I have finally finished reading all the nominees in the categories of Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story for the 2011 Hugo Awards. I would have liked to read the nominated graphic novels, but since I do most of my reading from library loans and found those difficult to track down even from an interlibrary loan, I went without reading that category this year, as well as the compilations. One of these years I might just become a supporting member of Renovation SF so I can get the reading packet and also vote!
According to a friend over on GoodReads, the nominees are actually ranked, rather than just a winner being selected. I will attempt to do the same. The following lists are ranked by me, the no. 1 being who I would select as the winner in each category.
Nominees for Best Novel
1. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Amazing setting, cool nanotech, interesting stories, dense language
2. Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
A zombie story that I didn't hate! I may even read #2!
3. Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Enjoyable romps... okay, more like long journeys... through time travel during the Blitz
4. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
I didn't finish this for the Nebulas but read it with the Sword and Laser bookclub. I thought the story was an interesting concept but didn't enjoy the journey, if that makes sense.
5. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Why nominate a book that is #20 in a series? It didn't stand alone and I wasn't going to read 19 books to put it into context.
Nominees for Best Novella
1. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
Virtual pets turning into sentient, sexual beings - well developed and interesting.
2. “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky
Embodying another woman’s body to kill the queen.... Swirsky always writes emotions well.
3. “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
I appreciated this for the sentiment rather, and the setting was more of an after thought. It is really about loss, with inventors and little steampunkness and South Carolina thrown in there.
4. “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
Man goes to space, sees something he can’t explain, is eternally changed. Uhuh. Haven't I read this before?
5. “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
This one suffers at #5 because it is a subgenre of SF I have always struggled with. Spaaaaaace and I can’t focus.
Nominees for Best Novelette
1. “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
This edged out the others because it was a lot of fun to read, and had some unique ideas. I loved that humans were altered depending on which environment they are meant for - space, moon, mars, earth.
2. “The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
Interesting pairing of fantasy and religion, ancient religion with USA to the north.
3. “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
Chronicles the craziness leading to the reading of early fictional accounts of mars. Well, okay. Seems like a canon literary tribute more than anything else.
4. “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)
Ugh, ?Mormons and Swales, too much religious undertone.
5. “Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
I'm laughing at myself but I hated this because it was so illogical. The premise is that high altitude causes humans to evolve on the spot. It is completely ridiculous - why aren't swimmers mermaids hmm?
Best Short Story
1. “Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com, November 17, 2010)
TheOtherGirls nod. “You don’t have a pony.”
2. “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
What is motherhood in a world of population control?
3. “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
A confusing story about AIs that hold family memory.
4. “The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)
"Mutinous biomass sloughed off despite my most desperate attempts to hold myself together: panic-stricken little clots of meat, instinctively growing whatever limbs they could remember and fleeing across the burning ice."
Despite fun little wordy sections like the above quotation, the story was overall pretty repetitive and nebulous. I read this pretty soon after reading Blindsight.
The winners will be announced Saturday, August 20th, 2011, during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Renovation in Reno, Nevada.