Tonight at 8pm BST the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards will be announced at Worldcon in Dublin.
Yesterday I mentioned I was going to challenge myself to read all of this year’s shortlisted novelettes and short stories and I’m pleased to say it’s a challenge I’ve completed!
So I thought I’d come back today to talk about my favourites as well as my predictions for these categories as well as the Best Novel and Best YA Novel categories.
I had so much fun with this challenge, and I’d like to do it again next year (and do it earlier than the day before the award ceremony!); I don’t read a lot of short fiction and I should, because there are some real gems I’m missing out on.
Hugo Award for Best Novelette
- “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
- “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
- “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory(Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
- The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander(Tor.com publishing)
- “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer(Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
- “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller(Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)
I have to be completely honest and say that I struggled a bit more with two of the sci-fi novelettes here – “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” and “When We Were Starless” – but I know that I’m more of a fantasy reader than a sci-fi reader. I didn’t dislike them by any means, but they’re both novelettes I’d be interested in revisiting when I have more sci-fi under my belt because I’m sure there are nuances I missed being a bit of a sci-fi dumb-dumb.
“The Only Harmless Great Thing” I was a bit more comfortable and familiar with because it’s alternate history, plus it has elephants and I love elephants. Honestly, I think this one will be this year’s winner purely and simply because it’s already won the Nebula Award, but I’m happy to be pleasantly surprised! I won’t be disappointed if it wins, but my personal favourite was “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” – it has this really traditional, almost nostalgic fantasy feel to it that I loved and this was the one novelette I read that made me want more. I’d happily read an entire novel about these characters running their bakery.
But I also really enjoyed “The Thing About Ghost Stories” and “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” and I can’t wait to read Naomi Kritzer and Zen Cho’s longer work. I have two novels by each of them so I need to pick those up soon!
Hugo Award for Best Short Story
- “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
- “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
- “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
- “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
- “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
- “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
Wow, I enjoyed all of these! It’s interesting to see Brooke Bolander in the novelette and short story category, so I wonder if she’ll come away with both prizes? There are three short stories in particular I loved, one being Brooke Bolander’s story (because in what world was I not going to enjoy a story that has dinosaurs and witches in it?), as well as “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” and “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which both got me for entirely different reasons.
I read most of these short stories aloud to myself, but there were moments I couldn’t get my words out while reading “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” because I was laughing too much. I shouldn’t have been surprised considering this is a story by T. Kingfisher, whose novel The Raven and the Reindeer also made me laugh when I read it earlier this year. I love it when fantasy stops taking itself too seriously and pokes fun at itself, and that’s exactly what this story does in the most affectionate, joyous way. I loved it so much.
My ultimate favourite, though, is the story I read first and my prediction (as well as my hope) for this year’s winner: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which reminded what it is I love about reading fantasy. This story is a celebration of books and of fantasy in particular, and how it provides an escape for so many of us when the real world gets too much to deal with. I actually got quite emotional reading this and immediately added Alix E. Harrow’s forthcoming debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, to my TBR.
In fact all of these authors are authors I’d be interested in reading more from in future, which is yet another reminder to myself that I shouldn’t ignore these categories because they’re such a good way to discover new authors.
Hugo Award for Best Novel & Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
I haven’t read the full shortlist for these two categories – I’ve read three of the novels and DNF’d a fourth, and read two of the YA novels – but I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to talk about them ahead of the award ceremony.
I was very tempted to read all of the shortlisted novels, and it’s something I’m considering challenging myself to do next year, but because one of the nominees is a third in a series I didn’t want to commit to anything should I read the first novel in the trilogy and not like it.
Given how much I’ve gushed about it this year I’m sure it’ll surprise absolutely no one that I would love to see Spinning Silver win. It’s one of my new all-time favourite novels and I loved it so very much, but given that it’s won everything else so far I’m pretty confident that this year’s winner will be The Calculating Stars which makes me sad because it’s the novel I DNF’d.
Does it mean it’s undeserving of the Hugo just because I didn’t enjoy it? No, of course not. This novel has been getting a lot of love and it’s clearly doing something for a lot of people, but sadly it wasn’t for me. In my heart of hearts I would love to see Spinning Silver win because I think it’s a masterpiece, but I also wouldn’t be disappointed if the winner was Trail of Lightning or Record of a Spaceborn Few. I adore Becky Chambers’ work and Trail of Lightning is such a breath of fresh air in urban fantasy.
I’m looking forward to seeing who ultimately walks away with the award!
I’ve only read a third of the nominees for this year’s Lodestar Award – Dread Nation and The Cruel Prince – and I’d be happy if either of them won. I’d love to see Dread Nation win and I think there’s a good chance it will; if my predictions are right and The Calculating Stars and “The Only Harmless Great Thing” both win their respective categories then there’s a clearly an alternate history theme happening this year.
Something in my gut is telling me that Children of Blood and Bone is going to win this year because it’s taken YA lovers by storm, but it’s a prediction I’m not 100% sure of.