Monday, March 21, 2016

Reading Some More Hugo-Eligible Novels


I was very close to running off to a nearby comic con last weekend, but so far I have failed to make any promotional bookmarks or other propaganda for One Sunny Night, and besides that, I was exhausted from Daylight Savings Time. Someday we will rise up against the time-changing fascist overlords and never have to change our clocks again. Arizona and Hawai’i are already there.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading more Hugo-eligible books.

Star Wars on Trial by David Brin, Matthew Woodring Stover and a bunch of other writers. I like Star Wars, and I have a perverse affection for trials. But these aren’t real trials with things like evidentiary rules and foundation, they’re kind of like Maoist show trials, in which charges are leveled against the Star Wars movies and writers roleplay litigators arguing whether they contain malphilosophy.

Since this book concerned with the first six movies it’s a little stale, sort of like how Spaceballs felt given that it was released long after Return of the Jedi. Everybody’s busy talking about Rey and Kylo Ren now, and this book is rehashing the prequel trilogy, which I think we’d all like to forget to the extent possible, thank you very much and good day sir, moving right along.

I feel a little bit like that lunatic juror who stands up and points out that the court is flying an admiralty flag so the judge’s rulings don’t count, but I don’t like the idea of accusing art of harming society. Sure it harms society, but that’s not always a bad thing. The Jungle resulted in societal harm by causing several meat packing plants to go out of business, resulting in mass unemployment. Uncle Tom’s Cabin laid a great big harm stick on a segment of society that badly wanted harming.

Since you can’t unmake art, the only solution is to make more art, and better art. As we now know, Star Wars is a work in progress. That nice Mr. Abrams is hard at work, doing something about all the racism and sexism and gaping plot loopholes that formerly proliferated in the Star Wars galaxy. Whatever the prior movies lacked, future movies are working to address. Case dismissed. Not nominating.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Meanwhile, I found some excellent science fiction from Africa, and I’m totally nominating it. Binti is the story of about a young girl from a tribal culture at the fringes of a society run by an arrogant conqueror culture. She studies hard and gets good grades in math, her ticket to space adventures. Once in space, adventures begin to happen. She meets tentacled aliens who admire her locs as well as the healing propensities of the sacred red earth she carries with her, even in space. Without it, a woman of her culture is considered to be both naked and insane, and therefore completely unmarriageable. 

This is a sweet fairy tale in space, with a resourceful, diplomatic and brilliant female lead character. I would love to see it made into a movie. Nominating.

The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

This novel is about an aging gay dude who frequents auctions, and fights vampires, because they have the best antiques. He also has flashbacks to his youthful days hanging out with very fashionable people in the sixties. I wish Freddie Mercury had lived to read this book; he would have loved it. Nominating.

The Border by Robert McCammon

Some aliens are having a huge war, and we just happen to live on the border. I will take back this recommendation in the event of a cheesy ending, but so far I’m about a quarter of the way through and am enjoying the suspense and page-turniness.  Probably nominating unless the ending fails.
EDIT: The ending is ... whoa. The page-turniness persisted throughout. I've been reading McCammon's books for years and he hasn't disappointed me yet. Change that to "Nominating."

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I really liked the writing style, and the characters, but I never quite fell into the world of orogenes studying magic that is literally earthshaking. I think it’ll get nominated without my help, and I may end up voting for it. Probably not nominating unless I still have an empty slot based on the belief it’ll get nominated anyway.

This Year’s Puppylists

Both the Sad and Rabid Puppies have issued what they represent are non-slatey lists, and their choices seem uncharacteristically reasonable (I was very pleased to see Binti there).

Personally, as a fringe-dwelling liberal-leaning self-pub loser with a mere handful of sales, I haven’t got much stake in this particular subculture war. I’m going to go ahead and nominate some of the Puppies’ choices, such as File 770 and Binti.


Back to reading more stories!

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