May 16, 2015

The Hugo Project: "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium"

(Note: This is the latest in an ongoing series of posts reviewing the 2015 Hugo nominees, or as many of them as I have time for before the voting deadline, and explaining why I will or will not vote for them.)

I'm now beginning the Best Novelette category, and this story surprised me. It's a professional-grade story, even better than Kary English's "Totaled," and certainly worthy of a rocket. Of course, the irony is that the editor of the magazine (Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show) in which it appeared, Edmund R. Schubert, has withdrawn from the awards and officially requested that voters not consider him for Best Short Form Editor.

Which, of course, creates a conundrum, because this is a helluva story. It's a meditation on colonization, and death, and the human response to subjugation by an alien species, the fascinating Peshari. (They have six legs and four genders, and a horror of being buried, derived from a traumatizing incident in the species' past. The protagonist, Phil Keller, who is dying of cancer, reads this information in the reports on the Peshari landing on Alluvium [the human colony], and comes up with a way to defeat them, using the "pseudo-lizards' " own psychology against them. It's rather ingenious.) This story is not long, but it packs a lot of information, dropped in quite naturally without infodumps. It also has a nice flow, and quiet and thoughtful characterization.

I'll have to read the rest of the stories in the category to see how this one stacks up, but it seems like I'll have a decision to make. Do I go ahead and vote for this story, even though its editor has withdrawn, due to the slate-gaming antics of the Vituperative Impacted Puppies? (If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it--you're probably better off.) I know many people are voting against all slate entries on general principle. I'm voting against nearly all of the slate entries I've read so far, just because they're of almost uniformly rotten quality.

But there are exceptions to everything, and this is a big one.

Well. We shall see. But do read this. It's really good.

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