It talks about a society coming out of a (civil) war, about what people do during such a time, even if not directly involved, and what his means you have to live with afterwards, when times and the situation have changed, when you're older, and when your aims and desires have evolved.
Haunting, fascinating, and nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award (which is for stories published in 2014, and will be awarded in 2015).
This story, and the Hugo Awards, have a bit of a history, with the story being first nominated in 2012, then disallowed for being an Audio-only book; subsequently published as written words in 2013, and thus eligible for the ballot again this year. And deservedly winning it.
Elma was the first human on Mars, in the 50s, known to all and sundry as the Lady Astronaut of Mars. Now, approaching her dotage (and living on Mars) she is offered the opportunity she wasn't daring to hope for anymore, but kept dreaming of: to go back into space, back to the stars. But going means leaving her terminally ill, beloved husband behind...
I won't spoil more of the story, the above is more than enough already. This is exceedingly well written - it is engaging, thought provoking, and ever so slightly twee and soppy. Just enough to make it feel comfortable, as someone pointed out. Indeed.
You can read the whole story, including some more on the convoluted background and publication history over at Tor.com.
This is a Sheason story, set in a culture which follows a path of pain, and more relevant, suffering; all in the name of finding themselves, and keep themselves grounded in reality and the world. By bringing a stranger, foreign to their ways, into their midst it talks about being human, about how new thoughts can fit in with old and established ones, and about bitter lessons that need to be learned.
It also comes with a gorgeous illustration by Tommy Arnold - click through to the story to see it in all its glory.
To continue the thread of pointing at Hugo-nominated stories which will be up for your vote in August (and no, I have not and will not be able to read all nominated works, as much as I'd like to).
Here we have a short story by Sofia Samatar, called Selkie Stories Are for Losers. It is, as you will very quickly notice, a Selkie story, told not by the Selkie or its lover, as is frequently the case, but by the abandoned child. Who is a young woman, now, and with no little hang-ups about her past and origin.
This is a story which not just deserves, but actually requires multiple readings. At first it appears inconsequential, and rather whiny in tone (that's also due to the age of the protagonist, I reckon); and only going back to it actually showed me the layers, the skilful construction, and the emotional impact which is upon first reading withheld. Maybe 'not a word out of place' is overstating the case. Maybe...