Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Amy's Take on the 2007 Hugo Nominees :: NOVELETTES

Novelette is my favorite short fiction category. Novelettes have more time to develop characters than short stories, but not enough time for the complexity of plots found in many novellas.

"All the Things You Are", Mike Resnick (Jim Baen's Universe October 2006)
A man saves a girl by confronting robbers and is mortally wounded. This wasn't the first he put himself in such danger. Another man repeatedly risked his life too. A spaceport security man learns that both men survived a bloody battle on the deserted planet of Nikita. How did their experiences on Nikita affect them?

This is a readable story, but hardly groundbreaking. If you know something is an illusion, even if it's a pleasant illusion, why would you fall for it?

"Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth", Michael F. Flynn (Asimov's Science Fiction October/November 2006)
A ferry heading from Seattle to Bremerton mysteriously vanishes with nearly a thousand people aboard. No wreckage is found. This story tells how some people are affected by this tragedy and what scientists determine happened.

A readable story told from multiple viewpoints. I found most of the tales interesting and down-to-earth, but I would have preferred to hear from more folks I that could admire.

"Yellow Card Man", Paolo Bacigalupi (Asimov's Science Fiction December 2006)
Ethnic Chinaman Tranh has lost everything and is merely surviving in the slums of Bangkok. He once ran a shipping business in Malaysia, but his family was killed and his livelihood destroyed. Now he is just another yellow-card refugee without a steady job. But he does have a fine white linen suit. Tranh encounters a rich man whom he once fired.

This story is set in the same future as Bacigalupi's "The Calorie Man", which I liked very much, but the science fictional elements aren't as integral to the plot. This is a well-written story, but it's rather grim.

"The Djinn's Wife", Ian McDonald (Asimov's Science Fiction July 2006)
In the near-future in India, young female dancer meets a handsome admirer who appears out of nowhere, like a djinn. He is a diplomat, but also an artificial intelligence or aeai. A government inspector notices that the A.I. spends time with the dancer. When the dancer marries the artificial intelligence she becomes a tabloid celebrity. But soon her husband's differences begin to annoy her.

A clever, well-written story set in an exotic future. This story shares the same background as McDonald's story "The Little Goddess". It contains some memorably atypical, romantic encounters. I nominated this novelette.

"Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)", Geoff Ryman (Fantasy & Science Fiction) October/November 2006)
According to the author "this is a completely untrue story about someone who must exist." It’s s tale about a young woman in Cambodia who is named Sith, who is Pol Pot's daughter. She lives an eccentric life trying to avoid unpleasantness. She falls in love with a salesman at a mobile phone shop. Sith is afraid to admit who she is. She is haunted by ghosts that call on her cell phones, and whose faces appear on her photocopier.

An exotic, colorful, and dare I say, haunting novelette. I enjoy tales with modern day ghosts.

Deciding between first and second was very difficult for me. Ordering the remaining stories wasn't difficult at all. It's interesting to note that my top three were all set in southern or Southeast Asia.

Amy's Ballot for Best Novelette:
1. "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)", Geoff Ryman
2. "The Djinn's Wife", Ian McDonald
3. "Yellow Card Man", Paolo Bacigalupi
4. "Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth", Michael F. Flynn
5. "All the Things You Are", Mike Resnick

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