Short Story Round-up: 2019 Hugos

“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

The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat

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 Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies

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 the tooth continues to represent some of the traits of it’s original person. I wanted more inter-connectivity between the stories, or failing that, longer stories about each person. Doesn’t quite 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?

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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9 Responses to Short Story Round-up: 2019 Hugos

  1. gehmeyr says:

    Last year’s been a big reading slump for me. So, I’ve read none of those.

    • thebookgator says:

      I’ve done a LOT better with novellas, novelettes and short stories, I think because they are more amenable to reading in one sitting. Life demands interruption, and I hate losing story flow.

  2. pdtillman says:

    “Nine Negro Teeth” is gone again @ GR . Imagine that!

  3. pdtillman says:

    Good thing you saved your copy! I think I said a few words at the (GR approved™) magazine issue page…. Oh, alright:
    Same rating & (substantially) same reaction. Great minds think alike?

  4. pdtillman says:

    Of course, WhoTH is going to find this without Googling for it? A thought that (app.) makes no nevermind to the anti-short activistas @ GR! Perhaps it’s a Super Librarian like this?
    “I was standing in line the other day at the local grocery story behind a
    small boy, his mother, and a rather LARGE woman. The LARGE woman’s
    beeper went off. The child reacted by saying, “Look out mom, she’s going
    to back up!” [Dilbert newsletter]

    • thebookgator says:

      Confused, Mr. Tillman. I suspect, like short films, short stories are the forgotten orphans of the literary world. The short answer is that they don’t care, and there’s not enough money to make them do otherwise.

      • pdtillman says:

        Ayup. Sigh.
        Really a pity for SF/F, as short-form is at the heart of both (ovelapping) genres.

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