Here is what I thought of the Best Short Story finalists…
- “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
Set in colonial India, during the Bengal famine of 1943. A revenge story with a magical twist. The story is harrowing and shows the brutality of colonial rule. However, the telling of it didn‘t really do much for me.
- “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)
“An alternate history short story looking at decisions and consequences, and what it takes to pull the trigger.“
I really liked this. What a barbaric idea, although I can see where they are coming from. Not a decision that should be taken lightly and that can be debated hotly.
Knocking off half a star, because I am somewhat unsatisfied with the abrupt and open ending. Still debating with myself, if I consider this special enough for an award? Does it really bring anything new to the table?
Pretty cover art.
- “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, 24 July 2019)
A young girl, a slave in the South, is presented with a moment where she can grasp for freedom, for change, for life. She grabs it with both hands, fiercely and intensely, and the spirit world is shaken.
Odd. Very wordy, very bloody, with a faint touch of romance and hope at the end. The tale was unsettling and had no rewarding features for me.
- “A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
Climate fic. About storms, wind, sisters and mothers. It went right over my head, couldn‘t get into it.
- “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
High fantasy, war, genderfluid characters. Death and blood and endless war. Loss, betrayal, hope.
Betrayal is a fearsome armor against love.
The world building was pretty good, but I did not connect with the characters. I liked the ending, although I did not really agree with the choices everyone made. It got me thinking though, so I can see why this is nominated for a Hugo.
- “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)
I listened to the podcast on the Nightmare Magazine website. Very odd story. I am using the word story loosely here. To have a male narrator was an interesting choice. A story about colonialism.
From the author‘s website:
Possibly the structurally weirdest thing I’ve ever written; it’s in the form of an MLA bibliography and it’s about colonialism in academia, monstrous appetites, and oh yes, lesbian cannibals.
Another one that went mostly over my head. While the structure of the narrative was clever and somewhat intriguing, it didn‘t really work for me. But that‘s on me.
So, that was all of the short story finalists for this year‘s Hugo Award. Not a great average for me this time around. Leaning strongly towards Fantasy—maybe that is the reason. I am more of SF and UF fan.
Which of these stories was your favourite?