The Builders is another novella nominated for a Hugo this year. Not available free, but I donated my copy to the local library.
The author refers to The Builders as a "one-joke" story. I think that is pretty much the case--and since I have not read anything else by Daniel Polansky, I am not sure I can judge his writing by this story. Not that it's bad.
The story centers on the Captain and his group of hard-bitten mercenaries, back for another try at a failed conquest. The characters are set as animals--more than one of the reviews supplied by the publisher in the paperback version make comparisons to Watership Down, but I do not see the connection. Think of it more as a sort of parody of The Seven Samurai, except that there is no justice in their quest, it's pretty much about revenge.
The writing is very much over the top--the characters are caricatures. It's fun to read because the irony is right on point--heavy and dark, just enough so to keep the story from being just silly. Those caricatures, in fact, drive the story--the plot is somewhat secondary, and bears almost no describing without being spoiled.
I enjoyed this little tale, though given the theme of this blog I didn't like paying for it. But if you can find it at your local library or even bookstore, take a couple of hours (with a coffee if you're at the bookstore) and give it a read. 3 stars.