Reading Nebulas (2017) Things with Beards, by Sam J. Miller

By focusing on the Hugo Awards I may have given the impression that the problems with fashionable science fiction and fantasy are a “Hugo” problem. The Hugos have become a bit of a battlefield and an arena for various trollish antics (the only interesting thing about the Hugo Awards, if you ask me,) so that’s a reasonable misunderstanding. But it’s not a Hugo-only problem because the same symptoms can be seen in the other two big SFF Awards: Nebula and World Fantasy Award. And when I say the same I mean it because this year’s Nebula and Hugo short story nominees are almost the same:

Hugo Nebula WFA comparison

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Reading the Hugos: Super Secret Easter Egg short story finalist.

You might think that just because the Hugo awards have only six finalists, that means I should only review those six short stories. Bah! I’m a rebel, and I bow to no Law, no matter how clearly logical and sensical it may be. If I see a “No spitting here” sign, I spit on it, and if I see a list of six nominees, I metaphorically spit on it as well and then review the seventh story that wasn’t even nominated. That’s especially apt if that story is a kind of a review of some of the other stories. How more meta can you get? And isn’t that what Hugos are all about?

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Reading the Hugos: An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright

Although I may write a review of a super secret Hugo story, the last real Hugo short story finalist is An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright, part of the anthology God, Robot, a collection of short stories that explore the concept of “theobots,” an interesting (and perhaps even necessary) twist to Asimov’s three laws (especially the first.)

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Reading the Hugos: Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)

This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.

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Reading the Hugos: Our Talons can Crush Galaxies, by Brook Bolander.

Our talons can Crush Galaxies is one of the six finalists for the Best Short Story award of the 2017 Hugo Awards.


Gods, Godlings, Infernal Powers, and Outside Entities. There may be beings out there whose dancing can set entire planets on fire, and their talons crush galaxies. Well, good for them, because my Critic Rage also knows no bounds, and even the gods themselves —at least if they are as silly as the ones from this short story— must suffer my critical wrath.

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Reading the Hugos: A Fist in Permutations of Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong.

A First of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alissa Wong is another finalist for the 2017 Hugo Awards Best Short Story category.

If the previous story, The City Born Great, was puzzling in an amusing way, this one is puzzling in an infuriating way. The story, not that there is much of it, continually sabotages itself and undermines its own point by its constant attempts at being sophisticated and oniric literature. What could have worked as a short story in a more literary genre, becomes insufferable once “fantasy” elements are added into the mix.

Continue reading “Reading the Hugos: A Fist in Permutations of Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong.”