In 2019 I read the Hugo Awards shortlists for Best Short Story and Best Novelette for the very first time, and I had so much fun with it that I did it again in 2020 and now I’m doing it again! This year, though, I’m also going to be challenging myself to read the shortlist for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.
So, without further ado, let’s look at this year’s shortlists! The majority of novelettes and short stories are available to read online for free and I’ve linked them below if you’d like to read them yourself.
Best Short Story
“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2020)
- “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, ed. Jonathan Strahan (Solaris))
- “Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer (Tor.com)
- “The Mermaid Astronaut” by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
- “Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
- “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020, ed. David Steffen)
An interesting selection! I’m excited to read more T. Kingfisher whose previously shortlisted short story, “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society“, is one of my favourites. I’ve actually already read “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” and, to be honest, I’m a little disappointed Sharon Hsu’s story from that same issue of Uncanny, “And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands“, didn’t make the shortlist because I adored it, and I found it the most impactful story in that issue.
That aside I’m still looking forward to reading this shortlist, I love discovering new short fiction through the Hugo Awards, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to “A Guide for Working Breeds” unless I can find a copy of Made to Order in my library, as it’s not the kind of book I’m that interested in owning a copy of!
- “Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super” by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2020)
- “Helicopter Story” by Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
- “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine, July/August 2020)
- “Monster” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
- “The Pill” by Meg Elison (from Big Girl (PM Press))
- “Two Truths and a Lie” by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)
I’m interested to see what I think of this selection, too! I’m not 100% sure if I’ll read “The Pill”—I need to decide if I’m interested enough in Meg Elison’s entire story collection to pick a copy up—and I’ve also not got along with Aliette de Bodard and Sarah Pinsker’s work in the past, but I really enjoy novelettes and I’m excited to give these a go.
The other story it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to read is “Helicopter Story” which I didn’t realise until I went looking for it ended up being pulled, at the request of the author, after it received an awful lot of backlash. From what I can gather, it’s a sci-fi story that was originally titled “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter”, and thus shared its name with a transphobic meme, and the drama that ensued ultimately led to Isabel Fall having to out herself as a trans woman. The whole thing sounds like a mess and, as a cis woman who hasn’t read the story, I can’t comment on how it reads or on Fall’s intentions, but I think we can safely say a trans woman wasn’t aiming to be transphobic.
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
- A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
- Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
- Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
- Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
- A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
This year the YA shortlist is a shortlist I’m actually interested in reading in its entirety! I’ve already read Cemetery Boys, and can’t say I’m surprised to see it on the shortlist, and I have copies of all of the others, apart from Elatsoe, on my kindle. Legendborn and Raybearer are already on my Wyrd & Wonder TBR and I’ve heard such good things about both of them, and I’m looking forward to giving A Deadly Education and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking a go after enjoying both authors’ adult novels. I do really want to read Elatsoe, but it’s one I’m hoping I’ll be able to get from the library because it’s still rather expensive.