Only 3 entries in the Hugo short story category this year, because of the 5% rule. I think this is actually a good thing, because it’s a reflection of there being so much good stuff to choose from that it was difficult for any one story to muster the minimum 5% of nominations.
Ken Liu — Mono no Aware
A young Japanese man is sitting in the control room of a generation ship, minding the solar sail. As the story cuts between his present and his memories, the story gradually reveals how and why he came to be there, and why the choice he makes at the end of the story matters so very much. Beautifully written study of loss and survival, and made me want to read the rest of the anthology it appeared in.
Aliette de Bodard — Immersion
A lot of things are stuffed into this short story. Imperialism, whether economic, cultural, or in the recent past nakedly military. Class and money. Identity, and how it ties into the imperialism. The use and abuse of technology. Common themes, but handled deftly, and with a genuine sf slant to them. There’s some superb world-building done in a short story word count, and characters whose fate I care about. This one’s my pick for the Hugo, although it was a hard choice between this and Ken Lui’s story.
Kij Johnson — Mantis Wives
Take praying mantises, give them human intelligence and emotions so that we can identify with them — and leave them their insect behaviour patterns, described in beautiful language that heightens rather than hides the horror of what’s going on.
I can see why this made the Hugo ballot. But it really doesn’t work for me. Not voting for this one.