Novelette is one of those categories that seem largely unnecessary to me: too long for a short story, too short for a novella, what’s the point here other than length? Can anybody really tell the difference between a short story and a novelette or at the other end, between it and a novella? Better split this category up between the other two and be done with it.
However, since it still exists, let’s take a look at the candidates:
“The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
- “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
“Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
- “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
- “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
The two entries I struck through I won’t judge, as I explained before, leaving three candidates. Below I’ve listed them in the order I’ll vote for them.
“The Waiting Stars” — Aliette de Bodard
An excellent slice of Banksian space opera, a story of love, family and two incompatible views of the world.
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” — Mary Robinette Kowal
A retired astronaut on Mars, in an alternative history where an asteroid landing on Washington DC in the early fifties meant a much strong space programme, is asked to go on one last mission to a newly discovered extrasolar planet, but it would meaning leaving her husband behind to die, as he only has a year left to live. This is an unabashedly emotionally manipulative story, in that the dilemma at the heart of it does not make sense — why not wait a year if she’s the only one who can undertake the mission, why insist on her having to go right now– but the truth at the core of it, of watching a loved one, a husband, in the final stages of a terminal disease with all that entails, that truth is real.
“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” — Ted Chiang
A story in which Chiang draws parallels between the introduction of literacy in a tribal society and the near future takeup of almost perfect lifelogging and recall software. Not entirely convincing.
All three stories are good in their own right, but the Aliette de Bodard story stands out head and shoulders for me. I definately need to read more of her.