As is often the case, the novelette nominees strike me as the best of the short fiction Hugo categories. All five of the stories are very good, and I find three of them particularly strong.
The two I would rate a half-notch below the others are Dark Integers by Greg Egan, which is a sequel to Luminous and to my tastes too much of a retread of the earlier story, and Finisterra by David Moles, which has some terrific SFnal scenery but does not come together quite as well as the top stories in this category.
I only wish the remaining three novelettes could all tie and share the Hugo, for they are all award-caliber tales. Two of the stories are rather similar, The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang and The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairytale of Economics by Daniel Abraham, both of which have the feel of fantasy but are so rigorously developed as arguably to qualify as science fiction. Ted Chiang has long been noted as an author who writes very well even if he does not write very much; meanwhile, with his terrific series The Long Price Quartert, Daniel Abraham has emerged as one of the best fantasists in the business. Both tales make for thought-provoking reading, and even if you have a sense where the stories are going it is great fun watching these two outstanding authors get there.
It is a close call, but my favorite of the novelette nominees is Glory by Greg Egan. This is far-future hard SF as only Egan can do it, combining interesting hard science speculations, including a method of interstellar travel I’ve never seen before in the first two pages, with thought-provoking human issues. After several years away from the field, Glory is a wonderful return to form for Greg Egan.
1. Greg Egan – Glory
2. Ted Chiang – The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate
3. Daniel Abraham – The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairytale of Economics
4. David Moles – Finisterra
5. Greg Egan – Dark Integers