“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
Gary Rinehart's human colony is oppressed by Colony elder ?? is terminally ill, and conceived a novel form of non-violent protest, utilizing his traditional practices, hoping to take advantage of the rulers own irrational beliefs. I feel like I need to read more current short fiction because whilst it is the best story in the litter it feels more like anthology filler than a standout.
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)
I have enjoyed Michael Flynn's fiction in the past (the fine 'Spiral Arm' series in particular) so I was looking forward to reading this story. It did not really disappoint, except that it is part of a longer story, rather than a self contained novelette. The science fictional elements (advanced artifacts, seemingly not of the local civilization) are off-stage. Flynn's skill with humourous invented patois and dialect is the most obvious strength of the writing here.
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
I guess this story of 3 cadet Space Rangers, sent on a 'special mission' as punishment after, in a tired old trope of MilSF, they get into a bar fight with folk from another branch of the military who just took an instant dislike to them (since for some reason, no one branch of the military respects another), might just have come out of the Golden Age. The 'mission' is to ship some scientists back from an unsuccessful research mission on the planet Abreathon. Of course en route, our three heroes get into more trouble, putting their careers at risk.
I do not think that the 'puzzle' that the cadets had to solve to save their careers was particularly difficult. I could not believe that researchers had not winkled out the truth in 30 years.
“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
This is another puppy fragment of a longer story, shoehorned into the novelette category. Earth has defeated a race of reptilian 'snakes' (why are evil aliens so often reptilian?). The Snakes are restricted to locations in the outer solar system, and are secretly plotting turning the tables on humanity. The struggle is seens as a real life version of 'B'tok', a game of strategy like chess, but played in an atmosphere of external distraction.
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
The only non-immature canine entry to survive the slating of this category is the best written of the nominees, but despite an interesting concept - gravity reversed, with exceptions - the whiny protagonist made it hard for me to love this tale.
- No Award
- “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”
- “The Journeyman: In the Stone House”