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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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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Updated my journal: Amber, Planescape, and other stuff

I wrote a short piece about Nine Princes in Amber for the Puppy of the Month Club. I’ll admit I didn’t exactly know what to write,  the book is basically an introduction, so I ended up doing a small review while pointing out some obscure connections to D&D and the Planescape setting.

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Review: Thune’s Vision

tl;dr version: 9/10, buy the damn book.
Recommended for: People who enjoy good and strong writing, those who want to go back to the real roots of fantasy, pulp fans, and people who like to think about what they read. For fans of R.E. Howard, Burroughs, and Jack Vance this should be a no-brainer.

Not recommended for: Spineless cowards, soviet agents of International Communism, people who enjoy being laughed at, and lovers of YA fantasy fodder.

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Cirsova #1 review

First of all, thanks to Cirsova for a free review copy of its first issue.

 

Amazon Link

 

 


The pulps are fantasy’s father, or at least a similarly important family member. Unfortunately, for most people there is a huge cultural gap between the origins of that genre and what they actually consume now. As Jeffro Johnson wrote in his blog:

[…]the general view of science fiction history is that it just somehow jumps from Jules Verne and H. G. Wells straight on to Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein.

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