Everybody else(1) seems to be doing these (and is very wrong in them, except when they are right), so I thought I'd do them too. Let's start with the uncontroversial (2) category.

1) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
I enjoy SF that explores the consequences of a single change (whether scientific or magical), rather than the mechanics of it happening. It is a little strange that people seem to have adapted to the magic lie-detecting water, but the way that they have adapted, and the way that plays out in a beautifully characterised story made this the easy choice for my number one slot. The prose is also exceptional: It's transparent and seems effortless in a way that only both skill and effort can manage.
2) “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
Is it SF? Maybe. Does it have an impact, yes, I think so. It reads almost like one of those books (Guess How Much I Love You, for example) for children, with a repeating pattern, only then it isn't.
3) “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
I kind of get this, and it's nicely written, but I ended up rather wondering what the whole point was. Sometimes, short stories are perfectly formed units, the bonsai trees of the fiction world, and sometimes they feel like someone's just hacked at a tree that wants to be larger (2). This felt the latter - it wants to be a longer, deeper, story, and is short-changed by the short length.
4) “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
This ended up feeling like arbitrary appropriation. It's not overtly evil, but it's just not very good in any single way.

Overall, I don't think this is the strongest field ever produced in the Short Story category, and I felt, as a whole, it was lacking in punch, wit and vigour. On the plus side, whatever ballot-manipulation was going on in the other categories doesn't seem to have landed here.


(1) Read: Some other people.
(2) Possibly "unexciting"
(3) What do you mean, "not very good at metaphors".
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