Hugo Award 2022 for Best Novella: my votes

The 2022 Hugo Awards are scheduled to be presented on Sunday evening, September 4, 2022, during a ceremony at Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, Illinois. It will be live-streamed.

This is my ranked ballot for the Novella category. As often happens, my ranking is somewhat arbitrary. Hugo rules forbid a six-way tie, and any of these stories is well worth reading and would make a fine winner. Which is the best? Your opinion is as good as mine, and here’s mine:

6. Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom) – A thoroughly satisfying portal fantasy. A girl flees from bullying and eventually finds herself facing an even bigger bully, but by then she’s a wiser, better person.

5. Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom) – Two princesses form part of a danger-filled love triangle. This story illustrates what I think is a hallmark of Aliette de Bodard’s work: impeccable storytelling.

4. A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom) – A fairy tale retold about princesses condemned to sleep, perhaps the sleep of death, but they want to fight back. A lot of handwaving distracts from the unlikely mechanism that brings them together, but the narrator’s furious, piercing sarcasm never falters.

3. A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom) – A lost monk in a solarpunk-style world finds themself, or maybe they get found. Humane and uplifting, as we would expect from Becky Chambers. This was my choice for the Nebula Award, which it didn’t win, and while I love this story, I think Elder Race and The Past Is Red are just slightly better, slightly tauter. Other people may reasonably disagree.

2. Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom) – A disgraced, desperate princess seeks help from the elder sorcerer to defeat an evil demon, but the sorcerer is in fact merely a second-class anthropologist of Earth’s Explorer Corps. Still, he seems to be a sorcerer, especially because he’s an emotional wreck. Adrian Tchaikovsky proves again that he is a master storyteller.

1. The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom) – “My name is Tetley Abednego and I am the most hated girl in Garbagetown.” That’s the opening line. Garbagetown is a floating island of trash in the waterworld left after we Fuckwits ruin the Earth. The story is more worldbuilding and character exploration than plot, but what a world! What a character!

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