Mini-Reviews for Best Novelette Hugo Finalists
The end of Hugo Voting is quickly approaching. 114 Hugo and Astounding Award finalists await your contemplation. Here are mini-reviews for five of the six Hugo finalists for Best Novelette (I reviewed Exhalation as a whole the other day).
“For He Can Creep”, Siobhan Carroll
The brave cat Jeoffry lives at a madhouse. He and the residents are having trouble with demons. The particular focus of these demons’ attention is Jeoffry’s favorite human, an unnamed poet. One day, the devil himself comes to the madhouse with a demand. It is clear that Jeoffry cannot let the devil have his way. This story is utterly charming. It’s told from Jeoffry’s perspective, and Jeoffry is not particularly shy about his opinions. Additionally, if you know more about classic poetry than me (read: if you know anything about classic poetry), there’s a little Easter egg you may adore.
“Omphalos”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
I reviewed this collection as a whole over here!
“Away With the Wolves”, Sarah Gailey
Suss suffers from chronic pain. Every once in a while, she feels free enough to transform into a wolf, and go Away from her normal village community life. However, she always feels obliged to come back and see what damage she has caused in her absence. It soon becomes clear that Suss must change how she interacts with the world if she wants to feel like a productive part of it. This is a deeply moving story about disability and social norms. Suss feels like she must go one way for the good of all, but she realizes that there’s more than one way to contribute.
“Emergency Skin”, N.K. Jemisin (Amazon Exclusive Novelette)
A man is sent back to explore a planet called Tellus, long since believed dead. Once the man arrives, he and the AI accompanying him are surprised and shocked to discover that the planet thrives. It becomes clearer and clearer what is going on to both the reader and the AI, although the two perspectives might understandably come to different conclusions. The man, however, still has questions. If you need me to tell you that N.K. Jemisin is a master of her craft, please close your browser and read one of her books. Even though it’s possible to gather where the man is going almost immediately, Jemisin manages to rachet up the suspense with very little space using just the computer perspective.
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, Sarah Pinsker
Zanna writes one or two books a year. Every once in a while, she and her assistant and long-time friend Shar go somewhere really remote to work. When Shar leaves Zanna alone in her remote retreat, the power suddenly goes out. However, when Zanna tries to get the power back on, she finds something she doesn’t expect. This novelette wonders what someone should do if they can’t really control what goes bump in the night. Sarah Pinsker writes excellent short fiction. The end of this novelette is pretty creepy, but not gory.
“The Archronology of Love”, Caroline M. Yoachim
New Mars was going to be a colony, Unfortunately, some unknown disaster killed all of the people sent ahead. Everyone lost someone, and are now left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Now, an expedition aims to discover what went wrong. Saki Jones, leader of the expedition, wants to find out what happened to her lifelove, M.J. To avoid the same fate as their predecessors, the expedition uses technological advancements, like a Chronology (time-recorder) to figure out what went wrong on the planet. However, Saki finds a lot more there than she bargained for.
Please check out all of these novelettes. They’re worthy Hugo finalists and they’re all very different from each other. I promise you’ll have a good time doing so.
Don’t forget! Hugo Voting closes Wednesday 22 July 2020 at 23:59 Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)/Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 18:59 New Zealand Standard Time (UTC+12).