Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Hugo Reads - Novellettes

Almost done! This is my last fiction category, and another dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies nominees. However, this was one category where a Puppy nominee beat the field (for me). Of course, most of the field was Puppy nominees, so it's not exactly triumphing over the forces of liberal mediocrity forced upon us by the Great Tor Conspiracy*.To be fair, I'm pretty tired of short fiction, especially the crop that's in the list. So most of these probably deserve an extra half-star from me. But that's what they get for waiting until the last 2 days for me to finish them**.

Once again, in the order listed on the Hugos website:

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium, Gray Rinehart - 3.5 of 5 A short look at a human colony that's been overthrown by some late-arriving reptiles. A quick, easy read, fun with a nice sense of closure. The characters were very familiar, but it all worked for me.

Championship B’tok, Edward M. Lerner - 1 of 5 This one has promise -- interesting worldbuilding, but the characters are flat and it's blatantly only the start of the story -- clearly the first chunk of a novel, not a novellette. Had it been the same quality but an actual full story, I'd have rated it a few points higher (probably my second favorite of the 5 until I reached the end and said, "wait, that's it?!?). I'll probably read the full-length version, but this one was a sample, not a complete story.

The Day the World Turned Upside Down, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator - 1.5 of 5 This was just too on the nose, too cute. After a man is dumped by his girlfriend, the entire world... turns upside down. Get it? I liked the author's/translator's prose, but i couldn't get past the annoying elephant/metaphor in the room. I might read more by him, but this was not my cuppa.

The Journeyman: In the Stone House, Michael F. Flynn - 1.5 of 5 Another story that is part of a larger tale, this one stands basically alone. Still, it's not my bag; it's an odd mix of cultural archetypes -- Plains indians (with South Asian names), Arthurian lords, and a crashed spaceship with a working AI. A lot going on, but the pidgin English got old fast. The sword fighting was well-done, but I needed more.

The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale, Rajnar Vajra - 2 of 5 Not a bad idea (and some cool ideas about the applications of the ability to control inertia), but the resolution fails to live up to the buildup. Adding in that 2 of the 3 characters were flat and fairly stock, and I have to pass.

Final Ballot:
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium
The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale
The Day the World Turned Upside Down
Championship B’tok
The Journeyman: In the Stone House

* I am joking here. The Puppies claim that Tor (Books or Dot Com, I'm not sure which) has a conspiracy of mindless drones that are driving the awards. Given Tor's record the last few years (single digit noms, 3 or fewer wins), it's an odd claim. Especially when the Sad Puppies have 51 of their 60 noms on the list and Rabid Puppies have 58 of 67, with only 12 from either or both list not making it -- and only 24 not on either list. Counts from File 770. (linked without permission, but will remove if asked!)
** OK, fine, that was my fault.

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