This category is mostly a disaster. Four out of five are Rabid picks of varying degrees of trollishness, and the last is a Sad pick. Whatever, let's do this.
6. "If You Were an Award My Love" by Juan Tabo and S. Harris
The Rabid-Puppy parody of Rachel Swirsky's "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" (which won the Nebula in 2014 and has been a noteworthy lightning rod for Puppy Rage).
Read straight, read as satire, read as comedy, read as whatever, it's tiresome and petulant.
5. "Seven Kill Tiger" by Charles W. Shao
Chinese scientists develop genetic weapons to help them colonize Africa.
This may be the most horrific piece of fiction I have ever read. And this is coming from someone who read and even sorta liked The Atrocity Exhibition. I think it's because I sense no element of commentary here, no reflection. It comes off as simply cold-blooded genocidal racism. One of the characters is described thus: "He might not know how to love, but assuredly, he knew how to hate." Something in the tone of this piece makes me think the author was describing himself there. I suppose having written something that made me feel that strongly is a feat worthy of something resembling respect, but if I was a creative writing professor and received this from a student, I would strongly consider alerting the university counseling center. The worst part of all may be that, as a working biotechnologist, I can see that technology like that described here could be a possibility in the near future. I'd like to believe that no one with the resources to develop and implement it would be crazy enough to do so, but it seems like only a matter of time before another Nazi Germany comes into existence. (And to be clear, this idea, while horrifying, is not original. I've just never seen it presented so… smugly before.)
4. No Award
3. Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle
An astronaut alone in space encounters a space raptor, and, well…
This one is obviously utter trolling on the part of the Rabid Puppies. But at least it's genuinely hilarious when read with the right attitude. And the author himself has been trolling the hell out of Vox Day and crew since the nomination was announced. He even made his own Rabid Puppies website, which you should definitely check out. He deserves our applause. I'm less sure if he deserves the award, but since it would be awesome to see Zoe Quinn accept a Rabid-Puppy-pushed award, I decided to rank this piece above "No Award".
2. "Asymmetrical warfare" by S. R. Algernon
An account from the perspective of a starfish-like alien race invading Earth.
I made a habit of reading Nature Futures every week for much of last year, and I actually read this when it came out. This is literally what I wrote about it in the little reading log I keep: "Well, it wasn't horrible. It rises to the level of cute." So there ya go.
1. "Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer
A search engine gains sentience and attempts to help people who are particularly prolific posters of cat pictures.
This is the only non-Rabid Puppy story to make the final list. It was on the Sad Puppy list, but it was nominated for the Nebula and won the Locus Award, so I guess it's legit. But I wasn't very impressed. I mean, it's nice to see a sentient AI as not evil (though that's more of a movie trope than a book trope- Jane from the Ender books and Peregrine from All the Birds in the Sky come immediately to mind as examples of "good" net-based AI, and I'm sure there are many others), and this was a fun read, but it's ultimately kinda cutesy. It's frustrating that that's the highest praise I can give any of the short story nominees this year. But this will probably win.
- 2016 Hugo picks: Short stories