Hugo 2020 Reading – November

This month, instead of NaNoWriMo, I focused on doing writing exercises. I had meant to only take 20-30 minutes a day with them, but some took my entire writing time. It was quite instructive. I haven’t focused much on exercises before, because my writing time was so scarce, I thought I couldn’t afford to give time to a “warmup.” I don’t know when I would focus on exercises again, but it is definitely something I’ll consider in the future.

Anyway, here’s what I read this month.

Professor Strong and the Brass Boys” by Amal Singh
a short story published by Apex Magazine

The podcast of this story was worth listening to. They added music to the background, which complemented the story as the androids learned how to play instruments in pursuit of leisure. There were a few moments where I wasn’t sure if Professor Strong felt like a robot, and while I can believe a robot can learn to play violin faster than a human, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that Professor Strong could immediately switch from guitar to violin with no practice. Yet, when we got to the end, I cared about rim, and I really felt the emotion as rhe set about defying the humans.

A Song for the Leadwood Tree” by Aimee Ogden
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I had a hard time paying attention to this story as I was listening. It could have been other distractions as well as listening to it in chunks. I missed the time transitions so was often confused when scenes were taking place. This is also a secondary world that doesn’t have any speculative elements except that it’s not on earth, which is not my favorite. The prose is beautifully written though, full of emotion.

Remember to Breathe” by Matt Dovey
a short story published by Cast of Wonders

The gay romance in this story is sweet. The post apocalyptic feel was well-done, too. I did feel like some of the character changes were a bit sudden, though ultimately believable.

“Dark Equations of the Heart” by David Cleden
a novelette published in Writers of the Future vol 35

I had a hard time suspending my disbelief that mathematical proofs could send people into ecstasy. I also am not fond of stories about addicts, so this story was not for me. I also didn’t like the treatment of Isobel, the one female, as she was victimized multiple times and really didn’t use agency. The prose itself was well written.

(5 stars) “This is Not My Adventure” by Karlo Yeager Rodríguez
a short story published by Uncanny

Several people were raving about this story on Twitter, so I decided to give it a try. It hit me so hard, I was crying, and I don’t cry easily. As someone who has struggled with depression, I found this depiction very true to life – the numbness, the lack of desire to do anything. And then to have the companions from a long ago Narnia-like adventure come and help, it was so sweet.


Hugo 2020 Reading – November — 2 Comments

  1. The Down Days by Ilze Hugo. The South African author’s magical-realist debut follows a woman who must recover a kidnapped child in a city gripped by a deadly laughter epidemic.

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