One of the stories that was nominated for, and won, the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novella was Kij Johnson’s “The Man Who Bridged the Mist.” It’s a simply incredible story, full of everything that makes me a science fiction fan, and destined, I think, to be an enduring classic.
In the story, there is a continent-spanning Empire, with a problem. One major river system in the center of the continent provides the opportunity for a mysterious poisonous mist full of potentially deadly mist “fish” to flow downhill to the ocean atop the system’s rivers and streams. This major river divides the Empire in half, and is 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.
The story’s about Kit, the people he inspires in order to build his suspension bridge, the brave ferry folk who ferry supplies/people across the mist river even though the bridge will destroy their livelihood, and bridge-building. It’s got engineering, romance, danger, tragedy, adventure and a sense of wonder — all packed into about 40 pages.
Currently, the story, which was published by Asimov’s Magazine, is available on the web for free in PDF form, so hurry up and check out the story while it’s still available. There are several ways for you to get hold of the story. You can buy the October/November 2011 issue of Asimov’s Magazine in which the story was first published. You may purchase it from Amazon in electronic or paperback form. It has also been published in several of the 2012 Best of anthologies. The story may only be about 40 pages long, but it’s well worth your time.