Works in the Hugo Novella category are almost always short novels (17500-40000 words).I feel like this category has undergone a bit of a renaissance with digital publishing…
Hugo novelettes tend to be long short stories (7500-17500 words). The little bit of extra space gives more flexibility and can lead to greatness (last year’s Wind Will Rove, or two years ago’s Tomato Thief spring to mind), but far to often they fall into the uncanny valley where the length makes them flabby without gaining the depth of a longer work.
I like short stories to be self-contained: a good idea or a complete story. As such I often gravitate to stories that are focused on doing one thing well. It also means that I tend to prefer vignettes, where Hugo short stories can be surprisingly long (7500 words or less).
As a movie, Avengers Endgame was overly long, slow in places, and incredibly self indulgent; as an experience, Avengers Endgame was the end of a journey through two dozen movies that evoked powerful emotions in me. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been running for over a decade, and Endgame felt like a weaponised piece of nostalgia, evoking the entire history of the MCU, and by extension, the last quarter of my life.
I understand that Historical 14th Century Russian Folk Fantasy might not be the selling point for others that it is for me, but regardless, the Winternight Trilogy is something special. I can’t speak to the accuracy of Arden’s Rus, but the verisimilitude is impressive, from the frozen rural hold where the book starts, through to the proto-city of Moscow, all under the yoke of absent Tartar rulers. It is a land of hard work, resilient people, and of course magic.
I’ve been pretty harsh on recent seasons of Dr Who for having over-plotted season arcs, a poor understanding of time travel, and a lack of conviction that just wore me down. This season could have just given us a female Doctor, told some bog standard, standalone Dr Who adventures and I would have been happy as a woodchuck. Instead, they not only fixed almost all of my problems, but Dr Who feels like it has come back with a purpose – it has things to say and it’s not afraid to say them.
Sometimes I just want the literary equivalent of junk food. Hullmetal Girls has a cover of an earnest women in space armor, the dedication is to the kung fu panda 2 soundtrack, and the blurb is about a girl in a lost fleet who agrees to become a robocop for the government, only to find that all is not well (and it’s obvious both what is not going well and where it is going to go).
If the idea of an infinitely sprawling library, filled with unique books salvaged from across the multiverse, where time doesn’t pass for you while you are within its walls doesn’t appeal to you, I don’t know why you would read fantasy books at all.
Being a historian should be easier when you have a time machine and lots of tea…
It’s easy to set to set a single tone – juggling tones is a lot harder. The title and the start of One Damn Thing suggest a particular style that I love, wry British comedy, and when operating in the mode of hard work, punishing bureaucracy, farcical romance and endless tea, it’s a very enjoyable book. Unfortunately…