Economies of Force, by Seth Dickinson.
I wrote an entire blog post about why this story is amazing and pushing the cutting edge of SF forward, so this is obviously my favorite. How do we react when we become the component parts of a super-human agent?
Kumara, by Seth Dickinson.
I really like Seth Dickinson. A beautiful post-singularity transhumanist story. And murderous too.
Kenneth: A User’s Manual, by Sam J. Miller
A heart-tearing story of desire and super-stimulus. “When it comes to beauty, we are insatiable. Art does not make us feel better. Love songs and Virtual Kenneths and Rembrandts only feed the fire that consumes us.”
Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Strange Horizons does a great job with fiction starring non-neuro-typicals, IMO. Last year’s Difference of Opinion (by Meda Kahn) with an autistic protagonist was fantastic, I posted about it then. This year’s Never the Same has extremely good characterization of what are commonly termed “psychopaths” (or “sociopaths”). The storyline itself isn’t as good as Difference, but the characterization is just so strong and delightful to read I have to include it. It’s about morality and hypocrisy.
“Empathy wasn’t as simple as a mango. That’s why I needed my rules. I should have hugged her, not tried to reason with her. But the therapists wouldn’t accept that I was never going to understand. It wasn’t enough to follow the rules. They wouldn’t be happy until I could feel the rules.”
Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon
I’m not sure what exactly to say here. The stories of shape-shifter-animal brides… what would they be a metaphor for, if you thought about for a while? Yeah. Ursula Vernon thought about it for a while, and then wrote a story that is about strength of character in a broken world, rather than the simple moralizing it could have been. Powerful.
EDIT: I originally hadn’t included the following, as it wasn’t publically available – it was a bonus story given for those who’d contributed to the Women Destroy SF Kickstarter. I was just informed that Lightspeed did make it available to all in December! So now I add:
They Tell Me There Will Be No Pain, by Rachel Acks
As story of warfare in the future, where killing is done at a distance with layers of drones between you and your target. I want to say foremost that this is a very strong story, with good exploration of drone warfare and its cultural impacts. It’s also hit a very personal note for me, because my brother came back from Afghanistan with very bad PTSD, and I saw him in every word and action of this story’s protagonist. It hurt to read.
Unfortunately that makes six stories, and I only get five nominations. I’ll have to think on who to cut. :(
I first heard Thirty-Six Interrogatories Propounded by the Human-Powered Plasma Bomb in the Moments Before Her Imminent Detonation on Toasted Cake in 2014, but it looks like it was published in 2013, so I guess I can’t nominate it. That makes me sad.
The Study of Anglophysics, by Scott Alexander
An amazing story of scientific discovery in a universe that runs on different physics. Also of obsession and arrogance. And anagrams. Lovecraftian overtones, but with a ton of humor. Seriously, this story has everything! :)
The Colonel, by Peter Watts
It is Peter Watts’s brilliance compressed into short form. If you liked Echopraxia and/or Blindsight, you’ll likely like this. Awesome exploration of neat ideas, as the human race stumbles towards making itself obsolete.
The Metropolitan Man, by Alexander Wales
A story of Superman, as it would be written by someone who took Superman’s powers and ethics seriously, and wanted Lex Luthor to actually be a viable threat. Told from the POV of Lex Luthor. I love good villain stories, and this is a particularly good one. I eagerly anticipate Alexander Wales first original-universe work, which I hear he’s working on now!
Echopraxia, by Peter Watts
The book HP Lovecraft would write if he was writing today. I loved it so much I posted about it twice. It is horror, so be warned, but it’s not gory. And it is extremely intelligent.
No Lasting Burial, by Stant Litore
Again, I had to write a full post about it. A retelling of the gospel story of the calling of Simon Peter, James, and John; with zombies. It’s good. If my childhood church had half of Litore’s understanding of the forgiveness message of Jesus, and even a fraction of his ability to convey it, maybe I would still be some flavor of Christian today.
BTW, if you’re interested in Rationalist Fiction, please note that my first selection in each of these categories would count as Rationalist IMHO.
Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
The Study of Anglophysics, by Scott Alexander
It’s available in audio! :)
MLP – Pinkie Apple Pie. My Little Pony seriously needs a Hugo nod already, I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten one yet. While this may not have been the best episode of 2014, it holds a special place in my heart because it was so damn heart-warming, and a ton of fun. Good times, adventure, humor, and friendship. Everything I want in an episode. Plus a lot of Pinkie Pie! :)
Welcome to Night Vale – A Story About Them. I can’t imagine this show won’t get Hugo recognition this year, it seems to have gained enough critical mass to finally come into everyone’s awareness. A Story About Them was my favorite from last year. I’m a sucker for good structure-play. :) And the story well exceeded WtNV’s quota of weird, and creepy. Great times.
EDIT: I completely forgot about graphic novels! I’m nominating Rat Queens Vol 1, which is a delightful romp; and Pretty Deadly Vol 1, which I haven’t actually finished reading yet but which so far has blown me away with it’s density, and the story it is promising.