Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reading for the Hugo awards, part 3: novelettes

"And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead" by Brooke Bolander: I think I actually tried to read this during the nominating process. It's cyberpunk, so it should be right up my alley, but something about the story just wasn't speaking to me. I pushed myself through it this time. The language gets a lot cooler about 1/3 of the way in, and the ending wraps things up nicely. A very strong story.

"Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu: really cool concept. Story goes unexpected places. Ultimately, I found it really depressing, but that kind of emotional pull means it was a good tale.

"Obits" by Stephen King: it will surprise exactly nobody that Stephen King can write the heck out of a story. This is a nice little creepy tale, with the expected unexpected consequences to having power, and a surprisingly humane ending.

"What Price Humanity?" by David VanDyke (in There Will Be War Volume X): A nice slow burn for the first 3/4 of the story. The foreshadowing was too heavy and the last couple pages were a ridiculous let-down... there was definitely a better way to end this story than just chopping it off like that! I was impressed while I was reading it, but afterward, I realized that I was irresistibly reminded of  "The Cookie Monster" by Vernor Vinge, which did the same concept better and a dozen years ago.

"Flashpoint: Titan" by CHEAH Kai Wai (in There Will Be War Volume X): A huge space battle followed by a huge infodump followed by another huge space battle. There's absolutely no character development. There's more than a whiff of racism: it's Japanese + Americans vs. Chinese, with the latter as the bad guys. There's nothing very new here, either in terms of science or plot.

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