Friday, July 22, 2011

My Hugo award votes 2011 part 3: Novelettes

“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen
A steampunk story from Analog? Is this a first? A balloonist gets an interesting offer from a nobleman in 19th century Britain. The nobleman has found a strange woman, who is very lethargic and passive, and clearly is not a human. He assumes that she comes from the highlands of Tibet, and uses the balloon to get higher up to thinner air.
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone
A Mormon missionary is working to convert aliens who live on the sun and are made from plasma. He has made some converts, but then a one of them has bad conscience about a sexual act. 
A well written and good story, in spite of having a totally despicable main protagonist, who is trying to brainwash aliens to totally alien (to them) ideology. That point isn’t really discussed in the story; apparently the author doesn’t recognize the ethical problems. Personally, I think that all missionary work has some very racist connotations: OUR religion is so much better than YOUR religion.
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele
A bride of a man who works in a Mars colony dies in a car accident on earth. He soon starts to believe that he is the emperor of Mars and all classic sf about mars is true. Excellent and entertaining story.
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard
I read this story earlier when it was published in Asimov's. i didn't get it them. Now I tried to reread it, but I got it even less. Some sort of intrigue told in reverse cronological order in some sort of alternative world where the great indian kingdoms of middle and south America weren't destroyed.
Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly
A youngster who has been genetically modified for interstelar travel ( she is able to go hibernation) has more or less run away home and is working on some sort of space freighter. They have an acident, and inevitable conclusion happens. Well written but very ordinary and predictable story. I wonder why this was nominated?

Most of the nominees in this category were competent and even enjoyable, and I really liked of “The Emperor of Mars” and ”Eight Miles”. They were both competent and good stories, and it was fairly hard to decide which of them is the better one. I might well change their order before the final voting. The worst two were also easy to find; in both cases I really don't understand why they were even nominated. I didn't really hate either one, so I am not going put them below the ”no award”.

1. “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele
2. “Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen
3. “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone
4. “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly
5. “The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard

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