Hugo Reading 2018 – July

July involved a lot of travel for me, which allowed me to get a lot of reading done. However, I was focused more on beating down my three-years-long reading list than reading things published in the last year. Still, I didn’t have to play catchup when it was time to write this post, so that’s something. Here’s what I got through:

(5 stars) “The Chaos Village” by M. K. Hutchins
a novelette published by PodCastle

Rob is a character with many similarities to someone on the autism spectrum. It was really nice to have that sort of character be the protagonist of the story instead of a side character. I loved his interest in the ever changing world and how he tried to make sense of how gravity seems to go down only sometimes, even if the other characters did get annoyed at his questions. The conflicts were interesting, though I was able to guess at how some of them would be solved.

Welcome to Astuna” by Pip Coen
a short story published by Apex

The conflict of this story is really interesting. Woman wakes up in bed, thinking she’s been drugged, then realizes she’s lost 15 years worth of memories. Characterization is really good, keeping her feeling like a college freshman when her body is older. And I loved the twist at the end when she regains her memories.

Trigger warning: strong language

Masterclass” by Cassandra Khaw
a short story published by Daily Science Fiction

This story failed me on two accounts. The first is my fault for not being familiar with the Dragon Lady stereotype. Having researched it afterwards, I can see that this is a nice way of Asian women owning that trope and breathing fire. The second is that the fantastic element is more metaphorical than substantive like I prefer.

Two Bodies in Basting Stitch” by Allison Jamieson-Lucy
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This story has many similarities to my story “Soulmates” so I really want to take it apart and study it. My first impression wasn’t super, as I found it hard to tell in audio when we were in the present and when we were in flashback. Sere’s despair felt real – I couldn’t see a way out for her – as did the attraction and anger in her relationship with Tashet.

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