Last week I posted about my adventures in reading the books nominated for the Best Novel award (2014 and 1939). I had hoped to write my second and subsequent posts on the other categories on a daily or every other day pattern so that I could wrap up before the Hugo Award ceremonies on the 14th and 17th of this month. A distraction arrived over the weekend and then work returned on Monday and Tuesday. Here I am halfway to the next weekend and just now getting around to this post.
2014 BEST NOVELLA
- The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press) – included in voter packet but not read; tried but gave up #noaward
- “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013) – part of Lights in the Deep anthology – Read (5 stars) Superb – #1
- “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013) – Read (2.5 stars) just okay, too Lovecraftian for me – #5 or #noaward
- Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press) – Read (4 stars) liked it but not as much as Torgersen’s work above – #2
- “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013) – Read (3.5 stars) Cute – #3
I really only liked two of the five novellas nominated. Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White was a great re-imagining the classic Fairy Tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” because it bears little resemblance to the original but enough to keep pulling you in. Frankly, it’s a good story whether or not you’re familiar with the original Snow White. Despite that, Torgersen’s “The Chaplain’s Legacy” still just blew me away. And the shame of that was that I bought Lights in the Deep anthology months ago and never got around to reading it until I saw this nomination.
The rest of the slate of nominees were just okay. “Equoid” was just too Lovecraftian for me and “Wakulla Springs” is more historical fiction that someone waved a science fiction palm leaf over. I could barely read the first chapter of Dan Wells’ The Butcher of Khardov. Fiction written about video games or role-playing games just never works for me.
1939 BEST NOVELLA
- Anthem by Ayn Rand (Cassell) – ebook – 1.5-2 stars #noaward or #5
- “A Matter of Form” by H. L. Gold (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938) – ILL* of Great Tales of Classic Science Fiction – 3.5 stars #2
- “Sleepers of Mars” by John Beynon [John Wyndham] (Tales of Wonder, March 1938) – ILL request 7/7/2014; did not receive before voting closed so unread
- “The Time Trap” by Henry Kuttner (Marvel Science Stories, November 1938) – 3 stars – #3
- “Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938) – Borrowed A New Dawn anthology from Johnson County Library; previously read in November 2008 as part of the Best of John W. Campbell anthology – 4.5 stars – #1
* ILL – Interlibrary Loan
When I saw that “Who Goes There?” was one of the novella nominees, I knew immediately what would get my top vote. I was not proven wrong. Gold’s “A Matter of Form” turned out to be surprisingly good – who doesn’t like a good dog story? Kuttner’s “The Time Trap” also surprised me in a pulpy adventurous sort of way. Rand’s “Anthem” just made me cringe. I’ve avoided reading Rand (I got enough of that philosophy thanks to Terry Goodkind and the devolving drivel that was The Sword of Truth series) and I will continue to avoid reading her in the future.
I did not get a chance to read Beynon’s “Sleepers of Mars” because it was not included in the Hugo Voting packet. Due to the lateness of the release of the 1939 voting packet (after July 1st), I had to scramble to locate a copy via my local libraries, none of which had a copy in their catalogs. I fired off an interlibrary loan request, one of many that I made that first week of July to gather up the bits and pieces found in anthologies published since 1938. To date, my Sleepers of Mars request has not been fulfilled. Once it arrives, I will read it, just for completeness sake, but I could not in good conscience vote for it.
Ceremony Streaming Announcement
I was relieved to learn this morning that not only with the 2014 awards ceremony be streamed, but the 1939 one as well:
Both events are planned to be live-streamed via UStream by Loncon 3, and the 2014 Hugo Ceremony is planned to also be covered by text-based coverage on CoverItLive by the Hugo Awards Web Site team. Results of each set of awards will also be posted on the Hugo Awards web site shortly after the end of each ceremony.
Concluding Thoughts on Then and Now Novellas
I enjoyed reading all these novellas (with the exceptions noted above) and I could not really fault a lack of quality between 1939 and now. Especially with the likes of John W. Campbell’s masterful “Who Goes There?” in the offering. If you lumped them all together, my number one vote would still go to that story, followed closely by Brad Torgersen’s “The Chaplain’s Legacy.”
Next Time: Best Novelette for 2014 and 1939