Jun. 23rd, 2012

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

For the avoidance of doubt, I’ve decided to start referring to the stories I’m planning to consider for Hugo Awards as my ‘Hugo longlist’. This means the big text file I have that contains all the stories I want to come back to at the end of the year, for whatever reason.

74) ‘Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes’ by Tom Crosshill
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

Somewhat heartrending story about a man who operates a business that allows people to be saved into memory. The amount of virtual reality packed into this short story was almost TARDIS-like, and I really liked the way implications were made about virtual reality without being stated outright; I got the distinct impression of VR as a way to make contact more fleeting, and relationships more transient, but that’s just my reading and others will undoubtedly take something away from what is here. Definitely going on the Hugo longlist.

75) ‘Kidney’ by Amir Ahmed
First published, 2012 – appeared in Drabblecast #246

Another short-but-sweet story from the Drabblecast, hot on the heels of their last one. This one’s about a man who splits up with his kidney, and the occasion on which they meet several months after the breakup. It was a cute story that made me giggle a lot, and was set in Toronto – I was pleased to get a couple of the references to places in the city. This isn’t going to get considered for the Hugos, but it’s an entertaining story all the same.

76) ‘Origins’ by Ari Goelman
First published, 2009 – appeared in Escape Pod #249

This is the second instalment in Escape Pod’s superhero month, which is currently happily ongoing. It’s a tale of a couple, their pregnancy, and then their reactions to it; the fact that it’s set in a superhero world is rather by-the-by, all things considered. I liked her power, heat manipulation: it would be easy to be more simplistic, and I liked the idea that being able to do things with ice also gave her the power to do things with fire. (I did a similar thing in a friend’s Mutants & Masterminds game, with the power of electromagnetic manipulation.) I also liked the final stages of the story, and their final conversation made me giggle (don’t want to give it away).

77) ‘Draftyhouse’ by Erik Amundsen
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

This story was a somewhat confusing tale of ghosts on the Moon. I never really got a firm handle on what was going on, but I think that might have been a deliberate choice on the part of the author, making the reader feel as weirded out as the protagonist does. The concept of the Bridgeways was cool, as was the description of the four things that man can usefully do on the Moon. I also liked the author’s observation that war cannot be recorded in history if there are no survivors on either side. Some cool ideas, but I didn’t really dig the story as a whole.

78) ‘The Womb Factory’ by Peter M. Ferenczi
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

So, first things first: This one’s on my Hugo longlist, for sure. I really felt the story impacting on me, and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s the effect of the feminist leanings of a couple of the novels I’ve read recently, whiich drew my attention to the feminist angle of the plot? The title gives away the main premise of the story, which is about girls getting pregnant for a company (the reason for this becomes apparent fairly early on).

My interest was piqued by the protagonist’s assertion that she must be ‘working’ for a company that made knockoffs, since the company that made the real deal would never stoop to using humans (instead favouring big shiny buildings with artificial biomedical equipment and the like). However this flies in the face of what’s happening in the real world at the moment, with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Sony etc using Foxxconn and Chinese labourers to build products instead of shiny manufacturing robots in the developed world. I thought the story would have had more impact had the author said it was the market leader that was engaging in these practices, and not the knockoff merchant.

79) ‘The Sympathy’ by Eric Gregory
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This was a perfectly good story about a woman driving across America and picking up a hitchhiker. The woman, it is established, has just left her long-term boyfriend, and she meets a girl who wants a ride. The woman has thoughts and dreams about her boyfriend whilst the girl is clearly not quite what she seems, at first. This story was okay, and it certainly moved along quickly without any problems; however, I found it a bit empty. Nothing I could begin to put my finger on, but it didn’t make an impression for whatever reason.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

For the avoidance of doubt, I’ve decided to start referring to the stories I’m planning to consider for Hugo Awards as my ‘Hugo longlist’. This means the big text file I have that contains all the stories I want to come back to at the end of the year, for whatever reason.

74) ‘Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes’ by Tom Crosshill
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

Somewhat heartrending story about a man who operates a business that allows people to be saved into memory. The amount of virtual reality packed into this short story was almost TARDIS-like, and I really liked the way implications were made about virtual reality without being stated outright; I got the distinct impression of VR as a way to make contact more fleeting, and relationships more transient, but that’s just my reading and others will undoubtedly take something away from what is here. Definitely going on the Hugo longlist.

75) ‘Kidney’ by Amir Ahmed
First published, 2012 – appeared in Drabblecast #246

Another short-but-sweet story from the Drabblecast, hot on the heels of their last one. This one’s about a man who splits up with his kidney, and the occasion on which they meet several months after the breakup. It was a cute story that made me giggle a lot, and was set in Toronto – I was pleased to get a couple of the references to places in the city. This isn’t going to get considered for the Hugos, but it’s an entertaining story all the same.

76) ‘Origins’ by Ari Goelman
First published, 2009 – appeared in Escape Pod #249

This is the second instalment in Escape Pod’s superhero month, which is currently happily ongoing. It’s a tale of a couple, their pregnancy, and then their reactions to it; the fact that it’s set in a superhero world is rather by-the-by, all things considered. I liked her power, heat manipulation: it would be easy to be more simplistic, and I liked the idea that being able to do things with ice also gave her the power to do things with fire. (I did a similar thing in a friend’s Mutants & Masterminds game, with the power of electromagnetic manipulation.) I also liked the final stages of the story, and their final conversation made me giggle (don’t want to give it away).

77) ‘Draftyhouse’ by Erik Amundsen
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

This story was a somewhat confusing tale of ghosts on the Moon. I never really got a firm handle on what was going on, but I think that might have been a deliberate choice on the part of the author, making the reader feel as weirded out as the protagonist does. The concept of the Bridgeways was cool, as was the description of the four things that man can usefully do on the Moon. I also liked the author’s observation that war cannot be recorded in history if there are no survivors on either side. Some cool ideas, but I didn’t really dig the story as a whole.

78) ‘The Womb Factory’ by Peter M. Ferenczi
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

So, first things first: This one’s on my Hugo longlist, for sure. I really felt the story impacting on me, and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s the effect of the feminist leanings of a couple of the novels I’ve read recently, whiich drew my attention to the feminist angle of the plot? The title gives away the main premise of the story, which is about girls getting pregnant for a company (the reason for this becomes apparent fairly early on).

My interest was piqued by the protagonist’s assertion that she must be ‘working’ for a company that made knockoffs, since the company that made the real deal would never stoop to using humans (instead favouring big shiny buildings with artificial biomedical equipment and the like). However this flies in the face of what’s happening in the real world at the moment, with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Sony etc using Foxxconn and Chinese labourers to build products instead of shiny manufacturing robots in the developed world. I thought the story would have had more impact had the author said it was the market leader that was engaging in these practices, and not the knockoff merchant.

79) ‘The Sympathy’ by Eric Gregory
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This was a perfectly good story about a woman driving across America and picking up a hitchhiker. The woman, it is established, has just left her long-term boyfriend, and she meets a girl who wants a ride. The woman has thoughts and dreams about her boyfriend whilst the girl is clearly not quite what she seems, at first. This story was okay, and it certainly moved along quickly without any problems; however, I found it a bit empty. Nothing I could begin to put my finger on, but it didn’t make an impression for whatever reason.

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