Last night I finished reading The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang and, as usual with Chiang's work, his novella blew me away. Equally amazing is that 2010 has been an excellent year for novella-length fiction, with a number of novellas which will make my short-list for the major awards.
So far my favorites are:
- The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, Subterranean Books
Is it even possible for Ted Chiang to write a less-than-great story? This novella follows the deepening relationships of humans and emergent AIs who were originally created as digital pets. A moving and all-too-possible tale.
- "A History of Terraforming" by Robert Reed, Asimov's July 2010
An epic storytelling feat in which a scientist's life parallels the advances and setbacks of both humanity and terraforming.
- "Becoming One With the Ghosts" by Kathryn Kristine Rusch, Asimov's Oct./Nov. 2010
This is the story of the Ivoire, a space-going battleship which lands at its repair base only to learn things have gone tragically wrong. A fascinating examination of how time makes ghosts of us all.
- "Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance" by Paul Park, F&SF, Jan./Feb. 2010
This offbeat novella is basically a literary memoir which extends its life-exploration into future years. An amazing treat.
- "The Sultan of the Skies" by Geoffrey A. Landis, Asimov's Sept. 2010
A near-perfect hard science fiction story set among the clouds of Venus, and also a touching portrait of obsession and unrequited love.
- "The Union of Soil and Sky" by Gregory Norman Bossert, Asimov's April/May 2010
This tale of alien archeology is Bossert's first genre publication, and it is a fun and well written debut.
In addition to these novellas, there have also been some excellent novelettes which border on being novella length, including "The Crocodiles" by Steven Popkes from F&SF May/June 2010. And from this list it's obvious Asimov's has been the place to go in 2010 for top-notch novellas.
I'm not sure which of these novellas I'd pick as my top choice for next year's Hugo and Nebula Awards, but it's wonderful to have such an amazing set of choices. And the best thing is 2010's not close to being over.