Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hugo Short Story Ballot

"Totaled" by Kary English is too good a story to be tarred with the brush of a slate. It makes good use of not-as-far-future-as-those-unfamiliar-with-the-field-might-think neuroscience to explore the mind-body problem, the relationship of emotion to cognition, and the furthest limits to which careerist self-sacrifice can drive a person. I wish it had first appeared either in a free online venue, or a magazine with broader circulation than Galaxy's Edge.

Lou Antonelli's "On a Spiritual Plane" attempts to cover similar ground, but there's a crippling contradiction between the short story form, which requires some measure of crisis for the protagonist, and the author's evident desire simply to set up a world that is confirmatory of the narrator's Thomistic metaphysics. The confirmatory bias wins out, and the result is a flat piece of message-fic.

The remaining three nominees--"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds," "A Single Samurai," and "Turncoat"--are laughably bad, at the levels of conception, characterization, plotting, sentence-by-sentence execution, and even all the way down to individual word choice.

Short Story Ballot:

  1. "Totaled"

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