When I was a kid, you didn't dare miss an issue of any pulp science-fiction magazine unless you were willing to overlook stories that could potentially be nominated for a Hugo. If a story won, it would show up in a collection of Hugo winners edited by Isaac Asimov; if a story didn't win, it might be featured in a year's best anthology, but it was more likely that you'd be doomed to roam the stacks in the back of a combination used bookstore and gateway to the demon dimension. A dark and foreboding place, if ever there was one, where distant echoes of, "Is there a copy of Galaxy magazine from 1972 here somewhere?" can be heard. Fortunately, science-fiction has become much more accessible since those almost forgotten days of yore. You can now find and read Hugo-nominated science-fiction short stories online for free (unless you choose to support some of the websites).
- "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn published in Lightspeed, June 2010
- "For Want of a Nail" by Mary Robinette Kowal published in Asimov's, September 2010
- "Ponies" by Kij Johnson published on Tor.com, November 17, 2010
- "The Things" by Peter Watts published in Clarkesworld, January 2010
"Amaryllis" and "The Things"are my favorites from this list for entirely different reasons. "Amaryllis" presents one of the most interesting visions of the future that I've read in a long time. It's not wonderful, and it's not depressing — it feels like a real world.
"The Things" tells a story that many will find familiar, but from an entirely different point of view. If you're wondering what familiar story this is, here's a hint: "Se til helvete og kom dere vekk. Det er ikke en bikkje, det er en slags ting! Det imiterer en bikkje, det er ikke virkelig! KOM DERE VEKK IDIOTER!!"Here is a list of the 2011 Hugo nominees in three of the other categories (visit the Renovation site to see the complete list of categories and nominees). [Update on 8/30/11: We're updating this post to indicate which nominees won Hugo Awards.] Best Novel
- Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra) * 2011 Hugo Award winner
- Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
- The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
- Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
- The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
- The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean) * 2011 Hugo Award winner
- The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
- The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov's, September 2010)
- Troika by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)
- Eight Miles by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
- The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele (Asimov's, June 2010) * 2011 Hugo Award winner
- The Jaguar House, in Shadow by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov's, July 2010)
- Plus or Minus by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's, December 2010)
- That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)
The 2011 Hugo Award winners will be announced this Saturday, August 20th at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Reno, Nevada.
If you have read any of the 2011 Hugo nominated works, let us know your favorites.