February 19th, 2012

buzz

BSFA short stories: my ballot

Long plane flights and short stories often work quite well in combination for me, and I used the last week's travels, among other things, to read through the BSFA shortlist. I should say that I ranked my choices before then turning to Martin Lewis's discussion, which illustrates the point that chacun a son goût.

5) Afterbirth, by Kameron Hurley

Martin Lewis asks if this would work for someone who hasn't read God's War buy the same author. I can only say that it didn't really work for me; I didn't quite get either the background to the story or why I was supposed to care about it. Important themes, good writing, but didn't really engage me. The only story of the five that I would rank below "No Award" (if the BSFA had that category, which it doesn't.)

4) The Silver Wind, by Nina Allen

A piece with rather interesting scenery, juxtaposing two alternative present-day Londons linked by a mysterious dwarf watchmaker. Lots of intriguing details which however didn't quite go anywhere.

3) The Copenhagen Interpretation, by Paul Cornell

A fantasy steampunk short in the same world as the same author's Hugo-nominated "One Of Our Bastards is Missing"; I enjoyed the pace and appreciated the basic concept, would have liked a bit more story, but decent enough.

2) Covehithe, by China Miéville

Originally published in the Guardian, of all places. Basically a very short piece about living, walking oil rigs. As usual with Miéville, gorgeous prose.

1) Of Dawn, by Al Robertson

Martin Lewis (and his commenters) complain that this story is variously too much like other recent British sf or too much engaged with its own internal references. I obviously haven't read enough recent British sf to get jaded with this kind of thing because I enjoyed it a lot; I thought the depiction of the central character's grief very true to life, and the layered delving into a personal and geographical past fitted the central premise in a way I found very satisfying. I would agree that it is perhaps a shade too long, but will put it top of my ballot anyway.
politics

Interesting Links for 19-02-2012

earthsea

February Books 12) Snuff, by Terry Pratchett

Latest of the Vimes sub-series of Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett; once again, as in Thud, he takes Vimes out of Ankh-Morpork and the story is the better for it. I really enjoyed the combination of toilet humour (because poo is always funny) with cold clinical rage against racial injustice; I got a little lost with some of the topography of the river, but then there are not a lot of authors who would simultaneously try and satirise both Jane Austen and Mark Twain. Vimes is great, though I wish we could get rid of the other Guards.
tardis

February Books 13) Blood Harvest, by Terrance Dicks

This was one of the first New Adventures that I read, back in 2006, but I'm glad that I stuck to my decision to include it as I read the series in order. It is slightly better than I remembered; possibly I enjoyed it more because I now see it in the context of the previous 27 novels in the series and also I have re-watched both State of Decay and The Five Doctors, on which it leans pretty heavily, a couple of times in the interim. It was interesting to read this so soon after Lavie Tidhar's Osama, which mingles the noir genre with The Man in the High Castle rather than with Time Lords and Space Vampires, and is marginally the better book.