The Hugo packet is delayed, apparently for the committee to decide about the legality of providing copies of some of the finalists. Until it’s distributed, I’ll have to make do with what I can find in the library. That means I’ll be skipping around. This work is a finalist in the Best Novella category, published by Tachyon.

Scur is a conscripted soldier in an interstellar war. As the war ends, she is captured by a group of renegades and tortured. She wakes later from sleep storage in a prison ship that has gotten lost in time somehow. It has arrived at its destination, but the passengers find their interstellar civilization has fallen after a visit from unfathomable aliens. This means the crew, war criminals and miscellaneous passengers on the ship are the last of humanity to hold a store of history and technology. However, the ship’s memory is failing. Can they overcome their differences and find a way to lift humanity out of the new dark age?

Reynolds tells a pretty good tale here, with an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It’s about pulling together and overcoming differences, even old grudges, to solve problems and deal with a crisis. However, the plot seems a little simplistic. The work is also low on imagery, description and characterization. I only know what two of the men look like, and ended up with no idea what Scur looks like at all. There’s very little description of the ship, and I can’t figure out how the gravity system is working while it’s parked in orbit. Is it spinning? Hm. Three stars.