Print Story Hugo Diary #4
Diary
By ucblockhead (Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 12:31:03 AM EST) (all tags)
Novellas


The novella category was, in general, better than the short story category. The best two stories were very much about politics.

1: The Political Prisoner by Charles Coleman Finlay: This was a fascinating piece. It was one of those stories that barely even needs to be science fiction. The gist of the story is a political operative/assassin/general spy has found himself on the wrong end of something and ends up in an education camp. The setting, a strange sort of Amish planet where a Christian group insists in living in 20th century technology, is nearly irrelevant as it really isn't about the actual politics so much as how this man, the propagandist and political officer, deals with being on the wrong end. What I particularly liked is that it doesn't take the easy way out. This is not a "fascists are bad" sort of piece, but instead, explores how nearly everyone is a slave of politics.

2: Truth by Robert Read: Nearly is good is a directly contemporary piece involving prisoners and how to get information from them. In 2002 a man is caught smuggling nuclear material into the US. This man turns out to have a supernatural knowledge of the future. The story is about a new interrogator brought in to find the truth after the last, an expert at psychological interrogation, is found dead, a suicide. It is a story of manipulation on both sides.

3: The Tear by Ian McDonald: This is a bizarre story that starts out describing an odd offshoot of humanity where multiple personalities are the norm, and then goes...weird. It's good, but the ideas almost come too fast, and aren't explored. This is 2-3 unrelated novels in a novella. It was good...but I kept wanting to know about the last thing when it switched gears. The initial setup was interesting, but never fully examined.

4: True Names by Cory Doctorow and Benjamin Rosenbaum: This is a very odd story. They are trying to write an "after the singularity" story. It is about software routines in competing galactic super-intelligences. In some ways, it is a noble effort in that he is certainly trying to stretch the genre, but the result is confusing and hard to follow. Point of views change instantly and characters appear in multiple versions and incarnations, certainly quite deliberately, but it makes for a hard to follow story.

5: The Erdmann Nexus by Nancy Kress: This is a decent story, but in the end, there is a "been there, done that" feel to this story. It's Coccoon mashed with Childhood's End. I didn't feel like there was anything new here.

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Hugo Diary #4 | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
The first two could have been Prisoner episodes... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 12:37:50 AM EST
The New Number Two...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

True Names by stevew (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 03:05:22 AM EST
I don't agree that it was a noble effort in stretching the genre. I was left feeling that Doctorow had written a washed out version of a Greg Egan story, half a dozen of which use the same ideas of the characters being software with interactions in both their digital environment and the physical world.

It probably appeals to a wider audience that, unlike Egan, Doctorow and Rosenbaum wrote a story which you can read without the need to keep a notebook going to follow the maths, physics and language and without supporting java applets, but I felt it didn't offer much more than the gimmick of its setting. I didn't feel anything for the characters and whenever it seemed like they might be starting to develop some depth, the focus shifted.

The two 'competing galactic intelligences' were effectively hardly more than races from the perspective of the story as the characterisation happened at the level of the individual AI protagonists rather than the 'intelligence' they belonged to.

Mind you, if you had problems following this one, you probably don't want to go anywhere near Egan.


Where were these published? by garlic (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 10:39:04 AM EST
I get asimov's and SF&F, and your descriptions aren't triggereing any memories.


2008 ? by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 11:37:53 AM EST
Various by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 10:39:21 PM EST
This page has the list.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
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In my not so humble opinion by johnny (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 10:54:28 PM EST
the best SF novella this year didn't get nominated.

Just say'n.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Hugo Diary #4 | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback