1097 ballots cast for 295 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 74 to 268.
- Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
- Seems to be an attempt at Chuck Tingle, which either way isn’t worthy of notice let alone award.
- “The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan (Tor.com, July 2016)
- Nice enough writing to read, but it feels like not much happens – I love character driven pieces but I didn’t connect with any of them, and though this was about relationships it was a little too airy-faerie to really get into. A bit fanciable, a bit boring. I also don’t feel it does anything genre-wise to make it worthwhile of a genre award.
- “The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde (Tor.com publishing, May 2016)
- Perhaps the idea of this can work better in a longer format, but under 50 pages seems too short to effectively discuss and unpack the whole ‘slaves’ thing – this piece as it is left me uncomfortable and discontent. Add on the fact that some parts lost me and were a bit boring with so few pages already when there were more important things to handle better… I was disappointed. And stories that involve jems have to be damn good to get me past the ‘eh why?’ query.
- “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
- I appreciate Grandma Harken. Same last name as one of the QI elves from my favourite podcast, and living on the edge of town people majority of people are rubbish. This is a simple and enjoyable tale about an elderly witch who loves her garden – especially her tomatoes… so when they start to be stolen, one by one, it’s pretty much as bad as it gets for Grandma Harken. (I can’t stand tomatoes so don’t really care, but…) It’s a lovely story that keeps you reading, and well written to boot.
- “Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
- I wanted to enjoy this one as the premise sounds fun, but it seemed so hammered down and treated the reader like they were five with no ability to come to their own conclusion. A few elements felt forced like the plot had to go a certain way even without the proper stepping stones to get there, and the ending was a bit too weird without the clever to make it work. Really disappointing, unfortunately – just not for me.
- “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)
- The best one of the lot – two orphans keep each other steady even as their lives start to pull them apart as they grow older. Marisol works in a brothel, and Ellis, our protagonist is a necromancer who’s pulled into the desert each night to seek the dead. It’s a piece that’s beautifully written, elegantly handled, utterly engaging, and Wong needs a book deal this instant. Southern Gothic music is my favourite at the moment, and this short story is music in written form.