For Want of a Nail

Rated 4.80/5 based on 5 reviews
This is the 2011 Hugo award-winning short story, "For Want of a Nail" with some bonus content. Read the author's notes, along with the original first draft which has a completely different plot. More

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About Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010) which is a current finalist for Nebula Awards. In 2008 she received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She was a 2009 Hugo nominee for her story “Evil Robot Monkey” and a 2011 Hugo nominee for her short story “For Want of a Nail.” Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies as well as her short story collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories from Subterranean Press.

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She also records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi.

She is the Vice President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Mary lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and a dozen manual typewriters.

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Review by: Margo H on June 9, 2018 :
I’ve wanted to read this story forever… finally it fell into queue! It was a bit slow and vague in some places but still, I was able to follow along. Basically it was about family and keeping their history alive on what I gathered was a generational spaceship. I didn’t like the brother much in the story, I found him to be a spoiled bully.

A note from the author indicated from what I gathered, this was the end result of a previous draft; which is also included in the eBook. At first I wasn’t going to read that portion, but I’m glad I did. Now “this” story, I have to admit was far more interesting than the adaptation! It had action and suspense, which made the story move faster and it was far more exciting! The general concept was the same, but I feel the author should have stuck with the first draft and fleshed it out more. Still both were very nicely done.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
Review by: Thomas Buehner on Feb. 2, 2013 :
Reading the published version of the story was very satisfying alone, but enabling the reader to peek into the story's writing history was a brilliant idea. I am looking forward to read more from Mary Kowal.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Review by: Conrad Wong on Nov. 9, 2011 :
I'll have to look for more of the author's work, I enjoyed the depiction of the AI and her 'wrangler' but I felt the story was a little frustratingly brief so we didn't get to explore much of the universe! As a story, it works well, setting up a dilemma that seems simple at the outset, then grows more complex.
(reviewed 33 days after purchase)
Review by: Clyde Wisham on Oct. 12, 2011 :
Quite a good short story. What do you do when you are on a generation ship and an important AI goes awry?
(One accomplishment -- this story has convinced me to read more by Mary Robinette Kowal.)
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)
Review by: Kim Hunter on June 1, 2011 :
Actually this is really two short stories the first story (the child) is the finished product while the second story is the parent. Frankly I enjoyed both and thought it was a real bargain a sort of two for one.
It was an easy read, but I think I just wanted to know a bit more about some of the side characters motivation and perhaps a snippet background on why the characters were in space and a bit more about the ship and the social structure within the ship.
But for its length it did cover all the bases (but I must admit I did love the action in the parent story).
Great buy for $.99
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
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