July 10, 2017

Hugo Voting: Best Novella (or, The Little Novels That Could)

The nominees for Best Novella:

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (Tor.com publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (Tor.com publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)
Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com publishing)
This Census-Taker, by China MiƩville (Del Rey / Picador)

I have a bit of an edge here, as I've already read and reviewed all but one of these! So I'm going to quote a bit from my Goodreads reviews.

This Census-Taker

7) This Census-Taker

From various descriptions I've read of this, I figured I would bounce off it, and sure enough, that's what I did. I did give it a hundred pages, but since it still seemed to be a meandering mess and I had yet to care about any of the characters, I set it aside.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

6) A Taste of Honey

I didn't like this at all. I gave it only one star. Between the frothy, artsy-fartsy writing, a vain arrogant peacock of a protagonist who grated on me to no end, and the fact that [rot-13] guerr-sbheguf bs guvf obbx gheaf bhg gb or abguvat zber guna na nygreangr gvzryvar qernz, juvpu zrnaf gur punenpgre V yvxrq orfg arire rkvfgrq...bah. No thank you.

5) No Award

Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)

4) Penric and the Shaman

The first novella in this series, Penric's Demon, is a delight. This one, not so much. For me, that was entirely due to the fact that we didn't spend very much time inside Penric's head. The World of the Five Gods is, as always, quite interesting, but this is just so-so.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

3) The Ballad of Black Tom

This was just half of a good book, suffering from what was, to me, an unnecessary POV shift part of the way through. It's the first of two Lovecraft reimaginings on this year's ballot, a retelling of the (in)famous "The Horror At Red Hook." It's unfortunate; with a little tighter storytelling, this could have been great.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

2) Every Heart a Doorway

I gave this a solid four stars. This is a story for everyone who didn't fit in, who found their place in the world (or rather in a different world) and was violently pulled out of it, and who would do anything to get back. There's a murder mystery, but that's not the most interesting part of this; the characters shine here, and this story is exactly the length it needs to be.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson

1) The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

This is definitely at the top of my heap, starting with the main character: 55-year-old Vellitt Boe, a middle-aged woman in charge of her own story, and determined not to be a footnote to a man's. This is again a retelling of one of H.P. Lovecraft's stories, "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," but my not having read its predecessor didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this tale. The ending is somewhat abrupt, but that's a minor quibble; the journey itself is the point, and I would love to see what Vellitt does next.

Next up: Best Related Work

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