Hugo Reading 2021 – January – March

So, how is everyone doing with quarantine? Here in the Seattle area, everyone in my family has been home since March 5, and attempts at distance learning have really wrecked my writing schedule. I’m still trying to figure everything out 5 weeks later.

In other news, I am excited to study the finalists for this year’s Hugos. I’ve read a couple of stories before, and the reason they didn’t make the top of my list was due to taste. I could still recognize the art that went into them. I’ve got novelettes and short stories downloaded and I’m ready to mark them up to glean insights from them all.

But for now, here’s what I’ve read so far this year.

The Case of the Somewhat Mythic Sword” by Garth Nix
a short story published by

I enjoyed Nix’s Sabriel trilogy, and so decided to try out this story when browsing The omniscient POV always takes me awhile to get used to, but I found the ideas intriguing. A cousin of Sherlock Holmes investigates arcane mysteries. He’s cursed, so an “almost doctor” woman accompanies him to keep the curse in check. It’s a glimpse into a much bigger world and problems that extend beyond what are presented here. It was a fun read, but I wasn’t completely satisfied by it because I wanted more.

The Visitor: Kill or Cure” by Mark Lawrence
a novelette published by

I’ve enjoyed the Wild Cards universe, which is why I chose to read this story. It took until the second scene for me to get pulled into the story. The powers and characters were intriguing, as were their interactions. It does have the disabled protagonist has powers that make up for her disabilities trope, but its the character traits she’s gained through her disability that help her save the day. All in all, not particularly deep, but a fun read.

These Wondrous Sweets” by Tony Pi
a novelette published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This is the third story in a series, and the second one I’ve read. I enjoyed the East Asian world. I loved listening to Ao Tienwei figure out how to work around the limitations of his magic in order to solve the problems of how to help the Pale Tigress. It’s one of my favorite flavors of fantasy. The prose doesn’t draw attention to itself – it just focuses on telling the reader the story. It felt like there could have been more there, but it was still a good story.

The Hammer-Royal Ten Step Model for Making the Superhero A List” by Jason Kimble
a short story published by Cast of Wonders

I did not expect this story to take the turn it did, though the foreshadowing was all there. Surprising, but inevitable. It was a good look at the backstories of superheroes and villains and what really sets them apart. Kimble nailed the voice of a teenage superhero-wannabe, and Hoe did a great job bringing it to life in the podcast. The form didn’t allow for really immersive scenes, but it was fine.

Gender and Other Faulty Software” by John Wiswell
a short story published by Fireside

This was a cute little story. It did start off with a bit of a headscratcher (how little does he have to do to reclaim 81 ships in 4 weeks? I guess that’s 8.27 hours per ship if he works 24/7, but still…) But I thought the ship’s protests over being assigned male by the OS were cute.

Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer
a short story published by

Kritzer has become one of my favorite short story writers. I love her domestic science fiction. Like her other stories, this one is rich in detail and character. It doesn’t explore deep emotion – it’s a more whimsical story. What if a little free library was a portal to another world? A nice light read.

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