Thursday, April 27, 2006

So much reading, so little time...

In August, I’ll be in Anaheim for L.A.con IV, the 64th World Science Fiction Convention, which means I can vote in this year’s Hugo Awards. Which in turn means I have a lot of reading to do before the July 31 ballot deadline. So during the next few weeks, I’ll reflect on some of that reading as I plow through the nominees.

I’ll begin today with the “Best Short Story” category.

Most of this year’s nominees aren’t especially good. In fact, it’s a shame nothing was nominated from Escape Pod, the weekly sci-fi podcast magazine; I can think of at least a half-dozen Escape Pod originals that are better than three of these Hugo nominees. Ah well...

Mike Resnick has been nominated in the past for 27 Hugos and has won 5, including last year’s “Best Short Story.” But “Down Memory Lane” (Asimov’s, Apr/May 2005), a sweet story about dealing with Alzheimer’s, is ultimately forgettable. And its style is perhaps too derivative of Daniel Keyes' classic Flowers for Algernon.

First-time nominee Margo Lanagan’s “Singing My Sister Down” (Black Juice, Allen & Unwin; Eos) is a well-crafted vignette about community intolerance, but it left me with a sense of “been there, done that.” Ho hum. And the less said about Michael A Burstein’s “Seventy-Five Years” (Analog, Jan/Feb 2005), an extremely lightweight attempt at political and social commentary, the better.

David D. Levine has one previous Hugo nomination, and his “Tk’tk’tk” (Asimov’s, Mar 2005) is a clever and entertaining story about how a planet-hopping salesman finally succumbs to interstellar culture shock. I liked it very much. But among the 2006 Hugo short story choices, I think this year’s real standout is first-time nominee Dominic Green’s “The Clockwork Atom Bomb” (Interzone, May/June 2005). Green details a frustrating week in the life of a post-War UN weapons inspector, and he kept me captive right up to the story’s punchy end. “The Clockwork Atom Bomb” is a keeper and will get my top vote for “Best Short Story” this year, followed by “Tk’tk’tk.”


At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G'day Wal! I still reckon the best SciFi short story anthologies EVER WRITTEN are Dangerous Visions 1 & II, edited by Harlan Ellison in the seventies.


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