Ah, joy of joys - here's a Peter Watts story, set in his Sunflowers universe (he is apparently working on a novel set in it. For Christmas, pretty please? )
This is the same universe in which the Hugo-Award-winning Novelette The Island was set in, and actually follows the same wormhole-building ship/asteroid and its dysfunctional crew and AI. Giants is both highly entertaining, and thought-provoking, and managed to surprise me repeatedly, so good going in my books! The story was originally published in Clarkesworld magazine.
But whilst I'm still waiting to get my mitts on Hotshot, his other story set in that universe (as the novel, I suspect, will take a few Christmases to arrive) - Hotshot has been published in a collection called Reach For Infinity - this here at least allow us to whet our appetite...
Schrödinger’s Gun is the story of a Detective, investigating a murder in the mob scene, in a prohibition-era Chicago. So far so default as a setting - but here, the Detective is female (unusual for the time, and even more so for the genre), and has a 'Heisen Implant' in her head, which allows here to see different probabilities, and choose to collapse the quantum waveform if she chooses to - a trick which can greatly help with her work, but which has also torn apart her family. And yes, this places the story deep in SF territory, of course.
My favourite quote was "The cat must know" (yes, this is reference to the cat from Schrödinger's thought experiment). Which, AFAIK, is not true - the cat does not know if the observer is alive or dead, which means he is both?
Either way, this is very much worth reading, in my opinion. Illustration on the right by Richie Pope.
For reasons mainly to do with my brain, and what's current in it, I'd like to point you to Peter Watts' story Malak. Malak is a drone. More so, it's an autonomous drone, and is being trained (there seem to be software upgrades, and neural networks, and general tinkering in play) to make its own 'moral' decisions. All in the name of removing slow, fallible, guilt-stricken, hesitating humans out of the equation. Because it's so much easier to have machines make our dirty decision for us, never mind do the dirty work...
The drone here is called Azrael (after the angel of death...), and we experience the story through its 'eyes'.
I'm not gonna spoil your enjoyment of the story by giving away more. If you know Peter Watts then you know that what he shows is realistic, rarely very edifying (especially when humans are involved) and mirrors the complexities of the real world.
The picture on the right is of a drone called Azrael (I don't know if that's inspired by this story, or a parallel development), built in Lego, and posted on Flicker by a user called [MIXBRIX]. Recommended soundtrack to reading this: Drones, by Muse. Obviously.
You might have gathered that this year's Hugo Awards have, to put it mildly, a bit of a problem. If not:
Two related groups, calling themselves Sad/Rabid Puppies, respectively, created nomination slates of what they felt should be on the final shortlist (predominantly right-wing, white, male et al) and animated a good number of people to stuff the nomination ballots with these slates. With the results that a good amount of the shortlist now indeed comprises of these artificially elevated entries.
The hubbub surrounding this is not edifying - go read about it at your own peril, regardless what your thinking is in regards to what should be considered 'Good Science Fiction' (it's a question of taste, I suspect).
But here is The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - the only entry in the Novelette category which was NOT nominated by slate voting - and, given the backlash against said tactics this might well mean that the awards will equate 'only' with 'best' and will thus award Heuvelt a Hugo Award for it.
I would suggest you have a read yourself, and make up your own mind if this story, published in Lightspeed Magazine in April 2014, can be considered the best short story of the year (that one is a question of taste, too!).
To launch this they have posted a little taster, called St. Dymphna’s School For Poison Girls. It is, to some extent, a school and schoolgirl story, albeit with a twist. St Dymphna's is a finishing school - for girls who plan to kill their future husband, and potentially more of his family, in the name of revenge, of family honour, or any other societal reason.
But, as you might have guessed, there's more to the school than simply preparing girls to kill proficiently!
The story in illustrated with pen and ink drawings by Kathleen Jennings - the picture to the right is an example.
It's an entertaining read, and a good recommendation for the book, methinks!