Read the 2009 Hugo Award Winners for Free!
250 million speculative, fantastical, and surreal stories get written in this world every year. Sometimes these stories happen completely by accident, tossed off in the middle of the night by some sweaty teenager without thought, direction, development, or characters. Sometimes the stories appear in the inboxes of timid computer scientists as messages from the awakening internet: emergent narrative phenomena of the cyber "cloud."

Weird tales are occasionally the products of drug-induced automatic writing experiments; sometimes they are what ride on the last stale exhalations of corpses whose chests are split open for autopsies on the slab. SF&S stories are traded as currency in some social circles, used to purchase baser goods such as food, sex, beer, and lodging. SF&S stories have been found in locked chests on sunken Nazi u-boats, their dates and themes perfectly contemporary for reasons that are impossible to explain. The swirling energies that surround the creation of these tales can bend space, time, and possibility -- provoking madness, elation, and profound transcendence. Sometimes these stories are written by famous literary mandarins working under pseudonyms to make a quick buck. For years, everyone thought Robert Heinlein was real. It was only years after he died that scholars realized he was really Gertrude Stein, sober and typing with her left hand.

Anyway, since these stories spontaneously generate like maggots breed on bread under a bell jar, it is damned important to sort the good ones from the bad. Here are 2009's best arealistic fiction stories according to this year's Hugo Awards. Read 'em for free here!


Best Novella: "The Erdmann Nexus," by Nancy Kress (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2008)

A ninety-year old physicist and his assisted living cohort begin to experience strange psychic phenomena as a result of an approaching spacecraft that is testing humanity for spiritual weakness.

Note to Kress: an old Russian ballerina would go by Chernova; not Chernov. I'm just saying.

Best Novellette: "Shoggoths in Bloom," by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov's Mar 2008)

Between the Great Wars, a natural scientist (and the grandson of a Buffalo Soldier) finds out all about shoggoths: where they come from, where they go, how come they live forever, and what they secretly want. Lovecraft desegregated!

Best Short Story: "Exhalation," by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)

Here's the first coupla paragraphs:

"It has long been said that air (which others call argon) is the source of life. This is not in fact the case, and I engrave these words to describe how I came to understand the true source of life and, as a corollary, the means by which life will one day end.

"For most of history, the proposition that we drew life from air was so obvious that there was no need to assert it. Every day we consume two lungs heavy with air; every day we remove the empty ones from our chest and replace them with full ones. If a person is careless and lets his air level run too low, he feels the heaviness of his limbs and the growing need for replenishment. It is exceedingly rare that a person is unable to get at least one replacement lung before his installed pair runs empty; on those unfortunate occasions where this has happened -- when a person is trapped and unable to move, with no one nearby to assist him -- he dies within seconds of his air running out."

What is going on! Keep readin' to find out!

Best Novel: "The Graveyard Book," by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins)

Actually, you can't read this one here for free. I could probably dig up a torrent from somewhere and hook you up, but I'm not going to aid nor abet your goddamn criminal heart. Gaiman's got bills, ya'll! Dude's got to pay back the DEVIL!

Posted by miracle on Tue, 11 Aug 2009 15:45:36 -0400 -- permanent link

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