2014 Hugo Nominees: Novella

One more short fiction category for the Hugos.

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com). This is pretty well-done, except for two things. First, its narrative weight is fairly unbalanced, scanting the end. Second, it becomes unequivocally SFF only in, literally, the last paragraph—indeed, I’ve seen a number of people argue that it’s not SFF at all. I think it is, because when I re-read that paragraph (I’d forgotten it entirely from my first read), I saw how the SFF element worked with the themes of the story . . . but in a very “let us write a high school essay pointing out the themes” kind of way. So I think it’s SFF, I just don’t think the SFF element is very good.

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (published as standalone book; available as an ebook but not for free online). This also scants its ending, alas. More, it shifts from first to third about halfway through, and I would really have liked either first-person or some more explanation for the actions of the protagonist late in the story. Plus I didn’t find the narrative voice employed, in either first or third, very easy to get into. But I was somewhat more interested in it than in “Wakulla Springs,” so I don’t know.

The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (published as a standalone book; available as an ebook but not for free online). I got about three pages into this before I said, “ugh, no.” Chad assures me that I didn’t miss a thing.

Did not read: “Equoid” by Charles Stross, because I am allergic to Stross’ fiction, which this time let me avoid some really awful sexual violence against a child, among other things (a short summary, read with due caution for triggers), so yay for that; “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen, again for the reasons discussed here.

I am really not sure what my ballot looks like, at this point, because I found both “Wakulla Springs” and Six-Gun Snow White flawed in fairly similar ways, and those are the only two going above No Award.

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