2008 Hugo Awards Countdown: The Sites and Blogs Behind the Fiction – Novelettes

Definition: novelette

A story between 7,500 and 17,500 words long.

Nominees for Best Novelette

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A Definition

cam-bist \ ‘kam-bist \

1: a dealer in bills of exchange
2: an expert in foreign exchange
3: a manual giving the moneys, weights, and measures of different countries, with their equivalents


He had a reputation as a man of few needs, tepid passions, and great kindness. The romantic fire that the exotic coins and bills awakened in him was something he would have been hard pressed to share, even had he anyone with whom to share it.

Which is to say there could not be a man in the whole of the city less like Lord Iron.

Hard Copy
Logorrhea, ed. John Klima, BantamSpectra
Electronic Copy
Author Website

Excerpt from entry Report on the Symposium: Plot:

Plot is like “time” and “love” — we all know what the word means until we start looking at it. I was on a plot with Melinda Snodgrass once where we all had to say what we meant by he word plot. Consider these:

– Plot is the literal events that occur in the story
– Plot is the scenes of a story in the order that the reader encounters them (as opposed, say to the characters in the story, which is the action)
– Plot is the sequence in which information is released to the reader — through either action or exposition — that forms the subjective experience of the story

In the end, I think we have the choice between true but imprecise (plot is what happens) and precise, but dodgy (plot is the way in which theme is literalized within the narrative).



O MIGHTY CALIPH AND Commander of the Faithful, I am humbled to be in the splendor of your presence; a man can hope for no greater blessing as long as he lives. The story I have to tell is truly a strange one, and were the entirety to be tattooed at the corner of one’s eye, the marvel of its presentation would not exceed that of the events recounted, for it is a warning to those who would be warned and a lesson to those who would learn.

My name is Fuwaad ibn Abbas, and I was born here in Baghdad, City of Peace. My father was a grain merchant, but for much of my life I have worked as a purveyor of fine fabrics, trading in silk from Damascus and linen from Egypt and scarves from Morocco that are embroidered with gold. I was prosperous, but my heart was troubled, and neither the purchase of luxuries nor the giving of alms was able to soothe it. Now I stand before you without a single dirham in my purse, but I am at peace.

Hard Copy
Subterranean Press
F&SF Sept 2007
Electronic Copy

Dark Integers – Greg Egan


I was stunned. “An isolated cluster? With no derivation leading back to us?”

“None that we could find.”

I thought for a while. “Maybe it was a natural event. A brief surge across the border from the background noise that left a kind of tidal pool behind.”

Sam was dismissive. “The cluster was too big for that. The probability would be vanishingly small.” Numbers came through on the data channel; he was right.

I rubbed my eyelids with my fingertips; I suddenly felt very tired. I’d thought our old nemesis, Industrial Algebra, had given up the chase long ago. They had stopped offering bribes and sending mercenaries to harass me, so I’d assumed they’d finally written off the defect as a hoax or a mirage, and gone back to their core business of helping the world’s military kill and maim people in ever more technologically sophisticated ways.

Hard Copy
Asimov’s Oct/Nov. 2007
Electronic Copy
Author Website

Glory – Greg Egan


The needle was structured like a meticulously crafted firework, and its outer layers ignited first. No external casing could have channeled this blast, but the pattern of tensions woven into the needle’s construction favored one direction for the debris to be expelled. Particles streamed backward; the needle moved forward. The shock of acceleration could not have been borne by anything built from atomic-scale matter, but the pressure bearing down on the core of the needle prolonged its life, delaying the inevitable.

Layer after layer burned itself away, blasting the dwindling remnant forward ever faster. By the time the needle had shrunk to a tenth of its original size it was moving at ninety-eight per cent of light speed; to a bystander this could scarcely have been improved upon, but from the needle’s perspective there was still room to slash its journey’s duration by orders of magnitude.

Hard Copy
The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
Electronic Copy
Author Website
See previous entry.
Finisterra – David Moles


Bianca Nazario stands at the end of the world.

The firmament above is as blue as the summer skies of her childhood, mirrored in the waters of la caldera; but where the skies she remembers were bounded by mountains, here on Sky there is no real horizon, only a line of white cloud. The white line shades into a diffuse grayish fog that, as Bianca looks down, grows progressively murkier, until the sky directly below is thoroughly dark and opaque.

She remembers what Dinh told her about the ways Sky could kill her. With a large enough parachute, Bianca imagines, she could fall for hours, drifting through the layered clouds, before finding her end in heat or pressure or the jaws of some monstrous denizen of the deep air.

If this should go wrong, Bianca cannot imagine a better way to die.

Hard Copy
F&SF Dec. 2007
Electronic Copy
Author Website

Excerpt from entry I Must See This Movie:

I’ve seen Asano in “Gohatto” and “Zatôichi” — he totally stole his scenes in both; just a treat to watch. Probably my favorite chanbara actor since Toshiro Mifune. I’m happy to watch him hack and slash his way across Asia even if I have to watch him do it in the original Russian with German and French subtitles.


Reviews of the Nominees

See Abigail Nussbaum’s thorough review of the Hugo 2008 Novelette Shortlist. I like her reviews, and pretty much agree with her about the novelettes.

(And by the way, she also reviews the short stories and the novellas.)