My thoughts on the nominated novelettes:
The Lady Astronaut Of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal is a very touching story about lost possible futures, whether the futures we give up for others or the possible futures of science fiction that we no longer believe in. It’s written very much in the style of something that would have been published in Galaxy in the late 50s, but that’s part of the point.
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang may be the best-written of anything I’ve read thus far from the Hugo Packet, but it leaves something of a bad taste in my mouth. The story compares lifelogging, data-mining software that stores every event that ever happens to someone in searchable form with the introduction of writing to a tribe that has previously had only an oral culture. While the story does do the “it has good points and bad points” thing, on the whole it ends up coming down on the side of the software, and so for someone as concerned with privacy issues as I am, it felt like reading propaganda from the enemy. Beautifully written, well argued enemy propaganda, but all the more insidious for that.
“The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard For whatever reason, I just kept bouncing off this one. I’d start reading it but glaze over. I thought at first it was the formatting — the epub, unlike most of them, was in the horribly ugly “standard manuscript format” (Courier font, underlining for emphasis) which I find almost unreadable, but even reading the version online I can’t honestly tell you anything that happened in it two minutes after finishing reading it (though this time I’ve got a bad headache, which won’t help). I don’t know whether it’s the genre (I’m not a space opera person), something about me, or what, but it just doesn’t sit right in my brain.
“The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (no online copy) is one of the “Sad Puppy” slate, and reads like a Heinlein juvenile, except nowhere near as good. It’s the near future and the space race has begun again except between the US and the evil Chinee hordes, and the US space programme is now run by the military instead of those soft civilians at NASA, and we follow two officers, a man called “Chopper” and a woman called “Chesty” as… zzz…
Opera Vita Aeterna by “Vox Day” is available to read online, but I’m not going to give that vicious little troll any more publicity than he’s already had. It’s a piss-poor excuse for a story, by an “author” who clearly wants to show off his knowledge of Catholic theology and liturgical Latin, but who just proves he knows nothing of either. It would be bottom on its own (lack of) merits, even if Beale wasn’t a viciously racist troll who advocates violence against women and defends rape.