Review: 2009 Hugo Nominated Short Stories
You can find links to read and/or listen to all of these on my main 2009 Hugo Nominee post. Unquestionably my 2 favorite stories are “Exhalation” and From “Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled.” “Exhalation” just makes me giddy, and I’ve listened to it a 1/2 dozen times already. Of the monkey stories, I prefer “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss.”
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
This is the most fantastical of the nominated stories. I love the structure of this story and the overall tone. Finding your home once you’ve lost it is a pretty universal feeling and this story explores that search with humor and wonder.
“Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick
This story struck me as heavy handed. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I feel like I’ve encountered this story over and over without the melodrama. Tossing a robot into the mix didn’t really add much to the story.
“Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
This was MUCH shorter than the other stories. It brought to mind Steve Mann as well as plenty of longer fiction about humans cut off from the technology that had become an extension of their self. Gridlinked by Neal Asher comes to mind as well as Tobias Buckell‘s novels. I’m sure there are plenty of others. A common theme is the isolation that is felt when bumped out of the functional/intelligence bracket occupied by like individuals. I like that it manages to exploring some of that emotional weight in such a short space
“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
Pure hard science fiction disguised in beautiful mechanical ambiguity. I absolutely love that this tells a perfect second law of thermodynamics lecture while still containing the thrill of discovery and the wonder of an alien universe. A physics student at heart, this story makes my all time favorite list.
“From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick
This is by far the longest of the nominated stories. I love the structure of this story. The identity of the narrator, the power that they have over the story and the power the story has over them adds a neat layer to the story. Seen through the subjective lens of the narrator, the back and forth between the 2 main characters (other than the narrator) is all about economics. And what could be more timely than economics. When one economic system is based on trust and the other on knowledge (no small bit of allegory there) the conflict is organic. All of that is used to tell the story of two unlikely companions trekking through a spectacularly described alien jungle. Complex and wonderful.