Announcing the Hugo Awards of 2018

The Hugo Awards for 2018 were announced Sunday night! And history has been made!

The fiction awards are as follows:

Best Novel: The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin. This is the one that made history. N.K. Jemisin as won the Best Novel award three years in a row, for her The Broken Earth series. I will admit that this isn’t my favorite novel of the nominees, but it is the “weightiest” and the most significant. It’s a terrific win, and I’m pleased it did so.

Best Novella: All Systems Red by Martha Wells. This is my favorite of the novella nominees in a strong slate. A terrific main character in a terrific story; I keep telling everyone how great this story is.

Best Novelette: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer. This was number two on my list, and I’m quite content that it won.

Best Short Story: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse. Again, not my favorite, but a good selection from a good slate.

Finally, since I’ve spent all this time reading and reviewing the entries this year, I’ve bought a supporting membership for next year. (I’d love to go to Dublin, but I just don’t see that happening.)

Hugo Awards To Be Announced

On August 19, 2018, the Hugo Awards will be announced at Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California.  The finalists are listed below; the links go to my reviews of the work.  There’s some really good reading here; please enjoy!

Best Novel

Of the six novels, my favorite is Provenance, followed by New York 2140 and Six Wakes.  Judging by the last two years and the year’s Nebula awards, I suspect that The Stone Sky will be the winner.  Ultimately, they’re all good, solid reads.

For the next three categories, I reviewed all of the candidates for both the Hugo and Nebula finalists in one entry.  So, you can get even more reading if you so desire.

Best Novella

  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells.
  • “And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker.
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor.
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang.
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire.
  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey.

Again, some really good reading here.  MURDERBOT!  (Excuse me.)  My favorite is All Systems Red; in fact, I can’t wait until Rogue Protocol, the third in the series comes out next week.  After that, I recommend “And Then There Were (N-One)” and River of Teeth.  I’m really hoping I’ve picked the winner in this one; it’s delightful.

Best Novelette

  • “Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard.
  • “Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee.
  • “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer.
  • “A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad.
  • “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by K.M. Szpara.
  • “Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker.

My favorite of this group is “Wind Will Rove.”  I made my husband read it, which mostly I don’t bother with.  I also enjoyed “The Secret Life of Bots” and “A Series of Steaks”.  The other three didn’t appeal to me, but they’re well-written.

Best Short Story

  • Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim.
  • “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde.
  • “Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad.
  • “The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata.
  • “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon.
  • “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse.

My favorite of these is “Fandom for Robots,” with “The Martian Obelisk” and “Sun, Moon, Dust” following.

In short, there is a lot of good reading in the lead-up to the Hugo Awards this month.  While you’re at the beach, or wherever you go vacationing, take some with you.  And enjoy!

I’ll repeat this post the day before the awards and follow the day after with a list of the winners.

My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Short Stories for 2017

The following eight stories are the finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 2017, with my thoughts on each.

Science fiction/fantasy has changed a great deal since the days when I first started reading.  (I should hope so; that was over 45 years ago.)  The number of men and women has reversed, and the experiences are no longer solely those of WASP American (sometimes British) men.  It’s wonderful to know that the stories will be of a wider range, even if it does mean that there’s a good chance that they may not appeal to me.  At least they will appeal to more people ultimately.

Ultimately, that’s good news in the stories below.  I’m not a fan of horror, so there’s one of these that doesn’t appeal at all; several others wouldn’t be on my recommendation list, but all of them are worth reading.  And it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if you disagree with me on which are the best; that’s what the comments section is for.  (Good manners, however, are a must.)

I think of the eight, my favorite is “Fandom for Robots”, but there are several that I will be happy to see win awards.  Lovely selection.

Carnival Nine by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 11, 2017).  Both

The allegory in this fantasy was a little heavy-handed for my taste.  Still, a sweet and haunting story.

Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde (Uncanny September/October 2017).  Both

Creepy!  I like the stories I read to be a little clearer as to what’s going on.  Clearly, many others disagreed since it’s on both the Hugo and Nebula lists.  Brrr.

Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny September/October 2017).  Both

Delightful, and lovely to read about a robot fanficcer.  Also, this is the second story I’ve read recently about a robot enjoying entertainment viewing.  (The first is All Systems Red by Martha Wells.)

The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel (, March 15, 2017).  Nebula

A lovely, quiet look at death, love, storytelling, and doing things by hand.

The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata (, July 19, 2017).  Hugo

Set in a world devastated by many small disasters, this story offers a reminder of the horror of hope.

Sun, Moon, Dust by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017).  Hugo

Nice.  A quiet subversion about the standard story of a farmer being given a magic sword and leaving their farm to use it.  Allpa is given the sword SunMoonDust by his dying grandmother, but the only battle he has to fight is against the earth to get his harvest.

Utopia, LOL?, Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons, June 5, 2017).  Nebula

A fascinating story about a person from the future trying to guide an old man from the past who was cryogenically frozen while dying of cancer with the help of the AI who runs their virtual universe.  The end has a lovely twist.  Wonderful.

Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience TM by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex August 2017).  Both

On the border between fantasy and science fiction, this story is a painful look at cultural appropriation.  Well done.


My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Novelettes for 2017

The following are the nine finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Novelette of 2017.  A novelette is defined as a work of fiction between 7,500 and 17,500 words.  The works are from a variety of authors of different genders and different backgrounds, and the works themselves are diverse, from horror through to hard science fiction.  A delightful batch of reading.

My favorite of the below group, and probably my favorite finalist overall for this year, is “Wind Will Rove”.  Reading it wound me up, in all the best of ways.

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

Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017).  Hugo

A fantasy set in an alternate war-town Paris, about love and loyalty.

Dirty Old Town by Richard Bowes (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction May/June 2017).  Nebula

A character study, with the surrounding family, set in what I believe is a magical realism world.  Interesting.

Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee (, February 15, 2017).  Hugo

A caper story with a competent former assassin, language issues, cultural issues, and a determined sexual partner.  Fun.

A Human Stain by Kelly Robson (, January 4, 2017).  Nebula

Horror.  Not my type of story at all.

The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017).  Hugo

Artificial intelligence, and robots, is apparently on everyone’s mind these days.  There are a number of stories in this year’s finalists that address the issues of bots with more or less independent action.  This little bot, old and outdated, uses outdated logic to cause trouble.  That the trouble has other consequences is important.  I’m loving these bot stories!

A Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld January 2017).  Both

More of a science fiction caper story than anything else, this is a fun look at the world of 3D printing forgeries.  The Asian (China) setting, which would usually turn me off, was incidental to the fun.  Helena and Lily are a lovely couple and the final twist is lovely.

Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny May/June 2017).  Both

A vampire story with a twist, this is a fascinating examination of identity, choice and consent.  Disturbing.

Weaponized Math by Jonathan P. Brazee (The Expanding Universe, Vol. 3).  Nebula

Grace is a sniper from the future.  The story shows a day in her life, protecting her fellow Marines from enemies, and watching far too many day.  Not my usual cup of tea, but the story is well done.

Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s September/October 2017).  Both

As I said, this is my favorite.  A science fiction story, set in a generation ship, after the cultural databases were wiped, and the travelers have been recreating what they had.  It’s an examination of art, education, history, and copy errors, and the love necessary for all of it.  Dear to my heart and well-written.


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.

Review – The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky is a fantasy novel, set in the distant future on what is implied to be Earth.  It is also the final book in a three book series.

This novel is a difficult one for me to review.  Quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy it, and had to slog my way through all three books.  On the other hand, the series is well-written, the world-building is wonderful and complex, and the characters are complex.  My issues with the series are that I could never really care about the characters–in fact, it took me until quite late in the first book to realize that the three women were the same person–and the plot left me cold.

That said, the first two books in this series won the Hugo Award for Best Novel last year and the year before.  I suspect this one has a very good shot of winning this year.  This may be a case in which I’m missing whatever is great about this novel and the series.

The best I can say is give it a try.  Your mileage may vary.  (I kind of hope it does.)


Jemisin, N. K.  The Stone Sky.  New York: Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes is a science fiction mystery, and it’s a good one.  It’s a locked room mystery, set on the starship Dormire, in which everyone was cloned and then killed, so no one knows who did it.  Including the murderer or the victim.

Much of the novel happens in flashback, as we see how each of the characters winds up a convicted criminal on the ship, and why they might want to kill the other five characters.  Adding, or creating, the suspense is the fact that if any of them are killed again, the deaths will be final, since they don’t have the necessary supplies to reclone themselves.  Unsurprisingly, while trying to solve the murder mystery, other surprises are found, include the reason all of these people are on the ship in the first place.

I enjoyed Six Wakes, it was an interesting mystery with a satisfying explanation, engaging characters.  Well worth the time.

Lafferty, Mur.  Six Wakes.  New York:  Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

I can’t point to anything specific that would explain why Raven Stratagem, and the book before it in the Machinieries of Empire series, Ninefox Gambit, grates on me.  But they do, enough that the only reason I finished the first and picked up the second at all, was because I wanted to have read, and be able to have an opinion on, all of the Hugo finalists this year.

It isn’t the writing or the world-building.  Both are good, and the world-building is actually fascinating.  The world of the Hexarchate is filled with fascinating people, communities and concepts.  The characters are interesting and diverse, and there are several that I am becoming invested in.

It may be the “calendric orthodoxy/heresy” that gets on my nerves.  Although this is primarily a science fiction space opera, there is an element of fantasy/magic in the orthodoxy that allows “exotics”, like faster-than-light travel, to exist and be used.  The concept does annoy me.

Otherwise, Lee does a terrific job with the hard science fiction tropes he uses.

Lee, Yoon Ha.  Raven Stratagem.  Oxford, England: Solaris Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Provenance by Ann Leckie

Judging by how much I enjoyed this novel, I must have been in a terrible mood when I tried and rejected Ancillary Justice, the first novel in this universe.  I’m looking forward to reading it now.

Provenance is one of the Hugo Award finalists for the Best Novel of 2017.  It’s the story of a young woman who sees herself as unexceptional, is trying to get her mother’s approval and attention, and to show up her foster brother.  She decides on an audacious, expensive plan.  The novel follows her through the plan, its consequences, and its ramifications.

I enjoyed this novel for two main reasons.  First, the world in which the story is set is rich and complex, set in a universe with multiple planets, races, and cultures.  Fortunately, the story is understandable and enjoyable without the previous books set in the same universe.

The other reason I enjoyed the novel is that the characters are complex and unpredictable.  While reading through the setup, I expected certain things to happen.  Some of them did, some of them didn’t, and what the expected events didn’t necessarily happen for the reason that I expected.

Provenance was a delightful novel that I recommend to anyone looking for a good science fiction story.  Leckie’s prior books are now going on my list of books to read.

Leckie, Ann.  Provenance.  New York: Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Of all of the Hugo and Nebula award finalists for 2018, New York 2140 is the longest.  However, it is a comparatively quick read, so don’t let that stop you.  It’s an entertaining read, with only one, although large, problem, and it definitely belongs on this list.

The novel is set in New York City in the year 2140 and the action takes place over the next 3 years.  Most of the action, there are a couple of scenes that do take place outside of New York.  In this future, several events happened that caused ice melting and the sea to rise fifty feet.  That leaves a good portion of New York City, including all of Downton, underwater.  Since many of the buildings are skyscrapers, or at least taller than the sea rise, people still live there.  New York City is still the place to live.

There is a group of characters who live in one of the buildings in Madison Square, including the building manager, a police detective, a social worker, a couple of people in the finance industry, a cloud star who’s clothes are likely to disappear, and a couple of boys who don’t, technically, live there, in addition to several others.

Before I go into what I liked about the book, my major complaint is that there are multiple chapters which is just the author explaining the economics of the situation and why it’s a bad thing.  I found this especially annoying because his characters also explain the economic situation (economics and finance are very important to the story), and I don’t need the author jumping in a giving me a lecture.  In fact, they spend enough time giving info-dumps on both the economics (with many examples including the 2008 disaster) that I resented the author jumping in and doing it again.  The length of this book could have been cut by quite a bit, without damaging or confusing the story, just by cutting out these chapters.

That said, I did enjoy the novel.  I’ve been a fan of science fiction for decades, and enjoy a good “hard” science fiction novel.  This one falls into that category, although that does depend on whether or not you believe the scientists on climate change.  I would expect there to have been more change than there is but, otherwise, it’s a very believable future.

New York City is as much a character as any of the human characters in the novel.  Several of the characters discuss snippets of its history, especially about the Revolutionary War and the HMS Hussar, which I looked up and is a real thing.  These discussions are usually brief, or necessary to the plot, or both.

That New York City is set as the location is appropriate since it is currently the center of the financial world (in the future, not so much, but it still has much influence), plus its geographical features (it is described as an archipelago in an estuary debouching into a bight, featuring a lot of very tall buildings) make it an appropriate location.

All of this makes the novel sound grim, but it’s not.  Although there are some tense moments, a lot of less than happy ones, and not a lot of humor, there is some light-heartedness through the story.  The one financial guy’s response to being asked to look after the two boys and the cloud (internet) star and her frequent ditziness are two examples.  Frankly, the novel is a good cross-section of people that way: some dour, some cheerful, some honest but not always, some sleezy but not always.  There are no purely good people, there are no purely evil people, there are just people doing the best they can.  Which is a pretty good way of expressing one of the themes of the book:  people doing the best they can, as a community because we are social animals.

I recommend this book as a good read whether you’re looking for the next Hugo winner or not.  It’s good science fiction and a good story.


Robinson, Kim Stanley.  New York 2140.  New York: Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.