First, let’s get this out of the way: holy shit, y’all, Seanan McGuire is on the ballot FIVE TIMES. That’s a record. And it doesn’t include the “Chicks Dig…” anthologies, in which she has essays. I’ve burbled about her work before, but here’s the thing: she’s gotten so much better since then! I was sad that I didn’t catch up on her Velveteen vs. stories before the nominating deadline, because I think it’s some of her best work. Between the two nominated novelettes, I think “In Salt-Sea Tears” is by far the better story. “Rat-Catcher” is a lovely bit of backstory for a beloved character, but it doesn’t do anything particularly surprising or groundbreaking in the genre, which is what I really want out of an award-worthy work.
I’m sad that Elizabeth Bear’s “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” didn’t make the list. It was one of the best stories I read last year. I’m also astonished that Range of Ghosts isn’t on the novel list. It certainly didn’t lack for critical acclaim. I suspect it got edged out by Lois McMaster Bujold’s rabid following, which….
Sigh. I’m ambivalent about Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. I didn’t nominate it. I loved it; it was like catnip for fans of the Vorkosigan series. But it’s just that: catnip. It’s a lightweight entry in the series. While it deepens our understanding of Ivan, and it has some really lovely moments with Alys and Simon, it doesn’t add much to the overall story arc. It’s not a book I’d recommend to people who haven’t read the other 13 or 14 books in the series. It certainly doesn’t do much to expand the SF genre. And, taking the novel on its own, it has some structural and pacing issues. I just glanced at my Goodreads review of the book, and … yeah. That.
I’m partway through Throne of the Crescent Moon. Apparently I put it down back in December one page before the most awesome character showed up, so I’ve picked it up again, although I probably won’t get through it until after I turn in my own book revisions.
That leaves Redshirts, which I’d intended to read anyway, and 2313. I haven’t read any of Robinson’s work since college, when I got bogged down halfway through Green Mars and abandoned the trilogy. I wouldn’t mind giving him another shot, and I have some plane travel in May, so that works out well.
The short list of short stories is interesting. I suspect the online magazines have splintered the market so badly that plenty of stories were nominated but few got enough votes to clear the threshold. I look forward to seeing the breakdown of nominations, if it’s released.
I think this might be the first year in a long time when I’ve actually read all the novel nominees. Which is a good thing, since I’ll be voting. I’ll try to read as much of the short fiction as I can.
Other than Bear’s, I can’t remember what I nominated that didn’t make the final list. (Book. Deadlines. Book eat brain. I don’t have a thinky.) I’d be interested to hear what else you all thought was overlooked.