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 did not read a lot of 2018 books, in 2018 or now. Given my ignorance, I tend to nominate things that might not get attention otherwise, that stood out for some reason, or that are so good, they would have gotten nominated anyway. I also don’t usually write about my nominations unless they are really off the beaten track, but I haven’t posted in a while, so with that out of the way
This year sucked…for me and mine. Between an extremely sick family member and finishing out my career, I had a lot of trouble concentrating on reading, and relied instead on Anime as my primary escape method. In the end I read 35 books probably the fewest since I reached double digits in age, though I feel I should get extra credit for reading the three Stormlight archive novels (~3300 pages across three books). Fortunately, while not a year of classics, I enjoyed most of the books I actually managed to read.
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…
This year the graphic story category returns to an sff focus after last year’s slate dominated by Avengers. Previewing the category, we have sequels to three comics I really liked (Bitch Planet, Monstress, and Saga), one sequel to a comic I thought was OK (Paper Girls), and two new entrants (including our only superhero entry written by an author whose previous Hugo nominee I rather liked).
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.