Hugo Finalists 2019: Novella

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While there are some repeats from last week’s Nebula post, there are a couple new books below! Don’t miss out on those!

Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing) 3 out of 5

Wells does it again! Murderbot is so much fun, but this one seemed to take some time going. And there were some themes that I missed from the first that was either untouched or underdeveloped. Murderbot’s awareness of their lack of humanity takes center stage, but her apparent clear human-like behaviors go unnoticed.

I plan on reading the rest of the novella series to see how she finishes it. There were some real jewels in this that made me chuckle. The conversations between Art and Murderbot were the best bits. Can’t wait to read the next one!

Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing) 4 out of 5

A fun, absurd portal quest story in the series of McGuire’s Wayward Children. This was an interesting read and one that resonated with me a bit stronger than the previous entry.

Following Cora, who is dealing with body image issues, she and her friends come across a Rini, who literally falls out of the sky into a pond. From there an utterly insane quest through the doorways ensues as Rini attempts to resurrect her mother, who died before coming to the land of Confection.

I’m a little curious now to see where this series goes, even if YA/portal quest stories aren’t my thing. And this book was written with all the attention to detail that McGuire normally uses and uses it well. The absurdity of creating a world out of sugar has to be commended. It was a delightful treat.

Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing) 5 out of 5

I actually reviewed this story here – but below is a short snippet of that whole review.

Binti rushes home when her village is attacked by Koush soldiers and it will be up to her to broker a peace between them and the Meduse. Her efforts may help her Himba people survive or they will become lost in the crossfire…

And its finally done. Its hard saying goodbye to Binti and the world that Nnedi Okorafor has created, but at the same time…this little series of novellas has been such a boon to me over the past year and a half that I have read them.

And this was truly a satisfying and complete arc of a story, one that I hope will become a classic in years to come as a true example of afro-futuristic science fiction.

The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing) 4 out of 5

This was a fun little book. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk or even a lot of Caribbean fiction, but this was a super fun romp through an alt-New Orleans. My only true critique is that the ending is pretty rote with a neat bow tied almost too well at the end. I am happy that both Creeper and the Captain were able to have completed arcs by the end.

For sure going to keep an eye on Clark moving forward and I may even hunt for some of his short fiction.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing) 3 out of 5

This was a really different read and one that takes a lot of twists and turns I wasn’t expecting. I really enjoy Robson’s style, but the pacing of this novella felt slightly off and the burn towards the end, didn’t feel as realized as it could have been.

The idea of radical body mids, real-time health monitoring, and habs are all fun tech, even if  I don’t enjoy time travel as a trope in sci-fi, Robson does a fantastic job burying it in office/business politics.

The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency) 4 out of 5

This was a well put together sleuth plot, of course, set in a rather fantastic setting. The characters bounce off one another quite well and the resolution was fantastic because as all mysteries go, it’s not some much about the actual case as it is about the individuals attempting to solve the case. Bodard does an excellent job with the world building, though I understand this is part of a larger universe she has created and continues to write in.

All around a solid novella!

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