This is both recounting reading and doubling as my Hugo writeups, so!

What I finshed An absolute fuck-ton, for me, over the last two weeks.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit): aaahhhh! I read it, and then flailed a lot and was very spoilery in the comments of my last DW entry. After some debate and a lot of considering of the details, it’s going on the top of my Novel ballot.


(BEST NOVELETTE)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015) ahhhh! Reposting review here from a few weeks ago: I. Fucking. Loved it. It took me a while to settle into the sheer amount of swearing, but once I did I was making delighted little noises at my screen. I loved the main character, I believed wholeheartedly in her grudging admittance of her feelings, and grinned fiercely at the ending. I’ll be looking up other things by Bolander, for sure.

“Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) Chose not to read anything published by or directly associated with Theodore Beale. Life’s too short and he’s too gross.

“Obits” by Stephen King. *makes face* What a nasty little story. Guy who writes trashy, nasty obituaries for dead celebrities finds he can write the deaths of people still alive. Guy objectifies the shit out of the women he works with, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Plus, Character finds they have a Skill, Skill has unintended consequences, character stops doing Skill is… a nice set up, but it’s barely a story. I finished it because I usually really like King. This, not so much. The realisation that he’s still writing this type of male POV in 2015 is depressing. I’ve put this below No Award.

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan‐Feb 2015): That’s more like it. Well executed concept that’s woven into the tale of a character and his few days running illegal and profitable message running between the First and Second Spaces of Beijing that literally fold up the city at regular intervals. Well-crafted, and uses the physical division of the city to talk about class and labor and etc. It tempted with questions and answered at least one satisfyingly. The language was somewhat wooden, but I’ll chalk that up to translation. It could have gone into slightly more depth, maybe, but it’s still a solid entry in what was otherwise a rather weak/Castalia House field.

“What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House (see above)

(GRAPHIC NOVELS)
The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second): Meh. Had good potential. I would have ranked it higher if I thought it was going to be an ongoing series of some kind, and therefore had the potential to achieve some depth. As it is, it’s a relatively shallow, macho-military hyper-violent type story, which… meh.

Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (dyingalone.net): Webcomic, and a delightful one. A mentally ill young woman (agoraphobic? Social anxiety? Hasn’t left her house in some years) uses computer games to cope. And then the characters from her games start rocking up. This is charming, funny, and touching. There’s speculation here that the rabid puppies nomination was for the title alone, and that Beale hates someone called Erin and has no idea what it’s actually about. I’m inclined to agree, and have stuck it at the top of my ballot. I read all of it, even the half that wasn’t eligible for a Hugo having been published in 2016, I’ll be checking back on this one every now and then to keep up with it, even. Hugo worthy? Close enough.

Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (ffn.nodwick.com). Double-meh, or half a meh, depending on what’s weaker. A long-running stand-alone webcomic that from what I can see from google images is all deep within tabletop gaming and seems very, very male. Which is fine, but I’m noticeably not its audience.

Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics): Complicated and relatively compelling story of a journalist who finds an alternate take on the rise of the revolution/ruler that’s just fallen. Sci-fi was more of the backdrop, here, but the characters that inhabited the alternate take were suitably flawed and complicated and I liked many of them. Female lead (sort of. Mostly), and casually married gay characters! Nearly tempted to find the second volume, even.

(Side short story)
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong (found poking around the John W Campbell award finalists): Hella compelling tale, tightly crafted, confidently written, and very unsettling. Also queer as in NBD, and I read all 7000 words unhesitatingly in one sitting. A+. (Content notes for creepy as-fuck guys and a serial killer) This actually bumps Andy Weir off top spot for me -- mainly because while I loved The Martian, the guy now has a movie deal under his belt, and I'm betting Wong is waaaayy less known. So.

Currently reading:
The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo): I’d read several of the original Sandman graphic novels, but they and I never quite clicked aside from the character of Death. As of writing, I'm half way through. The art is gorgeous but it’s so far-ever-so self-aware of itself as a book and verging on too smug for its own good. Still reading, but this isn't going to be the thing that gets me into Sandman proper, clearly. Ah, well.

Up next: OMG, still reeling. But probably the second Dark Tower by Stephen King.
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