Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

2 Articles from July 2011

  1. OMG, Hugo novellas! (Novellae?)

    Having dispatched the Hugo-nominated works for the short story and the novelette categories, I'm now getting into the big guns: novellas and novels. I love long-form fiction, and so I look forward to reading all of these longer works. Here are my thoughts on the novellas. I wrote this post over the course of several weeks as I worked through the novellas while reading other things, so my reviews begin verbosely and diminish as my memory has faded. On the bright side, I reviewed two of these on Goodreads, so you can enjoy some detailed analysis over there.

    "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window", by Rachel Swirsky

    In this wonderfully original story, Rachel Swirsky introduces us to Naeva, a practitioner of "woman's magic" in the Land of Flowered Hills. She has been a companion of Queen Rayneh since childhood, but Rayneh betrays her on some bad advice from her councillors and imprisons Naeva's spirit in a crystal, preventing Naeva from ever finding rest. She must endure centuries and then millennia of a half-aware stasis during which she is intermittently yanked back into the world of the living, summoned by a parade of practitioners.

    Naeva is…

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  2. OMG, Hugo novelettes!

    I continue my reading of this year's Hugo nominees with the novelettes. As with the short stories, all of these are available online, and I encourage you to read them.

    "Eight Miles", by Sean McMullen

    Although I wouldn't call "Eight Miles" steampunk, it is definitely a cousin of that genre--perhaps we can call it "Victorian chic." McMullen embraces the sense of wonder and pure flights of fancy that recall the science fiction of the early 20th century--indeed, even going as far back as H.G. Wells and The Time Machine. This is a story that might have been written in that era, for it relies on ideas that run counter to our contemporary knowledge of the solar system--and that's fine.

    I admit to being prejudiced in favour of flashy weapons, super-sleek spaceships, aliens, and robots. However, "Eight Miles" is still an appealing work because it's a fascinating story. The main character gets drawn into a story that has already begun and must make some tough decisions that rapidly take him outside of his comfort zone. Much like Wells' time traveller, McMullen's protagonist, Parkes, is an inventor, and this plays an important role, both in what he chooses to do…

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