Hugo 2019 Reading – December

I hit a bout of depression in December, which killed my desire to do anything. I did read a bunch of Fairy Tail manga which helped refill my creative well, but that doesn’t count for the Hugos. So most of this was read in the past week. Here’s what I got to.

(5 stars) “A Bond as Deep as Starlit Seas” by Sarah Grey
a short story published by Lightspeed

Though I haven’t studied computer science in ten years, I still appreciate when I come across a story with AI that feels like artificial intelligence instead of a human inside a computer. Though Cleo’s AI had emotions, it felt natural, like it came directly from the intuitive programming meant to give the captain optimum comfort. And it is natural that would form a bond between the two. I appreciated that. I liked the emotional wrangling, and the solution formed at the end.

(5 stars) Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
a novel published by Delacorte Press

Like “A Bond as Deep as Starlit Skies” I liked the AI in this book. And the hacking wasn’t handwavy “I suddenly have access to everything.” It gave enough details to know it was following the rules of security that we currently have. The characters were all delightful. Very distinct. Made us care when people died. I especially liked the examination of when it was worth it to eject, and when it was worth it to save the plane. I liked the twists and the battle tactics. Looking forward to the next in the series.

Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts
a short story published by Clarkesworld

This felt like a raw look at the foster care system, and was an interesting examination of the effect memories of trauma has on people’s behavior. The metaphors gave it a real gritty feel. It’s not my favorite thing to read, but it was definitely intriguing.

The Things I Miss the Most” by Nisi Shawl
a short story published by Uncanny

I really appreciate this look at the side effects of a futuristic method to treat seizures. Stories about people with disabilities feel refreshing as they overcome challenges I am not familiar with. The description of interacting with an imaginary friend, complete with wonder about whether she interacted with the world or not, drew me in.

Court of Birth, Court of Strength” by Aliette de Bodard
a novelette published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I was put off this story at first, because I really didn’t like Asmodeus. By the end, my dislike had decreased, but I still wasn’t a fan. The prose was really beautiful. Even though I didn’t completely understand what was going on in this world, I was able to just let things go.

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