My reviews of some of the 2014 Hugo Award nominations from Tor.com.

 

I’m finally starting to get used to my bifocals. It’s been six weeks now, and I no longer feel drunk when walking around. After reading these short stories I probably should be drunk. I figured some short stories would be a good way to get back into the swing of things, as I can get up, walk around and give my eyes a rest after each story. Bad choice on my part to pick these abominable stories from Tor.com. It’s not that the author’s can’t conjugate a verb coherently, but there’s little life to these stories and are extremely poor examples of the genre they are purported to be of.

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A Finalist for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.


2 Stars

The whole time I was reading this my mind kept screaming at me “the timeline makes no sense”. I think this story was supposed to evoke the golden age of Science Fiction, but it fell flat for me. Had it actually been written in the ’30’s or ’40’s it might have worked. Punch card computers, a Kansas space program after DC gets obliterated by an asteroid, full colonies established on both Mars and Venus, and worrying about the political will to continue such programs two or at most three decades later? When stars are just a fairy tale to the children of earth because of all the dust still in the atmosphere? The timing just didn’t add up to me and kept me from really buying into this story. It did make me feel sad for Nathanial and Elma, but that’s about it. I have no idea how this won a Hugo.

The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.

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In the near future water falls from the sky whenever someone lies (either a mist or a torrential flood depending on the intensity of the lie). This makes life difficult for Matt as he maneuvers the marriage question with his lover and how best to “come out” to his traditional Chinese parents.

This story is also included in Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition: A Tor.Com Original


2 Stars

DaFuque did I just read? Some sort of morality tale, a la Nothing But the Truth by Frederic Isham from a century before, where lying makes it rain on you. Only instead of a bet this one revolves around a gay Chinese Christian immigrant trying to come out of the closet to his family at Christmas. The only thing remotely fantastical in this story is that heaven pisses on you for lying, no matter where you are. Everything else is just a type of morality play where the main character agonizes over telling his family he’s gay and wants to marry his partner, whom he brought to Christmas dinner. If you take the ‘fantasy’ about the water raining down on your head, you haven’t changed the story at all. How in the heck did this even get considered for a Hugo, let alone win? The only think this story has going for it is that it’s got some funny spots, otherwise 1 star at the most.

The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.

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Wakulla Springs, in the deep jungle of the Florida panhandle, is the deepest submerged freshwater cave system in the world. In its unfathomable depths, a variety of curious creatures have left a record of their coming, of their struggle to survive, and of their eventual end. And that’s just the local human beings over the last seventy-five years. Then there are the prehistoric creatures…and, just maybe, something else.

Ranging from the late 1930s to the present day, “Wakulla Springs” is a tour de force of the human, the strange, and the miraculous.


1 Star

Well, that was disappointing. It’s just four little vignettes, the last two being very, very short, about four generations of a family tied to Wakulla Springs, FL. Starting in the Jim Crow ’40’s we meet teenage Mayola, then about 10 years later we follow her son Levi. Then in ’69 Levi meets a girl in California, and we finally end with a couple of pages about Levi’s daughter Anna studying the Wakulla area. There is NOTHING here that is Science Fiction or Fantasy. I don’t know what Tor was thinking, but this isn’t in their wheelhouse. It’s not their genre at all.

This shouldn’t have been considered for a Hugo Award as there is nothing here that falls under SF/F, there’s not even any horror in it. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, something magical or futuristic. It never materialized. As a piece on the lives of blacks in the Jim Crow era South with it’s segregationist policies it probably would have fit right into an issue of Cosmo or Ebony, but there was nothing here for a SF/F fan. This was a complete Tor failure.

The eBook was formatted well with no obvious grammar errors and only one noticeable spelling error.

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People send their dreams and wishes floating down the Mae Ping River with the hope that those dreams will be captured, read and come true. It is a surprise what some wish for and why. One can never know what’s inside someone’s heart – what they really truly want, and those dreams sometimes reveal our true selves.


2 Stars

Yet another story from Tor.com with no real SF element to it and only a very fleeting Fantasy aspect that inexplicably was nominated for a Hugo Award. A story revolving around a wish fulfillment ceremony of a small Thai village, it’s basically just a list of cause and effect scenes with a ‘butterfly effect’ slant. These 2014 Hugo stories from MacMillan imprints are not just disappointing, but are very poor examples of SF/F stories.

The eBook was formatted well with no obvious errors.

Uff Da! It’s offal like this that convinced me beyond a doubt that I was a supporter of the fight against puppy related sadness (AKA: Sad Puppy). There needs to be some science in the Science Fiction, or something fantastical/wondrous in the Fantasy, or something to make your pulse race at least a little bit in Horror. It needs to be a central part of the story if you are going to hold it up as one of the best of the year in the genre. There’s little of that presented here (none at all in the case of Wakulla Springs), and what little there was could often be removed without changing the story at all.

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