Hugo Awards 2014 (Part 2)

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I’m back with the second installment of my reviews of the Hugo nominations for this year.

Novellas

The Butcher of Khardov – Dan Wells
When I first pulled this out, I admit I was judging a book by its cover. I was afraid it was some pulpy tie-in novel, but it is anything but. Wells has created an incredibly moving and heart-wrenching love story, dislocated in time, with a main character who has gone rather mad, in a world that is a steam-punk fantasy blend (Warcaster’s world, for those of you who game.) I’m going to vote this one best of category because of its subtlety and nuance, which I did not expect to find in a tie-in novel.

Six-Gun Snow White – Catherynne M. Valente
This was a very unusual take on the Snow White story, very dark, very gritty, and set in the Wild West. I would vote this best in category except I felt like she was trying a little too hard to shoe-horn in Native American mythology to the Snow White story and it just didn’t work for me. If I ignored that aspect, it was a fantastic and troubling retelling, just the way it should be.

The Chaplain’s Legacy – Brad R. Torgersen
At least this one didn’t suffer the same fate as his Novelette that’s up for consideration; this story kept me engaged and interested from start to finish. It explores themes of religion and belief and the interference of technology with our connection to the spiritual. It would have ranked higher in my list except that I felt like the main character didn’t really experience any growth. He’s still pretty wishy washy about his own faith by the end of the story and I wanted him to come down solidly on one side or the other by the time the story wrapped.

Equoid – Charles Stross
This was a unique piece of fiction blending the dry british humor of Pratchett’s ilk with the horror of HP Lovecraft. I normally do not care for horror myself, but I was actually able to enjoy this story, even with all the gory bits. However, I felt like it just wasn’t quite polished yet, almost like I was reading a draft, and not a published work.

Wakulla Springs – Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
The only reason this story is not my absolute number one pick is because I don’t think it belongs in the category for a Hugo. No matter what the authors say, I don’t classify this story as speculative fiction. Yes, the characters talk about all the myths surrounding the springs, yes there are a couple moments that are unreal, but those moments could be the result of hallucinations on the part of the characters, or projection, and, to be honest, don’t lend much at all to the story. If you took them out, the story could function just as well without them. In my mind, this firmly removes the story from the realm of speculative fiction. That being said, it is an absolutely beautiful story spanning three generations of a family and their connection to Wakulla Springs, so you should definitely go read it. Just don’t expect a speculative fiction story.

Fan Artist

Graphic Novels
I missed two of these as they weren’t included in the downloadable judging packet, so I had to go track them down.

Time – Randall Munroe
I am definitely voting this one best in category as it was a new and unique form of graphic novel, a time lapsed experience on the internet that was absolutely beautiful. And what should the Hugo go to, but something new, unique, and exciting? Munroe has been creating fantastic art with a fabulous scientific bent for years now, and its about time something of his was up for nomination. You can travel through Time here.

Saga Volume 2 – Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
I got volumes one and two from the library and worked my way through them quite quickly. The art is gorgeous and the story line is unique, but I’m still going to put this in second place to Time, simply because Time’s concept is so unique. I also felt that Saga is a bit abrupt in its presentation and could use a little more nuance in its pacing, and there are a few panels in it that are simply there for shock value, which I really don’t care for. But Saga is definitely more engaging, and better written, than the other three graphic novels up for consideration.

Next week, will be the start of Novels! And definitely the art categories. We’ll see how many of the different award categories I can actually make it through, and give them a thorough enough consideration to actually make a judgement call…

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