Hugo 2019 Reading – January

This month I had a medication change that really did a number on the amount of energy I have to do tasks. While this enforced rest has been bad at getting stuff done, it has given me time to do a lot of reading.

(5 stars) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
a novel published by Tor Books

This novel was a delight to read. I love the idea of the space race getting kicked off early, and all the details that went into that. I loved all the worldbuilding that went into how the ’50s would have been different if a meteorite hit Chesapeake Bay. I loved how brilliant Elma was, her southern charm, her Jewishness, and also how she had to battle anxiety. I want more spouses like her loving, supportive, and equally smart/capable husband. Highly recommended.


“Turnabout” by Erik Bundy
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I liked the twist on the genie tale. However, I had no sympathy for the main character. You tell me that his girl left him, I’ll assume it was probably for a good reason. He kindof, sorta redeemed himself at the end, but he still felt selfish and unrealistic (where did all his money to travel come from?)


“A Smokeless and Scorching Fire” by Erin Cairns
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I’m not a real fan of accidental marriage stories, which this one was. It had an interesting world. While the main character was interestingly conflicted about how to deal with the opinions and desires that should have been conditioned out of him, he felt rather ho-hum to me.


“The Howler on the Sales Floor” by Jonathan Ficke
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story was amusing about a devil in a corporate office (“NOT EVEN THE CHAOS LORDS OF THE MAELSTROM USE MICROSOFT WORD. WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS PLACE?”). Unfortunately, that was overshadowed by the feeling that HR did not take the health of Nya’s co-workers seriously, as the consequences for driving someone mad was to just attend sensitivity training.


“The Minarets of An-Zabat” by Jeremy TeGrotenhuis
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had some great descriptive language. However, the plot felt predictable, so I wasn’t really drawn into it. And it felt like the romance between Nayeni and Atar was rushed.


(5 stars) “Odd and Ugly” by Vida Cruz
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

I love fairy tale retellings, so this retelling of Beauty and the Beast was right up my alley. I loved that there was no Stockholm Syndrome at work here. Maria goes to work for the kapre of her own free will. And I loved the Filipino setting. It’s something I’ve not seen much of before, and it felt so well drawn.


“Mara’s Shadow” by Darci Stone
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had an intriguing parasite – a moth that reproduces by inserting its genetic code into its host and then emerging some 5 generations later. The terror was visceral. My main problem is that the solution was supposed to be satisfactory, but it was still going to leave a lot of people dead because it was too late for them to get vaccinated. But there’s no thought given to them.


“What Lies Beneath” by Cole Hehr
a short story published in Writers of the Future volume 34

This story had an interesting character – an immortal warrior that feels regret over the murders committed to achieve his revenge. I felt confused by the beginning though. Why would Magrius threaten to kill the narrator if he wanted to petition for help? Also, while the narrator was clever in freeing Amandros, it felt cheap for him to break the oath that he had just made.


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