These are my nominations for Nebula and Hugo awards this year. I only did short stories and novelettes, but I read (or started) almost everything sent to me. Plus other stuff of course. If anyone’s looking for a last-minute add to their ballot, these are all stories I loved. Apparently my choices this year are themed around time anomalies, evil corporations, and unusual viewpoints…
As We Report to Gabriel — Tina Connolly, Fantasy Magazine
A love story among the fae, in a world where “good people do not let fairies live with them.” I probably like 98% of Tina’s work that I’ve read. She has a genius with prose that most writers only dream of. Consider this sentence from the POV of a fairy: “Once I was hiding on a girl’s golden dress and I forgot I was someone and I went home with her and through the wash.”
Mama, We Are Zhenya, Your Son — Tom Crosshill, Lightspeed
One of the most underestimated challenges in fiction writing is capturing the POV of a child. Most writers succumb to making their narrator either too impossibly cute or unrealistically naive. Not so in this excellent story, where we see a world tragedy unfold through the eyes of a very unusual eight-year-old boy.
Movement — Nancy Fulda, Asimov’s
I admit, I love stories with great points of view–and this one is a fabulous visit into the mind of a young woman with temporal autism, who perceives time completely differently from her family. She faces a huge decision about whether to “fix” her brain or stay the way she is. This tale is lovely and bittersweet.
“Run” Bakri Says — Ferrett Steinmetz, Asimov’s
A girl’s brother builds a real-world save point, like in a video game. And now she has to use that save point to try and rescue him, over and over. Dying hurts, in case you didn’t know. I haven’t tried myself, but Link always seems so mad at me when I make him fight the same bosses over and over…
Woman Leaves Room — Robert Reed, Lightspeed
A sentient computer program “lives” through 8 billion years of human history. Man, it’s a lonely lifetime. I liked seeing such a long period of time through glimpses of awareness.
The Migratory Patterns of Dancers — Katherine Sparrow, GigaNotoSaurus
Lots of birds are extinct. So corporations splice bird DNA into humans, who then bicycle around the wasted world and dance for tourists at national parks. What? Well, it works, and it’s awesome.
The Taste of Promises — Rachel Swirsky, Life On Mars anthology
Two brothers run away from home in order to get an extra body–since one of them has been living in a computer for most of his life. Like most Swirsky stories, it’s a good combo of beautiful language and compelling characters.
The Nearest Thing — Genevieve Valentine, Lightspeed
I’m a sucker for the Galatea myth, having written a story about this myself. Anyway, a programmer is hired to make AIs which are nearly human, with dangerous results (of course). What I loved so much here was the dark view of corporations, especially ones that take such an active interest in your health. (They email you when you’ve had too much caffeine and suggest therapy instead.)
Six Months, Three Days — Charlie Jane Anders, Tor.com
Two people who can see the future date each other. If you knew before getting into a relationship that it would end badly, would it still be worthwhile to have it? What if both of you knew, but one of you thought there were other possible futures that might be found? The best part here is how well-drawn these two characters are–they feel completely real to me.
Bronsky’s Dates With Death — Peter David, F&SF
A guy who won’t shut up about dying annoys the crap out of Death. Fun premise and nice delivery. The ending is what made the story for me.
So that’s it. You’ve got another month for Hugo reading, but Nebula noms are due on Wednesday.
And if you’re reading anyway, please consider The Sighted Watchmaker at Lightspeed, which will be reprinted in Rich Horton’s “Year’s Best” anthology. Thank you, and happy reading!