I have always loved science-fiction short stories, novelettes, and novellas. They are shorter than novels, so they take less time to read. But good ones do not short shrift the story along with the word count. To the contrary, well drafted shorter works are tight and pack a wallop. Science fiction is particularly well-suited to these shorter forms because, more than any others, it is the genre of ideas. A great idea in science fiction may or may not support an entire novel. But presented in a form of the proper length, inspiration and awe await the reader.
Like many, I’m busy. So I try to find ways to guide my selection of shorter works to read. One way I do that is to consider the nominees for the two most well-known awards in science fiction–the Nebula and the Hugo. I compare the lists of finalists and, typically, first look to the stories that have been nominated for both awards. It’s a good sign when the science-fiction writing community (for the Nebula) and the science-fiction writers/readers/fans community (for the Hugo) both find particular works worthy of consideration for their highest honor. I usually also read the stories that appear on only one list or the other. But for starters, there is (usually) always the cross overs.
There are no cross overs this year in the categories of novella, novellette, or short story. In fact, there is not even any cross over in the sources of the stories. (There is a current raging voting controversy. This piece is not about that.)
If I’m reading their lists right, the Nebula award nominees for shorter works come from Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Daily Science fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Granta, Lightspeed, NobleFusion, Qualia Nous, Subterranean Summer, Tachyon, Tor.com, and Upgraded, with the following number of nominees from each publisher:
While the Hugo award nominees are from Analog, Broad Reach, Castalia House, Galaxy’s Edge, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Sci Phi Journal in the following numbers:
With a total of 35 stories nominated overall in these categories across both award final lists, that’s a lot of reading. If you’re like me, you’d like a little more information to help decide where to start. Given that Castalia House is the runaway nominee source for the Hugos, and Fantasy & Science Fiction is one of the leading sources for the Nebulas, here is a description of each of those publishers from their websites:
Castalia House is a Finland-based publisher that has a great appreciation for the golden age of science fiction and fantasy literature. The books that we publish honor the traditions and intellectual authenticity exemplified by writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert E. Howard, G.K. Chesterton, and Hermann Hesse. We are consciously providing an alternative to readers who increasingly feel alienated from the nihilistic, dogmatic science fiction and fantasy being published today. We seek nothing less than a Campbellian revolution in genre literature. (Link: http://www.castaliahouse.com/)
Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949, is the award-winning SF magazine which is the original publisher of SF classics like Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, and Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. Each double-sized bimonthly issue offers:
compelling short fiction by writers such as David Gerrold., Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Bisson and many others;
the science fiction field’s most respected and outspoken opinions on Books, Films and Science;
humor from our cartoonists and writers. (Link: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/)
I couldn’t find a specific self description at Tor.com (there probably is one; I just didn’t find it). But suffice it to say it is a top-tier publisher of novellas, novelettes and short stories, among other things. (Link: http://www.tor.com/)
Happy sorting and choosing. If you have any tips, or if you’ve read one or more of the nominated stories and have an opinion about it, please share.