Hugo Review – Best Novelette

As I previously mentioned, I’m attempting to consume as much of the 2012 Hugo Short Listed works in order to make an informed vote.

I  am now on to the category of Best Novelette.

This is my review of all five novelettes.

Note, this review is obviously subjective and most definitely biased, based on the topics and style of writing which interest and entertain me.

This review may contain SPOILERS.


The Copenhagen Interpretation by Paul Cornell

A quirky Science Fiction / Alternate Universestory, nominally beginning in Copenhagen, and ending up in orbit, designed entirely around playing with the scientific term of the same name. Realising I’d heard of the scientific expression before, I looked it up before reading, and was quite glad, as Cornell seems to very deliberately have several scenes which are deliberately designed with multiple interpretations, including the final one. Had I not suspected that was deliberate, I would have been rather disappointed with the ending, instead it made it rather deliciously frustrating. I very much enjoyed the plot and action driven aspects of the story, although a little frustrated with the throwaway lines suggesting interesting scientific developments, but just assumed common day by the protagonist.


Fields of Gold by Rachel Swirsky

A quirky (yes, another quirky story!) tale of the afterlife, which opens with a party in Heaven in honour of Dennis’ arrival, with guests such as previously departed family, but also celebrities as varied as Cleopatra, Napoleon, Shakespeare, Jesus and Alexander the Great. The story is character driven, and as the party unfolds we find out about Denis and Melanie’s (a close cousin) relationship, Dennis’ life and how he came to die, followed soon after by his wife, Karen, whose welcome party Dennis crashes. There are a few interesting twists, but as more of a plot driven reader, I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I expect others will have.


Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen

A fascinating (not quirky!) tale of Max and Jenna’s (his daughter) life in the deep water habitats where the surviving ten percent of humanity attempts to survive following alien caused freezing of the entire Earth’s surface. A great combination of characterisation (how Max deals with the new life, and how Jenna is raised in an environment where she’s never seen the sun, but only heard about it) and plot (Max heads off in a sub to try and locate Jenna after she and many of her friends attempt to head to the surface to see if it’s still frozen). The writing is excellent, and this is my favourite of the five novelettes, and the one which will likely get my Hugo vote.


Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders

Two clairvoyants, Doug and Judy, date. Doug sees only a single future, Judy sees a myriad of possible futures, and both know the good and bad, of how the relationship develops and ends. A character driven story, which plays with the concept of seeing a single future vs multiple possibilities, and how a relationship between two clairvoyants could work. I like the way Anders develops the relationships, with the conflict between Doug, who fatalistically sees only a single future that always happens, and Judy, who sees many possible futures, and makes choices leading to the best one. There’s not a huge amount of plot, but I found I didn’t really miss it, as the interplay between the characters kept me engaged.


What We Found by Geoff Ryman

Set in Nigeria, this is a Nebula Award winning tale of the family life of a young Nigerian boy, Patrick, who grows to become a respected professor, discovering that stress and trauma are genetically passed down.  When others have trouble replicating his results, he and others discover that the process of science, observing and documenting, “fades” it, until it no longer applies. Personally, I really disliked this novelette, and only the fact it was short kept me reading it. I didn’t care a whit about Patrick’s family life, environment, and upbringing, and did not get nearly enough exploration on the speculative fiction topics to make it worth reading.


So that’s the novelettes done, onto the short stories last.



Best Novelette Background Material:

Short listed in the Best Novelette category for the 2012 Hugos are:

The Copenhagen Interpretation by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s)
Fields of Gold by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders (
What We Found by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)


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