book log July 2013 – part 1

Back to the ever more neglected book log. I’m going to do July 2013 in several parts, because there are a lot of titles, some of which I did or can say something sensible about, and some of which I left too late.

July was Hugo Voting Packet month. I chugged my way through an awful lot of words that were up for a Hugo, and logged the short stories at the time.

3 short stories:

33) Ken Liu – Mono no Aware (Published in the anthology The World is Japanese)

A young Japanese man is sitting in the control room of a generation ship, minding the solar sail. As the story cuts between his present and his memories, the story gradually reveals how and why he came to be there, and why the choice he makes at the end of the story matters so very much. Beautifully written study of loss and survival, and made me want to read the rest of the anthology it appeared in.

34) Aliette de Bodard — Immersion

A lot of things are stuffed into this short story. Imperialism, whether economic, cultural, or in the recent past nakedly military. Class and money. Identity, and how it ties into the imperialism. The use and abuse of technology. Common themes, but handled deftly, and with a genuine sf slant to them. There’s some superb world-building done in a short story word count, and characters whose fate I care about. This one’s my pick for the Hugo, although it was a hard choice between this and Ken Lui’s story.

35) Kij Johnson — Mantis Wives

Take praying mantises, give them human intelligence and emotions so that we can identify with them — and leave them their insect behaviour patterns, described in beautiful language that heightens rather than hides the horror of what’s going on.

I can see why this made the Hugo ballot. But it really doesn’t work for me. Not voting for this one.

36-40) 5 Hugo novelettes
From the Hugo website:
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
“In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
“Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)
“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)

All well-written, although they varied in how much I actually enjoyed reading them. I’ve left it too long and would have to re-read to review.

Two of the novels:

41) Lois McMaster Bujold — Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

A novel from the Vorkosiverse, with Ivan in the starring role. Funny, romantic and smart, just like Ivan himself.

42) John Scalzi – Redshirts

Very, very meta novel about junior starship crew members who slowly realise that in another universe they’re fictional characters, and that what the show writers do to them in that universe bleeds over into theirs. Which is not a good thing if you’re a redshirt. It’s territory that’s been trodden before, even in Star Trek itself, but Scalzi does an impressive job. The main text is a lot of fun, with some thoughtful and moving sections; but it’s the codas which really make this book something special.

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