I managed to chew through the Novelette finalists over the past two weeks and this category was much harder to pick from. There are some great pieces and I believe I liked these better than the short fiction entries, so far, but overall great pieces of writing and it’s so awesome to get a feel for where science fiction has been going over the past year.
Anyway, just like my last post, I have short reviews to accompany every story and if you want to read them yourself, they are linked for you. Enjoy!
“Children of Thorns, Children of Water” by Aliette de Bodard 3 out of 5 stars
An interesting story fantasy story with fallen angels and subversive magic. It seems that this is a prequel to another book, so some of the world building, while deep and interesting becomes lost in the shuffle of this book.
Bodard keeps us interested and there’s a certain amount of “unsettling” feelings that come when children made of thorns begin appearing, but overall the story lacks impact by the end since the implications of the climax fizzle out and don’t seem to matter by the last sentence. Obviously, since this is more of a “background” prequel reading the novel would help this, but the story should be able to weigh just as much without any help.
Either way, the prose is well written and lovers of fantasy should enjoy this well-built world.
“Extracurricular Activities” by Yoon Ha Lee 4 out of 5 stars
Not a bad short! We really get a decent view if not a full picture of the world that Yoon Ha Lee has built for Ninefox Gambit. There’s a lot of complex and intricate cultural and social behaviors that takes some getting used to in the story, but if you haven’t read the novels that this story is a prequel to, then you are sure to enjoy this story, despite that. Shuos Jedao is a lot of fun to follow character wise and I enjoyed this greatly. Now to get around to Ninefox Gambit!
“The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer 5 out of 5 stars
Did not know what to expect from this one, but man was I pleasantly surprised! There are more and more stories from the POV of robots lately and this is one of the best I’ve read. I’d love to read a whole series based on this Ship and all the bots. I think the strongest point of this is that the robots clearly of a sense of self preservation despite all the normal “programming” and Palmer is able to do this without falling into the normal trope pitfalls of this example. And there is in actuality a very subtle critque about humanity, but I’d rather let the reader find it.
“A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad 4 out of 5 stars
A fun snappy read, which may or may not leave you wanting to go dig into a big piece of meat.
Prasad does a great job with worldbuilding this near-future society and includes plenty of wit and intrigue to keep you rushing towards the end. Some might want to stay away from meat for a while, and there is a degree of blurred lines when it comes to morality, but at the end of the day this isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about justice. I’m sad that it ended so quickly because now I’m left with wanting more to read and something to eat.
“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara 3 out of 5 stars
This is for sure a story that I would not have picked up on my own, but I’m attempting to work through most of the Hugo noms for 2018. I thought it was pretty insightful on the issues that I have a limited understanding of.
We follow Finley an F2M individual who is bitten by a vampire and has to deal with the transition to follow. There are some pretty explicit sex scenes I skipped over, which made this little novelette much shorter, but the internal struggle of Finely is really compelling and the prose is overall well done.
“Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker 5 out of 5 stars
What a beautiful story about a generation ship in transit. While it could have gone through the normal beats, it chose to stay intimate and personal and contains a whole menagerie of ideas, frustrations, and conflicts.
Rosie is a history teacher and musician on a generation ship that is many decades from its destination. Things proceed as normal until a troublesome student begins to subvert the class and question the point of “history” when all they have is the tin can they are traveling in. This begins Rosie’s journey as she tries to identify why history is important and how critical memories are to being human.
Next up is novellas! Hopefully, it won’t take me too long to get through them all!