The Short Story Nominees are pretty incredible this year. I thought only three of the Novelettes were pretty good (although I ranked the other two legitimate nominees above "no award") but only two were strong Hugo contenders, and really neither of them were "Must Reads". Best Short Story has Three Must Reads, and the other two legitimate contenders are well worth their nominations. Since these are by definition very short stories, reviews will be brief.
Picks are after the Jump:
Nominees listed below in order of preference, from least liked first, to my pick last:
Behind No Award: An Unimaginable Light by John C. Wright
As mentioned in my Best Novelette post, one story in many categories was selected due to a campaign by a White Supremacist. And unlike the Novelette story (which was selected to try to play a joke on the voters by nominating something crude), this story is by an author actually affiliated with that group and by his publishing company.
As such, no I didn't even read the sample provided to every reader and it goes behind "No Award." That's all I'll say about this one.
Fifth Place on My Ballot: A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wallflowers by Alyssa Wong
Like her Novelette Nomination, Wong does strong work here with a story that is kind of surreal (this is the wrong word, but I don't know the right one). This is a tale of two sisters who are seemingly reality warpers, and the attempts of one to try to change the world repeatedly when the world spits out her Sister. It's very well written, but I don't know, doesn't really end particularly well.
Fourth Place on My Ballot: The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin
Jemisin might be my favorite current modern SF/F author, and this story take her to a more urban but still classically Jemisin symbolic SF - a tale of a person becoming an avatar of New York City and fighting/running from a Cthulhu-esque monster trying to destroy the living City.
It's very well written and an interesting work rich with symbolism and may (according to a recent Jemisin twitch stream) inspire more works in this same world from her. In another year it might win the award. But it's behind the other three stories.
Third Place on my Ballot: Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies By Brooke Bolander
A Feminist Tale subverting the tendency to humanize rapists (I'll describe it no more than that, given this is about 3 pages long), this is the first of three stories that all deserve to win the award. Easily the shortest of the works in this category, it packs a real punch at subverting the world's tendency to tell the stories of those who act horribly rather than telling the stories of the victims, and ends triumphantly and defiantly against that world.
This is great and will take 5 minutes to read. Read it.
Second Place on my Ballot: The Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
A tale of two beings from opposite sides of a recent war, one of whom is telepathic, coming together to continue a game of chess they started during the war. This description does not do this story justice - again, this is worthy of a win, and the gap between it and #3 and #1 on this list is practically non-existent. This tale is tremendous as a story of peoples bridging the gap between themselves through caring, understanding and games, and well, it is a fantastic war story.
Again, a Must Read.
First Place on my Ballot: Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar
Another Feminist Tale, this one about a pair of women basically involved in fairy tale stories who come together to take their own destinies back with the help of each other. This one won the Nebula Award, and is my pick for the Hugo for now.
This story is nearly perfect - you will see the ending coming about 1/3 of the way through and yet it doesn't matter - it's written beautifully, the two characters are super well done and the story is amazingly beautiful.