I have realized that I have managed to accumulate a reasonable number of short stories/novelettes, some of them unsent to potential publishers or awards, others sent but rejected (although usually with an “almost a winner” note appended, so there’s that.) And I have also realized that since I follow a setting-less style of writing (or at least a setting that is hidden from the reader and unexplained) I can just string them together. And that’s probably what I will do.
This is a tough one. When I read the, what at first seemed like a wonderfully nonsensical first sentence, of this story “There’s a ticket booth on my tongue” I felt that this was it, the Hugo story of this year, and if you have read my 2017 Hugo reviews, you know that’s not a compliment. But then I read the story, and I was seriously confused, first because it is, indeed, quite confusing, but also because it wasn’t what I was expecting. My fault, really; my PSTD from reading some other Hugo finalists, encountering this story’s jumpy, fragmented style and narrative, and the use of (oh-my-god) second-person narrator (and the title! I mean, come on!) made me think that this was one of those artsy literary experiments (and it may be, to some extent.) And with that in mind, that’s how I read it… and I understood nothing. Then I read it again, without expecting anything, and I understood it a bit better. Finally, I read it a third time, and ah, then I got it (I think.)
I regret to inform you, dear reader, that after reading the first Short Story nominee for this year’s Hugo Awards, I have come to the conclusion that Carnival Nine, for that is its name, is Not Awful. That may seem an uninformative score, but… not really, at least for me, as it is quite significant since what I usually expect is Awful.
You might think that just because the Hugo awards have only six finalists, that means I should only review those six short stories. Bah! I’m a rebel, and I bow to no Law, no matter how clearly logical and sensical it may be. If I see a “No spitting here” sign, I spit on it, and if I see a list of six nominees, I metaphorically spit on it as well and then review the seventh story that wasn’t even nominated. That’s especially apt if that story is a kind of a review of some of the other stories. How more meta can you get? And isn’t that what Hugos are all about?
Although I may write a review of a super secret Hugo story, the last real Hugo short story finalist is An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright, part of the anthology God, Robot, a collection of short stories that explore the concept of “theobots,” an interesting (and perhaps even necessary) twist to Asimov’s three laws (especially the first.)
Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)
This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.