The Best Novella ballot looks somewhat familiar as four out of six finalists are sequels to finalists from previous years.
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells has already won the Locus Award and was a finalist for the Nebula. It’s a sequel to last year’s winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards and Philip K. Dick Award finalist, All Systems Red. The two subsequent novellas from the Murderbot Diaries series were also award finalists: Rogue Protocol for the Locus Award and Exit Strategy for the BSFA Award. Last year Wells was a Hugo finalist in Best Series for The Books of the Raksura as well. Her previous nominations for the Nebula and Locus awards were back in the 1990’s.
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire is also a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. It’s a sequel to 2017’s winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, Every Heart a Doorway, and last year’s finalist for the Hugo and Locus awards, Down Among the Sticks and Bones. McGuire’s October Daye series, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Series in 2017, makes a return appearance this year. Her InCryptid series was one of the finalists last year. She also has two Hugo nominations for Best Novelette and one for Best Related Work. Under her Mira Grant pseudonym, she has four Hugo nominations for Best Novel and two more for Best Novella. She’s won two Hugos for Best Fancast as a co-host of SF Squeecast and received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2010.
Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor is also a finalist for the British Fantasy Award. It’s a sequel to 2016’s winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, Binti, and last year’s finalist for the Hugo and Locus awards, Binti: Home. As a writer for the graphic novel Black Panther: Long Live the King, Okorafor is a finalist in Best Graphic Story this year as well. Last year the second novel in her Akata Witch series, Akata Warrior, was the winner of both the Locus and WSFS (now Lodestar) awards for Best Young Adult Book. She has also won the World Fantasy Award, and her other nominations include the Andre Norton, Clarke, British Fantasy, BSFA, Tiptree, Campbell Memorial, and Sturgeon awards.
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark is also a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Nebula and Locus awards. His short story, “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” is a Hugo finalist, has already won the Nebula and Locus awards, and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award.
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson was also a finalist for the Nebula, Locus, and Sturgeon awards. Robson was previously nominated for the World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2017.
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard is also currently a finalist for the World Fantasy and British Fantasy awards, has already won the Nebula Award, and was a finalist for the Locus Award. It is part of the Universe of Xuya series which is a Hugo finalist for Best Series as well. She has one additional Hugo nomination for Best Novella, three for Best Novelette, and one for Best Short Story. She has received one other Nebula Award, four BSFA Awards, and a Locus Award. Her other nominations include the Tiptree and Sturgeon awards. She was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2009.
Three of the finalists were my own nominees. Beneath the Sugar Skies was another delightful entry in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, and Cora might be my favorite wayward child yet. Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach enthralled me enough with its world building and characterization that I forgave its abrupt ending. Aliette de Bodard did an excellent job combining Holmesian mystery with the space opera of her Xuya Universe in The Tea Master and the Detective.
I had already read two of the remaining three finalists before nominations closed. Since Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Night Masquerade picks up mid-story where Binti: Home left off, I didn’t feel that it stood on its own well enough to consider as a separate novella. The Black God’s Drums very nearly made my ballot, and I hope we see more of the alternate history setting P. Djèlí Clark gave us a glimpse of here. If I had managed to get to Artificial Condition before the deadline, it definitely would have been on my ballot. But I’m not surprised that at least one of Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries made it without needing any help from me.
Here’s how I decided to rank them on my final ballot:
- Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
- Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
- Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
- The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
- The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
- Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
Will Binti, Murderbot, or the Wayward Children take home another Hugo? Will the Xuya Universe add a rocket to its award collection? Or will one of the first-time Hugo finalists win instead? What would you like to see?