Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Hugo award votes 2015 part 3 – Novellas

All nominees in the novella category originated from the puppy lists –most of them from the rapid puppies list. The stories were even worse than in the other categories. I wonder what kind of mindset you must have, if you really think these represent the best writing of the year. Three stories by John C. Wright? Really? I do understand something about what the puppy organizers claim they are trying to say, but by nominating these stinkers they lose all possible credibility. (The paranoid drivel about social justice warrior conspiracy doesn’t really give a picture of most stable psyches, either).The question isn’t about stories. It is about sad little men who can’t face that the world is changing. There is no question how my voting will go in this category. I would be hugely surprised if the award goes to somewhere else than “no award”. Of course, it is possible that the gamergate idiots have bought the election…let’s hope it isn’t so.

“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)

The story starts as a sort of supernatural thriller. A detective has been murdered and his ghost has been waked up. His wife wishes that he should reveal his murderer and rule out the suicide in order to release the insurance compensation. (I wonder how the suicide is even suspected as apparently the victim was shot several times). He then meets temptations before finally he gets an atonement. The first few chapters offered some promise – the writing was slightly clumsy, but the premise as itself seemed interesting. Alas, the story went from below average to mediocre and eventually to ridiculously bad. The writing was clumsy, there were sentences like this: “Sly had come across the dead body of a man who had — let’s be frank with this now — I rode him pretty hard some times.”. What does that even mean? The plot went from allegorical to pounding heavy-handed religion with a sledgehammer. What we learn from this story: a freethinker is about same thing as a devil worshipper. One of the worst things I have read.

One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
A sort of continuation of the Narnia books by C.S Lewis. A group of children has had adventures in a magical and as a child and they have brought back a few magical items, like a sword, a book and a shard of magical mirror. One member of the group encounters the magic cat, who used to help them in the fantasy land. Then he tries to find the other children, but one of them has turned to a devil worshipper, one has died and one has grown old prematurely and is pretty disillusioned and passive. And then there are some battles against evil and some pretty confusing scene changes. And the characters give each other’s extremely pompous expository long speeches about what they encountered and what they did in childhood. Most of the story was very clumsy and overwrought writing. What we learn from this story: You should blindly follow your [religious] leader and you’ll get to be a Christ figure in another world. Another of the worst things I have ever read.

Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
A rip off of the Bolo series by Keith Laumer. A have read only a few of those, but there were much more interesting than this story. An intelligent tank has been badly damaged. It is being dismantled for scrap and that opens new connections to the brain of the tank and it remembers past missions and experiences which have been restricted from the active memory. They consist mainly from more or less bloody battles and very detailed descriptions of the turrets of tanks and so on. The writer sure seems to love his guns! On the other hand, his knowledge of physics is really badly lacking. In one place, he describes antimatter mines which are able to harm the tanks described in the story through the thinner armor plating at the bottom. As 50 grams of antimatter corresponds an explosive power worth of 150 Hiroshima bombs it will undoubtedly slightly harm the armor. Or vaporizes everything within a few dozen meters. The writing is fairly clumsy, worse than Laumer’s, but vastly better than Wright’s. What we learn from this story: pacifists should be hanged at the nearest lamppost. And feminists are badly disturbed people who push worlds to civil war just because they want to be as good as men.

“Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
Continues an earlier story, which happens apparently on a post-apocalyptic earth or on another planet. A man who earlier sold ice goes to visit a larger city with a slightly higher level of civilization. The story consists mainly from sightseeing and how the “hero” is trying to find things to steal. There is practically no actual plot at all. The world as itself is fairly interesting, but a good story should be some kind of real plot going on. Little happens here other than descriptions of the world. I didn’t like the first installment and I didn’t like this one. Compared with the other nominees the writing is vastly superior, though.

“The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

A private detective of sorts works at a town which detached from time and is ruled by some sort of time masters who are able to do almost anything. The pretty confused and convoluted plot involves Helen of Troy/Marilyn Monroe and a version (or versions) of apparent John Kennedy. People are trying to kill former versions of themselves and battle against some sort robotic law enforcers. The setting itself is pretty interesting, but the story is badly overlong and rambling. This was perhaps the best of the Wright stories – which isn’t saying much. With some drastic cuts there just might be a tolerable story here somewhere. What we learn from this story: rapists should make amends for women they rape – they should at least be ready to marry those women.

My voting:
1. No award


Anonymous said...

I strongly recommend voting for the stories below No Award. In no event can doing so cause a story to win if no award otherwise would, and can avert worse in favour of bad.

Also, there's a t missing in "With drastic cuts [t]here may be a..."

tpi said...

I will think about positions below No Award when I'll vote.
Thank you for spotting the spelling mistake, as non-native English speaker errors are bound to happen.