July 16 2012

Silently and Very Fast

Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente is another fine novella nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award. Like Kiss Me Twice, it is concerned with AI’s but the similarities go no further as they are about 180 degrees apart in tone. Silently and Very Fast is written about the development of an AI from the perspective of the AI as it evolves though a number of lifecycles. All of this is told through highly allegorical (and quite lovely) writing.
I thought there was maybe a bit too much emphasis on the original coder of the AI and how their originality and eccentricities influenced and indeed, enabled the AI. I enjoyed this novella and its use of allegory to paint a picture of what is essentially an alien point of view. However, I didn’t see anything very startling about the subject and it seemed that part of the story was attempting to be startling in its portrayal of the AI. Definitely worth reading though.
By the way, the title is the last line from the W. H. Auden poem, The Fall of Rome:

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

July 12 2012

Kiss Me Twice

Kiss Me Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal is a novella nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award. It is essentially a police procedural set in a reasonably near future. It is told from the perspective of police detective Scott Huang. Scott and his AI partner Metta are investigating a murder. Metta appears to Scott (via VR glasses) as a version of Mae West.
This is all set up to be exactly the sort of story I like. Detective and partner sharing wisecracks and info, some nice forays into some i=of the philosophical issues with AI’s and a nice twist to the story. This was all well done and structured nicely. However, there was a certain flatness to the story, for me, that kept me from becoming immersed in the storyline.
So, while I enjoyed the story, I kept breaking out of the story at the same time.

June 12 2012

Movement: A Short Story About Autism in the Future

Movement: A Short Story About Autism in the Future by Nancy Fulda is a nominee for the 2012 Hugo short story award. It begins with Hannah overhearing a conversation between her parents and a therapist. She overhears the conversation by virtue of being in the same room, but her parents are so used to her not seeming to understand that they essentially ignore her. Hannah does understand, however her understanding is different than her parents understanding of understanding.
Hannah has a condition that she describes as temporal autism. The way in which she perceives the relationship of time and the world is not the same as that in which “average” people perceive the world. Hannah must decide how she feels about receiving the treatment and how to relate that decision.
This story dealt with the relationship between children and parents as did The Paper Menagerie and The Homecoming. Each story took a different take, from a different perspective and did that take quite well. Aside from being good stories on their own, I found it interesting that 3 out of 5 of the stories shared this theme.

You can read it online here.

June 12 2012

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu is a short story nominee for the 2012 Hugo award. It is a very well written story that begins with the discovery that a species of paper wasp creates intricate maps upon the paper of their nests. The wasp society (they have a sentient POV) is somewhat imperialistic but scholarly. Without giving too much away, the wasps come into conflict with a bee colony that they subjugate. This subjugation forces a splinter group of bees to embrace an anarchistic philosophy. The results of the splintering and colonization are somewhat explored.
The story feels as though it should be an allegory for something–perhaps along the path of following natural inclinations. The allegorical nature seems somewhat secondary to the craft of the story. It worked well and was enjoyable as a tale, but left me somewhat wondering at the point–which may have been the point.

You can read a copy online here.

June 8 2012

The Homecoming

The Homecoming by Mike Resnick is an interesting counterpoint story to The Paper Menagerie. The Homecoming is also nominated for the 2012 short story Hugo and concerns a parents alienation from their child. One parent through Alzheimer’s and the other through the son becoming alien.
This was nicely done. The SF elements helped to highlight the differences in what is really a very common occurrence. It seems like Hugo voters have balanced the wild hilarity of “Shadow Way of the Night Dragons” with several fairly sad stories.

You can find a copy to read here.

June 7 2012

The Paper Menagerie

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu is a nominee for the 2012 Hugo short story and has won the Nebula award for short story. It packs quite a punch in its small amount of space. Liu deals with issues of loss, inter-generational misunderstanding and cultural and racial problems.
It is about an American son whose mother is a Chinese mail order bride. She makes him magical origami animals. As he grows older he disassociates from her and the animals. I enjoyed this one quite a great amount. I’ve always been a pushover for stories with tigers.
You can read it at this link on Suvudo.

May 18 2012

Hugo Packet 2012

The Hugo Packet for the 2012 Hugo awards is out now. It contains “electronic copies of individually nominated works, and representative works from people and groups nominated for their 2011 body of work as a whole. To thank the authors and publishers who have generously provided these materials, we urge you to provide your financial support to them in bookstores, at art shows, and online.”
It is available to anyone who is a member of Chicon 7. Note that you can become a supporting member for just $50 and then you get to vote for the Hugo and Campbell awards and get this cool packet.
I’ll be reviewing a majority of the works found in the packet. Here is my list of the finalists with links to what I have reviewed so far. I’ll be updating that page as I go and I’ll post my selections at some point before the Tuesday, July 31, 2012 deadline. I’ve got some reading to do, although not as much as last year.

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April 9 2012

Hugo Awards 2012 Short Lists

The nominations for the 2012 Hugo Awards were announced on Saturday. Minicon happened to be one of the sites doing a live feed of the nomination list, so I got to hear these live and in person. I was fairly pleased as a number of the works I nominated made it to the final ballot. Here are the lists with links to reviews I’ve already done:

Best Novel

  • Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
  • A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra) This one presents me with a problem as I haven’t gotten that far in the series. I think I will have to pass on reviewing this.
  • Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
  • Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Best Novella

  • Countdown, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Ice Owl”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • Kiss Me Twice”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s)
  • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s)
  • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary”, Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
  • Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Best Novelette

  • “The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s)
  • “Fields of Gold”, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • “Ray of Light”, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
  • “Six Months, Three Days”, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
  • “What We Found”, Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

Best Short Story

Best Related Work

  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
  • Jar Jar Binks Must Die…and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies, Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
  • The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
  • Wicked Girls (CD), Seanan McGuire
  • Writing Excuses, Season 6 (podcast series), Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

  • Digger, by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
  • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
  • Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys To The Kingdom, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
  • The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan, created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely; directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss;
    written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
  • Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
  • Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who, ”The Doctor’s Wife”, written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
  • “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”, Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
  • Doctor Who, ”The Girl Who Waited”, written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, ”A Good Man Goes to War”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
  • Community, ”Remedial Chaos Theory”, written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Best Semiprozine

  • Apex Magazine, edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
  • Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
  • New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

Best Fanzine

  • Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • The Drink Tank, edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
  • SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Best Fancast

  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), Patrick Hester (producer)
  • SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
  • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Lou Anders
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Betsy Wollheim

Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist

  • Dan dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Michael Komarck
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio

Best Fan Artist

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Randall Munroe
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

Best Fan Writer

  • James Bacon
  • Claire Brialey
  • Christopher J. Garcia
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Steven H Silver

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • Karen Lord
  • Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu
Category: Hugos | LEAVE A COMMENT
July 21 2011

My 2011 Hugo Votes

I’ve posted individual reviews for the bet Novel and Novella categories. In each category, you can rank your preferences (1 being best.) They encourage you not to vote for categories in which you have no experience (don’t just guess in other words.) Here are my picks:
Best Novel

  1. Feed by Mira Grant.
  2. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  3. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
  4. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
  5. Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

Feed and The Dervish House were pretty close together in my thoughts. Overall, though, I found Feed to be the more griping read.

Best Novella

  1. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
  2. The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand
  3. The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey A. Landis
  4. Troika by Alastair Reynolds
  5. The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window by Rachel Swirsky

Best Short Story

  1. “The Things” by Peter Watts
  2. “Ponies” by Kij Johnson
  3. “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  4. “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn

I liked “The Things” quite a lot. It was fun (in a weird sort of way) and did a really good job of showing a truly alien perspective.

Best Related Work

  1. Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea
  2. Writing Excuses, Season 4, by Brandon Sanderson, Jordan Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells

Best Graphic Story

  1. Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton
  2. Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright

As a whole story so far, I love Girl Genius, but for this particular years input, Schlock Mercenary edged them out by a hair.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  1. Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan
  2. Toy Story 3, screenplay by Michael Arndt; story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich; directed by Lee Unkrich
  3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright; directed by Edgar Wright
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates
  5. How to Train Your Dragon, screenplay by William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  1. Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis; directed by Jonny Campbell
  2. Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes
  3. Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes

I loved “Vincent and the Doctor.” Truly wonderful.

Best Professional Artist

  1. Daniel Dos Santos

Best Fan Artist

  1. Randall Munroe

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  1. Dan Wells
Category: Hugos | LEAVE A COMMENT