Monday, May 25, 2015

My Hugo award votes 2015 part 1 – Novelettes

This is the first category where I have read all nominees. I am going to read all nominees of all fiction categories even if it might be hard - at least those two John C Wright stories I have already read, seem to be quite “interesting” and I am not exactly looking forward to reading the other nominees. All expect one of the nominees got their nomination from the “puppy lists”, lists which were designed by Americanocentric people from religious far right, who believe that recent nominees have been too diverse (and apparently far too well written, at least it seems so). And a mystic alliance of “social justice warriors” has been scheming to rob the valiant writers of “real” science fiction from well-deserved nominations. Those claims are pretty ridiculous as there have been several nominees and even winners which represent very well such science fiction they claim has been neglected. But those books were written by women - or worst of all, by John Scalzi, who writes mostly exactly the type of fiction the “dog lovers” claim has been neglected. But he happens to be a liberal and that is apparently one of the worst crimes there possibly can be. There is some evidence, that the more lunatic slate, the “rabid dogs”, which was organized by the openly racist Vox Day got its’ votes from the supporters of “gamergate” scandal – that is from those people, who have rotten their brains by playing too much computer games. The nominees of that list seem to be mostly pretty horrible, at least those I have read so far. In this category, there was only one nominee, which didn’t originate those slates – and that wasn’t very good. It is hard to understand how those sad wankers selected these stories for their lists. There were several from Analog (which actually _has_ been neglected in the nominations even in my opinion) – but they were nowhere among the best novelettes published last in the Analog magazine. None of them was even in the top two in the reader poll of that magazine. If either of those two stories (Life Flight by Brad R. Torgersen and Persephone Descending by Derek Künsken)– incidentally I nominated both of them for Hugos– were on the list, I would have put them above the “no award”. Due to bad or at best insignificant writing, I will vote “no award” for the first place in this category.

“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)

The only story in the category which is not from either of the puppy lists. Unfortunately, it isn’t too good, either. A man has broken with his girlfriend and the world turns upside down. Literally. People who were unfortunate enough to be outside are falling up to the sky, fishes which jump up out from the water are trapped on air a fall upwards (the water itself doesn’t fall down strangely enough). The man starts a journey with his girlfriend’s fish to find his former love. A very metaphoric story, so implausible that it is laughable and with extremely irritating characters. In normal year, this would have a solid contender of fourth or fifth place.

“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
Humans have lived on an alien planet, but alien have come and conquered the colony. They control the level of technology humans can use. The aliens have a severe hang-up about any ditches or anything buried. A human dies and the burial causes some "slight" consternation among the aliens, so much that the trying to decide between exterminating the humans of abandoning the planet. A pretty stupid story. Takes its time to get going and then ends very suddenly. The writing felt clumsy and hard to get into and the ending was ridiculous.

“Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
A group of aliens live on a moon of Uranus. They apparently tried to invade the Earth, but were defeated. The remnants live on the moon in a kind of reservation. They have had some accidents which are being investigated. They might also have some hidden agenda. And there might also be something even more secret going on. A part of a series and feels fairly separate as itself, but the story ends with a cliffhanger. I haven’t been a great fan of this series and I don’t love this instalment, either, but perfectly ok story. As a part of series, the story isn’t a really good nominee to begin with.

“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)

A group of some sort of “space cadets” take part in a bar room fight. As a punishment, they must join a mission to a planet with apparently intelligent life, which has so far resisted all attempts of communication. Most life forms, especially the plants on the planet are extremely dangerous. One of the cadets claims that he will succeed at something dozens of scientists have failed: he is going to open the communications. Very much reminiscent of Heinlein’s juveniles - not as well and entertainingly written, but not too bad. Not great or unusual in any way, but readable in spite of somewhat irritating characters. In normal year a solid contender of third or fourth place.

“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)

Continues an earlier story. A pair of friends are drafted to an army which fights against green-skinned men. The story apparently happens on a planet which was colonized by humans centuries ago and some high-tech relics might still be around somewhere. For most part the technology is medieval, but the green-skinned ones seem to have muskets and primitive cannons. Little happens in the story. The bulk of the tale is taken by a very detailed description of battle, which at places seems almost like a transcript of a war game which is interspaced with light humorous banter. The writing is pretty good, but again: where is the plot? As a part of series, the story isn’t a really good nominee to begin with and it doesn’t work very well alone.

My voting will be:

1. No award
2. “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
3. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
4. “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May 2005

A nice issue with interesting stories.

Footsteps • novelette by Shane Tourtellotte
A dead man is found on the lunar surface. He wears ordinary clothes and he is far too far from any airlocks for a quick suicidal dash. And there are marks on the ground of any vehicle which might have dropped the body. Was it a murder? And if it was, how in hell it was accomplished? A pretty good detective story on moon. The main characters were strangely fascinated and even obsessive about fame. ***½
Death As a Way of Life • [Jack Sawyer's Doppelganger] • novelette by Grey Rollins
A detective who has a few copies of himself running secretly on computer networks studies a case where a man a killed himself in a TV show was not reviewed in a clone body as expected. It was first written down as a machine malfunction, but it turns out there was something else going on. A fairly standard detective story - not great literature but entertaining. ***+
The Inn at Mount Either • shortstory by James Van Pelt
A husband loses his wife in a mystical inn which seems to span several dimensions. He tries to find her, but he is lost more and more. A decent story but stupid characters: wouldn’t the visitors know where there going – even the most basic details? And some extremely badly planned safety features. ***+
Tainted • shortstory by Jerry Oltion
A single intelligent and immortal creature evolves on a planet where life is very different. He/she/it slowly explores the galaxy and fails to find other life until he finds Earth – which is destroyed by a nuclear war fought centuries or millennia ago. A nice bittersweet story. ***+
Tomorrow's Strawberries • shortstory by Richard A. Lovett
In a future earth, the entire surface of the planet is covered by a city – except a largish park. The right to visit is only by lottery. An old man (who body is in pretty good condition due to advanced medicine) gets the privilege. It affects him profoundly. A pretty good and well-written story. ***½
Smiling Vermin • [Jessie and Gus] • shortstory by Ekaterina Sedia and David Bartell
A retired genetic engineer decides to design some small pet dolphins for his wife as a present. Everything doesn’t go well…A light story, but unbelievably indifferent attitude to the spread of new and unpredictable life forms by people who surely should know better. ***+
High Moon • novelette by Joe Schembrie
Remote drones are used for prospecting palladium in moon. The drone operators for a society modeled (very closely ) on the wild west. An Evil Drone run by a Palladium Consortium is a bad guy. A stupid story. It might have worked better with less ridiculous western motives or going even more to the direction of crazy farce. I wonder why the prospectors didn't record the evil works of the evil drone. As they worked using remote viewing it should have been totally trivial. This way they would have had concrete evidence against the consortium – but then there would have been no story. ***+

Friday, May 1, 2015

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2015

The thousandth issue of Analog/Astounding ever. A pretty nice one. The theme seems to be aliens and alien influence. There are a few essays about the history of the magazine. The most of those were very good and interesting.

The Wormhole War • novelette by Richard A. Lovett
A wormhole experiment leads to apparent war against aliens (or perhaps against the whole galaxy) where humans are sending wormholes at relativistic speeds to prevent the alien wormholes reaching the earth. Ok story, but a little overlong. And it is hard to believe that the political leaders and different countries would be so unanimously for the continuing battle when the goals of the aliens aren't known and even the war itself is somewhat open to interpretation. ***+
Very Long Conversations • shortstory by Gwendolyn Clare
A joint expedition of humans and aliens explore a new planet which is supposed to be uninhabited. They find strange stick figures. Are they being pranked by some other members of the expedition or what is going on? A pretty simple and short story - a pretty inventive concept of language though. ***
The Kroc War • shortstory by Ted Reynolds and William F. Wu
Short personal viewpoints of soldiers, who fight at war between humans and ruthless aliens. But war changes those who take part on it. Too short pieces and about too many people. **
Strategies for Optimizing Your Mobile Advertising • shortstory by Brenta Blevins
A short and fairly stupid story about an age where advertising rules everything, including relations. **+
The Odds • shortstory by Ron Collins
Not a story – just a philosophical pondering about the likelihood of life in the universe. **
The Empathy Vaccine • shortstory by Charles Coleman Finlay [as by C. C. Finlay ]
A ruthless businessman wants to be really ruthless and goes for an undercover scientist, who has developed a "vaccine" against empathy. Not bad, with a couple of nice twists. Short, but doesn’t necessarily need to be any longer. ***½
Three Bodies at Mitanni • shortstory by Seth Dickinson
A story which seems to continue an earlier one. An expedition is checking human colonies which have been separated from Earth for centuries. If the colony might present danger for humanity as large, the expedition has been to exterminate it. There has been a close call, and now the next colony seems to be very malignant and powerful at the same time. A fairly nice story, but constant references to earlier events to something, what happened at “Jotunheim” with no real explanation feels kind of irritating. But the “culture” they encountered was refreshingly interesting and there were some real interesting moral points to ponder. ***+
Ships in the Night • shortstory by Jay Werkheiser
A spaceman, who travel with ships at relativistic speeds between solar systems, tell tall tales to locals at a bar. A simple story, not bad, but not especially good. ***
The Audience • novelette by Sean McMullen
A human ship encounters some very strange but powerful aliens who live under the ice which covers a rogue planet which passing fairly close to the sun at about Kuipier belt. The aliens seem to take an interest to humans with pretty unfortunate results for most of the crew. The lone survivor takes drastic measures to protect the earth from possibly devastating alien interest. A pretty good and interesting story. ****-