Reading the Hugos (2019) The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat

What’s with these long titles that tell most of the story, sometimes even the ending? I know it’s hard to come up with titles, but seriously, it’s as if I renamed Star Wars to “The Fantastical Adventures of the Moisture Farmer who Discovers Space Magic and Blows up the Death Star.”

Anyway, this short story, TTTBRSATPWWMOM from now on, by Brooke Bolander appeared in issue 26 of Uncanny, which was entirely dedicated to dinosaur stories. It’s a fantasy comedy piece and it has to be read and understood as such; I wouldn’t recommend reading it with a serious mindset.

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Reading the Hugos (2019) The Court Magician

It’s that time of the year once more: time to read the Hugo Award finalists and be shocked, amused, horrified, and (occasionally) entertained. As usual, I’ll stick to the short stories because they are free to and it’s where hungry, ambitious authors try to show off, so there’s hardly a better category to get a graphography (is that a word?) of the current zeitgeist, but I may throw in a novelette if I feel like it.

Of course, for the same reason there is such a thing as Oscar bait, there’s also Hugo bait, so expect to see certain patterns with these stories—or just with their authors. Like in previous years, gender is one main theme, and of the four big categories (novel, novella, novelette, and short story,) with 24 stories and 22 authors, 18 of the finalists are women, 2 identify as trans, and 2 weirdos are men. There are also many names you might recognize from previous years. Make of those things what you will.

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Reading the Hugos (2018) Sun, Moon, Dust

Ursula Vernon has been nominated a few times for the Hugos, and I have read some of her stories (Jackalope’s Wife and The Tomato Thief.) I didn’t dislike or like them. I know I’m not their audience but, unlike what happens when I read other Hugo finalists, I didn’t get the feeling someone was trying to insult me. They had a personal touch and a bit of humor here and there, plus some of the elements that any Hugo finalists needs, but aside from that, I found them generally unexciting. Tepid.

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Reading the Hugos (2018) The Martian Obelisk

Someone must have let his guard down because this story, The Martian Obelisk, by Linda Nagata, is an actual science fiction story, with bits of astronomy, space travel, technology, and all that jazz. Yes, unbelievable isn’t it? A Hugo story which is an actual science fiction story?! You could give this story to a random person whose only understanding of sci-fi is “stuff with rockets and futuristic gadgets” and he would concur with you: yes, this is, indeed, a science fiction story. Unfortunately, it overextends, misses the mark, and fails at it.

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Review: Cirsova #2

Cirsova 2
Cover art by Jabari Weathers.

Two months ago I reviewed the first issue of Cirsova. For those who don’t know about it, Cirsova is a magazine that specializes in fantasy inspired by the golden era of fantasy and science fiction (the distinction was blurry sometimes.) It also looks back to the pulps and tries to regain that spirit of weirdness and wonder that eludes contemporary fiction. The second issue is already here, and I can tell one thing right away: This second issue is even better.

 

I really liked the first issue, but I thought it still could be improved. It had a great variety of stories, though, so all kinds of readers could find something for them.

On the other hand, while I quickly realized which ones were my favorites stories, I can’t say the same about this second issue. But not because they aren’t any good, but because not only have the best one got better, the “average” has also improved.

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Why you should read “The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody”

“Peter [The Great] emancipated the Russian women, except those in his own family. He put them into convents.”


“He had the haunted look of the true humorist. All his friends loved him.”

cleopatra by William Steig
Cleopatra, by William Steig

I was 19 or so the first time I read ‘The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody,’ by Will Cuppy (1884-1949,) and I was so in love with it I decided to write something similar. I began collecting notes and writing little encyclopedic articles about, well, everything I could, in a style that combined (or tried) Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary‘s sarcasm and Cuppy’s own brand of comparatively more light-hearted humor. Then I read that it took Cuppy 16 years and 15.000 notes to write that book (and he didn’t even finish it,) so I decided to do something else with my time.

It’s a tragedy that Cuppy, crippled with increasing depression and the prospect of eviction from his apartment, committed suicide because his book became an instant best-seller when it got published (1950) just one year after his death. Not to mention that it’s one of the best books ever written.

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Why you should read Cugel’s Saga.

 

 

“The better to order his faculties, Cugel took a long draught of beer.”


 

cugels sagaI was going to write a long review of Jack Vance’s Cugel’s Saga, the book about the adventures and misfortunes of the outrageously selfish and coward Cugel the Clever (or so he thinks,) but I have decided to let the book and its florid style speak for themselves.

Don’t panic, it will be a short expatiation, just a few things from the first chapter, but they will be enough to convince you of its merits.

After some magical mischief, Cugel finds himself lost. He comes upon “an elaborate manse of archaic design” and tries to convince the peculiar doorman to let him in.

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