Hugo 2019 Reading – February

This month has been a crazy one. We got way more snow than we normally do in Seattle, leading to the kids not having a full day of school for three weeks. And I dumped a water bottle on my laptop, so I was busy trying to recover from that. I did finish Writers of the Future volume 34, so here’s what I thought of that.

“The Face in the Box” by Janey Bell
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

This story had an interesting concept – most farmland is on floating islands in the sky run by organic AI, one of which goes rogue. My main problem with this story is that it didn’t feel finished. Yes, Cara recovers the AI she brought down, but I didn’t know what that meant for her going forward – if she was going to become friends with it, or just ignore it.


“Flee, My Pretty One” by Eneasz Brodski
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I don’t care for the aesthetic of gritty tales like this. It had an interesting theme exploring the hypocrisy of using the tools of the corrupt regime against itself, and an interesting disabled protagonist, but it didn’t work for me.


(5 stars) “Illusion” by Jody Lynn Nye
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

This is the type of story that I love to read. All about cleverly outwitting the enemy that is superior in strength to you. The illusions were clever, and Angelo was a human character, who had to face breaking the previous illusions he had made with his ruler.


“A Bitter Thing” by N.R.M. Roshak
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I like the alienness of the extraterrestrials in this story, and how that was the heart of the conflict between Ami and her alien boyfriend Teese, how she kept misunderstanding what he was trying to tell her. The story just wasn’t my cup of tea.


(5 stars) “Miss Smokey” by Diana Hart
a short story published in Writers of the Future vol 34

I’ve read several “magic is restricted” stories, and they never seemed to ring true. It did here. Part of that stems from the fact that the conflict wasn’t about breaking out of the unfair laws – it was on how to find purpose in life and still achieve goals in the face of unchangeable circumstances.

Plus the description of dealing with kids on field trips was excellent. Delightful concept to have a shapeshifter pretend to be Smokey the Bear to tell the kids how to prevent forest fires.


“All Light and Darkness” by Amy Henrie Gillett
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 34

My main problem with this story was that I didn’t feel grounded in the characters. In the beginning, I didn’t have a clear grasp on what his goals were. Even if he didn’t know where he was going, I would have liked a better grasp on what he was running from and why he was supposed to be repulsive. Yes, it was revealed later on, but it meant the stakes at the beginning weren’t clear, so I wasn’t invested.


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