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Posts Tagged ‘winner’

“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats”, by Mira Grant

“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” is a 2012 science fiction short story by Mira Grant, who is also known as Seanan McGuire.  It is currently nominated for the Hugo for Best Novella of 2013.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” is the story of some attendees at San Diego Comic Con.  When the zombies attack.  And how the humans react.

Why should you read it?

You shouldn’t.  Unless you’ve already read Feed, and the rest of the Newsflesh trilogy, and then you either know you don’t want you, or you don’t need me to pitch this story, except to say that it’s an early days story of the Newsflesh universe.  All three books of the trilogy were nominated for the Hugo, and this spin-off; I’m not the only one who likes this series.

Where to find “San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats”

This story is not available freely.  You can purchase it from Amazon for the Kindle for $2.99, and it’s well worth the cost.


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“Fermi and Frost”, by Frederik Pohl

“Fermi and Frost” is a 1985 science fiction short story by Frederik Pohl.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1986.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Fermi and Frost” is the story of a SETI astronomer who’s at an airport when a global nuclear war begins.  He rescues a small boy from horrible, overcrowded conditions and in in turn rescued by a fan of his work, and put on a plane to Iceland, which is assumed to be safe.  It turns out that Reykjavik is destroy, but the rest of Iceland survives the nuclear war.  Can it survive the nuclear winter?  Well, there’s no longer a sun… but Iceland has some geothermal energy to count on, and underground spaces can be converted to various kinds of farming…  I won’t spoil whether or not they survive, but I will tell you they do better than anyone else on Earth.  Which is to say, they’re the last survivors.

Why should you read it?

Because the portrayal of people trying to survive without a sun, but with other advantages, is fascinating.  Unfortunately, Pohl’s choice of presenting multiple options and then choosing one for you is off-puttingly old-fashioned, but for the most part, when he’s not doing that, the writing is as good as anything he’s ever done.  In fact, I’d go as far to say that this is half a story from the 1950’s and half from the 2000’s.

Where to find “Fermi and Frost”

This story was re-published in 2005 in Platinum Pohl: The Collected Best Stories, which is currently available from the King County Library System.  It does not appear to be freely available in text or in audio.

“Travels with My Cats”, by Mike Resnick

“Travels with My Cats” is a 2004 fantasy short story by Mike Resnick.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2005.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Travels with My Cats” is the story of a man living a bit of a wasted life; he started with dreams, but they slowly grew further and further out of his reach.  When he rediscovers a travel book he purchased and enjoyed as a child, the long-dead author and her cats appear.  She reignites his passion for life.

Why should you read it?

There’s a bit of a problem here.  Mike Resnick is going to show up a lot on this list, because he’s been nominated for an award every year for the last six hundred year.  Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much: he’s the most nominated author ever.

This story starts with a very disillusioning life.  It then moves on to a very enchanting relationship, and ends with a man changed.  The story is very effective and very enjoyable.  It’s far from science fiction or high fantasy–the Wikipedia article calls this magic realism, and I’d have to agree.  Beautifully written, and an emotional journey.  Not all of it is a fun journey, but a real one.

Where to find “Travels with My Cats”

Asimov’s has a copy of the text online.  Escape Pod has also done a lovely audio version.


“Tk’tk’tk”, by David D. Levine

June 24, 2013 1 comment

“Tk’tk’tk” is a 2005 science fiction short story by David D. Levine.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2006.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Tk’tk’tk” is the story of a human salesman who goes to a very alien planet, and tries to sell the software he represents to other humans.  Unfortunately, the people he’s speaking to are aliens, and don’t buy.  When he learns to sell to aliens, then suddenly success comes to him.  When he learns to be an alien, then his life changes.

Why should you read it?

On one level, this is brilliant science fiction, with a very Campbellian hook: these aliens don’t think much like humans, but they do think as well as humans.  But this time, I’m not going to suggest you should read this story for the science fiction.  “Tk’tk’tk” is the story of a man who is learning when struggle is not just going to get you nothing, but is actively counterproductive.  It’s the story of a man learning to release himself and become the other, in order to serve both the other and himself.  That’s the part of it I’ll be taking with me.  The aliens themselves are almost set dressing for the transformation of a man with an drive to overcome into a man who accepts.

Where to find “Tk’tk’tk”

This story is available online as text courtesy of Asimov’s, or in audio from Escape Pod.  I especially recommend the text version, as the alien language makes for some sounds you’ve never heard before.  I admire them for even trying this story.

“A Study In Emerald”, by Neil Gaiman

“A Study In Emerald” is a 2003 science fiction short story by Neil Gaiman.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2004.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“A Study In Emerald” is the story of a murder investigation, conducted by a consulting detective who lives on Baker Street.  The murder victim is the nephew of the Queen of England.  And not human at all.  He’s an Old One, as is the Queen.

Why should you read it?

As one expects from Gaiman, the writing is brilliant.  The characters are layered, the dialog is crisp and appropriate to the time, and the style is both modern and matching the writing of the time.  The world-building is solid, although unlikely, as the Old Ones have replaced the crowned heads of Europe in this alternate world, where England is Albion, instead.  The powers of the consulting detective are, as they should be, amazing until explained, and then obvious–a trick many pastiches of Holmes do not carry off.  I would rate this as my favorite Holmes-derived work, and also my favorite spin of the Cthulhu mythos.

Where to find “A Study In Emerald”

This story is available online, courtesy of Neil Gaiman himself.  Normally, I’m not a fan of fiction in PDF’s, as it makes it hard to get on my Kindle, but this one comes with lovely layout and little dropped-in ads for dark Victorian products, such as medical exsanguination by V. Tepes.  Well worth printing out and reading in this form for the bonuses alone.

“Kirinyaga”, by Mike Resnick

“Kirinyaga” is a 1988 science fiction short story by Mike Resnick.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1989.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Kirinyaga” is the story of the mundumugu, or witch doctor, of a recreated Kikuyu people, living on a created world in space.  They’ve followed their tribal ways, and killed a baby born feet first, which is an indication that the baby is a demon.  Now they face an intervention by Maintenance, the people who made the created world they live on, and unspecified penalties.

Why should you read it?

Killing a baby is a bad thing.  Killing a demon is a good thing.  How does one tell if a baby is a demon?  Well, Maintenance knows that if both parents are human, there’s a good chance the baby is.  The mundumugu knows differently–his culture tells him that the circumstances of the baby’s birth clearly indicate that it is not human.

He wants cultural purity for his people, the adults of which have chosen to live by the (sometimes harsh) rules of the Kikuyu.  But babies… haven’t.  How can he convince Maintenance to leave them alone to follow their traditional ways?

The writing is lovely.  The Eutopian worlds are a brilliant idea that I continue to want to read more about.  This is one of my favorite stories, and I was delighted to reread it for this review.  (Note that this is the same world as “One Perfect Morning, With Jackals“.)

Where to find “Kirinyaga”

Baen Books has graciously allowed us to read “Kirinyaga” online.  

“None So Blind”, by Joe Haldeman

“None So Blind” is a 1994 science fiction short story by Joe Haldeman.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1995.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“None So Blind” is the story of a young polymath who excels in neurosurgery and computer science and wants to apply some of the techniques that work well to computers to the human brain.  So he hoodwinks his wife into allowing his team to operate on her.

Why should you read it?

Haldeman writes in several styles.  One of them is very condensed, with summaries of action instead of dialog.  A very tell, don’t show, style.  Sometimes it doesn’t work that well, and sometimes it does.  This is one of the times when it does.

The events that take place in this story are uncomfortable enough that if the author didn’t keep us at a distance, I’m not sure that many of us would be able to finish the story.  Cletus, the medical wunderkind, is also ethically challenged, to put it mildly, and the choices he makes are ones we can observe, not ones we can participate in.

He repartitions the human brain. In this particular case, by removing the need for the need for the visual cortex to be used in processing vision.  By removing the subject’s eyes.

The effects on people and on society are . . . unexpected.

Where to find “None So Blind”

This story was available online, on Haldeman’s web site.