2019 Hugo Nominees

Victoria Silverwolf

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Here are the Hugo nominees, with links to those which can be read on-line:

Here are the 2019 Hugo Award nominees

BEST NOVEL
BEST NOVELLA
BEST NOVELETTE
BEST SHORT STORY
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Let's start with the short stories I have already read. Three would be those which were also nominated for the Nebula this year. My previous brief reviews:

"The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington" by Phenderson Djèlí Clark.

As the title indicates, this story relates the backgrounds of the nine slaves from whom George Washington obtained teeth to replace his own. This takes place in a world full of magic and supernatural creatures. Like a lot of the "list" stories I've been seeing lately, it's really a series of short-short stories with a related theme. With this kind of structure, it's inherently disjointed to some extent. Well-written, with imagination.

"A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies" by Alix E. Harrow

Some librarians are secretly witches, and some libraries contain secret books of magic. The narrator is one such witch. She tries to help a badly depressed teenager who reads fantasy to escape his unhappy life. Eventually she has to choose between giving him what he really needs or obeying the rules of her kind. This story is a love letter to books, particularly fantasy, and is thus likely to have a special appeal to those who read it. Beyond that, it's not bad.

"The Court Magician" by Sarah Pinsker

A boy who learns stage magic is taught how to use real magic for the ruler of the land. Each time he uses the magic, he loses something. That's about the whole plot, so it's more of a character study than anything else.
One I previously read while reviewing an issue of Uncanny for Tangent Online:

"The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat" by Brooke Bolander is a mock fairy tale. A trio of dinosaurs encounter a foolish, indecisive prince. A clever princess, who wishes to leave human society and live alone as a witch, becomes involved with the three. The title provides a strong clue as to how things work out. This is a very light comedy, which provides a moderate amount of amusement. It is quite lengthy for such a featherweight story.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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On to those I have not yet read.

The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society - Uncanny Magazine

"The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society" by T. Kingfisher

A group of supernatural beings sit around and reminiscence about the woman who made them pine for her, rather than the usual pattern of human women pining for them. It's a very light, playfully humorous little story, best described as "cute."
 
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Victoria Silverwolf

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STET

"STET" by Sarah Gailey

Notable mostly for its structure, which reminds me of the novel Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. That book consists of a long poem by a fictional author, and the footnotes to the poem. The footnotes tell the real plot. In this story, the footnotes to a dry academic article, and the editor's comments on the article, and the author's responses to the comments, tell the real plot. This becomes evident quickly, so it's not a spoiler to reveal that the author's young daughter was killed by a self-driving automobile with artificial intelligence. It could be read like a "normal" story, but it works better on-line, where the footnotes can be clicked on to expand them, resulting in a real piece of interactive fiction. A real tour de force of technique.

____________________________________________________________________

Of the nominees, I'd go with the Clark or the Gailey. (Kudos to Fireside magazine, with which I am not otherwise familiar.)
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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On to the novelettes. The Bolander is not available on-line in full. (I assume it's more of a short novella.)

One I have already read, due to its Nebula nomination:

"The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections" by Tina Connolly

A baker can make goods which evoke memories when eaten. He is forced to work for a wicked aristocrat, and his wife is made to serve as the food taster for his creations, to ensure that he doesn't try use poison. The story takes place during a meal, with flashbacks as the wife tastes each item. It's a good story, and the flashback structure works well. There's no surprise that things are going to go badly for the villain.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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"If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again," by Zen Cho

"If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again" by Zen Cho

A giant serpent from Korean mythology struggles to become a dragon over thousands of years. It becomes involved with a woman of modern times, eventually becoming her life partner. The first third of the story is lightly comic, becoming much more serious after the serpent (disguised as a "celestial fairy," resembling a woman) stays with the woman. Not bad at all.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Nine Last Days on Planet Earth

"Nine Last Days on Planet Earth" by Daryl Gregory

Follows the life of the main character from boyhood in 1975 to old age in 2062. His parents divorce, and he sometimes lives with his mother and her many boyfriends/husbands, or with his fundamentalist father. He grows up, marries a man, adopts children, and so forth. Did I mention that this all happens in a world where a huge number of alien objects fell to Earth, filling the planet with alien plants? That's because the science fiction element is almost a background detail in a family saga, although it makes for some striking scenes. Written in a plain, clear style.
 

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I’m still mulling the categories but I do know Peadar O’Guilin has my vote for the Lodestar - The Greylands series is fabulous :)
I'll second that. I was unable to put them down.

I've read 3 of the contenders up for best novel, have another one ready to read, and the other two have been recommended by people whose taste I trust. For the Novellas, Nnedi Okorafor has not put a foot wrong with the Binti series, so it probably will get my vote; that said, all six are great writers and, once (if) I manage to read all those novellas, this could be a really difficult choice.

There are some really good nominations across the all categories. It's not going to be easy.
 

Ursa major

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The Greylands series is fabulous
Speaking of series....

It seems a bit unfair -- I have only read** one of the nominated series -- but as that series is one where I always preorder the next installment and each individual book has always lived up to my expectations -- I expect them to be clever, funny, thought-provoking, surprising and exciting -- my vote has to go the The Laundry Files by Charles Stross.


** - I'm not sure there's time to read all the others on the list (particularly as I haven't read a single novel from any of them :eek::whistle:), not when I hope to at least read all the nominated entries in the single novel category.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Finishing up the novelettes I can access on-line:

"When We Were Starless" By Simone Heller

Clarkesworld Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy

Throws the reader right into a strange alien world as clawed and tailed beings wander their spoiled, starless world, herding their "weavers", fleeing the deadly "rustbreeds", and wary of "ghosts." Only slowly do we learn what these really are, as the alien narrator encounters ancient technology and learns the truth about her world, and the possibility of regaining the stars. Very imaginative and exotic, as well as inspiring. I'd chose it for the award out of those I have read.
 
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