Reading the Hugo Best Short Story Finalists (2018 & 1943)

While I’m waiting on my interlibrary loan requests to be fulfilled for the 1943 Retro Hugo short fiction finalists, I’ve begun reading the current Hugo short fiction finalists, starting with the short stories.  These are easily completed during my lunch break or during half of my daily commute, if an audio edition is available.  As of Sunday morning, April 9th, I’ve only got one short story left to read.  I didn’t want to wait to post though so you’ll need to come back to this post to see how I rated it and what my preliminary voting order will be for my final ballot later this summer.  When I update this post, and the others like it that are forthcoming, I will make a brief update post linking back to the updated original post.

  • Update 4/9/2018: Read two of the 1943 Retro Hugo finalists and added comments below.
  • Update 4/14/2018:  Added links to my GoodReads mini-reviews.
  • Update 4/19/2018: Read the last of the 2018 Hugo Finalists (see list below)
  • Update 4/28/2018:  The final ILL arrived and I was able to read Clement’s “Proof,” which was surprisingly good (for early hard SF) and reminded me of one of my essay‘s from last semester’s Intro to Astronomy class.  DAW’s “Mimic” was to entomological for my tastes.  That leaves just one 1942 short story left to read.
  • Update 5/3/2018:  Finished off the short story finalists today by listening to Asimov’s “Runaround” through the audiobook edition of I, Robot.

Note on formatting of this post and those that will follow:  You’ll see a nested list with the first level being the title/author/publication/date published of the finalist entry.  The second level will be my comments, reviews and ratings.  The third level will be my preliminary ranked vote.  Here’s an explanation of the Hugo Voting System:

Many people find the Hugo voting system (called “Instant Runoff Voting“) very complicated. While the process is indeed involved, the basic idea is simple and the intention is laudable. Basically the idea is to make sure that the winner has majority support. In ordinary governmental elections it is possible for the winner to be someone that 40% of the people like and 60% of the people hate, because that 60% could not agree among themselves on a candidate. The Hugo voting system is designed to avoid results like that.

The Voting System, The Hugo Awards

Art copyright © 2017 by Victor Mosquera
Art copyright © 2017 by Victor Mosquera

Short stories published last year (2017) and nominated for the Hugo include:

Best Short Story (2018)

  • “Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)
  • “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)
  • “Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)
  • “The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (, July 19, 2017)
    • My favorite of this batch of short fiction.
    • Read April 5thLoved it!  (4.5-5 stars)
      • 1
  • “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
    • Similar to one of my favorite possessed swords (Need), but not nearly as good.  Different.
    • Read April 5th.  Liked it.  (3 stars)
      • 2
  • “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)
    • Read 4/18/2018; It was an odd story. In some respects I liked it but in others it was just okay. It grabbed my attention at first but the shift/twist was weird. (2.5 to 3 stars).
      • 4


And for the Retro Hugo finalists:

Best Short Story (1943)

  • “Etaoin Shrdlu,” by Fredric Brown (Unknown Worlds, February 1942)
    • Purchased an ebook containing 33 of Brown’s shot stories, including this one.
    • I had to research what a Linotype was so that was fun.  Good story, early attempt a machine AI. Liked it.  (3.5-4 stars; read 4/8/2018)
      • 5
  • “Mimic,” by Martin Pearson (Donald A. Wollheim) (Astonishing Stories, December 1942)
    • Keeping my fingers crossed that my ILL request bears fruit.  It’s only available in two (2) anthologies, both out of print.
    • The harder to find one is the The Great SF Stores 4: 1942
    • Read 4/28/2018; Liked the story but it bordered on horror. I’m not a fan of bug stories. (3-3.5 stars)
      • 6
  • “Proof,” by Hal Clement (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1942)
    • Same as “Mimic”
    • Also requested via ILL the easier to find Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction: 2nd Series
    • Read 4/27-28/2018; Liked this story of fiery first contact. (3.5-4 stars)
      • 2
  • “Runaround,” by Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942)
    • I’ve already read this and liked it.  Will probably re-read it if I can find it in one of my anthologies.
    • See my review of the I, Robot anthology from March 2009
    • Listened to “Runaround” through the audiobook edition of I, Robot read by Scott Brick while commuting to/from work on 5/3/2018.
    • I still like this story, but I believe when I compare it to the other finalists, I’m going to have to give the edge to Clement’s story.
    • The only two hard SF entiries were written by Asimov and Clement.
      • 3
  • “The Sunken Land,” by Fritz Leiber (Unknown Worlds, February 1942)
    • An extra to the Swords Against Death book available via Hoopla
    • Read this 4/28/2018 and absolutely loved it, so much so I wrote a separate blog post about it.
      • 1
  • “The Twonky,” by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1942)
    • Ready to read in Adventures in Time and Space anthology
    • Very similar to the Brown story I read yesterday.  Another ‘ordinary’ household gadget becomes something much more sinister.  No Asimov’s Three Laws in either story so human’s beware.  Liked it.  (3.5-4 stars; read 4/9/2018)
      • 4

Check back for updates to this post as I receive and read the Retro Hugo finalist short fiction.

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