Ahoy there me mateys! A short while back, I wrote a post discussing me initial thoughts on the 2020 Hugo award nominees. At that time, I had read none of the works in the best short story category. I have since remedied the situation and so here be mini-reviews of the short stories and me pick for the 2020 winner.
The short stories are from the list as published on Tor.com. Click on the story title to read the short stories themselves.
Best Short Story
- “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
Thoughts: This was an excellent gritty historical fantasy horror. It takes place in 1943 during the Bengal Famine in India which I knew nothing about. The plot is that the white British Governor of Bengal tries to force an old Indian woman, Apa, to make a doll for his wife. The dolls are made of jute, another thing I knew nothing about. This story was compelling, sad, and weirdly satisfying. I didn’t know what I was in for but this story immediately gripped me. The research I did afterwards took longer then it did to read the story itself and I learned all sorts of new things. Bonus! Check out this link to see what I think the dolls look like.
- “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)
Thoughts: This was a portrayal of war and what obstacles have been put in place to determine when to use atomic warfare. One child stands as the center point of the question of if and when the use of those weapons are justified. I enjoyed the structure of the story but there were no answers here.
- “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, 24 July 2019)
Thoughts: I don’t know what I think of this one. Well written. Kinda disturbing. Unpleasant but interesting.
- “A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
Thoughts: I absolutely loved this one. It is rich in imagery and poignant in how it deals with love and family. This one so far is the best and completely suits me taste. And not just because it’s the first story on this list with a hopeful ending.
- “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
Thoughts: Damn this one was so good too. Excellent world building and characterization. While I loved the language and poetry of the last story, this one did hit me harder emotionally. Completely different tone and feel. Loved this one’s ending too.
- “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)
Thoughts: This was a very clever use of bibliographies and the last title made me actually laugh. The story was fun but not in the top three for me.
Now listen up me hearties, the decision has been made:
Hoped for Winner: This was such a struggle. Seriously. Two stories vie for favorite and I kept switching back and forth while discussing them with the First Mate. But I only get one vote so it goes to “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow. The length of it was perfect for the plot and characterizations.
So there ye have it. Me Hugo thoughts and wishes for short stories. I think this collection overall was well written and I am glad to have read them all. I will keep y’all posted as I continue readin’ through the Hugo nominees before the winners be revealed on 8/2/2020. In the meantime:
It’s amazing, really, how many bad reputations pirates get.
Why just think of how many of them have been cannonized!
Hardy har har!
x The Captain