Hugos Challenge 2012: Short Stories

And onto the short stories!  Like the novelettes, I’m going to make these short and sweet.

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu

Another author who I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  I need to start reading more short stories again, or at least making a rule to read the Year’s Best anthologies and not just let them gather dust on my shelf.  This one just blew me away – it’s absolutely like nothing else I’ve ever read before.  Amazing.

“The Homecoming”, Mike Resnick

This one wins for making me cry.  I think that makes it a contender pretty much on the basis of this.  Clearly, I am a reader who is motivated by emotion (in case no one has figured that out before), and if you make me feel something, especially in a short story, you’re damn well doing something right.

“Movement”, Nancy Fulda

And another one that made me cry.  I don’t even have the words for how damn beautiful and heartbreaking and hopemaking this story is, all at one time.

“The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu 

And another one that produced tears, dammit.  I’d actually been meaning to read this one for ages and ages, since Jonathan Strahan talked it up on the Coode Street Podcast.  I even bought the hard copy of F&SF it was published in, and then it kind of got lost on my shelves.  I think I need to search out all of Liu’s fiction and mainline it for a while.  And probably cry a hell of a lot.  I am so glad that I got a supporting membership and the Hugo Packet, for nothing else than for making me read some of the authors that I’ve been meaning to read.

“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, John Scalzi 

This is one that just isn’t for me, I think.  It’s well written and it’s clever and it deserves to be on the ballot, but I think against some of the emotional gut punches of the other stories, it fades a bit.

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I feel like the short story ballot is as strong as, if not stronger, than the novellas (which is saying something).  And I honestly don’t know where my vote is going to lie here.  I think maybe The Paper Menagerie, but I’m really not sure.  I see some rereading before I cast my vote here.

Hugos Challenge 2012: Novelettes

And the Hugos reading continues!  I suspect that I’m only going to be blogging the novelettes and short stories, and not the other categories so much, due to other things needing my attention.  I may be able to find the time for other categories, but we’ll see.

And so, the novelettes.  I found this category to not be as strong generally as the novellas (but hell, just look at that novella lineup!).  These are going to be short and sweet, just my general thoughts about these novelettes.

“The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell 

I think this one just wasn’t for me.  There was nothing bad about it, nothing that I can point a finger to and say why, but it just didn’t grab me on any level.

“Fields of Gold”, Rachel Swirsky

This was one of my favourite stories out of Eclipse Four (which is saying quite a lot, since that anthology was amazing.  I’m becoming a massive fan of Swirsky’s work in general – I love her writing style and I seem to invariably find that the stories she tells resonate with me.  This one is no different.

“Ray of Light”, Brad R. Torgersen

I don’t know what it is with my brain and this story – I keep on forgetting what the hell it was about, then I open it up and remember and then wonder why on earth I didn’t remember.  Maybe it’s the title?  Anyway, I adored this story, through and through.  Not too crazy about the aliens in it, but they’re hardly the centre of the story.  I love the idea of people trying to survive by living in the remaining heat at the bottom of the ocean.  I love the hope that remains, no matter what.  Definitely in contention for me.

“Six Months, Three Days”, Charlie Jane Anders

This one was really interesting – I love the way Anders plays around with how life would be if you could see the future (and see the future in different ways).  But beyond the concept, it didn’t really grab me – I didn’t find myself empathising much with the characters, and I don’t really know why.  I need to read it a few more times and ponder on it a bit.

“What We Found”, Geoff Ryman

This is another one that I need to reread, I think.  There was nothing bad about this, and it damn well deserves to be nominated, but something about it just didn’t resonate for me.  Definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, though.  Just maybe not for me?  I’m not sure.

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For me, my voting is likely to lean towards Fields of Gold or Ray of Light.  I’m honestly not sure where I’m going to go on this one, and I’ll have to do some rereading.

Hugos Challenge 2012: Embassytown

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

This was another reread for me, and one that I happily undertook.  I love Mieville’s work in general, though none of his novels yet have really resonated enough with me that I can count them amongst my ultimate favourites.  Embassytown comes pretty damn close.

This was easier on a reread, mostly because I was more familiar with the world and its setup.  On first read, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the world and its complexities (which probably says more for the fact that I tend to read too damn quickly than anything else).

I love so much about this.  I could go on for a very long time about how awesome Language is, and the Ariekei.  I love the idea of the Ambassadors in general (though they do remind me in some ways of the Paratwa from Christopher Hinz’s books, which are woefully underrread IMHO).

This is actually pretty close to being an excellent book for me, apart from a couple of things.  Avice as protagonist I found quite frustrating – she just seems to be there as a cipher for the plot to revolve around a lot of the time, and I actually found her actions fairly unbelievable near the end of the book. The ending of the book in general feels a bit all over the place to me, anyway – things seem to wrap up too quickly and it all just feels a little messy, even on a second read through.

Hugos Challenge 2012: Deadline by Mira Grant

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn’t seem as fun when you’ve lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

 

 

 

I could pretty much summarise my reaction to Deadline thusly: Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant broke my brain.

I originally read Feed, the first book in the trilogy, a while back.  And for reasons that I can’t pinpoint, I could not for the life of me get into it.  I found Georgia as POV character really irritating, I didn’t like everything being explained time and time again.  I was actually pretty hesitant to keep on reading the second book, but I decided to give it a go.  And because I am weird, I went back and reread Feed first.

And I don’t know what my brain was doing the first time, because on reread, I found Georgia engaging, I loved the humour and I’m just generally kind of in awe of the worldbuilding.  I love that I ended up caring so much about the characters, almost at times to the point where I didn’t care about the zombies.

Going onto book two, I found myself just caring more and more.  I was worried about how Grant would continue the series after the events of the first book, but she’s done so admirably.  Some of the new characters are amazing and fascinating, and I am amazed by how much their voices all differ.  This one does get heavier on the science behind the zombie outbreak, but I never found that it detracted much from the enjoyment of the reading.

And the ending…without spoiling anything, the ending is what broke my brain.  I should have seen it coming, but I absolutely didn’t.  I cannot wait for the third book, which is currently in transit to me.

Hugos Challenge 2012: The Novels


Because I clearly don’t have enough to do already, I’ve issued myself a challenge to read through as many of the Hugo-nominated works for this year as I can.  It’s the first year that I’ve purchased a supporting membership so I can vote, and I want to do it properly, dammit.

That pile you see there in the photo includes all of the novels nominated this year.  Of these, I’ve read Among Others and Embassytown already, but will reread them.  The only one that’s going to be problematic is A Dance With Dragons, since I’m only onto book two of the series.  I’ll keep reading my way through, and hopefully I’ll get to Dance before voting is due.

I have a feeling that it’s going to be tough to pick the best one of this bunch.