My 2012 Hugo Vote: Novella

Novellas are one of my favorite forms. They’re longer than novelettes, but shorter than novels. Novellas are long enough to develop the kind of complex stories that I really like, but lean enough that they typically focus on only one main plot line.

Of this year’s nominees, “Silently and Very Fast” by Catherynne M. Valente was my least favorite. It’s jumpy, full of brilliant imagery and almost poetic in places, but it simply wasn’t my type of story at all.

“The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman was an excellent coming of age story about a young girl realizing both the limitations and importance of her family as she inadvertantly stumbles across the lingering ripple effects of a long-ago genocide. It was powerful, evocative and captured the sweep and flow of history excellently. I really liked it, and look forward to discovering more stories by this author in the future.

“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal was a futuristic police procedural about a crime that targets the police force’s critically important AI. I liked it quite a bit, but never quite thought that it had what it took to be the winner. Interestingly, I found myself wanting to read more stories about those same characters (hint, hint).

“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson was a simply incredible story, full of everything that makes me a science fiction fan. In the Empire, there is a mysterious poisonous mist full of potentially deadly mist “fish” that flows downhill to the ocean, usually in channels on top of rivers and streams. A major river divides the Empire in half, forded only by those brave enough to ferry boats across the mist. Until Kit Meinem of Atyar comes to town to build a suspension bridge across the mist. Utterly brilliant. Once I read it, it was impossible for me to conceive of anybody else winning this award.

I really liked “Countdown” by Mira Grant, which is a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire. It was an excellent story about the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse, and is linked to her excellent Newsflesh trilogy (of which two novels, Feed and Deadline have also been nominated for Hugos). It captured the pathos and tragedy behind the zombie plague, filled in some nice back-story for the Newsflesh trilogy, and was entertaining all on its own. I really liked it, but it wasn’t going to get my vote because Kij Johnson’s story was so awe-inspiring.

Finally, Ken Liu’s story, “The Man Who Ended History,” was a powerful story about Japanese genocide during World War II and time travel, all cast in the form of a script for a documentary. Brilliant, powerful, and disturbing in places. Well worth reading, but not the winner, in my opinion.

After reading all of the novellas, my 2012 Hugo vote clearly went to Kij Johnson, for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist.” A new science fiction classic.

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1 Comment

  1. Posted September 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Unsurprisingly, Kij Johnson won for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist.” Well deserved.

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