Monday, July 8, 2013
My Hugo votes 2013, part 1, novellas
The novella category was the first I have finished this year. The quality of stories was fairly nice for the most part, but not exceptional and there was only one story which I considered to be really good and well worth of the award. The order of the other stories wasn’t very easy to determine (except for the last place) as most of them were at least moderately good but had all some clear faults. None was so bad that I would use the “no award” category, though.
“The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)
A scientist finds from stars something which shakes the official doctrine of an alternative earth (or a colony planet which has been named as earth and a nearby planet has been named as "Mars". He tries to announce his findings at a scientific conference, but he is apprehended before he has a chance to do that. And there are pirates in airships, some plotting and so on. There are some good parts, but the background has somewhat unclear and the narrative was fragmentary. A readable story. But not my favorite.
The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
A wizard has been imprisoned by an empire which despises magic and even publicly denies it really works even if they use some forms of it commonly. She faces execution, but she is given a vast task: she should rebuild the personality of the emperor who barely has survived an assassination attempt. The attempt left his mind empty. By carefully studying the life of the emperor the magician might be able to succeed in that task. An excellent story with a very fascinating and interesting method of magic: By studying the material, object or people understanding them truly it is possible to rewrite their history and change them, eq. make a worn table to turn to a fine and beautiful antique piece. When the magician learns about the emperor she also leans to understand him better than anyone ever.
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
A rucksack group of survivors of a major catastrophe which has rendered earth uninhabitable is kidnapping children from the present time with some sort of time machine which has been provided by strange creatures – possibly aliens or robots. A pregnant policewoman is studying the kidnappings which happen in partly predictable temporal and geographical pattern. At the same time, strange mutations are apparently spontaneously springing up in plant at different places of the world. A pretty good story, which was slightly overlong. The writing was interesting and engaging. Pity about the ending, though, it was far too deus ex machine - practically a literal deus ex machine - for me, not mention being overtly preachy.
On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
The story is a part of a series where China was the most dominant nation and future spacefaring civilization follows very strict rules concerning ancestors, propriety and customs. The ancestors are not only highly revered, the carried around as some sort of brain implants which are highly valued. An apparent refugee from a planet with some rebel action has come to a space station where some distant relatives live. She isn’t exactly welcomed, but she gets a place to stay. She is a relative, after all. Then there are some plotting, intrigues and poems which were horribly offensive for some reason. The story doesn’t really work alone without knowing more about the background of the world. The writing was pretty slow to read and didn’t manage to make me care about any of the characters at all – they could all have died horrible deaths without me caring even the slightest. And I really am not interested in knowing more about that horrible nepotic and tyrannical world, if the main plot between the stories isn’t about how the rebels will completely destroy the current system of “government” and custom. Somehow I think that the series won’t be about that, but I certainly am rooting for the rebels.
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)
A novella which is a part of author’s zombie series. Tells the story how the zombies took over the San Diego Comic Con and slaughtered thousands of genre fans. Moderately entertaining and better than the books from the series, but seem to be written for the self-gratification of the fandom telling how valiantly different fan groups fought against the horde of zombies. The writing was ok and the story was better than the novels from the series, but Hugo worthy – perhaps not.
My votes will be in this order:
1. The Emperor’s Soul
2. The Stars Do Not Lie
3. After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall
4. San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats
5. On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard