Reading the Hugos: An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright

Although I may write a review of a super secret Hugo story, the last real Hugo short story finalist is An Unimaginable Light, by John C. Wright, part of the anthology God, Robot, a collection of short stories that explore the concept of “theobots,” an interesting (and perhaps even necessary) twist to Asimov’s three laws (especially the first.)

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Reading the Hugos: That Game We Played During the War, by Carrie Vaughn

That game we played during the war is one of the finalists for the Best Short Story category for this year Hugo Awards.

Recently after the war between the nations of Enith and Gaant ended —the Gaanthians being telepaths—, Calla, an Enithian nurse, goes to the nation of Gaant to see the wounded Major Vaark Lan, a Ganthian she had met during the war. Their relationship is slowly revealed, but the crux of it is that both had been each others’ prisoners during the war. Calla had been Lan’s nurse when he had been captured and, later, she had been a Gaantian prisoner under Lan’s supervision. During those two imprisonments, a peculiar bond between them was born, including the pastime of playing an odd version of chess.

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Reading the Hugos: Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)

This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.

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Reading the Hugos: Our Talons can Crush Galaxies, by Brook Bolander.

Our talons can Crush Galaxies is one of the six finalists for the Best Short Story award of the 2017 Hugo Awards.


Gods, Godlings, Infernal Powers, and Outside Entities. There may be beings out there whose dancing can set entire planets on fire, and their talons crush galaxies. Well, good for them, because my Critic Rage also knows no bounds, and even the gods themselves —at least if they are as silly as the ones from this short story— must suffer my critical wrath.

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Reading the Hugos: A Fist in Permutations of Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong.

A First of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alissa Wong is another finalist for the 2017 Hugo Awards Best Short Story category.

If the previous story, The City Born Great, was puzzling in an amusing way, this one is puzzling in an infuriating way. The story, not that there is much of it, continually sabotages itself and undermines its own point by its constant attempts at being sophisticated and oniric literature. What could have worked as a short story in a more literary genre, becomes insufferable once “fantasy” elements are added into the mix.

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Gygax on post-70s fiction.

There is something missing in the big conversation about the current and future state of sff. Well, I’m sure there are many things, but I will focus on one.

Some of the people I read and follow claim that what is needed is to go back to the more pulpish roots of the genre, with AD&D’ Appendix N (not exactly pulp, but still, close enough) being a great starting point to know more about those now-forgotten or ignored classics. Some even read the editorials and interviews from old magazines to better understand the cultural zeitgeist of that era. Now, Appendix N may very well be a fundamental document of a bygone age, but it’s not like its author (Gary Gygax) died, struck down by a malignant curse in the prime of his life, just after penning his sacred doctrine.

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