Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
I don't read a lot of SF short stories, so it's possible that the field was unusually weak and these really did represent four of the best things published this year, but Kelly Link at her least inspired writes better stories than any of these.
It's a fine book, and by the end I was quite enthralled, but it took me a looooong time to get really invested in the story; I think because Leckie took so bloody long establishing Breq's character. In her first few chapters, her long- and short-term agendas are kept hidden, and they're interspersed with flashbacks where she plays a completely passive observer role. Only the high praise and my own bull-stubbornness got me through to the point - around halfway through - where it started getting really exciting for me. (Also, I still feel like a society like the Radch appears to have plenty of opportunities for a reasonably conscientious being to say "this shit be wrong, yo; to hell with you!" without having to make it as personable as "
So, Ancillary Justice, my take: is it a good book? Yes. A great book? Quite probably. Does it showcase great worldbuilding, charaterization, plotting, and engagement with complex ideas and important themes without being wank-y about it? Again, I'd say yes. Do I think it deserves a Hugo Award over The Wheel of Time (the only other nomination I've actually read)? Almost certainly. Did I enjoy it as much as Wheel of Time? Absolutely not. (That's slightly unfair, as I was unable to listen to an audio version of Ancillary Justice, unlike the Wheel of Time books, and an audiobook might have smoothed over some of my issues - but I doubt that was the deciding factor.)
So there you are, *shrug*
I also remember one of those commentators arguing, re: Vox Day's contribution "Yeah, he may have mustered enough support to get his story on the ballot, but now it will have to contend with the general Hugo readership," whom said commentator predicted would be a lot more difficult to win over. I guess they were right.
I read one of the short stories in the running and wow, it is... something. Carried in the arms of embarrassingly musty prose are exoticism and hilarious inaccuracies, which we so totally need more of when reading white people writing about South East Asia. (Ink Readers of Doi Saket).
(also, lol @ Vox Day for ever.)
2013 was the only year when I'd read most of the books on the Hugo best novel shortlist, and was also unique because I thought they were all depressingly mediocre.
Much more happy with this year's results despite my ignorance. By all accounts Ancillary Justice looks like a great space opera and I'll get around to reading it soon.
I would have liked Abigail Nussbaum to win best fan writer, though.
I couldn't really get into New Adventures of Peter and Wendy - mostly because I'm still wedded to the Jason Isaacs/Jeremy Sumpter/Rachel Hurd-Wood 2003 film, and while I appreciate what the series is doing, it's not connecting to me in a way that allows me to forget the other version (or the play).
Holy crap, guys: Ice-Pick Lodge might be remaking Pathologic. They've already got a teaser trailer up and a countdown site; whether it's to a Kickstarter or a release I can't say.
Hot damn! ...fingers crossed that someone does an LP of it.
(Similarly, I'm really enjoying The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy except for the fact that Wendy's brothers have such exaggerated personality traits I have difficulty imagining them actually functioning in day-to-day society.)
That makes sense as far as it goes, but you have to wonder, despite all this Evil Islamic Empire nonsense - is a world in which someone like the time traveler can use a time machine at his leisure and take vacations in the past really all that bad? The time traveler doesn't seem to be rich or important or a scientist or anything. The implication seems to be that it's free (or at least affordable) to anyone, and the time traveler comes back not once but twice during the course of the story. Even if there is a religious government in some parts of the world, that seems pretty awesome. Couldn't historians visit the actual Mohammed during his own time? Maybe they did, and discovered that Mohammed actually was the prophet and Allah is provably real! Really, the story's ridiculous premise raises way more questions than it answers.
Are you a Europe of warring and divided nations whose one common thread is an expanding pool of Muslims who won't obey civil law?
Just to chime in on this weird sort of historical amnesia, or obliviouness(since Simmons was born in 1948), but I've read and excuse me that I'm not referring to anything more concrete, that some 70 years ago the situation in Europe was really impolite and we had actual horrific wars which did not really involve islam in a significant way at all. Genocide and firebombing and almost every bad thing imaginable. If disagreements and strife in the face of economical problems and cultural friction is to be described as warring and divided, I think I still prefer that to what I suppose must in comparison be called hell.
Apologies for the really long sentence. :)