Obviously the companion category to Long Form, Short form here means shorter than 90 minutes. Unlike its longer cousin, this category often has a diverse range of media beyond tv and short film, and as such is the more interesting non textural category. Unfortunately this is also the category that, as I predicted at the beginning of the Hugo season, I couldn’t get to all of the entries in.
Of all the Hugo categories, this is both the strangest, and the hardest to prepare for. Basically it is the best series over 240,000 words (about 500 pages), that hasn’t won this award yet, and had an entry come out in the previous year (no matter how small).
A historical review in honour of the Xuya nomination for best series.
Hugo Nominee Review 2013 – Novella 2 (17500-40000 words)
Interesting story about family bonds in a Vietnamese influenced future empire…
In honour of its nomination for best series, I dug out my old reviews of the individual October Daye Books. Hopefully this will herald a new era of me collecting my previous reviews onto one site.
The marquee category, prima inter pares, what people mean when they refer to “The Hugo Award”, the novel category is open to works greater than 40,000 words (~80 pages plus). It is also the category I dread the most; no matter how bad a short story is, it will be gone in a moment, while even a good story can drag at novel length. This year I’ve read two going in, Trail of Lightning and Revenant Gun.
The Campbell award is open to the best new writer, and is judged over their output regardless of length or quantity. Usually, the main thing to comment on is that it is not really a Hugo, but the interesting wrinkle of the Campbell award this year is that you can be eligible for it twice.
Hugo novelettes tend to be long short stories (7500-17500 words). The little bit of extra space gives more flexibility and can lead to greatness (last year’s Wind Will Rove, or two years ago’s Tomato Thief spring to mind), but far to often they fall into the uncanny valley where the length makes them flabby without gaining the depth of a longer work.
I like short stories to be self-contained: a good idea or a complete story. As such I often gravitate to stories that are focused on doing one thing well. It also means that I tend to prefer vignettes, where Hugo short stories can be surprisingly long (7500 words or less).
I understand that Historical 14th Century Russian Folk Fantasy might not be the selling point for others that it is for me, but regardless, the Winternight Trilogy is something special. I can’t speak to the accuracy of Arden’s Rus, but the verisimilitude is impressive, from the frozen rural hold where the book starts, through to the proto-city of Moscow, all under the yoke of absent Tartar rulers. It is a land of hard work, resilient people, and of course magic.