This falls into two categories: reading stuff on this year's ballot, and reading stuff for next year's nominations.
It seems only fair to at least give the Puppy nominees a look. Like many publishers, Analog has made its Hugo candidates for this year available for free
online. I've just read the novella Flow
by Arlan Andrews, Sr, a likeable story of quasi-scientific exploration with strong world-building. Its Puppy appeal is obvious: no GURLS. And perhaps because of this, not much society-building; if you'd played D&D you're already familiar with the main setting, God's Port. The story's main problem is its repetition. Where our hero comes from east is called dimward
and day is called dim
. This is interesting, but the continual reminders become comical, then annoying, then excruciating. I lost count of those - there are dozens! - but to pick other examples, we're told twice about the scarcity of lumber back home and three times about the surprising hair colours in God's Port. It becomes maddening and gives what should be a good story an amateurish feel.
The first story I've found which I think might deserve a nomination next year is the beautiful Slow
by Lia Swope Mitchell, from the online magazine Apex
In my search I also stumbled across another online magazine, Unlikely Stories
, and its Unlikely Cryptography issue. The Joy of Sects
by Joseph Tomaras is hilarious and very rude. Dropped Stitches
by Levi Sable has a terrific premise, but like so many of the stories I'm reading, seems to have come out of the oven before it was completely cooked.