Hugo Awards 2011: Best Novelette

The Best Novelette category is one of the oldest Hugo Award categories, being around since 1955. Novelettes are defined as stories of between 7,500 and 17,500 words. The novelette is good length for science fiction and fantasy stories. An author can explore a single idea without a lot of clutter.

Best Novelette Nominations (382 ballots cast)
(The titles in bold are the ones I nominated.)

43 “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (11.26%)
31 “The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (8.12%)
29 “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen Steele (7.59%)
28 “Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (7.33%)
26 “That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (6.81%)
24 “A Jar of Goodwill” by Tobias S. Buckell (6.28%)
24 “The Naturalist” by Maureen McHugh (6.28%)
23 “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” by Diana Peterfreund (6.02%)
22 “Pupa” by David D. Levine (5.76%)
22 “The Fool Jobs” by Joe Abercrombie (5.76%)
20 “Anne-droid of Green Gables” by Lezli Robyn (5.24%)
19 “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman (4.97%)
18 “Map of Seventeen” by Christopher Barzak (4.71%)
17 “Sleepover” by Alastair Reynolds (4.45%)
16 “Seven Years From Home” by Naomi Novik (4.19%)
16 “Stone Wall Truth” by Caroline M. Yoachim (4.19%)
15 “Flying in the Face of God” by Nina Allan (3.93%)
14 “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica (3.66%)
14 “Torhec the Sculptor” by Tanith Lee (3.66%)
13 “Amor Vincit Omnia” by K. J. Parker (3.4%)
13 “In the Stacks (Swords and Dark Magic)” by Scott Lynch (3.4%)
12 “Helping Them Take the Old Man Down” by William Preston (3.14%)
12 “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss (3.14%)
12 “The Precedent” by Sean McMullen (3.14%)

Best Novelette Final Ballot Results
(1469 ballots)
(Final ballots are counted using the instant-runoff method.)

My Ranking


Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5


“The Emperor of Mars” (WINNER)







“Eight Miles”







“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made”






“Plus or Minus”





“The Jaguar House, in Shadow”



No Award


No Award Tests
• 1078 ballots ranked “The Emperor of Mars” greater than No Award; 123 ballots ranked No Award greater than “The Emperor of Mars” – PASS
• ((1469 – 57) / 2100) * 100 = 67% – PASS

The remaining places were then calculated to be:
2nd Place – “Eight Miles”
3rd Place – “Plus or Minus”
4th Place – “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made”
5th Place – “The Jaguar House, in Shadow”


The nominations were very evenly distributed. “The Emperor of Mars” took a significant lead in the final balloting. It’s a poignant character study that makes reference to many classic science fiction Mars stories, with a clear and satisfying ending. The Nebula Award winner was “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made.”


“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
An English balloonist in 1840 is hired by a millionaire to take him and a mysterious “werefox” woman to high altitudes in hopes that the woman will regain her senses at the low pressure. An imaginative and exciting story of exploration.

                                                                      “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
A troubled worker at a Mars base finds solace in the science fiction stories about Mars of the 20th Century. An interesting examination of mental illness and how the literature of imagination could help restore someone’s sanity.

“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
In an alternate history where China colonized North America, a special operations soldier attempts to rescue her incarcerated teammate. Nice use of flashbacks to set up the story, but it reads like a chapter in a longer work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
A maintenance crew on an interplanetary cargo ship find themselves short on oxygen and must make some hard decisions to survive. A well described tale of teamwork and survival among blue collar workers.

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)
A Mormon missionary at a solar research station has his faith tested by an ancient race of alien beings. An interesting discussion of the role of religion in the development of human and alien thinking.


One response to “Hugo Awards 2011: Best Novelette

  1. Eight Miles and The Things were my top picks too.

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