Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Hugo votes 2013, part 2, novellettes

There was no clear winner in the novelette category. None of the stories was really exceptionally good, but neither any of them was really bad, in fact they were at least moderately good. Only two of the stories were science fiction and one of them only barely so. As I much prefer sf to fantasy that was a slight letdown. The first story I read was Heuvelt’s piece. I was pretty sure that I would eventually like something more than that, but I will probably put it to the first place.

“In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire

A fantasy story about women, who are able to turn seals by wearing a magic robe which is inherited from an older family member. A group of teenager is anxiously waiting for their own turn. One of them makes friends with a strange woman who first only visit when it is time for the ceremony where someone gets her robe. Later they become more than friends. A very bittersweet love story. Pretty good writing, but didn’t really get into the mood of the story.

“Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente
The story happens in an alternative world where Japan retaliated the nuclear attacks by nuclear bombardment of Seattle and other west coast US cities. The war is being fought against Japan and Russia on American soil. A significant degree of people has become infertile due to radiation, and there is a shortage of men as they needed on the battle lines. Meanwhile the life is following a rigid "American lifestyle" with father, mother and kids in a nuclear family. The father takes care of several families, though on alternative weeks. A very good story which is partly told as a memo of a propaganda commercial. The lifestyle which is being imitated is a fifties lifestyle, which isn't entirely logical if war had stretched out from what really happened.

“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
A boy who doesn’t cast a shadow befriends a boy who is made of glass and is extremely fragile. The glass boy has lived a sheltered life as the slightest hit might shatter him, but he has a dream of seeing an ocean. Together they escape from home and travel through half Europe to the coast of Portugal. The story has nothing to do with science fiction, more with magical realism and allegory. Nice writing, but somewhat too short.

“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan
Most of the humans who live around Jupiter have changed themselves to look like crustaceans. A girl who has still been “two legged” decides to “go for sushi”, in other word turn herself to the sea animal look. There are several discussions and considerations before that, and there are some ulterior motives for some actions on some characters. A lot of back story for a story of this length. Enjoyable tale, but not the best possible.

“Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire
The story happens apparently in the same fantasy universe as “In Sea-Salt Tears” by the same author. This time the protagonists are cats who can turn to humans. The main hero is the prince of the cat kingdom who enjoys watching theatre in the middle age London. His overbearing father summons him and has a task for him. The prince learns something which could change everything. A well-written story which was one of my favorites.

My voting order will most likely be:
1. “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
2. “Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire
3. “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan
4. “Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente
5. “In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire

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