Hugo Awards Voting Adventure: Best Short Stories 2014 and 1939

For the first time on this adventure, I read every single nomination.  Granted, the time invested in reading short stories is, well, short.  But I’ll take credit where I can get it. 


  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013) – Read (3 stars); #2
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (, 04-2013) – Read (3.5 stars); #1
  • “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013) – Read; just okay; #4
  • “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (, 02-2013)Read; just okay; #3

None of the short stories from 2014 jumped out and grabbed me.  I had a hard time picking one I liked enough to give it the number one spot.  Short stories really must pack a punch to impress me and none of these even gave me a love tap.  I finally settled on “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” though “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” was an interesting read.


  • “The Faithful” by Lester del Rey (Astounding Science-Fiction, April 1938) – #2 rated 3 stars
  • “Helen O’Loy” by Lester del Rey (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938) – #1 rated 4 stars
  • “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” by Ray Bradbury (Imagination!, January 1938) – #5 rated 2 stars
  • “How We Went to Mars” by Arthur C. Clarke (Amateur Science Stories, March 1938) – requested via anthology – #3 rated 3 stars
  • “Hyperpilosity” by L. Sprague de Camp (Astounding Science-Fiction, April 1938) – #4 rated 2.5 to 3 stars

Only one short story was not included in the late-arriving 1939 Retro Hugo voting packet:  “How We Went to Mars” by Clarke.  Luckily, I found a huge anthology of Clarke’s stories via my local library and quickly requested it.  I really enjoyed reading all of the short stories from the 30s.  My favorite quickly became Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy” which I think is a timeless tale.  His other story, “The Faithful” also struck a chord with me.  Clarke’s “How We Went to Mars” felt very British to me, in a comedic way.  The last two were interesting, but too weird or strange for my taste.

Closing Thoughts on Short Stories

I think the art of the short story needs a revival.  The forefathers of science fiction had a good grasp of the punch factor necessary to craft a good story in a concise presentation.  I much preferred the nominations from 1939 to those of 2014.

Next Time: Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)