Here are my picks for the 2014 Hugo awards. You can follow the links where I have posted reviews for individual works. In each category, you can rank your preferences (1 being best). They encourage you not to vote for categories in which you have no experience (don’t just guess in other words). I’ve read (or watched or seen as appropriate) everything that I voted on. I didn’t individually review everything.
- Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The pronouns are what get mentioned a lot in Ancillary Justice and I liked how that pointed out some interesting characteristics of the groups in the novel and my default assumptions. What I really liked was the dealing of distributed consciousness with Breq’s parts in the various stories, the ships and the leader of the Radch. I found the base quest story to also be entertaining and the world building with hints towards what is to come was nicely laid out.
- Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK) The sub-light economic system of Neptune’s Brood was masterfully done and I enjoy things like that. The undersea miners are an amazing example of a non-human species. The background universe of NB with its post-biological human basis has all sorts of room to develop interesting ideas that point back to biologicals and forward to trans human ideas.
- Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK) Parasite was a nice take on a cause of “zombieism.” I liked the exploration of what it means to be human from the non-zombie worm beings perspective. The narrator didn’t quite gel with me. I figured out the reveal about her fairly early on and part of her personality was almost certainly related to that.
- The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK) The Wheel of Time series was nominated as and ruled to be a multi-part serialized single work, as defined in Section 3.2.4 of the WSFS constitution.
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia was nominated but I did not consider it a strong enough candidate to be on my Hugo ballot.
- “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013) I both enjoyed Equoid a lot and was squicked out a lot at the same time in a lovely fashion that I appreciated immensely.
The use of the Lovecraft letters and the procurement forms (recall Shub-Niggurath [The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young] as a reason for those forms reappearing) played off of both each other and the story itself and served to ramp up the tension in a way that was really well done (I thought). The “Unicorn” and some of the Lovecraft letters were horrifying but they also work rather well with the mythos of Lovecraft himself. As “Case Nightmare Green” draws closer, it would seem that Bob’s world is going to get rather more horrifying
- Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press) I love Valente’s prose and I liked the western riff on Snow White. Just, somewhat less than Equoid.
- “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013) I liked the story and the prose of Wakulla Springs quite a bit, but would have preferred the speculative part was more than tacked on to the end.
- The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press) This was a decent enough story and I might have appreciated it more if I were into the Warhammer universe. It was a decent addition to the Hugo ballot.
- “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013) This was better written than Torgersen’s novelette entry but didn’t seem to quite work for me.
- “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013) I enjoyed The Lady Astronaut of Mars quite a bit. I rather liked the Oz parallel and the writing style was grade A.
- “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013) The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling was well done and I enjoyed it although there was, for me, a bit of a feeling of disconnection from the story. I think that may have been on purpose as a subtext to the paralleling of writing and digital memory.
- “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam) The Waiting Stars was also nicely done although it didn’t appeal to me quite as much as the previous two.
- I did not include either of these on my ballot:
- “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands) I did not find Opera Vita Aeterna to be well written. The plot manages to both meander and rush. The writing style is clunky and the philosophy trite. This work is not at all at the level I expect from a Hugo candidate.
- “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013) The Exchange Officers could have shaped up to a decent enough piece of action fluff with some good editing. As it stands, the writing was awkward enough to detract from the story flow.
Best Short Story
- The short story category was particularly good this year. All of the entries were strong and well done.
- “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013) I really liked this. It was very well written and the fantastic elements tied nicely into the theme.
- “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013) This was a lovely story with a lot of message packed into its short length.
- “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013) Another fine entry. I found it interesting how the story played on touching the speculative aspect and interwove that with the story of racial and gender difficulties.
- “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)This was well crafted but didn’t really resonate with me. It seemed a bit disconnected.