Best Short Stories, 1941 & 2016

Here are the Best Short Story finalists.

BEST SHORT STORY 1941

  • “Martian Quest” by Leigh Brackett
  • “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Robbie” by Isaac Asimov
  • “The Stellar Legion” by Leigh Brackett
  • “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges

BEST SHORT STORY 2016

  • “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris
  • “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao
  • Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle

So, who is at the top of your list and why?

As always, keep in mind the Comment Rules, and let’s discuss the Hugo finalists!

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1 thought on “Best Short Stories, 1941 & 2016”

  1. The Retro Hugo ballot is much stronger than the 2016 one. Here’s my list:

    1. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges – Dense and disorienting. Borges is ambitious and very confident – you’d need to be to attempt something like this. Large parts of it read like a thought experiment – a very peculiar one, to say the least – and it quite frustrated me in places. But it’s strangely very intoxicating and thought-provoking.

    2. Requiem by Robert Heinlein – Apparently a sequel to The Man Who Sold the Moon (which I haven’t read), but this was written 10 years earlier, so Heinlein meant it to stand alone. It’s a touching story about the unfulfilled dreams of a frail old man, and I like the underlying sense of wonder and optimism. This was more emotional than the other Heinlein I’ve read, and I think it’s definitely award-worthy. But I like the Borges even more, so this gets pushed down to #2.

    3. Martian Quest by Leigh Brackett – Pulpy, and there’s a lot of wish-fulfillment here – you have the relatable nerdy geek, the hot girl he inevitably falls in love with, her abrasive brawny fiancé and a scary monster to boot. But despite all that, there’s a lot to like about it. Brackett gets the emotional bits right, it flows well and she stops at the right point. Good execution of a pulpy premise.

    4. Robbie by Isaac Asimov – A sweet story with a tech-positive message, but I really dislike robots that become emotional for no reason. Theme takes precedence over plot logic here, and I don’t like it. I do like the talking robot that breaks down – thematic and logical – but apparently it wasn’t in the original 1940 version. Asimov added it 10 years later (along with young Susan Calvin) so that he could retro-fit the story into his Robot chronology.

    5. The Stellar Legion by Leigh Brackett – This was an overdose of pulp and melodrama for me; I didn’t like any of the characters and the emotional bits didn’t do enough to tide me over like in Martian Quest. Still, there was a conspiracy twist that didn’t turn out like I expected, so it has something going for it.

    As for the 2016 ballot, I think only one story is award-worthy:

    1. Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer – The premise is very interesting – what if Google became sentient? – and the implications are well thought out. I was pleasantly surprised by the references to Asimov’s laws and other SF stories – Google would certainly have access to those, and the idea that they could influence its thought processes is fascinating. (It’s also a nice way to acknowledge that this story itself is influenced by the ones that came before it.) The short vignettes are humorous and add thematic depth as well. (Is humanity best left on its own? etc.) Overall, this was very imaginative and amusing, and left me with a smile on my face.

    Of the remaining: Asymmetrical Warfare was not bad, but far too short and unremarkable; Seven Kill Tiger had flat characters and an even flatter ending; the other 2 are erotica and fan fiction.

    Like

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