The BSFA booklet containing the short stories and art works listed on the ballot form is handsomely produced. It’s dated 2009 because the awards were for stories published in that year. It’s a pity it didn’t arrive before the deadline but the BSFA has had trouble recently with printers and distributors for their magazines going bust on them. However, it still gave me the chance to catch up on the story which I had not been able to read online.
The Push by Dave Hutchinson
This is a traditional tale, traditionally told. No pyrotechnics, no fuss. Straightforward exposition, twist at the end. The Push of the title is a faster than light drive, improvements in which reduce the time dilation effect of its use but not enough for our narrator, Neil Hanson, not to appear much younger than his contemporaries who have done less travelling.
He has been called back to the planet Reith, which he helped colonise, because a problem has arisen with a local species, called rockers, which has suddenly developed sentience. These creatures also worship him as a god. This second factor is explained but the first, much the most interesting feature of the story to me, is unfortunately left hanging.
The characterisation is fine, you can believe these are real people – except for the newly sentient rockers, who are little more than props.
It’s not my favourite of the contenders but I would have placed it above several of them.
For my comments on the other stories on the ballot see here.