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Hugo Finalists 2020

hugo finalists

I’d never paid very much attention to prize lists before, but I have several friends who regularly read the entire Women’s Prize List, so these book prizes slowly started becoming ingrained into my psyche. This year, very much on a casual whim, I decided that I would read the all Hugo novel finalists. Partly, it was because when I saw the Hugo list I realized I’d already read two of them and planned to read two more, but also because it’s kind of fun to read the entire list and make guesses as to which one will win!

And also, you know, SFF is my genre. It’s what I write and mainly what I read, so it certainly behooves me to be aware of what is popular in the community. This is a particularly salient point for the Hugos, because unlike, say, the Women’s Prize books, which are selected by a panel of judges, the Hugo finalists are based on votes by members of Worldcon, so it really is an indication of the community’s current inclinations. When I say “the community,” of course, that’s a complicated word – most lay readers are probably not members of Worldcon, nor are they voting in the Hugos, so these nominations likely reflect people who are in the industry – writers, editors, reviewers, artists, etc.

I only committed to read the adult novels, because short stories and novellas and novelletes usually aren’t my thing.

Anyway, read on for my thoughts! Continue reading “Hugo Finalists 2020”

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Book Review: The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

the light brigadeThe Light Brigade
Kameron Hurley

Saga, 2019
★★★☆☆

Well, shit.

I have no idea how to give this a proper rating, as I pretty much hated reading it, and not, as I had expected, because it is confusing (though it definitely is) but mainly because it’s so fucking bleak. That is, of course, the point – hard military sci-fi isn’t about to shy away from all the visceral realities of war – but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m also generally not a fan of dystopias because they often hit too close to home; so much of dystopic visions Hurley has come up with in The Light Brigade don’t seem too far off from what we’re living now. It’s kind of terrifying, when you think about it too closely. Continue reading “Book Review: The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley”

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Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

the city in the middle of the nightThe City in the Middle of the Night
Charlie Jane Anders

Tor, 2019
★★★☆☆

The City in the Middle of the Night takes great care to develop its characters, character arcs, character dynamics, and its worldbuilding, and pretty much forgets all about having a cohesive plot. The biggest criticism of this book would be that it is meandering and slow. It’s not that it doesn’t know where it wants to go – now that I’ve finished, I can step back and see the general plot arc meant to be established here – but it doesn’t get there clearly or quickly enough. There’s a lot of waffle and pointless journey stuff in between all the important bits, and this book, already rather short, could have been way shorter. Continue reading “Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders”

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Book Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

middlegameMiddlegame
Seanan McGuire

Tor.com, 2019
★★★☆☆

This was definitely very good, no doubt about it, but I think I liked the idea of it far more than I liked the execution. The idea, at its core, is just so, so very cool! It’s all about alchemy and incarnating ideas into human bodies and trying to control the universe. It’s awesome! Very confusing at first, but not so much that I couldn’t follow along, and things (mostly) make sense at the end, even if some ideas remain rather abstract.

I just am not sure that I am a fan of which parts of the story were prioritized: Roger and Dodger’s lives. There was just so much time spent on them growing up and getting to know one another and this book is so long. Continue reading “Book Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire”

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Book Review: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

a memory called empireA Memory Called Empire
Arkady Martine

Tor, 2019
★★★★☆

It’s taken me some time to craft a review for this book because I’m not entirely sure how to review it; do I write something purely based on the book’s merit or do I write something based on my own experience of the book? The eternal question. The thing is, I’m not really into sci-fi/space opera. I don’t know what it is. Something about the worldbuilding and aesthetics of space opera just doesn’t really click with me, so that’s already a hurdle to overcome when picking up a space opera novel.

That definitely colored my experience with A Memory Called Empire, but looking at it objectively, it’s a rather superb novel. I can completely understand why it’s been nominated for a Hugo, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins, frankly. It’s really a superb accomplishment on so many level. Continue reading “Book Review: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine”