Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 – Novelette

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.

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Review – The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

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.

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Review – Hullmetal Girls

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).

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Review – Just One Damn Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

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…

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Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2018 – John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

This is the award for best new writer, regardless of output length (or quantity), and year after year it ends up my favourite category by delivering works that I think are better than any of the nominees in the main ballot. This year I will be thwarted however, as the three shorter pieces in this category are all in regular competition. On the upside, this makes this category an easy ask, as I’ve also already read Under the Pendulum Sun, leaving me with just three novels to cover.

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