The most perplexing nominee — A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa
|We found Wong's work|
more perplexing than
Image via Tor.com.
In portions of the text, it feels like Wong is stringing words together into paragraphs without the traditional intermediary step of sentences. We can appreciate the artfulness of this style of writing, but it is not to our tastes.
Brooke Bolander’s Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies is a short story about an incorporeal being that takes human form, is murdered, and then returns for revenge. There was some debate amongst members of the book club about whether the protagonist is an alien energy being, a spirit, or an angel. Although the language is entertaining, the story is extremely thin. There just isn’t enough substance to the story to vote for it.
An Unimaginable Light is probably the best John C. Wright story that we’ve read — in no small part because it’s based around a couple of interesting notions about the ability of robots to interpret Asimov’s Three Laws in ways that their creators never intended. Although the ‘twist’ ending seems to come out of nowhere, that ending is at least built around an interesting idea concerning what it means to be human.
|Perennial Hugo nominee|
John C. Wright's story is
built around an interesting
idea, but his prose is too
didactic for our tastes.
That being said, Wright’s slightly didactic prose and aggressive thesaurus use isn’t to our taste, nor is the way he seems to delight in the sexual degradation of one of the characters. This won’t be at the top of our ballot, but we can understand why some fans chose to nominate it.
For us, there were three very different works vying for the top of our Hugo ballots: Seasons of Glass and Iron, That Game We Played During the War and The City Born Great.
The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin is an interesting urban fantasy that is partway between Jane Jacobs and Jim Butcher. The theme of potential and the metaphor of birth speak to a hopefulness that was uplifting.
In Seasons of Glass and Iron, Amal El-Mohtar weaves together two Norwegian folk tales into a story of empowerment and problem solving. An Ottawa-based poet, El-Mohtar’s dexterously uses
Norwegian Folk Tales
in interesting ways.
Image via Blue Fairy Book
illustrated by H.J.Ford
& G.P.Jacomb Hood, 1889
This is a very likable short story with some depth, offers a satisfying conclusion, and might bear re-reading.
Out of all of the nominees, That Game We Played During The War by Carrie Vaughn is the one that we found the most enjoyable to read. It’s a clear, straightforward story about former prisoners of war from two very different factions finding common ground after a long-running conflict. Vaughn’s tale feels like something out of the golden age of SF — concise, spare, and precise in its language. The relationship between the two central characters is touching and thoughtful.
She leavens the story with observations about cultural understandings and misunderstandings, as well as some interesting notions about how telepathy might influence a society.
The medium of the short story is a particularly difficult one to master; balancing brevity with profundity and balancing artfulness with clarity are not easy tasks. Three nominees this year achieved a level of excellence that is worth celebrating.