johncoxon: ([Me] Renovation)

Hello LiveJournal! Writing this on Monday morning at work, because I was too tired last night.

Monday and Tuesday were roleplay, as per usual: Pathfinder and Star Wars, respectively. It felt like we got through more roleplay on the Monday than we have been doing recently, although I don’t know whether that’s just my perception or not. I helped the GM solve a technical problem after we’d played, regarding the upcoming redesign of Physics for Idiots, a website that he and a couple of friends of ours constructed back in the day. It’s an exciting project, and I’m looking forward to seeing Physics for Idiots reborn in all its glory! Star Wars was fun, I’m still enjoying GMing and I’m having a blast coming up with ways to have the players’ explorations land them on the main plot by hook or by crook. I like the feeling that they can go and poke around and still wind up uncovering stuff that’s relevant, but it requires a lot of reworking and improvisation as a game progresses. It’s a rather terrifying experience, actually.

Wednesday was a bit weird for two reasons: firstly, it was the graduation ceremony for the College of Science and Engineering, so I was tasked with selling the Journal of Physics Special Topics to the graduates. It’s a compilation of some of the miniature papers that they write over the course of a year, and so they tend to get bought so that people can sign them, etc. I produce the book for the department each year, and each year I have to work out all the problems from scratch because I take terrible notes. Next year, I’ll be at my new post in Southampton and so I won’t be able to do it; as such, this year I took pretty good notes. I must blog them, really. In the evening of Wednesday, [livejournal.com profile] cmdrsuzdal and I went to Café Research, a monthly meeting of postgraduates to discuss postgraduate research throughout the University of Leicester. This month saw the launch of Frontier, a new magazine that also focuses on postgraduate research – I was the director of design for the inaugural issue, so I attended to see that happen. I have a couple of copies for my parents, etc., and it’s quite cool to see my designs in a semi-professional magazine!

I know we watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin at some stage this week and I think it was Wednesday night. I enjoyed it, it was silly and fun. We also started watching Orphan Black at some stage, which I am enjoying. And we really need to finish the series of Rick and Morty, which should really be getting a Hugo Award this time next year.

Thursday and Friday were much the same at work, but both involved barbecues afterwards. The Thursday saw a couple of my colleagues throw a barbecue leading into watching The Secret Life of Students, because the latest episode had my supervisor in it. España and I left before the communal watching so that we could watch it in bed, but it was fun to see the department and academics I know featured on the show. I’ve actually been rather enjoying the show generally, so it’s nice to keep up with it on the day it airs (especially given that it tends to get discussed at work). Friday, [livejournal.com profile] himedark decided to throw a barbecue, which was great fun. It was nice to hang out with Lianne, Liz, Hamish and Ian, and have España spend a bit more time with them. We ate way too much meat, which was also very fun!

Saturday, I went to the gym really early before España was properly awake, and we headed to Mrs Bridges Tearooms when she had gotten up so that we could get a spot of breakfast. I got some pork shoulder diced on the market for an experiment, and then we headed home to clean the flat. That evening was Chris’ birthday dinner at Buddies USA, so we got a lift with Liz and Hamish and met up with Alex, Lianne, Shannon, Andrew, Chris, Ash and Nicola at the restaurant. It was fun: España had a burger that came in two waffles instead of in a bun, with maple syrup. I had the Chewbacka, which is just bacon, cheese and mushrooms – also yummy. After the meal I headed back to Chris and Andrew’s to drink some prosecco, and then headed home to collapse into bed because knackered.

Sunday was a day on which my parents visited at 09:30 to drop some stuff off, so we got up stupid early. I made a banoffee pie and hung out with Chris, Andrew, Alex, and Lianne to play Eldritch Horror, which is jolly good fun. It’s similar to Arkham Horror in terms of the need to close gates and defeat monsters, but the actual lower-level mechanics are different enough that I think it’s worth playing both. I had a great time.

Finally on Sunday, I went to see Monty Python with my friend Josh. It was really great fun, but the introduction of a few new jokes in places didn’t work very well. Honestly the best bits were when they were corpsing or forgetting their lines on stage. John Cleese, particularly, seemed to be having difficulty with lines and whatnot. I was pleased to see Graham Chapman appear on the monitor quite prominently. All in all, a good evening (and about 3.5 hours long at the cinema, which was worth the money!).

Until next time, LiveJournalers!

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)
If you were forced, at gunpoint, to submit your five novel nominations for the Hugo Awards now, which five novels would you pick?
johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)
If you were forced, at gunpoint, to submit your five novel nominations for the Hugo Awards now, which five novels would you pick?
johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

So I read a bunch of novellas tonight (I had some spare time that didn’t get taken up by writing, or compiling a project, or working, or going to the cinema) and to save you all from the prospect of having a bunch of entries suddenly appear in your feed, I thought I’d write about them here.

I think the order in which they will go, in my voting, is ‘Kiss Me Twice’, ‘The Man Who Ended History’, ‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’, Countdown, Silently and Very Fast and then ‘The Ice Owl’.

24) Countdown by Mira Grant

This novella is actually written in a semi-similar style to the last one I read, Ken Liu’s ‘The Man Who Ended History’, and so I jumped straight in with gusto. It’s not presented as a documentary, but it’s the story of several snippets of different people’s lives, all of which build towards the end of the book. Countdown is a novella in the Newsflesh universe, alongside Feed, Deadline and Blackout; I don’t think I’m spoiling much if I tell you that this universe is mostly preoccupied with the Rising, in which the dead rise and try to eat the living. Countdown is a compilation of stories that describe the events before Feed that lead to that occurring.

Countdown )

I feel guilty that this ended up as low in my rankings as it did, but I think that’s a function of the fact that nothing here is anything new in terms of the Newsflesh universe. Grant hasn’t included any titbits that are critical to the plot of the trilogy, which is fair enough, since this isn’t required reading for people who want to read the novels – however, that ultimately ends up hurting the novella because it means I got exactly what I expected, with no surprises or expansion of the boundaries.

25) ‘The Ice Owl’ by Carolyn Ives Gilman

This novella is, structurally, very easy to follow, telling a story in chronological order from the perspective of a single protagonist (the first of the novellas I read that did so). I liked the main character, a somewhat rebellious teenager called Thorn, and I liked the background, too. It’s set in the Twenty Planets universe, which is a backdrop that Gilman also used in a previous novella and which I liked the look of – humans can transport themselves between the planets via beams of light, but since this occurs at light speed, they leave everything behind when they do so, as by the time they get back to their original destination the friends they had will have aged significantly whilst they stayed the same. This isn’t a new concept (something similar happens in Revelation Space, for instance) but it’s a nifty implementation, in my opinion, and the characters that arise as a result are intriguing.

The Ice Owl )

I enjoyed reading this, which might make it a little weird that I’ve ranked it last on my Hugo ballot. This reinforces the high standard of the novellas this year, and is a reflection of my dissatisfaction with the ending, which spoiled the story for me. If this was the first segment of a novel, and had been released as a teaser, I’d totally buy the novel; as a standalone work it fails.

26) ‘Kiss Me Twice’ by Mary Robinette Kowal

This story almost makes me glad that I still have ‘For Want of a Nail’ still to read from last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, since it completely drew me in. I wasn’t this gripped by any of the previous three novellas, and I really liked the pacing of the plot. I suspect this was not hurt by the fact that I’ve always been rather fond of crime fiction! As I finished it I wanted to read it again, and I definitely want to seek out more of Kowal’s work.

Kiss Me Twice )

For reasons I can’t adequately put into words this one tops my list of novellas this year. I would dearly love to read more about this partnership.

27) Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

I really wanted to like this story, but something about the way it was written made it hard for me to get into and even harder for me to understand properly. Valente is writing, essentially, about how an artificial intelligence develops within the mind of a human; it’s a fascinating look at this process and one that I found very interesting. Unfortunately, I really felt that the style of the writing obfuscated the concepts that were being explored, to the point where I was really slogging through the story as opposed to wanting to keep reading. Since this was the only novella that made me feel that way, that might explain why I didn’t rank it very highly.

It’s worth noting at this point that, of all the novellas here, this is probably the one that attempts to tackle the largest sfnal concept. It’s also the only one that I felt tackled an SFnal concept that wasn’t easy to get your head around. ‘The Man who Ended History’ made me think, but it did so by using a simple concept to illustrate something horrific from different viewpoints, which is a different kind of mental gymnastics; this is definitely the hardest SF of the six candidates on offer, I’d say.

It’s a shame, since Valente is clearly very clever in her style of writing and I can tell that my dislike for the tale is almost certainly a fault on my part rather than on hers. I really enjoyed how cleverly she constructed ‘Golubash (Wine-Blood-War-Story)’ (which was the story that appeared in Escape Pod #340) so I am now eagerly anticipating experiencing more of her work to see where I fall on that. But, ultimately, this novella didn’t do it for me, and so it winds up second-to-last in my rankings. (This reinforces my suspicion that Neil Clarke will end up somewhere towards the bottom of my rankings in that category, too.)

28) ‘The Man who Bridged the Mist’ by Kij Johnson

The last of the novellas that I read for this year’s Hugo Awards was also very gripping and came from the same editor as ‘Kiss Me Twice’, more or less confirming my suspicions that Sheila Williams will be doing very well when I vote in Best Editor (Short Form). This story really drew me in with the strange and ethereal Mist, and the descriptions of the crossings performed by the Ferrys are awesome to read – very vivid!

The Man who Bridged the Mist )

I have to admit that I don’t think this will place above ‘The Man who Ended History’ for me due to the lack of conceptual brilliance here. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale, but I didn’t fall in love with it in quite the same way that I did with ‘Kiss Me Twice’; as such, it goes into a comfortable third place in my voting.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

So I read a bunch of novellas tonight (I had some spare time that didn’t get taken up by writing, or compiling a project, or working, or going to the cinema) and to save you all from the prospect of having a bunch of entries suddenly appear in your feed, I thought I’d write about them here.

I think the order in which they will go, in my voting, is ‘Kiss Me Twice’, ‘The Man Who Ended History’, ‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’, Countdown, Silently and Very Fast and then ‘The Ice Owl’.

24) Countdown by Mira Grant

This novella is actually written in a semi-similar style to the last one I read, Ken Liu’s ‘The Man Who Ended History’, and so I jumped straight in with gusto. It’s not presented as a documentary, but it’s the story of several snippets of different people’s lives, all of which build towards the end of the book. Countdown is a novella in the Newsflesh universe, alongside Feed, Deadline and Blackout; I don’t think I’m spoiling much if I tell you that this universe is mostly preoccupied with the Rising, in which the dead rise and try to eat the living. Countdown is a compilation of stories that describe the events before Feed that lead to that occurring.

Countdown )

I feel guilty that this ended up as low in my rankings as it did, but I think that’s a function of the fact that nothing here is anything new in terms of the Newsflesh universe. Grant hasn’t included any titbits that are critical to the plot of the trilogy, which is fair enough, since this isn’t required reading for people who want to read the novels – however, that ultimately ends up hurting the novella because it means I got exactly what I expected, with no surprises or expansion of the boundaries.

25) ‘The Ice Owl’ by Carolyn Ives Gilman

This novella is, structurally, very easy to follow, telling a story in chronological order from the perspective of a single protagonist (the first of the novellas I read that did so). I liked the main character, a somewhat rebellious teenager called Thorn, and I liked the background, too. It’s set in the Twenty Planets universe, which is a backdrop that Gilman also used in a previous novella and which I liked the look of – humans can transport themselves between the planets via beams of light, but since this occurs at light speed, they leave everything behind when they do so, as by the time they get back to their original destination the friends they had will have aged significantly whilst they stayed the same. This isn’t a new concept (something similar happens in Revelation Space, for instance) but it’s a nifty implementation, in my opinion, and the characters that arise as a result are intriguing.

The Ice Owl )

I enjoyed reading this, which might make it a little weird that I’ve ranked it last on my Hugo ballot. This reinforces the high standard of the novellas this year, and is a reflection of my dissatisfaction with the ending, which spoiled the story for me. If this was the first segment of a novel, and had been released as a teaser, I’d totally buy the novel; as a standalone work it fails.

26) ‘Kiss Me Twice’ by Mary Robinette Kowal

This story almost makes me glad that I still have ‘For Want of a Nail’ still to read from last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, since it completely drew me in. I wasn’t this gripped by any of the previous three novellas, and I really liked the pacing of the plot. I suspect this was not hurt by the fact that I’ve always been rather fond of crime fiction! As I finished it I wanted to read it again, and I definitely want to seek out more of Kowal’s work.

Kiss Me Twice )

For reasons I can’t adequately put into words this one tops my list of novellas this year. I would dearly love to read more about this partnership.

27) Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

I really wanted to like this story, but something about the way it was written made it hard for me to get into and even harder for me to understand properly. Valente is writing, essentially, about how an artificial intelligence develops within the mind of a human; it’s a fascinating look at this process and one that I found very interesting. Unfortunately, I really felt that the style of the writing obfuscated the concepts that were being explored, to the point where I was really slogging through the story as opposed to wanting to keep reading. Since this was the only novella that made me feel that way, that might explain why I didn’t rank it very highly.

It’s worth noting at this point that, of all the novellas here, this is probably the one that attempts to tackle the largest sfnal concept. It’s also the only one that I felt tackled an SFnal concept that wasn’t easy to get your head around. ‘The Man who Ended History’ made me think, but it did so by using a simple concept to illustrate something horrific from different viewpoints, which is a different kind of mental gymnastics; this is definitely the hardest SF of the six candidates on offer, I’d say.

It’s a shame, since Valente is clearly very clever in her style of writing and I can tell that my dislike for the tale is almost certainly a fault on my part rather than on hers. I really enjoyed how cleverly she constructed ‘Golubash (Wine-Blood-War-Story)’ (which was the story that appeared in Escape Pod #340) so I am now eagerly anticipating experiencing more of her work to see where I fall on that. But, ultimately, this novella didn’t do it for me, and so it winds up second-to-last in my rankings. (This reinforces my suspicion that Neil Clarke will end up somewhere towards the bottom of my rankings in that category, too.)

28) ‘The Man who Bridged the Mist’ by Kij Johnson

The last of the novellas that I read for this year’s Hugo Awards was also very gripping and came from the same editor as ‘Kiss Me Twice’, more or less confirming my suspicions that Sheila Williams will be doing very well when I vote in Best Editor (Short Form). This story really drew me in with the strange and ethereal Mist, and the descriptions of the crossings performed by the Ferrys are awesome to read – very vivid!

The Man who Bridged the Mist )

I have to admit that I don’t think this will place above ‘The Man who Ended History’ for me due to the lack of conceptual brilliance here. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale, but I didn’t fall in love with it in quite the same way that I did with ‘Kiss Me Twice’; as such, it goes into a comfortable third place in my voting.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve started my way through the Hugo Voter Packet and this is the first short story I’ve read since starting my short stories roundups every week (it should be pointed out that I listened to four of the five Hugo-nominated short stories via Escape Pod, who did excellent readings of each). So expect some stuff from that coming up this week!

80) ‘1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur’ by Mur Lafferty
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the first thing of Mur’s that I’ve read and it made me giggle in several places. It’s the tale of a journalist meeting the famous Dr Lambshead, and it first appeared in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, which is a book designed for dipping in and out of. As such, I’m not sure it stands so well on its own, but since I possess a copy of the book I have the context for the piece. As a result I liked it a lot, and I was a huge fan of the sense of mystery around the object described in the story. I was also taken in by the use of parentheses to tell the story in a very perpendicular way which seemed to suit the nature of the book.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m planning to read the rest of Mur’s fiction, too. If you click the link now, you can get it whilst it’s still available for free: The offer ends at the end of June, which is tomorrow, so get downloading!

81) ‘The Transfiguration of María Luisa Ortega’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this thoroughly for the ideas it threw out but it’s extremely short. Given that it takes under five minutes to read, rather than me waffling on, you should probably just click the link and go read it.

I’ve already listened to ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, and so this was the first one I read from Yu’s excellently presented Campbell Award ebook.

82) ‘The Lamp at the Turning’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This one is longer than the previous one but still pretty short. Despite that it feels long enough for the story it tells, and I definitely enjoyed it greatly. It’s about a streetlamp that falls in love with a man who walks past it every day, which is just such a great concept. Definitely worth a look.

83) ‘Observer Effects’ by Tim Pratt
First published, 2007 – appeared in Escape Pod #250

This is Escape Pod’s last superhero-themed episode, which makes me sad. It includes ruminations on the nature of privacy and privacy intrusions, which I imagine would really annoy [livejournal.com profile] lproven. It also had a completely fascinating conceit: A computer that hooks into a superhero’s brain in order to work correctly. I found it difficult to get behind the central character in the ending of the story, though.

84) ‘Forget You’ by Marc Laidlaw
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was from one of the creators of Half-Life and so I was surprised to see it was fantasy, not sf. A man is lonely, and then a woman insinuates herself into his life. He is promptly slowly driven mad trying to remember how he met her. Definitely worth a read.

85) ‘Domovoi’ by M.K. Hobson
First published, 2005 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Mournful story about a real estate developer killing the soul of an old building by reinventing it. Not sure what I thought of this one; it’s evocative and tugs at my heart strings but at the same time leaving old buildings unused instead of redeveloping seems like a triumph of nostalgia over practicality.

86) ‘Ray of Light’ by Brad R. Torgersen
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Reading this simultaneously marks having read something by every Campbell-nominated author and also having read the first of the five nominated novelettes this year. I must confess that I really enjoyed this; I liked the concept, I thought that the logic behind the difference between the adults and the children made sense and loved the ending. One thing I was unsure about was the mother; I didn’t care about what happened to her, and I’m not sure that’s a good sign. I don’t yet know where I’m going to put Torgersen in my rankings for the Campbell; we’ll see.

87) ‘Six Months, Three Days’ by Charlie Jane Anders
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the second novelette and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s about Doug and Judy, two people who can both see glimpses of the future – they meet, fall in love and have a relationship. It lasts six months and three days. What I liked about this story was the contrast between Doug and Judy, and also the way in which the story ends. I would love to find out more about both characters!

88) ‘What We Found’ by Geoff Ryman
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This book tells an interesting personal story but didn’t transport me in the way that the previous two novelettes have done. It’s the story of a family living in Nigeria. The mother and father have four sons, and we hear the story through one of the middle ones. The science fictional idea that lies at the heart of this story is completely brilliant, and I loved it. I found parts of the family dynamic interesting, too, but I didn’t think the two were married particularly well and I would like to have seen more discussion of what the idea would have meant. I felt like this story had a lot of potential that didn’t really come through, in the end.

89) ‘Fields of Gold’ by Rachel Swirsky
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

The setting of this story instantly made me fall in love with it. The way that Swirsky plays with the setting made me continue to fall in love until it made me cry, instead. And then it made me happy, at the end. I have a feeling that this one’s going to be my favourite.

90) ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Apologies for the link to a PDF: I don’t think it’s available freely in any other format. I thought I’d already listened to this on StarShipSofa, but I went back to check and in fact I listened to the second Jonathan Hamilton novelette; this is the third.

I like Hamilton; he’s a cool character, and I also like the world quite a lot, with its vision of Britain as a world power. However, I must say I’m not sure that I have enough context for the world itself. I kinda feel like I need something a bit longer to solidify a couple of concepts regarding this universe. The action was really great, and something that wasn’t really present in any of the other nominees in this category. I do like the central ideas; the way that science has concluded that there must be a God; the dramatic irony inherent in the explanation of the twin paradox; and the explanation that it was Newton who came up with quantum theory. All in all an enjoyable read.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve started my way through the Hugo Voter Packet and this is the first short story I’ve read since starting my short stories roundups every week (it should be pointed out that I listened to four of the five Hugo-nominated short stories via Escape Pod, who did excellent readings of each). So expect some stuff from that coming up this week!

80) ‘1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur’ by Mur Lafferty
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the first thing of Mur’s that I’ve read and it made me giggle in several places. It’s the tale of a journalist meeting the famous Dr Lambshead, and it first appeared in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, which is a book designed for dipping in and out of. As such, I’m not sure it stands so well on its own, but since I possess a copy of the book I have the context for the piece. As a result I liked it a lot, and I was a huge fan of the sense of mystery around the object described in the story. I was also taken in by the use of parentheses to tell the story in a very perpendicular way which seemed to suit the nature of the book.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m planning to read the rest of Mur’s fiction, too. If you click the link now, you can get it whilst it’s still available for free: The offer ends at the end of June, which is tomorrow, so get downloading!

81) ‘The Transfiguration of María Luisa Ortega’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this thoroughly for the ideas it threw out but it’s extremely short. Given that it takes under five minutes to read, rather than me waffling on, you should probably just click the link and go read it.

I’ve already listened to ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, and so this was the first one I read from Yu’s excellently presented Campbell Award ebook.

82) ‘The Lamp at the Turning’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This one is longer than the previous one but still pretty short. Despite that it feels long enough for the story it tells, and I definitely enjoyed it greatly. It’s about a streetlamp that falls in love with a man who walks past it every day, which is just such a great concept. Definitely worth a look.

83) ‘Observer Effects’ by Tim Pratt
First published, 2007 – appeared in Escape Pod #250

This is Escape Pod’s last superhero-themed episode, which makes me sad. It includes ruminations on the nature of privacy and privacy intrusions, which I imagine would really annoy [livejournal.com profile] lproven. It also had a completely fascinating conceit: A computer that hooks into a superhero’s brain in order to work correctly. I found it difficult to get behind the central character in the ending of the story, though.

84) ‘Forget You’ by Marc Laidlaw
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was from one of the creators of Half-Life and so I was surprised to see it was fantasy, not sf. A man is lonely, and then a woman insinuates herself into his life. He is promptly slowly driven mad trying to remember how he met her. Definitely worth a read.

85) ‘Domovoi’ by M.K. Hobson
First published, 2005 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Mournful story about a real estate developer killing the soul of an old building by reinventing it. Not sure what I thought of this one; it’s evocative and tugs at my heart strings but at the same time leaving old buildings unused instead of redeveloping seems like a triumph of nostalgia over practicality.

86) ‘Ray of Light’ by Brad R. Torgersen
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Reading this simultaneously marks having read something by every Campbell-nominated author and also having read the first of the five nominated novelettes this year. I must confess that I really enjoyed this; I liked the concept, I thought that the logic behind the difference between the adults and the children made sense and loved the ending. One thing I was unsure about was the mother; I didn’t care about what happened to her, and I’m not sure that’s a good sign. I don’t yet know where I’m going to put Torgersen in my rankings for the Campbell; we’ll see.

87) ‘Six Months, Three Days’ by Charlie Jane Anders
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the second novelette and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s about Doug and Judy, two people who can both see glimpses of the future – they meet, fall in love and have a relationship. It lasts six months and three days. What I liked about this story was the contrast between Doug and Judy, and also the way in which the story ends. I would love to find out more about both characters!

88) ‘What We Found’ by Geoff Ryman
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This book tells an interesting personal story but didn’t transport me in the way that the previous two novelettes have done. It’s the story of a family living in Nigeria. The mother and father have four sons, and we hear the story through one of the middle ones. The science fictional idea that lies at the heart of this story is completely brilliant, and I loved it. I found parts of the family dynamic interesting, too, but I didn’t think the two were married particularly well and I would like to have seen more discussion of what the idea would have meant. I felt like this story had a lot of potential that didn’t really come through, in the end.

89) ‘Fields of Gold’ by Rachel Swirsky
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

The setting of this story instantly made me fall in love with it. The way that Swirsky plays with the setting made me continue to fall in love until it made me cry, instead. And then it made me happy, at the end. I have a feeling that this one’s going to be my favourite.

90) ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Apologies for the link to a PDF: I don’t think it’s available freely in any other format. I thought I’d already listened to this on StarShipSofa, but I went back to check and in fact I listened to the second Jonathan Hamilton novelette; this is the third.

I like Hamilton; he’s a cool character, and I also like the world quite a lot, with its vision of Britain as a world power. However, I must say I’m not sure that I have enough context for the world itself. I kinda feel like I need something a bit longer to solidify a couple of concepts regarding this universe. The action was really great, and something that wasn’t really present in any of the other nominees in this category. I do like the central ideas; the way that science has concluded that there must be a God; the dramatic irony inherent in the explanation of the twin paradox; and the explanation that it was Newton who came up with quantum theory. All in all an enjoyable read.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

This is the second of the two novels from people nominated for a Campbell. I’m going to move onto Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen, because it’s also nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novella, and then segue into that category from there before moving onto Editor (Short Form) and Semiprozine.

Set during the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this book is a harrowing read in parts, especially if (as I am) you’re British. It’s about Liam, a young Irish lad who lives in Derry, and then in Belfast. It follows the first chapters of his life, starting out as a teenager imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Martin McGrath, an Irish Nationalist with direct experience of the Troubles, wrote an excellent analysis of the book and what’s wrong with its portrayal of the Unionists, the British and the Nationalists. I had read the blog post without realising that it was a review of a Campbell-nominated author’s novel, and so I liked the chance to reread it having some of the context for the book that it was talking about.

One important thing to note about this novel is that, despite the fact some parts seemed jarring to me and I noticed a very one-sided portrayal of the issues, involved, it made me want to know more. Speaking as a young Briton who only vaguely remembers hearing about the Good Friday Agreement on the radio, I don’t know much about the Troubles. After finishing this novel one of the first things I did was start looking stuff up on Wikipedia, and reading. As far as I can tell from browsing Wikipedia and some other sources, there were some Republicans, who did bad things; some Unionists, who did equally bad things; and the British Army, some of whom were doing their job as best they could but some of whom had far too much sympathy for the Unionists to be anything other than terrorists in British uniforms. (This is a gross oversimplification but I think that’s the gist of it; McGrath’s excellent post will give you an idea of what I mean.) I’m happy that I was spurred into learning more about this, since I think it’s really important that people are aware of the history here, but what I’ve learned has diminished my enjoyment of the book due to the above issues.

As a consequence of all this, I feel really conflicted about the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from cover to cover – although it’s a very melancholy tale so don’t read it if you don’t have easy access to hugs! – but I’m uncomfortable about how skewed the image I came away with was. As far as I can tell, the Troubles in Northern Ireland are a hell of a lot less black and white than Leicht would have us believe. The comments on McGrath’s blog highlight Leicht saying, “I guess you can say it’s my way of finding a real situation that fits extreme good versus extreme evil.” That, to me, suggests that she thinks anyone in Ireland who’s a Catholic is ‘extreme good’, and anyone who is not is ‘extreme evil’. Given that, as a Briton, I guess I would fall under the ‘extreme evil’ classification, that’s obviously an opinion that I have certain issues with.

Current views on the Campbell

When it comes to my current rankings for the Campbell Award, I think I’m voting for E. Lily Yu first, with Karen Lord second and Stina Leicht third. I love how Yu plays with the worlds she describes in her short stories in a way that seems very perpendicular to me. Lord’s novel was unusual in terms of its narrator, and Leicht’s novel is heartrending, and both were very enjoyable, but I kinda felt both were playing with pretty standard fantasy fare. In contrast, Yu includes ideas that feel really unique to her, and I think I feel that sets her apart from the others. I haven’t yet read any Torgersen, so we’ll see where I place him in the rankings.

I don’t know where to place Mur yet; I’m thinking I might read the rest of her fiction, which is available for free till the end of June, before making my decision on which number will go beside her name.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

This is the second of the two novels from people nominated for a Campbell. I’m going to move onto Ray of Light by Brad R. Torgersen, because it’s also nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novella, and then segue into that category from there before moving onto Editor (Short Form) and Semiprozine.

Set during the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this book is a harrowing read in parts, especially if (as I am) you’re British. It’s about Liam, a young Irish lad who lives in Derry, and then in Belfast. It follows the first chapters of his life, starting out as a teenager imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Martin McGrath, an Irish Nationalist with direct experience of the Troubles, wrote an excellent analysis of the book and what’s wrong with its portrayal of the Unionists, the British and the Nationalists. I had read the blog post without realising that it was a review of a Campbell-nominated author’s novel, and so I liked the chance to reread it having some of the context for the book that it was talking about.

One important thing to note about this novel is that, despite the fact some parts seemed jarring to me and I noticed a very one-sided portrayal of the issues, involved, it made me want to know more. Speaking as a young Briton who only vaguely remembers hearing about the Good Friday Agreement on the radio, I don’t know much about the Troubles. After finishing this novel one of the first things I did was start looking stuff up on Wikipedia, and reading. As far as I can tell from browsing Wikipedia and some other sources, there were some Republicans, who did bad things; some Unionists, who did equally bad things; and the British Army, some of whom were doing their job as best they could but some of whom had far too much sympathy for the Unionists to be anything other than terrorists in British uniforms. (This is a gross oversimplification but I think that’s the gist of it; McGrath’s excellent post will give you an idea of what I mean.) I’m happy that I was spurred into learning more about this, since I think it’s really important that people are aware of the history here, but what I’ve learned has diminished my enjoyment of the book due to the above issues.

As a consequence of all this, I feel really conflicted about the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from cover to cover – although it’s a very melancholy tale so don’t read it if you don’t have easy access to hugs! – but I’m uncomfortable about how skewed the image I came away with was. As far as I can tell, the Troubles in Northern Ireland are a hell of a lot less black and white than Leicht would have us believe. The comments on McGrath’s blog highlight Leicht saying, “I guess you can say it’s my way of finding a real situation that fits extreme good versus extreme evil.” That, to me, suggests that she thinks anyone in Ireland who’s a Catholic is ‘extreme good’, and anyone who is not is ‘extreme evil’. Given that, as a Briton, I guess I would fall under the ‘extreme evil’ classification, that’s obviously an opinion that I have certain issues with.

Current views on the Campbell

When it comes to my current rankings for the Campbell Award, I think I’m voting for E. Lily Yu first, with Karen Lord second and Stina Leicht third. I love how Yu plays with the worlds she describes in her short stories in a way that seems very perpendicular to me. Lord’s novel was unusual in terms of its narrator, and Leicht’s novel is heartrending, and both were very enjoyable, but I kinda felt both were playing with pretty standard fantasy fare. In contrast, Yu includes ideas that feel really unique to her, and I think I feel that sets her apart from the others. I haven’t yet read any Torgersen, so we’ll see where I place him in the rankings.

I don’t know where to place Mur yet; I’m thinking I might read the rest of her fiction, which is available for free till the end of June, before making my decision on which number will go beside her name.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Reading this marks my exit from reading long overdue loans and my entrance of the Hugo Awards’ voter packet: this is the first thing I have read for the Campbell award. It’s a fairly short novel (half the length of Of Blood and Honey, the other novel in that category), but I found myself getting thoroughly drawn into the story and the world that was being described; I definitely recommend giving it a read.

Spoilers! )

I hope the other Campbell nominees are as well-paced and enjoyable as this was!

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

21) Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Reading this marks my exit from reading long overdue loans and my entrance of the Hugo Awards’ voter packet: this is the first thing I have read for the Campbell award. It’s a fairly short novel (half the length of Of Blood and Honey, the other novel in that category), but I found myself getting thoroughly drawn into the story and the world that was being described; I definitely recommend giving it a read.

Spoilers! )

I hope the other Campbell nominees are as well-paced and enjoyable as this was!

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