Read’s Original Fiction Hugo Finalists

WOW, do we have so many people to be proud of!

Squees of joy go out to original fiction contributors Charles Stross, Andy Duncan, and Ellen Klages for their Best Novella nominations, Mary Robinette Kowal for her Best Novelette nomination, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt and John Chu for their nominations in the Best Short Story Category.

High fives go out to editor Ellen Datlow for her nomination in the Best Editor – Short Form category and Liz Bourke for her Best Fan Writer nomination! We’d call you up to congratulate you but all you’d hear is us going “EEEEEEE!”

Wide-eyed wonder also goes out to Tor Books editor and contributing editor Liz Gorinsky for her nomination in the Best Editor – Long Form category and to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for its nomination in the Best Novel category! (Here’s more info on the rules behind that nomination.)

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our nominated works for your reading convenience. Below you’ll find each of our stories, along with their artwork, a brief description, and a link to the page where you can read our stories for free. Congratulations again to all our nominated authors!


Best Novella:

Wakulla Springs Andy Duncan Ellen Klages Garry Kelley Patrick Nielsen Hayden Hugo Best Novella 2014“Wakulla Springs”
Written by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
Illustration by Garry Kelley
Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

The success of “Wakulla Springs” hinges on its ability to imbue an (almost?) purely mundane setting with enough wonder, strangeness, and uncertainty to make it feel like a fantasy or a sci-fi horror. Just as Hollywood turned Wakulla Springs into Africa for their Tarzan movies or made the deep clear water into the Black Lagoon, Duncan and Klages make the Florida panhandle feel like another world, a primeval forest from another time or place. This defamiliarization goes both ways, bringing back our perhaps-forgotten wonder at the magic of movies. But unlike many stories that rely on defamiliarization, “Wakulla Springs” stays grounded. Its characters may not always believe in the reality of the woods and waters around them, or in their own mental sanctity and reliability, but we always believe in them.


Equoid Charles Stross The Laundry Files Dave Palumbo Patrick Nielsen Hayden Hugo Novella 2014“Equoid”
Written by Charles Stross
Illustration by Dave Palumbo
Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

If you are very, very lucky, you will never come across a unicorn as terrifying as those Charles Stross has crafted in “Equoid.” Fairy-Tale-gone-wrong is far from an uncommon trope for fantastic horror, nor is it a stretch for the Lovecraftian genre; sirens and mermaids, for example, are frequently reimagined as Deep Ones. So this treatment of the unicorn, a creature with a legend that has become increasingly strange and uncomfortable in the modern era, is a perfect fit for the horrific subgenre.


Best Novelette:

The Lady Astronaut of Mars Mary Robinette Kowal Richie Pope Hugo Best Short Story 2014“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”
Written by Mary Robinette Kowal

Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.


Best Short Story:

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket Thomas Olde Heuvelt Victo Ngai Ann VanderMeer Hugo Best Short Story 2014“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”
Written by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Illustration by Victo Ngai
Edited by Ann VanderMeer

If I may geek out for just a moment? This story rekindled my passion for free indirect discourse in a huge way. Read this sentence: “The point here is that young Tangmoo screamed, and his lungs filled with water, and please, he did not want to die this way.” Reading the factual, calm third-person narrative got me to let my guard down, and when Tangmoo’s voice surfaced from under the water, “and please,” I was defenseless. This sentence is redolent with the piercing humanity that characterizes “Ink Readers.” It’s a story that asks what you have to give up in order to grant a wish, what balance means, and what value there is in desire.


The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere John Chu Christopher Silas Neal Ann VanderMeer Best Short Story Hugo 2014“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”
Written by John Chu
Illustration by Christopher Silas Neal
Edited by Ann VanderMeer

The story John Chu tells here didn’t have to be speculative fiction. It’s the tale of a Chinese man who wants to come out to his traditional parents and marry his partner. He has to overcome his deep aversion to conflict and fear of his sister in order to do so. But there is a speculative element: ever since a few weeks ago, for no apparent reason, anyone who lies gets drenched by freezing water that falls from nowhere. That element is anything but random; it’s essential, transformative. Matt can’t hide from his family, his partner, or himself; the water won’t let him. And the way he accidentally “proposes” to his lover is breath-taking. He tells Gus that “I don’t love you, not as much as you obviously love me,” and they both almost drown in the freezing downpour. That is something special.


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