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With the exception of my last-place pick, these were rather less shouty than the short stories. Two of them I out and out adored, which is a better performance than either short stories or novellas were able to pull off.

7. Alien Stripper Boned from Behind by the T-Rex by Stix Hiscock
The Rabid Puppy nomination in this category, the title is a reasonably accurate summary.
Well, I read it. I'm not happy about it. The suspicion is that Vox Day wrote this himself to have a better stage-managed (and more alt-right friendly) version of Chuck Tingle, which nomination of course rather backfired on them last year. Trolling at its most eye-roll-inducing.

6. No Award

5. "The Art of Space Travel" by Nina Allan
The head of housekeeping at a hotel hosting astronauts on a dangerous mission to Mars wonders who her father really is.
This is one of those pieces where the speculative element is not particularly important to the story. It doesn't have much in the way of plot, but I didn't find the characters or their thoughts particularly compelling, either. It was nice, I suppose, but didn't particularly strike me.

4. The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wild
When their kingdom is betrayed, a princess and her aide must find a way to use the power of their kingdom's jewels to salvage the situation.
It was fine. Kind of standard fare. But I don't quite understand why and how the Jewel/Lapidary relationship evolved. And I found the ending unsatisfying.

3. "You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay" by Alyssa Wong
A young necromancer deals with strange interlopers in his run-down desert town.
The only nominee I had read before the nominees were announced, because that Alyssa Wong, she's so hot right now. This is what I wrote about it in my reading log: "It was absorbing, not astounding. A little precious." Which, come to think of it, pretty well sums up my feelings on everything I've read by this author.

2. "The Tomato Thief" by Ursula Vernon
Grandma Harken sets out to catch the person responsible for stealing her tomatoes, and reels in more than she bargained for.
Beautiful piece. A strong and clever voice, and an immersive setting [1]. I like how it starts out reading like literary fiction and gradually shades into full fantasy. I like older people as heroes, too. I need more Grandma Harkens in my life.

1. "Touring With the Alien" by Carolyn Ives Gilman
A woman is hired to drive around an alien who has secretly snuck out of its spacecraft.
Now this is a good piece. This is an author who appreciates subtlety. This is thought-provoking, funny, sad, and horrible, and it's a rare author that can pull off that hat trick.

[1] It's interesting how similar the setting is to the Wong piece, as well. You could easily imagine them both set in neighboring towns.

See also:
Short stories


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