So, as you have probably picked up from the last two posts here, I had a baby within the last year. I realized partway into my first trimester that working on book reviews and blog posts simply wasn’t enjoyable for me anymore. With the nausea and fatigue I was experiencing I didn’t have much energy left for following the other blogs I’ve found here, either. So I stopped. I’m finally starting to feel interested in writing again, so I am slowly dipping my toes back into the world of blogging.
I had partly expected that having a baby would leave me with no time at all to read, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are actually still lots of little moments I can squeeze in some reading during the day. (Sometimes at the expense of the mountain of dishes or laundry, but still!) A few months ago, I realized that World Con would be in Chicago this year and since this is not a far distance for me to travel, I decided it would be a lot of fun to read all the nominees for the Hugos this year and go to World Con! I have never read all the nominees for any award before, and I am discovering a lot of pros and cons to doing so.
Pro: I feel really accomplished. It has been a lot of fun checking off books as I go. I am also using my library a lot more which has been wonderful and exciting.
Con: I am getting burnt out on sci fi/ fantasy. Specifically, SFF that is popular among Hugo voters. There are a lot of different styles of sci fi out there, but each award has a different “taste” so to speak. I am getting somewhat tired of this flavor.
Pro: I am now reading more short fiction than I ever have before. I have discovered new writers that I adore who I might never have found before this, because I always paid attention only to writers who wrote novels. I am so glad this is a mistake that I am learning to correct!
Here are my thoughts on the short stories that were nominated for this year’s Hugo Award:
“Mr. Death” by Alix E. Harrow – A Grim Reaper finds he has a hard time taking the soul of a child.
This was a hard subject – especially with just having a kid this past year, reading about child death was a little iffy. However, it was written sincerely. It felt almost a little reminiscent of Good Omens to me at the end, but although I liked Good Omens, I personally don’t go much for the guardian-angel type stuff. I’ve seen some people on reddit calling this “award bait” and I see why, but that doesn’t make it any less good.
“Proof by Induction” by Jose Pablo Iriarte – A son spends time with a computer recreation of his deceased father in order to solve a math mystery.
There was a lot of math jargon in this one, and I don’t know enough about math to know if any of the theorems mentioned are real or made up. This was the second story in a row about death, which means even though it is very different from the first story, I inevitably ended up comparing the two. I found it very poignant that every time Paulie visits, his dad says “thank you for visiting, Paulie” and you know Paulie just wants to hear him say “I love you,” but he never, ever will.
“The Sin of America” by Catherynne M. Valente – A sin eater tries to take on the sins of a nation and becomes a scapegoat.
This was extremely well written. Catherynne M. Valente is a writer that I had never read before, but I am really in love with after doing this Hugos read. This story was a little too uncomfortable to really enjoy, but it was thought-provoking.
“Tangles” by Seanan McGuire – Apparently, this was a Magic the Gathering fanfic. It doesn’t really require any knowledge of MTG, but perhaps the reader might get more out of it if they are familiar?
I thought this was an okay story of learning a lesson from a new friend and a neat description of a moment in time that is many moments.
“Unknown Number” by Blue Neustifter – This was actually originally posted on twitter as bunch of created screen shots of a conversation between a trans woman and herself from an alternate timeline.
Who hasn’t wanted to have a conversation with themselves? I thought this was an interesting way to present the story, and the subject was handled well, but but something about the dialogue just didn’t work for me.
“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker – This story was formatted like a comments thread on a lyrics website. (Raise your hand if you used to spend a lot of time on songmeanings.com!) It includes a link to a youtube recording of “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker’s band The Stalking Horses.
This story is a mystery/horror story that manages to have recognizable characters, humor, and an engaging plot all within the comments thread of a creepy folk song. I loved this story a lot. Hands down my favorite one.