Books

2017 Hugo Awards – Three Novellas

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2017 Hugo Awards – Three Novellas

The clock’s ticking; we only have a few more weeks before the 2017 Hugo Award ceremony in August. Since I think it would be a crime to leave any of the shorter fiction entries unread, this week I’m reviewing three of the nominees for Best Novella at once. Click the jump for a review of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and the Shaman, Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey, and Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

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Review: The Queen of Swords – Golgatha Book 3

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Review: The Queen of Swords – Golgatha Book 3

When the blood fails, the Father of Monsters rises again to devour all.

The last installment in R.S. Belcher’s Golgatha series ended with the widow Maude Stapleton leaving her strange little town in Nevada in pursuit of her father. Martin Anderton has given up trying to talk sense into his only child, so he’s claimed custody of Maude’s inheritance, and her daughter, and Maude is headed to South Carolina to get both of them back.

Maude isn’t about to let anything get between her and her daughter, although the male-dominated law of the 1870’s, the reappearance of a monster she accidentally set free, and members of her own order – The Daughters of Lilith – are all set on making things pretty difficult for her. Fortunately Maude was trained as an assassin by the famous Anne Bonny – who also happens to be her her great-great-great-great-grandmother – and Maude has enough of the legendary pirate queen’s blood in her veins to make her a force to be reckoned with.

We’ve been hearing about Maude’s ancestor for two books now. In The Queen of Swords we finally get to learn Anne’s story, how she ran away to become a pirate, how she became the most feared woman on the high seas, and how she joined the Daughters of Lilith and traveled to the mythical bone city of Carcosa to face mankind’s oldest enemy.

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Review: Every Heart A Doorway

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Review: Every Heart A Doorway

Alice fell down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Dorothy was whisked away to Oz by a tornado. Wendy, Michael, and John flew away to Never Land with Peter Pan, and Harry Potter could just go to Platform 9¾ whenever he needed to enter the wizarding world. Literature is full of examples of children who stepped (or fell. Or were dragged) into one of many different variations of fairyland..

Some children when they return are happy to have escaped alive. Most grow up and remember their adventure as a childhood daydream. A few get to stay in fairyland forever. Seanan McGuire’s Hugo-nominated novella Every Heart a Doorway is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a school for those travelers who’d do anything to go back.

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Review: The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Book 2)

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Review: The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Book 2)

Father Earth did not always hate life, the lorists say. He hates because he cannot forgive the loss of his only child.

The first book of The Broken Earth series introduced us to the earthquake-prone world of Stillness, plus the orogenes who calm earthquakes, and the Fulcrum Guardians who keep the orogenes in line. It was also where we met the orogene Essun, who lost her childhood family…and then her ties to the Fulcrum, and then her new family, and then another family after that, until all she has left is her dying former lover Alabaster and the impossible task that he’s just dropped in her lap…

…right after he cracked the world in half. As bad as things were in Book 1, in Book 2 they’re about to get much worse.

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2017 Hugo Awards – The Novelettes

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2017 Hugo Awards – The Novelettes

Hands up, anyone who knows the difference between a novelette and a novella. Anyone? Okay, a novelette is a work of fiction that clocks in at anywhere from 7500 – 17500 words; basically it longer than a short-story but shorter than a novella. Everyone take notes because there’ll be a test later.

This year the Hugo novelette division features six very strong entries (well, five, and one that wins for humor at least), covering the range from Partly Sci-Fi to Mostly Fantasy to whatever category you want to attach to Stix Hiscock’s story. Click the jump for a brief review of the Hugo 2017 nominees for Best Novelette.

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Review: 2017 Hugo Award Finalists – The Short Stories

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Review: 2017 Hugo Award Finalists – The Short Stories

Okay, it’s time to buckle down and start trying to see how many of this year’s Hugo Nominees we can review before the awards are given on August 11. Everyone who reads this column probably knows by now that I’m really fond of short stories, so let’s start with those. Click the jump for a short (naturally, right?) review of each of the finalists for Best Short Stories.

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Review: Vision Vol. 1 – Little Worse Than A Man

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Review: Vision Vol. 1 – Little Worse Than A Man

It’s the quintessential American Dream: a respectable government job and a house in the DC suburbs. The picture wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful wife and two happy children, or at least that’s what the Vision thinks. So he went to a lot of trouble and made them.

Nominated for a Hugo Award this year, Tom King’s Little Worse Than A Man (with illustrations by Gabriel Walta) shows what happens when a non-human hero is determined to live a human life. It’s a story that starts out light and then gets dark surprisingly fast.

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Review: Motor Girl – Real Life

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Review: Motor Girl – Real Life

Samantha Locklear is dealing with things as best as she can. And she does have a lot of things to deal with. A former marine who served three tours of duty, she’s suffering from PTSD and multiple medical problems after being held as a POW for almost a year. And then there’s the mysterious lights in the sky, and a businessman who has an obsession with those lights and who’s looking to buy up all the property in the area, whether the owners want to sell or not.

Fortunately Sam’s got a job she’s very good at (mechanic in a desert scrapyard), and a very understanding boss who’s not at all intimidated by pushy businessmen. Oh, and there’s also Sam’s best friend in the world, a 600-pound talking gorilla named Mike.

Mike, as you’ve probably guessed, is completely imaginary. What’s interesting is that Sam knows this.

Even more interesting? I’m pretty sure Mike knows it too.

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Review: The Refrigerator Monologues

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Review: The Refrigerator Monologues

Bad things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to okay people. Bad things happen to everyone. Good things happen to…well, somebody, probably. Somebody somewhere else.

Being a superhero causes a lot of collateral damage, and we’re not just talking about crossover events that level a city block. Start dating a guy who has a superpower and/or a secret identity and suddenly you’ve got a target on your back with a sign reading “FOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, SHOOT HERE”.

Ever wonder what those hapless wives and girlfriends of superheroes think about this trend? Imagine knowing that your ex gets a dramatic pose and a lost love to avenge, while you get a cosmic prison, a room in an insane asylum, or an eternity wearing the godawful clothes someone picked for you to wear in your casket. (Really, these shoes with that dress? Come on now…)

Catherynne Valente’s latest book The Refrigerator Monologues (due out this June) is a collection of six stories told from the point of view of women who have been “refrigerated”: stripped of their powers, driven insane, strangled and stuffed in a fridge, basically removed from the stage in order to move the “real” hero’s story forward. Written in Valente’s delightfully off-kilter style and with illustrations by Hawkeye‘s Annie Wu, the women of the Hell Hath Club swap tales while hanging out at the Lethe Cafe in Deadtown, the city where the fictional go when they die.

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