Tag: hugo awards

Short story: “Jackalope Wives”

“Jackalope Wives,” by Ursula Vernon

Appeared in issue 56 of Apex Magazine, January 7th, 2014; appeared on The Mary Sue the same day; won the 2014 Nebula; probably just missed getting a Hugo, due to shenanigans; nominated for a 2014 Cóyotl Award; reprinted in issue 0 of Mothership Zeta in 2015

5000 words according to Apex; 4,934 going by my word processor

An ingenious southwestern selkie story. I wasn’t blown away by it, as a lot of people seem to be, but I liked it.


Short story: “Makeisha in Time”

“Makeisha in Time,” by Rachael K. Jones

Appeared in Crossed Genres Magazine (subscribe), Issue 20: Time Travel, August 2014; featured in Podcastle episode 345, January 6th, 2015; featured in Cast of Wonders episode 176, August 30th, 2015 and as a Staff Pick for episode 191, January 20th, 2016; also read for StarShipSofa No 414, December 9th, 2015; appeared in the full list of Hugo nominations and so was collected in the first Long List Anthology, published by Diabolical Plots, L.L.C., December 15th, 2015

3,212 words

I remember being impressed but frustrated by this story when I first read it in Crossed Genres. At first I read the ending as another form of suicide, but on a reread I understand it better. Our society has forgotten Makeisha a thousand times. We don’t deserve her. She belongs to a better era, and now she’s going to find one.

This is the type of story that wears its politics, and its political anger, on its sleeve. That limits its depth, I think, but opens the way for more works of fiction exploring the same territory.

Short story: “Cat Pictures Please”

“Cat Pictures Please,” by Naomi Kritzer

Appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, issue 100, January 2015; won Best Short Story in the Hugos; read by Miriam Krause for Escape Pod 613, February 1st, 2018

3429 words

This made me smile.

Short story: “Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”

“Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death,” by James Tiptree, Jr.

First appeared in the anthology The Alien Condition (April 1973), edited by Stephen Goldin; nominated for the 1974 Hugo (in the Novelette category); placed third in the 1974 Locus Magazine Poll Award; won the 1974 Nebula (Short Story); also in a long list of collections and anthologiesavailable behind a paywall on Scribd; reprinted and recorded for Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014

6788 words

A delight. Need to read more of Tiptree’s work.

Also seems to be a precursor to “Mantis Wives.”

Speculative fiction publication: Clarkesworld Magazine

Clarkesworld Magazine, a monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine with a lot of multimedia stuff

October 2006 to present


Affordable subscriptions, plus a ton of free stuff online; see also the Support Us page

For fiction, pays 10¢ per word for the first 5000 words and 8¢ for each word over 5000 (pro rates)

Website typefaces: Verdana for the stories and articles, something modern-looking and sans-serif for the titles, Georgia for the bylines

Going through my Clarkesworld tag, I’m impressed. They print a lot of ambitious and subtle work. I wouldn’t say I love any of the pieces I’ve read in Clarkesworld, but I respect them and think about them a lot. Of course, the ones I’m most likely to read and remember are the Hugo and Nebula nominees (this magazine gets a lot of awards and nominations).

They put the word count at the bottom of each piece, which is nice.

They always put an author photo in the sidebar to the right of each online piece. And under that an author bio, which tends to be three or more sentences long. It’s not a major distraction, but it irks me a little.


Short story: “A Tank Only Fears Four Things”

 “A Tank Only Fears Four Things,” by Seth Dickinson

Appeared in issue 48 of Lightspeed Magazine, May 2014; online here

2499 words

A remarkable story. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it among next year’s Hugo nominees.

The only real complaint I have is that the procedure at the end feels a little too easy, occurring as it does between paragraphs.

Short story: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” by Rachel Swirsky

Appeared here in issue 46 and the podcast of Apex Magazine on March 5th, 2013; nominated for a 2014 Hugo Award; featured in episode 458 of Escape Pod, August 14th, 2014; also appeared in episode 384 of PodCastle

966 words

I dig it.

On a reread, it becomes clear that the reveal was being set up the whole time, with the wedding scene being the narrator’s way of bargaining.

The mid-sentence transition (“just as they must avert their eyes”) is clever. I think it works better on the page than read aloud.

Speculative fiction publication: Escape Pod

Escape Pod, a weekly science fiction podcast

2005 to present

Editor: Norm Sherman; Assistant Editor: Nathaniel Lee; staff listed here

Free, runs on donations (and it looks like this is a good time to donate, so please do!)

Pays $.03 a word for reprints, $.05 a word for work not previously published; recognized by the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) as a professional publication

One of my favorite podcasts.

The submission guidelines say they want “fun” stories, and that’s my general feeling about Escape Pod. They actually embrace a variety of genres, tones, and styles, including dark and serious stories, but they always come back to the fun stuff. The quality strikes me as on par with other speculative fiction publications: uneven, but enjoyable.

Escape Pod also includes a lot of reprints, which I like. I think of it as a window into the science fiction world generally, though I know that’s not the intent. The annual Hugo nominee episodes are a great bonus.

The readings and recordings are typically pretty good, though I’ve noticed some glitches. They’ve got a wide variety of readers, some of them excellent. I like Alasdair Stuart’s readings so far. I’m sorry to see that Mur Lafferty, the former editor and host, has moved on and taken her awesomely scratchy, wry voice with her.

Great theme music by Daikaiju.

Some standouts:

Short story: “Immersion”

“Immersion,” by Aliette de Bodard

From Clarkesworld, issue 69, June 2012 (read and listen here); won the 2012 Nebula Award and the 2013 Locus Award; also nominated for the 2012 BSFA Award and the 2013 Hugo Award and a finalist for the 2013 Theodore Sturgeon Award; released as Escape Pod episode 408 on August 10th, 2013 (read and listen here)

5,394 words

A very provocative and sensitive piece about cultural assimilation. The problem of immersers isn’t that different from the problems of our own world—white-centric beauty standards, America-centric cultural norms—and this story is careful to make it clear that “Agnes”‘s addiction cannot be blamed on her own weakness or on any individual oppressor. Her well-meaning husband has no idea how cruel he’s been to her until it’s (almost?) too late.

Though I found the story somewhat emotionally engaging, the characterizations don’t stand out for me. I would have liked to get a deeper look at all three women. If I’d voted in the Hugos, I’m not sure if this one would have made my list. It’s a solid story, but the material would probably work better at greater length. The switches between second and third person, for example; we don’t spend enough time in second person to feel “immersed” in the character’s disoriented point of view.

Short story: “Mono No Aware”

“Mono No Aware,” by Ken Liu

Appeared in the anthology The Future Is Japanese; appeared in Lightspeed Magazine in June 2013 (read and listen here); featured in Escape Pod episode 407, August 6th, 2013 (read and listen here); won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Short Story

6,396 words, according to Lightspeed; my word processor says 6,051, plus the two kanji used as illustrations

Okay, I teared up a bit. The scene where Hiroto goes on a walk with his father, and the scene where he says goodbye to his parents, are well done and very affecting. Then I realized where the ending was going and lost some emotional attachment. The self-sacrifice is predictable and self-indulgent. This might be the worst bit: “Mindy called me a hero. But I was simply a man in the right place at the right time.”

Scientific accuracy aside, the scenario is just way too convenient, to the point of absurdity. Nobody foresaw the possibility that the sail might be torn someday? Nobody bothered to study the sail structure as closely as Hiroto did? Seriously? It’s a colossal failure of engineering and management.

One more minor annoyance: The girlfriend’s characterization is paper-thin, her attempts at appreciating Japanese culture are crude and embarrassing, and she continues to seem really dumb right up to the end. Her greatest achievement is “she kept me awake.”


Edit: Here’s another thing that bothers me. The ostensible moral of the story is that the values of Hiroto’s homeland are important: community over the individual, cooperation over heroism, interdependence over independence. But the events of the ending run counter to those values, and so does the noble self-sacrifice fantasy they represent. I don’t want to call this hypocritical, because it seems absurd to call a story hypocritical. Let’s call it dissonant.

This is part of the reason I hate the we-are-all-heroes bit towards the end. The story is struggling to make us believe that it supports its own moral, and the strain shows.