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Just realized we have only one more day, ugh. Some things that have come up:

-[personal profile] skygiants reminded me (which I had totally forgotten) that she wrote some stories in 2016. I'm going to nominate these:

“Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman”, Rebecca Fraimow, Diabolical Plots. Short story. This one is my favorite. It may be my favorite short story I read in 2016. I just love Yudah's distinctive, cocky voice, the sense of a very rich world in terms of underpinnings of relationships, the multiple twists that happen in a short letter. Just really, really highly recommended whether or not you are nominating.

Shaina Rubin Keeps Her Head Under Circumstances Nobody Could Have Expected, Rebecca Fraimow, PodCastle. Novelette. Sequel to "Proposal." Okay, I might love this one as much, actually. The greater length makes it less dense than "Proposal" in terms of twists, but it's similar in terms of the sketching in of rich characterization and relationships in relatively few words (plus plot!), and Yudah and Bluma are like old friends when they show up. My favorite part is how Shaina's voice has similar qualities to Yudah's (given that they're both Jewish inhabitants of Vilna) but is also completely different.

It stands alone from "Proposal" but also spoils it, so read "Proposal" first, okay?

-I am nominating Octavia E. Butler (Gerry Canavan, University of Illinois Press) in Best Related Work. I haven't actually gotten very far, and usually I would not nominate something I haven't actually read all the way through, but I like it so far and I really want to encourage people writing works on people like Butler.

-I am nominating Chuck Tingle for Best Fanwriter (with his twitter as the example). I could not see my way to voting for him for Short Story last year, but in my opinion his Hugo-related meta last year totally deserves nomination in some form, and I figured this was better than Related Work (since the form explicitly says "cannot be eligible in other category" -- I was totally planning on nominating "Space Raptor Butt Redemption" as Best Related Work, but it is also eligible in Novelette so I can't.)
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Have some links to short Hugo-eligible fiction!

Nebula nominees available free (hat tip: [personal profile] umadoshi)

Abigail Nussbaum’s nominees - AN’s taste in fiction isn’t congruent to mine (and sometimes we just flat-out disagree), but I do find her words about it to always be thought-provoking. Also plan to nominate her as best fanwriter. (Also plan to nominate [personal profile] skygiants as best fanwriter, if that’s OK.)

Set of nominees from [personal profile] forestofglory.

Another link from ladybusiness, with recs for all categories.

The novelettes on these lists that I liked enough to put them on my ballot: “The Art of Space Travel,” “The Venus Effect” (though I must say I didn't like it nearly as much as Abigail Nussbaum did) and “The Dancer on the Stairs” (probably my favorite).

Also, honorable mention to "The Tomato Thief," which I am not sure is going to be on my ballot, but it made me go back and reread the extremely good Jackalope Wives (to which it is a sequel), which deserved its Nebula and deserved the Hugo too, ugh.

The short stories on these lists that I liked enough to put on my ballot: “The Destroyer” (probably my favorite), “Sabbath Wine” (would be interested to know what the Jews on my f-list think about this one - ETA, probably going to take off my nom list), “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers," and "The Most Important Thing."

I haven’t read the vast majority of novellas on these lists. I’ll try to get around to Penric and Taste of Honey in the next week, I think. And yes, probably also The Jewel And Her Lapidary because of the title.
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Okay, I should maybe say something about the Hugos. In the book category, I plan to read Necessity and All the Birds in the Sky before the nomination deadline, but haven’t gotten to either yet. Some I did at least start reading:

Company Town (Madeline Ashby) - 3+. This one started really strongly, with great writing, a great POV character, some really interesting things going on with the worldbuilding. If it had ended as strongly I would have given it a 4; sadly, I felt like the ending was rushed and uneven (and didn’t address a couple of pretty major plot threads) to the point where at one point I was like, “What’s going on?” And the love interest had pretty much zero character. But worth reading nevertheless.

The Obelisk Gate (N.K. Jemisin) - 3+. I liked it. It is a second book of a trilogy, so, you know. But... so, in the first book I was able to put aside Jemisin's somewhat stark viewpoints because the writing was so strong, and here it starts to poke at me. So: one of the major questions of this book is, “When are negative actions toward a child necessary in pursuit of a greater good?” The book seems to come down on “Never!” by using a lot of straw men like breaking a child’s hand. Which, okay, yeah, I agree is probably never necessary.

But if you’re ever in my house around toothbrushing time, the toddler feels that toothbrushing is a Very Negative Action, thank you very much, and is not afraid of disseminating this opinion at Great Volume. I mean, you guys! I feel really awful brushing his teeth! I feel like I’m torturing him! I constantly have to tell myself that it’s for the greater good of him not getting cavities, which would definitely be worse. I think I'm right, darn it.

And then there’s E’s music practice, which is complicated by my never knowing whether it’s going to end in total disaster or a happy sunny child. We’ve definitely had practices where both of us are in total despair afterwards — because kiddo Hates Mistakes and they are liable to send her into a spiral of meltdown — but, I mean, she’s got to learn how to make them! (And we are talking a LOT about how it's okay to make mistakes, that I would rather her deal well with mistakes than play it perfectly, that the Right Answer isn't as important as trying, etc. ad infinitum.) So I do have meta-reasons for doing this. And sometimes she really likes it! And she likes performing! So I don’t even know.

Anyway, that is all to say that I felt some sympathy for Essun teaching her daughter in maybe not the most considerate and sweet way because it was the way she thought would save the kid’s life? And, I mean, she might even have been right considering what happened to her other children? I don't think I was supposed to feel sympathy for Essun; the book pretty clearly comes down on the side of the daughter, here. And I think the question is more nuanced and interesting than Jemisin is willing to admit, and the book suffers for it.

Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire, I think this is actually a novella) - 3. I actually love McGuire’s style here — it’s sort of this half-fairy-tale-ish-but-still-in-this-world quality, with some nice set pieces. And I admit I came in with low expectations which the book exceeded. All the negative things people have said about it are true (see e.g. [personal profile] rachelmanija’s review (no explicit spoilers) and [personal profile] ase’s spoilery review) but I didn’t really think about them too hard while I was reading. The funny thing is, the part that threw me out of the book was the part where people talk about the “directions” of fairy lands being, instead of north/south and east/west, wicked/virtue and logic/nonsense, with some “minor directions” in there. Those are not directions! You are not navigating by them! Those are descriptive/categorization axes.

There were two big issues I had, which are somewhat related to each other.First, most of the worlds where the girls went (and specifically Nancy’s) set off all my power-dynamic relationship squicks — I mean, older powerful dude going after young naive teenage girl who feels like she doesn’t belong, telling her that she’s wonderful and fits in and things are different with him and oh by the way he controls literally everything, and hey wouldn’t you like to leave your family and friends forever and be with me? Yeah. Do Not Like. Partially because of this, I disliked the ending intensely. Slightly spoilery. )

Too Like the Lightning (Ada Palmer) - DNF. On paper this book looks like it should be everything that delights me (rich complex future history, world-breaking sorts of events, lots of allusion, lots of historical resonance, lots of implicit statements) - I feel like… I was expecting Hild or John M. Ford and got something sort of weirdly not either? Also I suspect if I knew way more about the French Enlightenment I would appreciate this more. Also I felt decidedly as if she was trying too hard with the gender stuff, like, Mycroft keeps saying how they live in a gender-neutral society and then he is constantly bringing up gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes... Which I guess is kind of the point, but I felt like Palmer was telling me rather than showing (compare for instance Leckie’s Ancillary books, which make a much stronger point to me by being very quiet and matter-of-fact about its pronouns and describing how other people react to it).

Ninefox Gambit (Yoon Ha Lee) - DNF. Again I feel like maybe I’m not the right audience for this book, because I know a bunch of people really liked it, and on paper it seems really great (militaristic science fantasy with math words being used instead of “magic” words, with honor and belonging/place being a huge part of the culture) but 20% in I didn’t care about any of the characters at all or understand why they cared about their really pretty awful society, so I bailed.

Iron Cast (Destiny Soria) - DNF. Again on paper this seems great - Prohibition era AU with blood magic, manifested through music — this sounds awesome! I got bored and bailed after about three chapters. I dunno, maybe it was me.

Other stuff: I have to get some Related Work stuff in. Planning to look at Geek Feminist Revolution and there might be an Octavia Butler bio out there? Anything else I should be looking at?

Short fic post sometime this weekend, I hope.
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So, I have lots of other things I keep intending to post about, and not enough time to do it in, but okay, let's talk about the 2016 Hugo nominees (ETA: added link, oops), because although the nominees themselves, and the Sad/Rabid Puppies, are incredibly boring, there were some related developments that were actually kind of interesting and that I want to talk about because it occurs to me that some of you probably haven't become obsessive about the Hugos don't know what's going on here.

(None of this will be news to you if you follow FFA's threads about Hugopocalyse, which I know a couple of you do. I honestly haven't really been reading that much about it aside from the FFA threads.)

You may or may not have heard that the Puppies got a bunch of their nominees on the list of 2016 Hugo nominees, including some where they're clearly hoping everyone will vote No Award again (e.g., Bujold's Penric's Demon). I have mostly been deeply bored by this. Okay, Puppies, that's nice, and now the grownups will get on with it and, you know, vote according to which things we actually like to read.

The novel ballot actually looks pretty darn good to me (though I'm really sad that Robinson's Aurora didn't get on, which is exactly the sort of thing I'd expect would get on in a "normal" year, but given that I didn't manage to read/nominate it, I can't really complain that much); the novella and novelette ballot look decent.

Then there's Related Work, which I'm not going to say anything about (except that I'm really hoping the Gene Wolfe is halfway-decent), and then there's Short Stories. Vox Day's Rabid Puppies' slate swept both, and they both look pretty horrible.

Puppies. Dinosaur erotica. Statistics links. Unicorn tears. There's room to be weird in space. Cut for length. )
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Hopefully this is my last Hugo-related post before the end of nominations?

So I think there was a winner in the whole Puppies awfulness. The winner was everyone who published something in 2015, because I am reading (mostly library/available-online copies, but in some cases buying) all kinds of things I would never otherwise read in the year it was published, and in some cases never read at all.

Other potential best related work thingies!

Rave and Let Die (amazon link) - Adam Roberts. 3+/5. I really like Roberts' writing. I don't always agree with him; in fact, sometimes I disagree with him vehemently. Take, for example, his assertion in the Prologue (this part of which is available to read free from the link) "Putting yourself forward for an award is inevitably predicated upon the following premise: I think my work should win this award. And that means only one thing: I think my work is the best novel/short story/essay published this year."

Umm... no. That is a false chain of reasoning. It can mean that you think other people might think it's worth winning an award, which of course does not (and Roberts even says this right in the same essay!) necessarily relate to being the best anything. It can mean that you'd like other people to be able to FIND all the stuff you published that year, regardless of whether they, or you, think it's the best. (I am really happy when I find an author page where they have nicely listed the stuff they've published that year.)

Anyway! Later on in the Prologue (part of which is free) he talks about Harry Potter using an extended quotation from G.K. Chesterson who is talking about Sir Walter Scott. You can see why I think this guy is amazing :) He's not for everyone, I think! But I like him a lot. Definitely putting him down for Best Related Work.

Lois McMaster Bujold - amazon link - Edward James. Have not finished. Probably will not finish before the voting deadline. I'm not sure there's a whole lot here I don't already know, but unless I quickly find something three things better (I'm also nominating Letters from Tiptree) I'm gonna put this on my ballot, because quite frankly I'd rather have this than anything the puppies can come up with. (Why yes, I'm more bitter about Related Work 2014 than any other category.)
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So far I have three:

Sarah Pauling for Cloth Mother (I just liked it a lot, okay)

Iona Sharma for Nine Thousand Hours and Quarter Days (which I thought were really good)

Scott Hawkins for Library at Mount Char (which I had major issues with but which did impress me as a debut piece of writing)

Any other suggestions welcome!
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I think this will be the last one, because quite frankly I think I have reached the limit of the amount of short fiction I am willing to seek out of my own accord. (If there are other stories you really think I should read, that might be different.) But there are a bunch of interesting stories that I wanted to tell you guys about!

These are in order of most liked to least (within categories), and I have put an asterisk next to ones that are currently on my ballot.

Novellas

*The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (Aliette de Bodard) (available if you are nominating for the Hugo by contacting the author here) - oh! Yeah. This one's great. Interesting non-white-male worldbuilding/characters with what I thought was a satisfying arc, although I could totally see others differing on that.

*Quarter Days (Iona Sharma) - Fantasy (magic Britain with trains). I really liked this one, and I liked Sharma's short story set in the same universe even more — I liked that it was first about characters and second about solving a puzzle, with the worldbuilding something to be untangled as the characters went along.

*The New Mother (Eugene Fischer) - This is near-future SF with interesting ideas. I liked the journalistic bits a lot.

Novelettes

*Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan, Ian McDonald (in Old Venus) - Apparently this has been recced around everywhere, and I finally got it from the library, and it is in fact extremely good writing and a really interesting story that takes the tropes of old Venusian pulp and refashions them into something rich and strange. Definitely up there as Hugo-worthy.

*So Much Cooking (Naomi Kritzer) - Awwwww, this is a super cute and also kind of heartbreaking but also heartwarming story. Food blog during an epidemic.

"Another Word for World" (Ann Leckie) (Future Visions) - I mean, Leckie is a wonderful writer, and this story about two very different women who have to communicate over a language barrier is no exception. But I did feel that the resolution of the story was something that should have occurred to anyone who had ever studied a second language and not be this huge surprise to all the characters.

"Machine Learning" (Nancy Kress) (Future Visions) - So, like, there's this emotional story in here that is probably pretty good, and then there's this near-future machine learning stuff that… I just… okay, see, I know a little about the field from work and I kept saying, but… but it doesn't really work like that… people don't actually think about it like that… and it drove me batty. This is not a rec; if anything it's an anti-rec; I just had to rant about it.

Short Stories

*Game of Smash and Recovery (Kelly Link) - Families? Sort of. Kelly Link, anyway. So, this is a really interesting story, and the more I think about it the more I like it.

*"Hello, Hello" (Seanan McGuire) (Future Visions) - Have I mentioned I am a sucker for stories about families? I am a sucker for stories about families, especially parents and children, and this is a cheerful story about a family and machine learning and I found the family really well done, and I just really liked it.

*Nine Thousand Hours (Iona Sharma) - Set in the same universe as her novella above. I read this story and really didn't understand what was happening until the end, at which point I read the whole thing again. It's got to be good if you can get me to do that. I will warn you that not much actually happens in this story (the big action happens before the story). But it's still a cool story. I am definitely nominating Sharma for the Campbell, even if this gets knocked off my ballot.

Remembery Day (Sarah Pinsker) - About memory and war. I liked this a lot. Not on my ballot through lack of space.
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Okay — for the next little while it will be Hugos all the time. (Who are we kidding: this means, like, two posts. Maybe. If I am lucky.) Hugo-eligible novels I've looked at lately:

House of Shattered Wings (Aliette de Bodard) - 3+/5. I really like de Bodard's writing, and I was actually a little scared to read this for a while because I was worried I wouldn't like her writing for a novel's length. Which… is very weird, actually. Never mind. Anyhow, I really like this book and I think it's worth reading — it's gorgeous prose, the worldbuilding of a Paris with fallen angels is gorgeous and interesting… I, uh, realized that one of the reasons I love her prose is that she uses a lot of semicolons, which I am fully on board with, but might irritate others. Occasionally there's a weird word choice. ("Nuke"? Really?) The ending was a bit understated, but apparently there are more books to come.

The Affinities (Robert Charles Wilson) - 3/5. Well, I guess it's not Wilson's fault that I've gotten really picky about my near-future SF, or that he didn't write the book I wanted to read. But when you postulate a technology that sorts people into their "affinities," groups of people with whom they immediately "click" — well, first of all, it doesn't even make sense to me that there would only be twenty-two of them (which he does address later, to his credit), and second, I think I wanted to read about how this would actually work (oh my gosh, it sounds so interesting! Partially genetic, probably, and partially behavioral…), and third, just because you click with someone doesn't mean you can trust them! (I definitely know people who click with high-drama people, for instance.) Where is the tension between people being people (good, bad, nice, obnoxious) and in an affinity? And then at the end he starts with the book I was interested in all along— what if you can target it more precisely? What does that even mean? but then the book ends. Blah!

The Just City (Jo Walton) - 3+/5. OMG this was SUCH a cool book. Athena puts together (through time-traveling) a bunch of people who want to live Plato's Republic. It is a whole bunch of handwaving to get to the thought experiment (no, seriously, complete with Greek gods with time-travel powers and really smart robots) and then a lot of working out of the thought experiment through in-text debates and then Sokrates shows up and annoysdebates the heck out of everyone — and, like, it's not really about plot or characters (although there are some, they are not the focus) and there are seventy zillion people I would never recommend this to because they would hate it, but I got such a huge kick out of it because working out of thought experiments is so much fun for me — and this is exactly the sort of thought-provoking thinky book that I am excited about nominating for the Hugo. I also highly recommend this article about Plato's Republic and Just City if you, like me, are a philistine who hasn't read Plato.
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Various Hugo-eligible works people might be interested in, for free or nearly free:

Future Visions [SHORT STORIES], available for Kindle for free. Lots of interesting hard SF short stories. I was wondering where all the hard SF was! Here is some, anyway. Some quite good stuff here — I'll probably end up nominating at least one of these stories, probably more. I'll try to post on this once I've finished them all.

Letters to Tiptree [RELATED WORK] is selling for Kindle for 99 cents until the end of the Hugo nomination period. I would have paid rather more than that for the Tiptree-LeGuin correspondence alone, which is wonderful and heartbreaking (although makes me feel a little voyeuristic). The "modern" letters vary widely in quality and appeal. The hilarious thing was that when the letters were written by people whose work I know, there was a 100% correspondence between whether I liked their work and whether I liked their letter. (I only guessed one, though — Nicola Griffin was pretty easy.) Anyway, it's definitely going on my Related Work list.

Citadel of Weeping Pearls (Aliette de Bodard) [NOVELLA] - [personal profile] forestofglory has informed me that she says on her website that she is happy to provide copies to those nominating for awards. I haven't read it yet (or even obtained it yet) but I really like her stuff, and let's face it, you have a novella slot left over, don't you? :)
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Most time-critical: if you want to nominate for the Hugos and you don't have a Worldcon membership from last year (or, I think, the year before??) then today is the last day to register to be able to nominate for the Hugos. The cost is $50 for a supporting membership if you're not attending Worldcon (if you are, you probably don't need this post) and also comes with a packet containing copies of -- most? -- of the nominees. Nominations themselves are open until March.

Anyone know of any good Related Work I can check out? I'm so mad that last year there was so much good stuff, and this year I don't really know of anything except anti-Puppy stuff, which I don't want to put on my ballot.

Any novels I should read in the next month? Here is what I've read, or attempted to read, that was published in 2015, in order of how much I liked them:

Uprooted (...I will be super surprised if this doesn't win at least one of the Hugo or Nebula)
Ancillary Mercy
The Traitor Baru Cormorant
Sorcerer to the Crown

The Library at Mount Char
The Buried Giant
Aurora (DNF) (probably not Robinson's fault; just wasn't in the mood)
Karen Memory (DNF)
The Grace of Kings (DNF)

I'm planning to read The Just City and maaaaybe The Dark Forest, but if there's something else I should be checking out, I'm willing to do that too.
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(There will probably be a part 3 someday.)

I'm going to start this off with a Yuletide rec, actually:

The Green Year (18000 words) by Selden
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Lady Bertilak/Gawain/Bertilak de Hautdesert, Background Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere
Characters: Gawain (Arthurian), Bertilak de Hautdesert, Lady Bertilak, Morgan le Fay, Morgause (Arthurian), Gareth (Arthurian)
Additional Tags: Brief instance of parent-on-child violence, dubcon, Gore, (Mis)use of the backstory of a Catholic saint, Period-Typical Sexism, Period-Typical Homophobia, Gratuitous severed heads
Summary:


Learn to love, and leave all other.

Or: Lady Bertilak offers Gawain her body as well as her girdle. Here, he takes the first, but not the second.



Every year there are one or two fics at Yuletide that are so good that they get categorized into my brain as "one of the best things I've read this year," with no qualifier. This year it was this Gawain and the Green Knight fic, which besides commenting on and critiquing and changing the original is conversant with all kinds of other Arthurian bits and pieces, from Once and Future King to the Mabinogion romances.

This thing is freaking amazing. I mean, sure, I could be nitpicky about detail if I wanted, and I'm sure it would have been improved by a pass through professional editing (which is kind of a content-free statement in that I imagine it's true of most works unless your editor is Vox Day, but then again he doesn't hit my standard of "professional"), but whatever. It's probably the best novella I've read this year, and unless the author objects I'm totally gonna nominate this for the Hugo.

Other stories I really liked )

Stories I liked: )
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E. hates, hates to take baths. She will come up with any excuse she possibly can to avoid taking one. She will drag her feet. She will whine. Then, when she actually gets into the bath, she loves it and doesn't want to leave! Then -- usually only when I tell her she has to because it's bedtime -- she gets out of the bath and is instantly transformed back into Bath-Hating Kid.

So clearly this is a genetic trait, because this is exactly how I feel about reading short stories online. (Short stories in anthologies, on the other hand, are my jam. They're in a book, so it's like a book, but they are short, which is great for my infinitesimal attention span!) Whine! Grumble! ...oh, okay, fine, I quite enjoyed that.

FFA had some links to 2016-eligible stories (I think these all might be from January??) which I read. Here are some of my thoughts, and I want to hear yours too. (What I'd love is to have a sort of Hugo reading club to talk through potential nominations! I need someone else to collate a shortlist of stories because there's no way I'm wading through entire publications. If the FFA memers keep listing stories they like, I'll try to keep up with that, at least.)

Cat Pictures, Please (Naomi Kritzer) - This is a very cute story and I'm glad I read it, because cute. I do not consider it Hugo-worthy, and indeed rather reminds me of many of the nominees from last year: cute and fun to read, but fundamentally shallow: supercomputer tries to make individual people's lives better, because it has read about Asimov's First Law, where "better" turns out to be, arbitrarily, "what the computer thinks is better." Which could be spun as thoughtful (okay, if I were a supercomputer with access to all the data ever, my first thought would be to run really awesome and thorough studies correlating All the Things) or horrific (...a computer might well think the best use of my time was not to write all this crap on the interwebs), but ends up instead as a little didactic and a lot cute.

Folding Beijing (Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu) - Like Three-Body Problem, I was not really sure I liked it for the first half but was invested by the end. I'm still not convinced as to what I think about it. It's an ambitious SF-nal concept of time-sharing a city, but I'm not quite sure it sticks the landing... but I don't know whether that's cultural or not.

Pocosin (Ursula Vernon) - This story suffered in that I had read Jackalope Wives the previous week, and I enjoyed Jackalope Wives more; I think it richly deserves the Nebula (and that in the absence of Puppies would have rightfully won the Hugo, as it did the "Alfie"). This one is a good story, but I was suffering a bit from Vernon overload, I think; she has a distinctive voice where a little goes a long way. Her writing is excellent, in any case: "This is the place where the old god came to die. He came in the shape of the least of all creatures, a possum."

I also think I'm not the right reader for this story... I think there is a specific feeling she is getting at here that I don't have enough experience with to get, and I bet that if I really understood that feeling that I would be head-over-heels for this story.

Three Cups of Grief (Aliette de Bodard): I liked this a lot better than her last year's Alfie-nominee The Breath of War, which a lot of people liked but which I found sort of irritating. I'm glad I gave her another chance, because this story was great and right now it's on my shortlist to nominate. It's got a lot of rich worldbuilding and characters and emotions and a beautifully-understated plot, and now I'm on board to read her novel.

Cloth Mother (Sarah Pauling): Now this story pushed all my buttons, to the extent that I am aware that I am probably not an unbiased reader when I say I really, really loved this story and will be nominating it for sure. It's SF! It has a plot! And at the same time it has things to say about what kids need, and what parenting means, it has an arc, and I teared up a little at the penultimate scene. I'm not 100% sure about the ending, but gosh, I still just really loved this story. I'm willing to believe other people might not love it nearly as much, though.

Back to grumbling about having to read stories. *grumble*
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On vacation (first vacation with baby!) and having a blast, but of course I did stay up a little past bedtime Saturday night and livememe the Hugos. I am pleased and unsurprised at the results. I knew there was no way the Puppies were going to win, because I am basically the epitome of the new voters this year: lazy, filled with inertia, feeling like the Hugos have been going on just fine without me for years so why should I do anything about it -- until they didn't go on just fine. And here we are.

(Dear Bad Loser Puppies: this church-going-Mormon, Asimov-and-Heinlein-reading, married-heterosexually-with-two-kids new voter -- basically your target demographic! -- would like to inform you that your literary taste sucks.)

Okay, I am surprised about Three-Body Problem; I would have bet money on Goblin Emperor to win, even though I (sort of) voted for 3BP. And I did not think the Heuvelt deserved a Hugo, although I'm okay with the idea that other people did.

But I am quite displeased at reading what was displaced by the Puppies, because that was some good stuff there. Best Related Work, as [personal profile] ase wrote, has some really cool stuff. Although her fiction is not necessarily my thing, I would absolutely have voted for Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great; I've loved her Tor column for ages.

While nursing I've been reading the short stories that got bumped, and this makes me angry, because the worst of these was better than the best of the Puppy slate. (At some point, probably I'll post links and short reviews.)

So I know the Puppies are going to try again next year. I do not think they will succeed this time with the nominations, because I know I'm not the only person out there who loves the Hugos but never voted or nominated before. They have woken us up, and we are angry, and we are going to nominate.

(If you have any suggestions, I would dearly like to know. For novel, I've got Ken Liu's Grace of Kings and Ishiguro's Buried Giant on my reading list... what else? And obviously I've read Bujold's new Chalion novella.)
cahn: (Default)
1. So, for the first time in my life, I was faced in the 2015 Hugos with choices that follow the voting paradox. I never, in my heart, really believed in nontransitive voting preferences before; of course one likes peach pie better than blueberry, and blueberry better than apple (the example Martin Gardner gave where I first learned about this paradox), because fresh peach pie is obviously The Best Pie and better than any other pie. It would be silly to like apple pie better than peach pie. (In my opinion. D ranks them differently. But he was very sweet and made me a peach pie for my birthday. <3 And I'm not saying apple pie isn't wonderful too :) )

But: I liked No Award better than Three-Body Problem for the Hugo, 3BP better than Ancillary Sword for the Hugo, AS better than The Goblin Emperor for the Hugo... and TGE better than No Award. (Note that this does not correlate with how well I liked the book or how well I thought it was written; TGE wins easily on both those counts.) So, I dunno. I ended up voting them all under No Award, because I am a crotchety grumpy sort of person who feels The Hugos Are Not What They Used To Be And Darn Kids Get Offa My Lawn, but it was a very close thing. Probably if I'd had another day I would have switched them all above No Award, and if I'd had two more days back under.

2. I had Lots of Opinions about Fringe S5, and then [personal profile] sprocket noted that it was Walter fanfic, and then I got All My Opinions out about it here. (It's honestly a little uneven, because I was writing it while watching the episodes, only later going back to try to make it into a coherent whole. And... that's as good a metaphor for Fringe as any other, I think.)
cahn: (Default)
I read Three-Body Problem over maybe a week or two, and every evening I would have a different opinion. First I wasn't sure what to think, then I loved it, then I got suspicious of it, then I almost metaphorically threw it across the room, then I decided I liked it after all, and now... I'm not sure what to think.

Part of the issue is that as I was reading it, I had a really hard time slotting this into subgenre, which apparently my brain has a need to do. I don't know how much of that is because of cultural clashes. At the beginning, I thought it was retro Golden-Age science-heavy SF, with a big dash of historical grounding (yay!). I still think the beginning was the most powerful, with scientific thinking and the Cultural Revolution yoked together. (Not-really-a-spoiler: they don't mix very well, and indeed set up the tragedy of the rest of the book's primary character arc.)

Somewhere in the middle, I started thinking, oh, no, it's more like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- I mean, with a lot more physics and a lot less rape and women throwing themselves at middle-aged men (really no romance at all, in fact), but the feel of that kind of plot-twist-heavy thriller with interesting ideas (sometimes strangely executed) and a veneer of philosophy but not much in the way of characterization or Earth-worldbuilding. Or Michael Crichton, perhaps that's a better analogy. Science Thriller in feel, though with thrilling physics replacing thrilling adventure scenes, if that makes any sense.

Then we got to the proton computers, and I flipped to thinking of it as science fantasy (along the lines of Fringe's view of "science," say, but without Fringe's stellar characterization acting or terrible Entanglement of Love), because, what. I liked this quote by Chaos Horizon: which is spoilery: )

It's a science romance, not in the sense of a personal intimate relationship but rather in the older sense of a fantastic adventure, and even in the sense of seeing science itself as romantic. (Cixin Liu confirms, in the Afterword, that he has something of a romance with science going on, although here I am kind of using it in the courtly love sort of sense.)

Now that I've read the whole thing, I feel it's sort of a combination of Science Fantasy and Science Thriller, with the latter the dominant paradigm. (Again, where the science part is much more prominent than the thriller part -- there's actually very little in the way of action, unless you count the online game.) (The online game! It was so cute! It... made no sense whatsoever. I don't even play multiplayer online games and I could tell it was completely nonsensical as a multiplayer online game. In my head I had actually decided it was single-player and kept getting weirded out when characters referred to it as multiplayer.)

And I thought we had escaped this! I was waiting for it, waiting for it, and it didn't happen, and then right at the end when I thought I was home free it did happen: the book tried to use quantum entanglement to posit faster-than-light communication. This is what my actual degree is in and NOOOOO. (I have some sympathy for it being such a prevalent interpretation by non-physicists that it's hard to avoid -- but still, would it be so hard to get an actual physics beta?)

And the ending was just... umm... Spoilers. )

I really, really liked Ye Wenjie's arc -- the way that her history informed her choices and her point of view and the ways in which she deceived herself was heartbreaking.

There's been a lot of criticism of Wang Miao having zero characterization. I don't think he's supposed to have character, really? I mean, it would obviously be a better book if he did, but he's really just the eyes through which we see the events of the novel and Ye Wenjie's arc, and as such is supposed to be Everyman, or at least Everyscientist.

I think I'm going to rank this below No Award, but I'm not sure. I think what it's trying to do is more Hugo-worthy than Goblin Emperor (which I did think was the better book) or Ancillary Sword, but I'm not sure. (AS, of course, is a big wild card (in terms of my response to it) until the third book comes out.) In conclusion: I have no idea what I'm going to do about the novel section of the Hugos this year, except presumably leaving the Kevin J. Anderson off entirely. (I can't even say that for sure, having read all of three sentences of it, but signs point to yes.)
cahn: (Default)
I have now read the short story nominees for the 2015 Hugo ballot. Verdict: read Jukebox stories instead, it will be much more enjoyable. (And you have a soundtrack, too!) In all but one case, because I am super punchy tonight, I have found you a vaguely related Jukebox story that is better than the story in question. Ranked from worst to best (the nominees, that is, not the Jukebox stories):

And here we go. )
cahn: (Default)
So, I started reading the Hugo nominee "All the Beasts and Birds," and got halfway through, and the next day I signed up for a Worldcon membership just so I could vote against it. (And, presumably, the other Puppy works, although this is the only one I have read so far.)

I mean, I liked it! If I had read it on AO3 as New Testament fanfic, I would have kudosed it. And it is not its fault that I read it right after being in beta-mode for a couple of different things -- but -- well, that's the thing. It's decent enough when considered as unbetaed fanfic, but as a candidate for best speculative-fiction professional short story of the year? Really?

This story fails on a fundamental craft level. )

So... I guess I'm going to have to read some other Hugo nominees now so I can cast an informed vote (although quite possibly not any more Wright, I feel this is all I can handle). Watch this space for, at the least, Three-Body Problem.

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