Hugo awards - early running for the nominations

Ancillary Mercy
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Mother of Eden

The New Mother, by Eugene Fischer

Sacred Cows: Death and Squalor on the Rio Grande, by A S Diev
The House of Aunts, by Zen Cho

Short Story
The Game of Smash and Recovery, by Kelly Link
Pocosin, by Ursula Vernon
Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer
Damage, by David Levine

Best Graphic Story
Stand Still, Stay Silent

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
Mad Max - Fury Road
The Martian

Jessica Jones Season 1

Best Dramatic Presentation - Short
Community season 6 episode 2 - "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care"
Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 8 "aka WWJD"
The Expanse - ?? episode

Black Gate

Fan Writer
Alexandra Erin
James Nicoll
Mike Glyer

More short fiction

not definite nominees yet, just recommendations of possibilities

Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer
Molakesh the Destroyer moved into the house next door the summer I turned fifteen. There was the expected neighborhood gossip at first, with Mom and her friends worrying about what having a demon on our street might do for property values and with one particularly zealous neighbor lining her property with crosses, but it died down after a few months. Destroyer he may be called, but he kept his yard tidy and pulled in his trash cans at night, so the Homeowners Association turned their scowls on other targets.

Sea Change
not online now?

Apartment Dwellers Bestiary

The Aincolo

You’re showing your boyfriend what to put in a smoothie and you open a cupboard because he told you that he had toasted coconut somewhere and you figure sure, coconut, why not; and that’s where his aincolo is: squatting in the yellow serving bowl his mom gave him last year for Christmas. That’s cool. You have lots of friends with aincolos. They get in everywhere. But he was so weird about it, picked up the bowl with the aincolo hunched down now, nothing visible but two eyes in a cloud of cream-colored fur, and took it out to the living room and hid it somewhere. Why? Why.

But this got you wondering what else there was, what porn on his hard drive, what numbers in his contacts lists, what texts, what friends, what memories; and you realized you really don’t know anything about him and, more, that you don’t really want to. You have your own secrets, one of them that you aren’t over your last boyfriend yet, and that his is still the only name in your favorites list.

The House of Aunts

The first time she saw the boy across the classroom, Ah Lee knew she was in love because she tasted durian on her tongue. That was what happened–no poetry about it. She looked at a human boy one day and the creamy rank richness of durian filled her mouth. For a moment the ghost of its stench staggered on the edge of her teeth, and then it vanished.

She had not tasted fruit since before the baby came. Since before she was dead.

An Evolutionary Myth
When a protracted drought struck the kingdom, the leaves of every plant wilted down into fine, sharp needles, and their stems bulged, to conserve as much water as possible. Fat collected and grew beneath the horses’ skin, and formed into humps on their backs, and squirrels began to build their nests beneath the cool ground instead of in the trees. Dogs, unable to bear the heat, shed their fur in clumps. Even in the fall, the fields turned not golden but a drab green, because people planted potatoes and corn instead of rice.

Gardeners of greens and milkers of cows, clinging close within the camp where the Harrowers had once confined them, they called upon Hadley, Hadley Full of Hate, to hunt the Harrower in the wood. Horses were readied and three retainers too, and the true tip of Hadley’s steel spear shone hard and hungry. Brown hair curled from beneath her black knit cap and draped down over her old barista apron branded KOFFEE KLOSET, worn for warmth against the autumn air.

So Much Cooking
This is a food blog, not a disease blog, but of course the rumors all over about bird flu are making me nervous. I don’t know about you, but I deal with anxiety by cooking. So much cooking. But, I’m trying to stick to that New Year’s resolution to share four healthy recipes (entrées, salads, sides . . . ) for every dessert recipe I post, and I just wrote about those lemon meringue bars last week. So even though I dealt with my anxiety yesterday by baking another batch of those bars, and possibly by eating half of them in one sitting, I am not going to bake that new recipe I found for pecan bars today. No! Instead, I’m going to make my friend Carole’s amazing roast chicken. Because how better to deal with fears of bird flu than by eating a bird, am I right?

Wooden Feathers Ursula Vernon
The carving was going badly.

Sarah examined the duck decoy before her and sighed. The bill was shaped entirely wrong. It was supposed to be a mallard, but she hadn’t taken enough off before she began shaping and now the bill was half again as long as it should be.


Neal Stephenson's latest doorstop.

I enjoyed this more than I expected. This is very much a novel of the form, "competent people solve science and engineering problems. In Space!", which is not really my thing. It didn't help when an obvious villain was added to the mix, or that characters who moments before had been hard-edged political realists ignored this villain long enough for the villainy to become a problem. The 'seveneves' concept was strained, and really, if I'm going to read about a future society like the one in the book, I'd rather someone better at 'soft' science fiction was writing it. And too much of the second part was a travelogue through the amazing engineering of the world of tomorrow.

But most of it I enjoyed. The science and engineering in the first half was clear without getting bogged down. When it works, I do like some science fiction in my science fiction sometimes (and it's always flattering to be convinced you understand what's going on :) ) What was happening on Earth was handled well, the characters were not deep but were at least distinguishable, the drama was dramatic, and the whole thing just moved along smoothly, which is a big consideration in a book this size!

Best novel of the year? It's always difficult to compare novels which do different things, and this is a book with a one-track mind. It gets a place in my list of nominees, so far at least.

Edited to add: This is getting pushed down my list of potentials, not by another novel, but by some non-fiction - An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. While I knew Stephenson had his finger on the scales, its very difficult to mesh his depiction of life in near-future space with Hadfield's.

Short fiction

not full reviews, just reminders for myself of things I might nominate

Hic Sunt Monstra, by Brian Trent
The ice hanging outside my bedroom window was turning into a colossus. I could see the start of one tusk curling from the glassy dome of a head-crest, and what resembled a clawed forefoot, half-formed, stretching down from the icy mass on our roof.

Accidental colonists relive the last hunt of the native megafauna...

Sacred Cows: Death and Squalor on the Rio Grande, by A S Diev

At 7 a.m. on a bright Thursday morning last June, in the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, 40-year-old Carlos Flores completed a week of double shifts at the shoe factory where he sometimes worked. He drove his rusted, powder blue Ford pickup a quarter mile through cinderblock neighborhoods to the Diosa Del Amor liquor store. There he purchased a carton of smokes, a 12-pack of beer, and a half pint of vodka. According to the police report, he drank one of the beers and all of the vodka while driving home. He pulled into the Rio Vista trailer park and waved to little Esperanza Delgado, who was walking along the dirt street in her school uniform and backpack.

Genetic engineering, gonzo journalism, rich people

Midnight Hour, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Nameless Queen sipped her port, rolling the blood–dark liquid in her mouth. The night’s rain pattered against the tall leaded glass windows of her sitting room in a gentle susurration. On the mantel, the clock ticked four minutes until midnight.
Cursed king and queen, and an attempt to break the curse

Madeleine, by Amal El Mohtar
Madeleine remembers being a different person.

It strikes her when she’s driving, threading her way through farmland, homesteads, facing down the mountains around which the road winds. She remembers being thrilled at the thought of travel, of the self she would discover over the hills and far away. She remembers laughing with friends, looking forward to things, to a future.

Clinical trial of anti-alzheimers drug causes flashbacks

Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer
I don’t want to be evil.
I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct; there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)

AI explains

Pocosin, by Ursula Vernon
This is the place of the carnivores, the pool ringed with sundews and the fat funnels of the pitcher plants.
This is the place where the ground never dries out and the loblolly pines grow stunted, where the soil is poor and the plants turn to other means of feeding themselves.
This is the place where the hairstreak butterflies flow sleekly through the air and you can hear insect feet drumming inside the bowl of the pitcher plants.
This is the place where the old god came to die.

the witch, the dying god, the angel and the devil

Damage, by David Levine
I never had a name.

My designation was JB6847½, and Specialist Toman called me “Scraps.” But Commander Ziegler—dear Commander Ziegler, primary of my orbit and engine of my trajectory—never addressed me by any name, only delivering orders in that crisp magnificent tenor of his, and so I did not consider myself to have one.

That designation, with the anomalous one-half symbol, was a bit of black humor on Specialist Toman’s part. It was the arithmetic average of NA6621 and FC7074, the two wrecked craft which had been salvaged and cobbled together to create me. “There wasn’t enough left of either spaceframe for any kind of paperwork continuity,” she had told me not long after I came to consciousness, three weeks earlier, “so I figured I’d give you a new number. Not that anyone cares much about paperwork these days.”

tempting to see this as a response to Turncoat on the famously bad 2015 shortlist, but I don't think the dates work. Spaceship AI grows to doubt the morality of the war she is fighting

The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness

Science fiction is, as Samuel R Delany pointed out, a place where a metaphor like "her world exploded" can be literally true. Young Adult SF is where teenage emotions can be made real. All adults really are evil or useless. They really are out to get you. Your world really could come to an end.
Patrick Ness has written the books where the fate of the world rests on two teenagers, but here he's inverting the genre. Yes, okay, so there are strange blue beams of light and possessed adults and zombie animals - but who has time to worry about all that stuff when you're finishing school and the girl you love is a few weeks from leaving town forever without you telling her how you feel?
So - weird stuff is happening. Again. But that's an indie kid thing and while they (Finn, Satchel, Dylan, Finn, Kerouac, Finn, Finn and the others) deal with it, everyone else tries to get on with their lives. Going to the prom, waitroning at the weekend, and dealing with maybe being the least important member of the group of friends.
A book like this stands or falls on narrative voice, and for me that voice worked. Here's an excerpt -
"CHAPTER THE FOURTH, in which Satchel and Dylan sit in a coffeehouse with understated live music and discuss what Satchel’s uncle told them; Dylan also tells her it’s clear that second indie kid Finn has feelings for her; Satchel doesn’t see that this is Dylan’s way of saying that HE has feelings for her, too; later, the Messenger of the Immortals makes a surprising offer to indie kid Kerouac.

OK, look, I gotta get some stuff out of the way. I wish I didn’t, but it’s necessary. This doesn’t define me or any of the people I love, okay? It’s just life. And we’ve moved on.

But you gotta know.


Four years ago, when I was 13 and she was still 14, my sister had a heart attack. It was caused by arrhythmia, which was caused by Mel starving herself to death.

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, she died. They were able to revive her, obviously, but the fact remains that, for three or four minutes, she was gone, we’d lost her. She says she doesn’t remember anything about it: no lights, no tunnels, no angels or old relatives or prickly faced Labradors to help her with her journey to the other side. But weirdly, she doesn’t remember the opposite either. She doesn’t remember nothingness or emptiness or oblivion. Her memory stops before the heart attack and picks up again in the hospital."

The chapter headings are like that throughout, headings taken from the other novel that would be written about the indie kids and the Immortals invading the world. But the chapters are in Mikey's voice, and his concerns are more mundane.