From Scott Dorsey@21:1/5 to All on Wed Sep 6 22:01:01 2023
These are my personal picks and nobody else should get any blame for them. You may or may not agree with them and that's okay either way.
* The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
This takes the Wells classic and tells it from a very different perspective, that of Moreau's creations and his family, resetting it into the 19th century Yucatan jungle. I really like the way the author, who clearly knows Mexico, took the story and riffed on it without losing the orignal thread. Many proofreading errors (attar of roses becomes otto of roses) that should be overlooked.
* The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi (Tor Books)
An animal rights organization is looking to rescue animals, except that they turn out to be in a parallel universe and turn out to be very large.
* Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree (Tor Books)
In an unusual update to the typical Dungeons and Dragons fantasy novel, an
Orc fighter retires and opens a coffeehouse with the aid of an enchanted
jewel and a lot of new friends. This book is silly, and I feel guilty about recommending something so flimsy for a Hugo at all, but it's innovative and uplifting and I just liked it. I enjoyed every bit of it.
* Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom)
Nona is a young girl who lives in a mostly-destroyed city in a mostly- destroyed world with a blue ball hanging in the sky that is never completely explained. Her family members have multiple people in the same body, which turns out to be because they are zombies. Sort of. This is a very cool book but I felt like I was missing too much of it by not having read the previous books or been familiar with the world. The author makes little attempt to explain the background which is both good and bad.
* Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher (Tor Books)
This is a fairy tale updated with more believable modern characters,
and a princess who is a real person. It's a good idea and I liked the book
but I think the idea has been used before enough that it's not really innovative. I recommend reading it but it's not #1 on my hugo list.
* The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books)
This is a traditional mystery novel that just happens to be set on a
spaceship. The title being an homage to The Thin Man, you can expect a
lot of references to classic mysteries here. The main character is disabled (but the detective is not) and there is a whole lot of use of alternate pronouns and such politenesses, in a way which becomes almost intrusive. I don't think any of that detracts from the book but I don't think it really
adds anything to it either. It was a pleasant afternoon mystery read, but certainly not anything amazing and I don't think this is in the Hugo league
* Even Though I Knew the End, by C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)
A detective story set in the 1930s, but one involving demons and angels. It starts out as a murder mystery but soon turns into something very different.
I enjoyed it, it was a different idea well-executed (although the author
would do well to get photography terminology a little bit better).
* Into the Riverlands, by Nghi Vo (Tordotcom)
This is the third part of the continuing saga of Chih, the wandering enby cleric who collects history and stories as he travels in an alternate Asia.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, Empress of Salt and Fortune, which deservedly won a Hugo in 2021, but I think this is more of the same. It's
a good story and it will go well in a collection with the previous stories,
but it was not as innovative as the first.
* A Mirror Mended, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)
Zinnia Gray falls into a fairy tale, but then that fairy tail gets mashed
up with another and soon there is a trip through Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and a host of others, updated for the modern world. It was okay.
* Ogres, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)
This book does not appear to actually be in print. There are kindle editions available but there are no actual paper editions (although someone is offering to sell a used paperback online for $78). As such, I do not think this is actually eligible for a Hugo and I have no way to read it.
* What Moves the Dead, by T. Kingfisher (Tor Nightfire)
If you mixed up Fall of the House of Usher along with Matango the Fungus of Terror in a big vat, this is what you'd get. It's witty and ingenious.
* Where the Drowned Girls Go, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
Cora once walked through a door into an alternate universe where she was a mermaid, but now that she is back in the real world she is troubled about who she is. Sent to schools for kids who have been into alternate universes, she wants to forget going through the door but things don't turn out the way she thought. This is a fine young adult book, and it addresses on the side a number of adolescent issues. I would have loved this book when I was twelve and it deserves a Lodestar award, hands down. I would not vote for it for
* "The Difference Between Love and Time", by Catherynne M. Valente
(Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance, Solaris)
The space-time continuum is incarnated as a series of people and
sometimes as an iguana. And it/he/they has a message of love.
* "A Dream of Electric Mothers", by Wole Talabi (Africa Risen: A New
Era of Speculative Fiction, Tordotcom)
The concept of a collective mind made up of the minds of the dead is not
new, but this Afrofuturist story takes it in a different direction than
other writers have in the past.
* "If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the
Informal You", by John Chu (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2022)
Is he a god? Is he a superhero? He is my friend.
* "Murder By Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital
Darkness", by S.L. Huang (Clarkesworld, December 2022)
A story about AI in the current day, making change.
* "The Space-Time Painter", by Hai Ya (Galaxy's Edge, April 2022)
This does not seem to be available anywhere and I cannot find it.
* "We Built This City", by Marie Vibbert (Clarkesworld, June 2022)
It's a story about a labor protest and it's a story about Venus and it's really a nicely put-together little thing.
Best Short Story
* "D.I.Y.", by John Wiswell (Tor.com, August 2022)
In a time of drought with wizards controlling all magic, Noah finds a way
to create water using unlicensed magic and legal trouble ensues. It seems
a little heavy-handed but it's a good story well-told.
* "On the Razor's Edge", by Jiang Bo (Science Fiction World, January
This does not seem to be available anywhere online, probably is in the
* "Rabbit Test", by Samantha Mills (Uncanny Magazine,
This is a discussion of reproductive health care in a dystopian future,
in the present and in the past. It's didactic and a little heavy-handed perhaps, but the situation in the US being what it is that's probably not
a bad thing. This is very US-centric but stories have to be set somewhere.
* "Resurrection", by Ren Qing (Future Fiction/Science Fiction World,
This is in the Galaxy Awards 1 Anthology apparently but I cannot find it.
* "The White Cliff", by Lu Ban (Science Fiction World, May 2022)
Not available online
* "Zhurong on Mars", by Regina Kanyu Wang (Frontiers, September 2022)
Also not available online.
I hate to say it here but I am going for "No Award" on this one. None of
the ones that I could get access to were bad stories, but none of them were actually great.
* Children of Time Series, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Pan
* The Founders Trilogy, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Del Rey)
* The Locked Tomb, by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)
* October Daye, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
* Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovich (Orion)
* The Scholomance, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
I am inclined to list The Locked Tomb here, even though I have read only one novel in the set, in part because I liked the novel but couldn't put it high
up for a Hugo award, and in part because I think the novel didn't stand alone without the rest of the series and it would have deserved the novel award if it could have. So I think the series award is indicated for it.
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."