October Daye is an urban fantasy series starring a PI who bridges the gap between fairy and humans. On its face, there is nothing to distinguish it from any of the other long running series like Dresden/The Hollows (PI), True Blood/Mary Gentry (fairies), etc, except it is a perennial best series nominee for the Hugos. Indeed, I’ve read and briefly reviewed the October Daye series not once, but twice before, putting them in the middle of my Hugo Series ballot in both 2017 and 2019. After the last round I praised them as “weapons grade escapism”, but given I enjoyed them enough this year to reread the series, they deserve a bit more than that. In particular, it misses what is the key strength of the series – a family of characters that I want to hang out with each instalment, the lexical equivalent of a great sitcom or procedural.
In addition to more than a dozen novels, McGuire has published nearly as many short works in the October Daye Universe. These break broadly into two categories: interstitials between the novels, which were eventually just included in her later books; and prequel works spanning both major cast members as well as minor or historic characters. […]
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).
This is the award for best new writer, regardless of output length (or quantity), and year after year it ends up my favourite category by delivering works that I think are better than any of the nominees in the main ballot. This year I will be thwarted however, as the three shorter pieces in this category are all in regular competition. On the upside, this makes this category an easy ask, as I’ve also already read Under the Pendulum Sun, leaving me with just three novels to cover.
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 Tomato Thief springs 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.
As mentioned before this is not strictly a Hugo category, it just uses the same voting system with the same electorate and is given out at the same time. It’s also an odd duck, as novels duke it out with short stories and mixtures of both. Still, the Campbell Award often ends up being my favourite slate – in previous years I have preferred the novels represented here to those in the novel category.
The Novelette and Novella are the ugly step children of the Hugos, novelette being a long short story, and a novella being a short novel. Nonetheless, they are often have the most diversity in offerings of the categories.