction
Tags: bsfa 2016

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