Over the weekend I made an attempt at all the Hugo nominees for short story. I actually finished two of them. They still weren’t exactly Hugo material, in my opinion, but at least they succeeded at being stories.
In one of the many epic discussion threads over at the File 770 Hugo-related posts (which all have marvelous puppy-themed names like “That Hell-Hound Train” or “Soylent Green is Puppies”) a few people asserted that the Sads-n-Rabids didn’t really seem to like their own fiction slate all that much. They argued for the correctness of their tactics, the strength of their personal honor, and the venality of their critics — but they didn’t try to justify the stories themselves.
This prompted one Sad defender to jump in and claim, with apparent sincerity, that he genuinely liked the story “Turncoat.” He vigorously defended it against a dozen people telling him it was crap, anyway.
This made me curious. Was there something good in there that I had missed? Or something that, if not good, was at least illuminating? Something that would tell me what exactly it is that Sad & Rabid types think is “wrong” with the fiction the rest of us like?
So, instead of giving it a slush pile read (tossed aside at first hint of boredom or irritation) I decided to give it a crit group reading — carefully, making notes along the way, with an eye toward how it might be improved, a presumption of good will, and en effort to suppress my native snark.
My notes (based on text found here: https://steverzasa.wordpress.com/turncoat/ ) follow: