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After nailing the Hugo in 2004, Analog entered a long dry spell. However, they did continue to receive nominations. In 2005 they got four:

Best Novella:
“Time Ablaze” by Michael A. Burstein [Analog Jun 2004]
In 1904, Adele Weber and her mother take in a man named Lucas Schmidt as a boarder. He claims to be a reporter for the New York World, but when Adele goes to visit him at work, she finds he doesn’t work at any New York City newspaper. Playing detective in his room, she finds a history of a fire on the steamboat General Slocum that killed over a thousand people. The book was published in 2003. Adele wants to save the people, but Schmidt is only a time traveler there to record. Well-written and heart-breaking.

Best Novelette:
“The Clapping Hands of God” by Michael F. Flynn [Analog Jul/Aug 2004]
Multicultural teams of investigators find a world that seems to be paradise, inhabited by a sapient species. Although the residents are charming, team leader Hassan Maklouf is cautious. When the locals suddenly start to prepare for war, Hassan’s team is caught in the conflict. Diverse, well-written and with strong character development. Also heartbreaking.

Best Short Story:
“Shed Skin” by Robert J. Sawyer [Analog Jan/Feb 2004]
George Rathburn has had his consciousness uploaded to a robot, who now has legal title to all Rathburn’s assets. The “shed skin” is imprisoned in a luxurious institution where he’s unhappy. He takes a doctor hostage, demanding to be let out. The robot version of himself has to decide whether to relinquish his legal position in order to save the doctor’s life. The story raises arguments about racism and civil rights. Mainly focused on the issues, with low literary development.

“Decisions” by Michael A. Burstein [Analog Jan/Feb 2004]
Astronaut Commander Aaron Eliassen is imprisoned on his return to earth, because he has returned a week before the shuttle launch. Escaping from his cell, he returns to his room at the base and finds himself. He takes his own place and goes through the launch and time portal again, this time ending up with aliens who explain they mean to lock the solar system out of the universe because humans are violent. Eliassen pleads for more time, and is returned to his own reality.

What’s notable about the 2005 nominations is the swing away from hard SF to the more dramatic, sentimental work that’s been popular at the Hugos more recently. Only Analog’s short story nominations come across as hard SF, and are more involved with the legal issues of the singularity and how to deal with aliens than either science or the literary elements of the stories. (BTW, isn’t meeting yourself a paradox? Burstein totally fails to deal with it.) The Best Novella and Best Novelette winners in 2004 were both fantasy. Tomorrow, a review of the short story winner.

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