#SciFiMonth 2021 | Wrapping up the #HugoAwards for Best Short Story and Best Novelette!

Artwork by Liu Zishan from 123RF.com | Quote from Babylon’s Ashes by James S A Corey

Back in May, during Wyrd & Wonder, I shared my intention to once again read the shortlists for Best Short Story and Best Novelette for this year’s Hugo Awards, and to read the shortlist for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book for the first time. My intention was to post my wrap-up of the short stories and novelettes by the end of May, but I didn’t get round to it! I’ve been a bit slumpy for most of this year, which kind of sucks, but I really wanted to read the short fiction shortlists before the winners are announced.

I’ve finally done it! So, as it’s #SciFiMonth, this month feels as good a time as any to share my thoughts…

Best Short Story

All of these stories are free to read online – the links are above, if you’re so inclined! – and I’m pleased to say I liked all of them! In fact I have to give Nicole @ BookWyrm Knits a shout out for letting me know “A Guide for Working Breeds” was reprinted on Tor.com, because it ended up being my favourite on this year’s shortlist. I’m not usually drawn to stories about robots, but “A Guide for Working Breeds” was told with such warmth and humour that I loved it. I also really enjoyed “Open House on Haunted Hill”, a surprisingly tender response to haunted house stories that I’m labelling ‘happy horror’, and “Little Free Library” I liked a lot because it reminded me a little of Alix E. Harrow’s “The Ransom of Miss Coraline Connelly”.

While I did like “Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, “The Mermaid Astronaut” and “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, none of them have particularly stuck with me since I read them in the spring. Personally, I’m not sure how “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” has ended up on the shortlist when Sharon Hsu’s “And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands” was in the same issue of Uncanny Magazine and is a much stronger story, in my opinion.

Best Novelette

I’ve only been able to read four of this year’s shortlist! Big Girl isn’t available at my library and I haven’t bought a copy, and unfortunately Isabel Fall received so much abuse online that she was forced to out herself as a trans woman and she asked Clarkesworld to remove her story. On principle I’d love to see her win the award just to give everyone who sent her abuse the middle finger.

Of the four I did read I didn’t dislike any of them, but I didn’t feel particularly wowed by any of them either. That said, I’ve once again surprised myself with my favourite because I’ve struggled with Aliette de Bodard’s work in the past, but I ended up enjoying “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” a lot and it’s convinced me to give her Dominion of the Fallen series a try! The ending felt a little rushed and nothing about the plot was a shock, but I liked the characters a lot and I’m very intrigued by this world.

I also enjoyed “Two Truths and a Lie” despite not loving Sarah Pinsker’s work in the past. This story did actually give me the creeps, which is impressive for how short it is; it reminded me a lot of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids – but for adults.

I have no idea if Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids ran anywhere outside the UK, but it was a series I watched a lot as a child and some of the episodes haunted me. I’m still not over “Mr Peeler’s Butterflies”.

I liked “Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super” but I don’t think I’ll still be thinking about it, or even remember much about it, in a month’s time – it was another story that felt a little too abrupt for me by the end – and “Monster” is probably my least favourite of the novelettes I read. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t leave me feeling very much.

All in all I’d love to see “A Guide for Working Breeds” win Best Short Story and “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” win Best Novelette, but it’ll be interesting to see which stories get the votes this year!

Are you reading this year’s Hugo Awards shortlist?

5 thoughts on “#SciFiMonth 2021 | Wrapping up the #HugoAwards for Best Short Story and Best Novelette!

  1. Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits says:

    Nice wrap-up! I’m glad you enjoyed “A Guide for Working Breeds”—I enjoyed that one so much when I read it on Tor.com that I bought the anthology. Guide was my second favorite of the short stories (“Open House on Haunted Hill” was by far my favorite) but I didn’t particularly care for “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” either. I guess there’s something for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James Weber says:

    Cool wrap up! I haven’t seen much Hugo coverage on the SciFiMonth tag so it was cool to see another person is interested in them (this year was the first year I ever voted)
    Open House on Haunted Hill, I think ended up being my fav for short stories although I’ll admit I didn’t make it through all the titles (I didn’t get a chance to read any of the novellas sadly)

    Liked by 1 person

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