So, let's start with the Best Short Story nominations. There are only three nominees this year, due to a rule involving nominees needing to receive at least 5% of the nominating vote.* The nominees are:
- “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard ( Clarkesworld, June 2012)
- “Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
- “Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)
"Mantis Wives", I was expecting to like more than I did, mostly because I really enjoyed Kij Johnson's "Spar", which was a wonderful use of economy of words. Economy of words still applies here, but it's not a story. It's more of a prose poem, a listing of sexual variants employed by Mantis Wives (who normally would practice sexual cannibalism) in order to avoid or prolong said sexual cannibalism. It's a lovely gem of an idea, but doesn't do much with it.
"Mono no Aware" is an interesting tale of a one colony ship that escaped some unknown disaster on Earth, so they represent the last survivors of humanity. The protagonist is the only Japanese native on the ship, thus the lone remainder of Japanese culture. Something goes wrong with the ship, and he volunteers to repair the damage, which he ties to the Go lessons his father gave him as a child. This one is dense with ideas, probably a bit too much for under 5000 words, but I definitely enjoyed it, and wanted to read a longer version of the story.
So, my ranking order would be
- "Mono No Aware"
- "Mantis Wives"
*- Hugo voting math always strikes me as exceedingly complicated. I'm sure it makes sense, but every time I've seen voting-results tables they've made my eyes cross.