Friday, March 6, 2015

The Wet & Irritated Kittens Slate, Part II - Short Works

A few weeks ago, I shared my personal nominations in the Novel category for the upcoming Hugo Awards. As the deadline looms, 'tis now time for me to share my picks for the short fiction categories.

You may notice as we proceed that I haven't filled the entire slate. The explanation for this is actually quite simple: It's difficult to impress me in fewer words. As I was paging through my old zines trying to decide what to add to my list, I didn't find much that I thought was truly striking. What this says about the state of the short fiction market is, to say the least, concerning.

But, without further ado, here are my picks:

  • “Flow," Arlan Andrews Sr., Analog, November 2014 - This fantasy adventure expertly captures man's desire to explore and learn more.
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman, Castalia House - I knew I was going to nominate this one as soon as I'd read it, as its subversion of a popular military science fiction trope is both troubling and necessary. See my review here.
  • "Life Flight," Brad Torgersen, Analog, March 2014 - From my original review: "...the main character's emotional arc is profoundly interesting -- and, thankfully, morally grounded. When his childhood dreams are tragically ripped away, he initially loses himself in suicidal ideation and a selfish sense of entitlement. But as he grows older and wiser, he realizes he can still find meaning in his life by focusing his attentions on the other people on board -- and ultimately, while he is robbed of the chance to set foot in the promised land, he's strangely okay with that result because he knows being the guardian and shepherd of the mission still mattered."
  • “Championship B’tok," Edward M. Lerner, Analog, September 2014 - I'm a little confused on this one. The Puppies have it listed under Novelette, but my digital copy of Analog puts this in the Novella category. At any rate, this is a tantalizing introduction to a space opera universe whose mysteries definitely hit several of my squee buttons.
Short Stories:
  • "The Golden Knight," K.D. Julicher, Baen Website - From my original review: "I love, love, love platonic elder-younger pairings in which the younger's boundless loyalty and innocence in some way redeem the elder. Such stories, I feel, speak to the more profound spiritual reason why most of us become parents (and why I, in the absence of a spouse, have elected to work as a teacher). Biological imperatives to reproduce aside, there is also an instinctual recognition that caring for our children is a salvific enterprise -- and the fact that many succumb to the pop culture's distorted and idolatrous visions of parenting does not in any way negate the nobility of the animating impulse."
  • “Totaled," Kary English, Galaxy’s Edge, July 2014 - An excellent sci-fi concept conveyed with genuine human emotion. I hope to see more from this author.
  • "Abandoned River, Dry Water," Jane Lebak, Sci Phi Journal #1 - From an earlier review: "The tale it implies - of a misplaced Catholic missionary attempting to minister to an alien race he was not prepared to encounter - is both haunting and poignant -- reason enough to look for some of Jane Lebak's other work."
Now I must hurry and log these choices with WorldCon! After all, the kittens are waiting.

Get on with it already!


  1. Re a category for "Championship B'tok" ... Analog initially labeled this story a novella, but on the basis of word count, it's technically a novelette. In its annual index (January/February 2015 issue), Analog makes note of this correction and lists the story as a novelette.

    1. Ah. Thanks for the clarification! I should've checked the index. ;)

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