wealhtheow: cartoon of old-timey lady saying, "this debate lacks any sexual intrigue so I am not even paying attention" (sexualintrigue)
The 2014 Hugo Award finalist list is up. 

I haven't read anything from the best novel category. I assume the Wheel of Time series will win, given the decades worth of fans and good will it's built up. 

In the novella category, one is a gaming tie-in, one is apparently trite, and Valente's "Six-Gun Snow White" is apparently a witty and complex adaptation of a fairy tale"Equiod" by Charles Stross charmed me early on with this line "it’s probably safe to tell you that my name’s Bob Howard—at least, for operational purposes; true names have power, and we don’t like to give extradimensional identity thieves the keys to our souls—and I work for a secret government agency known to its inmates as the Laundry."  I expected a wordy, mildly amusing tale, and instead got a creepy (yet still amusing!) mixture of HP Lovecraft and Cold Comfort Farm.  I found “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages frustrating.  It follows several generations of a family living near a spring, from a bookish black girl in the 1930s to her granddaughter, a zoologist in the present day.  In the entire novella, only the last two lines are fantastical. The plot and characters are utterly mundane, and although the first two are well drawn, the last half didn't keep my interest.  I wish the taloned spring creature had been woven in more into the rest of the story, because just having it pop up at the very last moment (and not even interacting with any character, or changing anything) was very dissatisfying.  I hope "Six-Gun Snow White" or "Equiod" win.

The Novellete category has some great stories in it this year. I really loved The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal.  Once an astronaut, an aging woman has to decide whether she'll take one more chance at the stars, or stay with her dying husband for his last few months. The relationships and emotions felt so real and familiar to me, while the crux of the story is one that will resonate.  But I also think The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feelingby Ted Chiang is excellent. It features a writer who first decries the use of a new memory-enhancing technology, then revises his views. It's thoughtful and insightful, both about the uses of technology and the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves.  And then The Waiting Starsby Aliette de Bodard is fascinating. I love the way my understanding of the characters and the empires changed as the story progressed.  Both facets of the story are so richly detailed that I could almost picture it. I don't know that I could vote for just one of these.

I'm also torn about the short story category. I really liked, If You Were a Dinosaur, My Loveby Rachel SwirskyAt first it seems like a flight of fancy, and then turns sadder. Very well written.  The other one I would vote for is Selkie Stories Are for Losersby Sofia Samatar is about those who get left behind by magic.  I loved the main character, a girl who can't let go. I didn't like The Ink Readers of Doi Saketby Thomas Olde Heuvelt, which seemed to try hard for whimsy and non attachment but actually just read like an unbelievable set of random stuff happening to people I didn't care about.  The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu is stilted with a conceit (water appears when people lie, and disappears when they tell unequivocal truths) that isn't really explored; that said, I did like the characters.
wealhtheow: sepia close-up of Medusa (Default)
I wasn't impressed by the nominees for the 2012 Nebula novel award, but the short stories were all great!  They can be found here.  I'd be happy if any of them won, but I think my favorites were “Immersion“ by Aliette de Bodard (cultural imperialism in a galactic setting) and “Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes“ by Tom Crosshill (a man comes to terms with his mother's declining health, and realizes that one's conception of oneself never matches how other people read one).  Leah Cypess's “Nanny’s Day“ feels very emotionally true, although it has more to do with shifting social mores than sf.  Helena Ball's “Robot“ is the super creepy (but also somehow comforting and inspiring) tale of an explorer dealing with old age, being both slowly eaten and sustained by an alien robot.  Cat Rambo's “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain“ presents a world whose inhabitants are made of porcelain; trouble ensues when a member of the tourist bureau falls in love with a human tourist.  “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species“ by Ken Liu is a list of imaginative and fantastical alien methods of conveying information and stories.  The only story I wasn't enthused by was “Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream“ by Maria Dahvana Headley, I think simply because it felt experimental in a dated sort of way.

Overall, a great bunch!

wealhtheow: Garth Meninge under text "I know writers who use subtext, and they're all cowards" (subtext is for cowards)
The Nebula Award Nominees have been posted, and I'm not excited by the novel list.  I thought Throne of the Crescent Moon was boring and clunky.  A lot of other people seemed to find Ironskin unsatisfying, particularly the ending.  And Glamour in Glass is the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, whose first chapter I found so amateurishly written

(sample dialog: "He slashed at the grass with his walking stick and turned to his elder daughter as they walked through the maze comprising the heart of the shrubbery on the south side of the house. “Had you heard that Lady FitzCameron’s nephew is to be stationed in our town?”

“No.” Jane adjusted the shawl about her shoulders. “They must be pleased to see him.”

“Indeed, I believe that Lady FitzCameron will extend her stay rather than returning to London as she had planned.” He tugged at his waistcoat and attempted to speak idly.")

that I never read the rest of it, despite loving Regencies AND fantasy.

The inclusion of books I didn't like is one thing; the exclusion of books I loved is another.  People who liked Throne of the Crescent Moon or Glamour in Glass should have loved Kari Sperring's The Grass King's Concubine, as it combines both an innovative non-European backdrop of Crescent Moon and the manners and interesting magic systems of Glamour...but is far better written, with characters I adored and a plot that kept me breathless.  And Rachel Hartman's Seraphina was excellent as well, positing a kingdom where a half-dragon girl must foil a xenophobic plot.  (It's up for the Andre Norton YA award, but it's less YA than Ironskin.)  Or what about Nick Harkaway's excellent Angelmaker, which combined a fast-paced thriller with philosophy?  And if sequels get to be included, why not Bitterblue (that insightful fantasy of a kingdom trying to recover after tyranny) or Minority Council (in which a basically homeless undead magician must fight for the indigent of London)? 

 I'm further amused that John Carter got nominated for anything at all, ever.

Ah well.  At least the list gives me some new short stories to check out.

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