Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2017 – Shorter fiction recommendations – aka what to read beyond the winners!

The Hugo Winners have been announced, and the winners are pretty good!  Plenty of others will break down the voting and discuss the results, but I’ve already exhaustively gone through my votes in each of the categories, and don’t think I can add much to the discussion, other then my disappointment1 that Palmer won the Campbell award, and my surprise that the Vision came dead last in the graphic story category.

One of the tragedies of the Hugos2 is that once the winners are announced, all the other worthy nominees tend to get forgotten.  This can be particularly egregious when there is a large disparity in the categories, or there is an instant classic  in a category that overshadows works that would have won in any other year.  So instead of discussing the Hugo’s in terms of winners and losers, let me instead present a list of nominated stories that I think are worth reading.  I hope you find something that peaks your interest…

Shorter Fiction Recommendations3

Must Reads

1. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson and *The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon.

I was not expecting that the best of the Hugos would be a pair of tales about older woman going on fantasy quests, and yet here we are.  While one is a deconstruction of a classic mythos tale and the other is an adventure in the weird west, these two are inextricably linked in my mind through their protagonists: strong, independent, practical, and utterly unrelenting.  I can’t help but feel like this is a peek into a world where the default hero is an experienced woman rather than an untested boy, and wonder how much richer that world might be.

2. The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta.

A horror story of creeping dread wearing the mask of a superhero comic.

3. Haunted by Sarah Gailey.

A very short story about a house that is haunted, rather than a haunted house…

4. The Killing Jar and Blue Monday by Laurie Penny.

Two thematically linked stories of people working in dystopian jobs in otherwise ordinary seeming worlds.

5. *Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda.

Breathtakingly beautiful graphic novel that manages to combine elements of high fantasy, revenge, and 20’s style Call of Cthulhu into a story with a fair bit of substance.

Very good:

6. A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson.

A generic love story that changes into something genuinely new and unpredictable, and would have been rated even higher if it had stuck the ending.

7. *Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

A simple mood piece that engages with the question – is it better to leave fairy land or to stay?

8. That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn and Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Two relatively generic stories, one SF and one fantasy, elevated by the skill of the authors and the subversion of the conflicts between the nominal antagonists.

9. Your Orisons May Be Recorded by Laurie Penny.

Re-imagining divine providence as cubical call centres.

10. *Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar.

Feminist reexamination of two fairy tales – it’s only this low in the list because I didn’t know either tale: fairy tale aficionados should consider this first.

11. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander.

A stream of anger crystallised into a story.

12. Waters of Versais by Kelly Robson.

Plumbing, water spirits and french decadence wrapped around a character study.

13. Tear Tracks by Malka Older.

First contact tells us more about ourselves then about the aliens.

14. Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, writen by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze.

A strong introduction to a new series about a good king in a burgeoning republic.

15. Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex by Stix Hiscock.

There are better works not listed above this, andI’m not going to defend it in terms of quality.  But if you were to ask me which story represented pure, unbridled joy spewed from an author onto a page, this would be it.

Honourable Mentions

Most of the other nominees are good stories that might tickle your fancy more than mine.  In particular Saga and Ms Marvel are not listed above not because they aren’t great, but because I can only recommend them to people who have started on earlier volumes.  In addition:4 The Ballard of Black Tom, The Jewel and Her Lapidary, The Art of Space Travel, The Rupture, The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill, and Everything Belongs to the Future are all worth a look.

Longer Works:

I strongly recommend you read anything in the best series categories, and Infomocracy.

Hugo Roundup

This is pretty much it for my hugo stuff – if I get around to reading the novels I’ll put up a much belated post, but otherwise it will just be putting up a master post of hugo stuff, and back to regularly scheduled programming.  Next year I will try to be a little more organised and get through the novel category.  Thank you for coming!5

  1. But not surprise.
  2. And awards in general.
  3. Short Stories, Novellas, Novellettes, and Graphic Novels. Winners of categories denoted with a *.  Links are to my category reviews.
  4. And in no particular order.
  5. And thank you to File770 for the first referal to my blog.

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