“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher, 2018
Best Short Story Nomination
“But far beyond the merriment and the music and the trapped mortals, there was a campfire, and around it sat a half-dozen men, and a great bull selkie, and a horse the color of night.”
Not what I expected from Kingfisher, but fun nonetheless. Cute and quick. You know those tales where the fae men are luring away the human women and breaking their hearts…?
Three and a half flowers, rounding up.
“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bollander
Best Short Story Nomination
Think Ursula Vernon crossed with someone a bit darker and bloody (although she’s gone there herself lately). It’s a modern and welcome riff on a fairy tale, told as a story to a listening youngster, one presumes
“Humans are very soft and spook easily. One brush with fangs in the dark and they bruise like dropped peaches, never understanding that life is a series of extinction events barely avoided.”
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow
Best Short Story nomination and winner
A Southern boy who needs escape meets a middle-aged librarian. A very interesting intersection of books, librarians, economics, and life.
“Because I am a librarian of the second sort, I almost always know what kind of book a person wants. It’s like a very particular smell rising off them which is instantly recognizable as Murder mystery or Political biography or Something kind of trashy but ultimately life-affirming, preferably with lesbians.”
I love the mix of humor and sadness here. Harrow also has some lovely worth-smithing.
“His caseworker was one of those people who say the word “escapism” as if it’s a moral failing, a regrettable hobby, a mental-health diagnosis. As if escape is not, in itself, one of the highest order of magics they’ll ever see in their miserable mortal lives, right up there with true love and prophetic dreams and fireflies blinking in synchrony on a June evening.”
And, of course, a character I can relate to. I also appreciate the cultural nods.
“I’m not a natural rule-follower. I roll through stop signs, I swear in public, I lie on online personality tests so I get the answers I want (Hermione, Arya Stark, Jo March). But I’m a very good librarian of either kind, and good librarians follow the rules. Even when they don’t want to.”
Easily my favorite of all the nominees. Five solid stars.
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark
Best Short Story nomination
My least favorite Clark. This one did not work as well for me, consisting as it did of nine little short-short stories about each of George Washington’s teeth originating from various Negro people who were slaves. The slaves aren’t necessarily connected, except that they end up in George’s mouth. At the end of each is a cute little semi-epilogue where <spoiler>the tooth continues to represent some of the traits of it’s original person</spoiler>. I wanted more inter-connectivity between the stories, or failing that, longer stories about each person. Doesn’t <i>quite</i> transcend to the concept that even in death, these nine people didn’t have ownership of their own bodies. Hopefully it will intrigue people new to Clark enough to give him a try.
“STET,” by Sarah Gailey
Highly underwhelming. It seems like a “clever” idea to someone who is a writer that got completely out of hand. I suspect nomination because Gailey’s name is popular at the moment, but this was truly close to unreadable. I wonder how audio readers faired?