This was a very strong category.
The weakest story was probably “The First Samurai”. A cool story about a samurai who kills a mountain monster, but nothing about it marked it out to me as especially memorable. I still liked it, though. More importantly, if you get the Hugo packet you get the ENTIRE Baen book of monsters for free! That’s a great deal.
But my pick? Hmmmm…as much as I love “Parliament of Beasts and Birds” (it’s a great story), I might have to go with “Totaled”. It’s a cool, creepy story about a disembodied brain who works with her former lab partner to create a new invention before her brain degrades completely. My only complaint isn’t really a complaint. I, personally, don’t prefer stories that damned creepy.
I don’t mean that it has a creepy ending or anything. I mean the whole concept of it gives me the shivers. Reading it was uncomfortable. That said, it was also Way Cool.
Ask me tomorrow and I may change my mind.
“Turncoat” and “On a Spiritual Plain” were both good as well. I think “Turncoat” was my least favorite of the two, but only by default – I thought some of it was just a bit ham-fisted, and I don’t like that the title gives away the ending. But it was definitely entertaining, and I recommend it.