Reading the Hugos (2018): Introductory remarks

The 2018 Hugo nominees have been announced. Ahh,  the most prestigious Award in the most marvelous genres of fiction! Science, Fantasy, the marvel of cutting-edge technology, future societies, mystery, wonder, and… No, not really. This is the Hugos we are talking about. You won’t find much of that there.

Going in somewhat blind and not knowing what to expect, a year ago I reviewed the 2017 short-story finalists, and with one or two exceptions, they were all pretty bad, and hardly science fiction or fantasy at all. I don’t expect much of a difference this year, but I have skimmed the stories and, well, there may be a glimmer of hope, but, really, don’t get your hopes up — the bar was set too low anyway.

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These foking fockers focking focked language again: on swearing and fiction.

Today is the Lord’s Day so I won’t engage in any posting of wicked and evil news [edit: that was from when I used to post crazy daily news as part of my DISUM] for it is known that all journalists are servants of one devil or another, and reading their shrieking incantations for too long is a sure path to damnation and mental retardation. Instead, I’ll write about swearing in writing and the use of the word fuck.

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Sad and Rabid Cachorros, Spanish Commentariat Edition.

Yesterday, the Spanish online newspaper Crónica Global published an opinion piece about, of all the things, the Sad-Rabid Puppies Saga. It is an – interesting article, to say the least. It’s what you’d expect, really, but I was shocked by its vitriol. Although I guess that’s inevitable because, being something written for an audience that has probably never heard about the SP-RPs, one can get away with being ramblingly vicious or not bothering to source your claims. Lack of opposition, I guess.

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Reading Nebulas (2017) Things with Beards, by Sam J. Miller

By focusing on the Hugo Awards I may have given the impression that the problems with fashionable science fiction and fantasy are a “Hugo” problem. The Hugos have become a bit of a battlefield and an arena for various trollish antics (the only interesting thing about the Hugo Awards, if you ask me,) so that’s a reasonable misunderstanding. But it’s not a Hugo-only problem because the same symptoms can be seen in the other two big SFF Awards: Nebula and World Fantasy Award. And when I say the same I mean it because this year’s Nebula and Hugo short story nominees are almost the same:

Hugo Nebula WFA comparison

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Reading the Hugos: Super Secret Easter Egg short story finalist.

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?

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Reading the Hugos: An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright

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.)

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Reading the Hugos: That Game We Played During the War, by Carrie Vaughn

That game we played during the war is one of the finalists for the Best Short Story category for this year Hugo Awards.

Recently after the war between the nations of Enith and Gaant ended —the Gaanthians being telepaths—, Calla, an Enithian nurse, goes to the nation of Gaant to see the wounded Major Vaark Lan, a Ganthian she had met during the war. Their relationship is slowly revealed, but the crux of it is that both had been each others’ prisoners during the war. Calla had been Lan’s nurse when he had been captured and, later, she had been a Gaantian prisoner under Lan’s supervision. During those two imprisonments, a peculiar bond between them was born, including the pastime of playing an odd version of chess.

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Reading the Hugos: Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

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.

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Reading the Hugos: Our Talons can Crush Galaxies, by Brook Bolander.

Our talons can Crush Galaxies is one of the six finalists for the Best Short Story award of the 2017 Hugo Awards.


Gods, Godlings, Infernal Powers, and Outside Entities. There may be beings out there whose dancing can set entire planets on fire, and their talons crush galaxies. Well, good for them, because my Critic Rage also knows no bounds, and even the gods themselves —at least if they are as silly as the ones from this short story— must suffer my critical wrath.

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Reading the Hugos: A Fist in Permutations of Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong.

A First of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alissa Wong is another finalist for the 2017 Hugo Awards Best Short Story category.

If the previous story, The City Born Great, was puzzling in an amusing way, this one is puzzling in an infuriating way. The story, not that there is much of it, continually sabotages itself and undermines its own point by its constant attempts at being sophisticated and oniric literature. What could have worked as a short story in a more literary genre, becomes insufferable once “fantasy” elements are added into the mix.

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