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).

So, without further ado, here are the 2011 Hugo Award nominated short stories:

  • 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

Best Novella

Best Novelette

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.

Related: 2010 Hugo award winners to add to your sci-fi reading list.