A male figure wearing a plaid shirt holds his cell phone in front of him, his face obscured

This Hugo-Nominated Story Written in Text Messages Is Devastating

Just read it right now!

One of the (few) really wonderful things about social media is the way it allows writers to get super experimental with their storytelling. Writers can tell amazing stories using tweets, texts, screenshots, and other digital media, making those stories look like artifacts from real conversations. Now, Blue Neustifter’s “Unknown Number,” a science fiction story told through Android text screenshots and posted to Twitter, is a finalist for a 2022 Hugo Award.

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Neustifter originally posted the story in July 2021, using a platform called AndroidFakeTextMessage.com. The story begins with someone named Gaby getting a text from a number she doesn’t recognize. The person sending the texts seems to know an awful lot of stuff about Gaby—stuff that no one else could possibly know.

It quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary text exchange, and what starts off looking like an alarming invasion of privacy gradually becomes a poignant exploration of what it means to be true to yourself and live without regrets. It’s beautifully queer and deeply relatable.

Blue Neustifter, who posts on Twitter as @Azure_Husky and @Azure_Writing, is a non-binary trans writer and game designer. “Unknown Number” is a finalist in the Hugos’ “Best Short Story” category, alongside luminaries like Alix E. Harrow.

The Hugo Awards honor outstanding works of science fiction and are selected from a nomination pool submitted by current and former Worldcon members, who may each nominate up to 5 works from any source. Once all the nominations are in, the six works in each category with the most nominations go on to be finalists, and Worldcon members select the winners by ranking each work in each category. The 2022 Hugos will be announced on September 4, 2022.

Check out the full thread of “Unknown Number” below! And while you’re at it, check out the other 2022 Hugo nominees.

(featured image: Matthew Henry/Burst)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>