Saturday, June 9, 2012
My Hugo votes 2012, part 1: Short stories
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick
A man is tending his wife who has a fairly advanced Alzheimer’s. Their son has moved years earlier to an alien planet and looks alien in appearance. The parents have cut all ties with him. The son comes to visit his parents as a surprise. There are eventually some bonding with the father and son. A well written story without any real surprises. This story could well have been written as a straight” story concerning for example homosexualismn.
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu
The mother of a half-Chinese young man used to make paper origami which were alive. She was a mail-order bride and spoke English poorly, and the origami was the way she tried to connect with her teenage son. The son rejects his Chinese heritage and eventually his also mother. Later he believes that the moving paper animals were only a figment of his imagination. Later, after the mother has died from cancer he finds a box containing her legacy. A wonderful, well written and heartbreaking story.
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda
An autistic girl has a sort of temporal disconnect. Her parents ponder whether she should get a treatment which often – not always – work. She has a lot of trouble connecting with her family, but is able to see the beauty of small things. A well written beautiful story, but it is slightly simplistic.
“The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi
An April fool’s joke from last year. A “prologue” of a new fantasy trilogy which plays on all the clichés of fantasy and bad writing. Starts with sentence “It was dark and stormy night”, which has been stretched to cover a few paragraphs. It must be hard to write so badly while writing so well and funnily at the same time. Just a joke, but a good one.
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
A fairy tale style story of wasps who created maps of their surroundings to the structure of their nests and bees they enslaved. A nice allegorical story about tyrannism and freedom which is well written, but eventualy there really doesn’t seem to be a good point for the story.
This year all stories were very good and I wouldn’t have any problems with any of these stories winning the award. The overall quality was better than in years. It was pretty hard put these stories in order, but I enjoyed most Ken Liu’s story. I was somewhat ambivalent about Scalzi’s story as it was “just” a joke, but it was a really fun joke as that. I am really looking forward to his Star Trek parody novel, Redshirts. The least satisfying stories were Fulda’s and Yu’s stories. But in another year, they might well have been contenders for the first place.
My voting order will be:
1. “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu
2. “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi
3. “The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick
4. “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
5. “Movement” by Nancy Fulda