Reading the Hugos (2018) “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand”

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.)

tisamystery

Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2018) “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand””

Hemingway didn’t write like you think he wrote.

If you have spent more than a few seconds following the writing blogosphere, searching for writing tips and stuff like that you will have found variations of these two statements: “Write short, clear sentences“, sometimes followed by a “like Hemingway did.” Either as an example of simple, clear writing or as a description of his style, the universal, known-by-everybody message is the same: he wrote short sentences, and that’s the style to emulate.

Continue reading “Hemingway didn’t write like you think he wrote.”

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.

Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2018): Introductory remarks”

‘Classic Conditioning One,’ a Star Wars cyberpunk story.

It was the future. The year? 2013.

Somewhere hidden below the festering nest of neon, chrome, and roving gangs of hipsters of New Los Angeles, Disney’s underground laboratory woke up from its slumber. Commanding calls and urgent messages in the middle of the night reached the bleary Disney scientists: “Rise and Shine, boys, the Vault’s up. Get to work! – B.I.”

The Boss had spoken, and from all around the country, scientists specializing in neuromarketing, behavioral sciences, and Artificial Intelligence traveled to New L.A. Their goal, to design the new Star Wars trilogy.

Continue reading “‘Classic Conditioning One,’ a Star Wars cyberpunk story.”

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

Continue reading “Reading Nebulas (2017) Things with Beards, by Sam J. Miller”

Could be written better: “Fu Manchu did nothing wrong.”

“There are some who could have lain, chained in that noisome cell, and felt no fear-no dread of what the blackness might hold. I confess that I am not of these. I knew Nayland Smith and I stood in the path of the most stupendous genious who in the world’s history had devoted his intellect to crime. I knew that the enormous wealth of the political group backing Dr. Fu.Manchu rendered him a menace to Europe and America greater than that of the plague. He was scientist trained at a great university -an explorer of nature’s secrets, who had gone further into the unknown, I suppose, than any living man. His mission was to remove all obstacles -human obstacles- from the path of that secret movement which was progressing in the Far East. Smith and I were two such obstacles; and of all horrible devices at his command, I wondered, and my tortured brain refused to leave the subject, by which of them we were doomed to be departed.”

The Mysteries of Dr. Fu Manchu, chapter 14, by Sax Rohmer.

Continue reading “Could be written better: “Fu Manchu did nothing wrong.””