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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Best Novelette" category - Hugo Awards voting 2015

I'm now reading the stories in the "best novelette" category, applying to work between 7,500 and 17,500 words. That's a good length for a science fiction story, in particular: it provides room for the revelation and development of character and the exploration of an idea... without having to build a complicated plot or establish a large cast of characters. Stories in the upper range of novelette - or in the next range up, of novella - may be ideal for even moderately serious SF. From my point of view, then, it's unfortunate that there are commercial pressures for large publishers of SF and fantasy to favour long novels. These can certainly be engrossing, but they can also push out a lot of potentially interesting, innovative work.

At this stage, I've read only two stories in the category: "Championship B'tok" by Edward M. Lerner, and "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale" by Rajnar Vajra. For my money, "The Triple Sun" was the stronger of the two, though both were competent stories of adventure in space (with elements of hard science fiction). Whether either is strong enough to be worth a major international award is another question. Again, I'd be happier to see "The Triple Sun" win the award, partly because it simply has better shape as a standalone story ("Championship B'tok" seems more like an instalment of something much longer; the problem isn't that it is, but that it seems like it is).

I'll get to the other nominees in this category soon, and we'll see if one of them is more a standout.

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