The Hugo Awards 2017 Finalists: Best Short Story

The Hugo awards are considered the most prestigious sci-fi awards, but it has been marred by controversy for the past three years. Two regressive groups exploited the weaknesses of the voting system to dominate the majority of the nominees despite commanding less then 15% of the total votes (you can read more on George R.R. Martin blogpost [here]). This year this did not happen: the minority did manage to get no more than one entry per category, proportionally to their group size. The result is an awesome set of finalist, very diverse (from military sci-fi, to fantasy pieces that investigate the psychological impact of oppression, from space operas, to post apocalyptic fiction), and very strong. It is going to be hard to pick a winner this year among so many strong options! Many of them were among [the ones I nominated], or the ones I almost nominated.
I have read all the finalist in the short story category, and I have posted here my reviews, along with links to where to read the work on-line (legally) for free, or where to purchase it. As I finish reading the nominees in the other categories, I will post my reviews in this blog.

Best Short Story

   

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
A powerful and moving story, that adroitly portray the relationship between Calla and Valk, members of two countries that have been at war until recently. Valk is a citizen of the Gaant, a country of telepaths, while Calla is an Enithian, where people have no mental power. They meet during the war, one prisoner of the other, switching roles at different times. Despite the decade long war, despite the situation, the two build a relation that outlast the way.
Hugo worthy? Yes! It was one of the short story I nominated (see: [hugo worthy short stories]).
Was it part of a slate? No
Read it for free on-line: [tor.com]
Buy: [amazon]

A Fist of Permutations in the Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong
Hannah and Melanie are two sisters, with the ability to bend time and reality. Unfortunately there are limits of what they can achieve, and when one succumbs to self hate, suicide, family transphobia, and hate crime, the other traps herself in a never ending loop of alternative realities, fueled by her sense of guilt, desperately trying to change an unchangeable past.
Hugo worthy? Yes! It was one of the short story I nominated (see: [hugo worthy short stories]).
Was it part of a slate? No
Read it for free on-line: [tor.com]
Buy: [amazon]

Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar
This is the story of Tabitha, and Amira. Their stories, and their roles are the archetypal stories and roles of women in fairy tales. The same fairy tales that we still read to our children, often without realizing how misogynistic they are. One day, as Tabitha walks around the world to repent for having revealed to her mother she was a victim of abuse, she meets Amira. Their encounter will deeply change their lives, their way of thinking, and of living.
Hugo worthy? Yes.
Was it part of a slate? No
Read it for free on-line: [Uncanny magazine]
Buy the entire issue: [amazon]

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander
A very interesting, and very fine example of message fiction, focusing on women rights, and rape. Given the brevity of the story, it is hard to say anything about it, without spoiling it. I would just say that it is a great piece from a Hugo / Nebula / Sturgeon / Locus finalist writer.
Hugo worthy? Yes, despite its short length, it is a worthy piece. I still would prefer the previously listed stories.
Was it part of a slate? No
Read it for free on-line: [Uncanny magazine]
Buy the entire issue: [amazon]

The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin
All the great metropolis on Earth, when they get big enough, and old enough, they must be born. Now it’s the turn of New York, and a homeless queer black man find himself tasked with the role of facilitate this birth. But nothing it easy: there are mysterious enemies that want to prevent this from happening. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts his reluctant midwife.
I found the short story interesting, in particular the way it touches some very actual themes like xenophobia, and homelessness. The story is not as good as Jemisin’s previous work.
Hugo worthy? Yes, but the previously listed stories are much stronger candidates.
Was it part of a slate? No
Read it for free on-line: [Tor]
Buy: [amazon]

An Unimaginable Light by John C. Wright
I usually like stories that explores complex topics like self-consciousness, and artificial intelligence. I also find stories that explore morality and faith and their relation to science fascinating. I should have liked this story, because it explores all the points I have just mentioned, and because it is a reflection on what makes humans humans. Unfortunately it is the worse of the Hugo nominees in this category, trying and failing miserably to derive theological creationist axioms through logic that is so flawed to be laughable. I also did not think that the sexual sadistic elements of the plot really worked as intended. Conclusion: more a religion-fiction story, than a sci-fi one, and quite a bad one.
Hugo worthy? No
Was it part of a slate? Yes (this suggests it may not have made it because of its strength, but you never know!)
Buy: [amazon]

Relevant links