My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Novellas for 2017

The following are the eight finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Novella of 2017.  A novelette is defined as a work of fiction between 17,500 and 40,00 words.  The works are from a variety of authors of different genders and different backgrounds, and the works themselves are diverse.  A lovely bunch of reading.

My personal favorite of this group is All Systems Red; I love Murderbot and their story.

I hope you do your own reading and find a story that winds you up in all the best of ways.  Enjoy!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells ( Publishing).  Both

An adventure story in which a robot, with organic components, protects the team it’s been hired to protect.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s told from Murderbot’s (the robot’s) point of view, and I found it impossible not to love them.  My favorite of the novellas, and I’m looking forward to the other stories in the series.

And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny March/April 2017).  Both

About two hundred Sarah Pinskers, all from different alternate universes, are attending a SarahCon on a small island during a storm.  Although there is a murder mystery, with a bit of a twist, the real attraction of this story is the divergences between the different versions of the author.  Pretty cool!

Barry’s Deal by Lawrence M. Schoen (Noble Fusion Press).  Nebula

A science-fiction howdoneit, two in fact.  I suspect I would have had all the clues and understood the people a little bit better if I’d read the previous stories in the series.  Even without that, though, it was an enjoyable story.

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing).  Hugo

The second of three stores or, in my opinion, the second part of a longer story, this is the story of a young girl/woman determining who, and what, she is to be.  To be honest, I’m finding the world-building part of the story much better than the plot, in part because it isn’t a complete story yet.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ( Publishing).  Both

A fantasy of two twins, born to the dictator of their land, who become their mother’s pawns.  I fought my way through to finish it; it didn’t leave much of an impression, or a very favorable one.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing).  Hugo

This dark fantasy tells the backstory of two of the characters from “Every Heart a Doorway.”  Although I don’t much care for this type of dark fantasy, it is well-written and the characters are complex and compelling.

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages ( Publishing).  Nebula

With the exception of the framing story, and a couple of stray mentions, this is “simply” a story of lesbians in love in San Francisco in 1940.  The framing story, with the foreshadowing mentions, is one of fantasy, but the story of the women is compelling all on its own.  Lovely.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey ( Publishing).  Both

This alternate history story of an operation (it’s not a caper) is set in a world in which hippopotamuses were brought to the United States to breed for meat.  It’s an entertaining story, with a cast of wild, diverse characters who are no better than they have to be.  Fun.

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