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Hugo novellas wrap-up

I've written up the other three novella nominees in separate entries, as is my usual practice with books, and now come to the final two.

"Palimpsest", by Charles Stross, didn't really grab me I'm afraid. It is a tale of time police and overlapping universes and histories, broken up by some reflections on the evolution of the solar system presented in rather odd powerpoint format. I wasn't really convinced either by the astronomy or the mathematics of deep time, and they appeared to be the point of the story.

On the other hand, the story does get my approval for being the only one presented to Hugo voters in a format that my handheld can read without a conversion process.

"Act One", by Nancy Kress (PDF), appealed to me slightly more, dealing with disability and genetically altered children, close eough to my personal situation to read it with keen interest. I liked a lot of aspects of the setting, including the characters with plenty of empathy (ie ability to understand other people's feelings) who were none the less really unpleasant people. While it engaged my sympathy, I'm marking it down the list for two reasons: first, it really is very close in subject matter to her much earlier Hugo and Nebula winning "Beggars in Spain", and doesn't move us along much from there; and second, I felt that the authorities behaved either very stupidly or very intelligently depending on what the plot required at the time.

So my final ranking, rather to my surprise as it doesn't much reflect my rating of these authors' œuvres taken as a whole, is:
  1. The God Engines, by John Scalzi
  2. "Vishnu at the Cat Circus", by Ian McDonald
  3. Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow
  4. The Women of Nell Gwynne's, by Kage Baker
  5. "Act One", by Nancy Kress
  6. "Palimpsest", by Charles Stross

Previous Hugo roundups: Best Novel, Best Graphic Story.

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