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This year, I have flung myself into the Hugo awards as never before, partially because of things being slow enough at work that I really needed things to read online, and partially because of the encouragement of [livejournal.com profile] trinsf and the other Fanzine Loungers. So far, I've read not only all of the Best Novel nominees (my comments on some of them here), but also the nominees for Best Novella. I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should continue this project of trying to read the Hugos, because I just seem to have different taste than a lot of other fen. I do want to be a charmingly robust drinking companion, but I only liked two of the five novellas. And I wasn't even screamingly into the two that I did like. My thoughts, for what they're worth...



The Erdmann Nexus by Nancy Kress


This was one of the two that I liked. I very much enjoyed Nancy Kress' novel Beggars in Spain and, while this novella wasn't anywhere near as good as that novel, it was still very good. It's a story about aliens coming to Earth, but it's also about humanity, old age and domestic violence. It has a lot of heart.

The Political Prisoner by Charles Coleman Finlay


Now, I do not necessarily mind bleak settings and depressing stories. I love dystopian novels. I loved Terminator. I am very fond of Perdido Street Station. But this story, my god, it's so bleak, I really couldn't stand it. Honestly, I often have trouble with spy stories as they tend to be deliberately confusing -- you're not supposed to know who's on which side until the end, and I often have trouble following the action. This is compounded by the fact that I was raised by generations of pacifists who abhorred violence, such that I never developed a taste for it and thus tend to zone out during fight and war scenes. If you're into spy stuff, you might like this one, but I found it pretty ugly.

The Tear by Ian McDonald


I am an Ian McDonald fan. I think he's a brilliant writer. His ability to capture setting, in particular, is utterly amazing. But I didn't like this story at all! What the hell was going on? Who the hell was whom? Characters kept changing names, and aspects. Maybe if I'd read it straight through, I could have followed it, but reading it in little snippets here and there at work, I couldn't keep it together. It just wasn't enjoyable. I guess it's sort of a coming-of-age tale, but if you want to read Ian McDonald, read Brasyl or River of Gods instead, for god's sake.

True Names by Cory Doctorow


Now, I love Cory Doctorow as much as you do. I really do. I'm going to vote for Little Brother for Best Novel, even though I thought Anathem was a better book, because Neil gets a lot of recognition and Cory just doesn't get enough. But this story? What the hell was he thinking? It was even less coherent than The Tear. Again, possibly, if I'd read it straight through, I could have followed the action, but in the piecemeal fashion in which I read it, I couldn't come close. Worst of all, the damn thing has no section or chapter breaks. It's written like John Ford's Growing Up Weightless! This miserable, deplorable style should have been forgotten back in 1994! Better yet, it should never have been invented! I think Cory's story's supposed to make some point about how we all are one, but I can't be entirely sure. Really, Cory, I know you can do better than this!

Truth by Robert Reed


This is the other one that's actually worth reading. The fact that I liked this one is further proof that I don't automatically object to bleak settings. It's hard to get more bleak than an underground prison following a nuclear holocaust. I love time travel stories, and this is a very good one. It's a story about interrogation, and interactions between interrogator and prisoner. It's difficult to say much about it without giving away spoilers, but the tale is intriguing, and I liked it even though I usually find this kind of stuff vile and distasteful. I'm going to vote for this one.



Things are picking up at work (fortunately!), so I'm beginning to doubt I'll have time to read the Novelettes before the voting deadline. I probably have a reasonable chance of getting through the Short Stories, however, so I am going to focus on those next.

Date: 2009-06-08 07:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trinsf.livejournal.com
Wow, I appreciate the shout out! I want to say that in turn, I'm trying to be more engaged and involved in the Hugo process because of the encouragement of [livejournal.com profile] kevin_standlee. Kevin would probably remind us both that the Hugo process starts with reading so that we can *nominate* intelligently. If we leave the nominating to others, then we're stuck voting on what they like, not what we love. So, this year I'm trying to actually vote intelligently, but my goal in the coming years is to be able to nominate. :-)

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