I thought yesterday’s story was the final nominee, but I was wrong, there’s another short story, As the Last I May Know by S. L. Huang, and it has to be a sign of the times that the story I almost forgot to review is… good?Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) As the Last I May Know”
This is the final nominee (Disregard that, I actually forgot not just to review another one, but actually to read it! There’s still one more story left) for this year’s short story Hugo Awards, A Catalog of Storms, by Fran Wilde. If you were expecting a roaring end to this review series, you are going to be disappointed.
Fran Wilde wrote years ago one of the few Hugo stories I actually liked, mostly due to its raw, angry energy and somewhat autobiographical content, but A Catalog of Storms has none of those things as far as I can see. To me, it feels like a by-the-book Hugo finalists: wandering, dreamy, with florid language, oozing with magic realism, and with barely any plot or real tension.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020): A Catalog of Storms”
This is the fifth of the Hugo finalists and, probably, the most important one. If you could distill the Hugo short fiction category into a platonic form, it would look very similar to this piece, Blood is Another Word for Hunger by Rivers Solomon. And now I have to review it.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) Blood is Another Word for Hunger”
Some particular trends in genre literature have become obvious during the past few years. One of them is the use of Brobdingnagian titles, a compulsion to write paragraph-long titles, some of whom even give away the plot. I suspect this may have started as a quirky, ironic thing to do, but I don’t think it’s funny unless you are lampooning or referencing some stuffy style like academic papers or writing comedy. And, to be fair, that’s to some extent what this story is doing—referencing, not the comedy.
The complete title of this very short piece by Nibedita Sen is Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island, which is way less interesting than my alternative title: The lesbian cannibal she-devils of Ratnabar Island. It’s mating season… and they want your blood!Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) Ten Excerpts from an Annotated… oh God that’s a long title.”
For this short story, you can play a little game. Thanks to the benevolence and foresight of the people at Strange Horizons, this story is preceded by a long list of Content Warnings. You can ignore those, of course, but who could resist the temptation of clicking on that button to see what awful sins it hides. It’s like a flashing red button saying DON’T TOUCH ME.
The game is this: Try to deduce the plot of this story just from those trigger warnings. So what sort of Gomorrah-style type of story do we have here for it to include all that stuff? A surprisingly meh one. Yes, a child dies, and that sets in motion this story of racial revenge, but I don’t even remember half of the things from the list.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) And Now His Lordship is Laughing”
The Hugo season of science fiction & fantasy is on, so what better way to start than by reviewing something that isn’t a finalist, that I actually enjoyed, and that none of you have even heard about?Continue reading “Review: The Long Long Long Long rescue, by Robert Zoltan.”
Sword & Sorcery is not as popular as once was, but the few who still write in that ancient genre are usually above average writers. Robert Zoltan (a name that would fit in a fantasy setting,) the writer of Rogues of Merth, is no exception.Continue reading “Book review and recommendation: Rogues of Merth”
I mentioned in a previous post, and here they are, Schuyler Hernstrom’s latest two works, “The law of the Wolves,” a short story fable, and “Morty and Kyrus in the White City,” a sword & bikery novella with future installment already in-the-making, or at least planned out.
I’ll start with The Law of the Wolves, which is the shortest one, and one that won’t require me to sperg too much. Also, if you are a stingy asshat who can’t bother buying two books at 1$ each, I’d recommend this one first. Simpler, straightforward, shorter, and in a style underrepresented these days.
Among all the lists that tell you exactly how many “types of story” exist, I like this one about the Seven Quests. No, I don’t mean the famous The Seven Basic Plots but this one in this more obscure, plain, and unsourced website: Love, Money, Power, Glory, Revenge, Survival, and Self. I don’t know the source behind it, and I don’t think it’s an exhaustive list —I can think of two other important motivations— but it’s useful, simple, and surprisingly powerful.
What I like about that list is that it actually focuses on human emotions and motivations, not abstract Jungian narratives like “Killing the Monster.” After all, what does that even mean? Killing it, sure,… but for what? Because you want to loot his treasure, revenge, or simple survival? It changes the story quite a lot whether the motivation of our hero is one or the other, and it also highlights the pitfalls of each motivation, its dark side if you will (Love -> Jealousy, Money -> Greed, Power/Glory -> Arrogance & Wrath, Revenge -> Obsession & Moral downfall, Survival ->? (this one is morally neutral as I will explain later.)
I’ll use this story as an example of the dilemma any prospective writer who aspires to a reputation among the Noble People will encounter. You can write a good story, one that will stand on its own merits, capable of being read by people from all around the world, but at the cost of (probably) being ignored, or you can add a layer of fashionable dogma that will impoverish your story, restrict its appeal, and reduce its longevity, but with the possible reward of social approval or a nomination.