I Go, We Go, They Go, Hugo…

The Hugo AwardHere’s a list of the short story nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards recognizing excellence in science fiction and fantasy, with my comments. Titles link to the full text of the stories:

I love the title, I’ve enjoyed Ms. Swirsky’s work in the past, and the story had a nice rhythm and mood, but what spoiled it for me three paragraphs in was having read Laura Numeroff’s children’s story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I started thinking…”If she brings him a goat, he’s probably going to want a glass of milk to go with it.” And then, worse, June Carter Cash began crooning in my brain: “If you were a dinosaur, and I were a lady, I’d marry you anyway, and I’d have your baby…”

Aaaand, that’sĀ Game Over, I thought.

Then I sent June out to the back porch with Johnny and finished the story. Great googly-moogly. It felt like a T-Rex had just noshed on my solar plexus. Well-played, ma’am. UPDATE: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” won this year’s short-story Nebula Award. Of the other Hugo-nominated stories, only “Selkie Stories Are For Losers” was on the Nebula ballot. My Hugo prediction stands.

An odd wrinkle develops in our world—freezing-cold water drenches you if you lie. It makes straight-out lying harder but dissembling more commonplace and complicated. The protagonist is a man trying to figure out how to introduce his homosexual partner to his traditionally-minded Chinese family, and the liquid threat hovering over every sentence isn’t helping matters one bit. It’s well-written and very emotional, but neither the metaphor-brought-to-life nor the protagonist’s sexuality seemed to make much difference to the story, which was a fairly conventional vignette about bringing home a prospective mate you’re certain nobody’s going to accept.

Wishes are made, wishes are fulfilled, every wish is connected to every other, and, as you might expect, it’s a good idea to be careful what you wish for in this earthy bit of magical realism about a Thai village and its quirky inhabitants. It’s an amusing story, but it felt a little too familiar and predictable to me.

Another bit of magical realism, heavier on the realism, but more haunting for it. The selkie legend threads its way through a young woman’s ramblings on her life, her family, and a new friend whom she hopes will be something more than a friend. The legend slowly emerges into reality but carries a substantial punch throughout the story as a metaphor for abandonment, and loss, and the sometimes impenetrable strangeness a daughter sees in her mother.

I’m picking the Rachel Swirsky story as the winner, though the Sofia Samatar story could give it a run for its money. Give ’em a read, and tell me what you think.


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