Shiver me Timbers! The 2019 Hugo Finalists – Part Two – Novelettes

Ahoy there me mateys!  A short while back, I wrote a post discussing me initial thoughts on the 2019 Hugo awards.  At that time, I had read none of the works in the novelette category.  I have since remedied the situation and so here be mini-reviews of the novelettes and me pick for the 2019 winner.

The novelettes are from the list as published on Tor.com with the quoted descriptions taken from the publisher where possible.  Click on the story title to read the novelettes themselves.

Best Novelette

A hapless imugi is determined to attain the form of a full-fledged dragon and gain entry to the gates of heaven. For a long time, things don’t go well. Then, it meets a girl.

Thoughts: This was a sad, sweet story.  The imugi is trying to become a dragon and failing.  Then it has an encounter with a human that will change its life.  I thought this was well-written and lovely.  I truly liked watching the imugi struggle through education and deal with the effects of time and growth.  This was lovely.

A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge.

Thoughts:  Goodness this was interesting.  This story involves a baker and his wife.  The baker has become adept at inserting herbs into pastries that help people relieve memories.  They have names like “Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost” and “Fennel Flatbread of Sunlit Days Gone By.”  The country is run by an evil regent who has taken the baker and his wife hostage.  They are not allowed to see each other.  The wife is a taste-tester.  The baker passes messages to his wife through the pastries and memories he invokes.  So ye get the present story with the past interspersed via pastry memories.  I loved how this one ended.  The writing flow was a bit awkward at first but I got used to it.

When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely. How much time do we have left, and do we even understand what timescale to use? As a slow apocalypse blooms across the Earth, planets and plants, animals and microbes, all live and die and evolve at different scales. Is one human life long enough to unravel the mystery?

Thoughts:  I love Daryl Gregory’s work.  This story is wonderful.  This follows LT throughout the years from the age of 10 to 97.  It is through LT’s relationships with family and friends that ye get to hear about the alien seeds, what sprouted from them, and how they affect the earth.  This was so well-written and completely held me attention.  I can’t really do it justice but I loved it.

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history by Brooke Bolander that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants.

Thoughts:  Okay so this one was not free online so I didn’t read it.  It costs $3.99 and I be adverse to spending me loot on a story that only lightly appeals and that I would likely only read once.  With best regards to the author.  No offense meant.

First sentence: “The most interesting thing about ghost stories is that almost everyone has one.”

Thoughts: This was wonderful.  It involves a woman, Leah, who is a folklorist of ghost stories.  She collects ghosts stories and catalogues them.  This is both a discussion of ghost stories themselves and a look into the life and thoughts of the woman who studies them.  It also discusses the effects of dementia on life, love, and loss.  This story felt the most real and personal.  I was thinking about this long after I finished it.

First sentence: “When we set out to weave a new world from the old, broken one, we knew we pledged the lives of our clutches and our clutches’ clutches to wandering the wastes.”

Thoughts:  I tried to read this one.  It involves ghosts of a kind.  I think I made it about half-way.  The writing style did not work for me.  I was a bit bored and a bit confused.

Now listen up me hearties, the decision has been made:

Hoped for Winner: “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer.  This was certainly the best of the bunch for me.  Check it out!

So there ye have it.  Me Hugo thoughts and wishes for novelettes.  I will keep y’all posted as I continue readin’ through the nominees before the winners be  revealed on 8/18/19.  In the meantime:

Always remember:

Q: What do pirates and pimps have in common?

A: They both say “YO HO!” and walk with a limp!

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

16 thoughts on “Shiver me Timbers! The 2019 Hugo Finalists – Part Two – Novelettes

  1. What a fabulous post – thank you so much for a fabulous share. If I get a chance, I’ll certainly sit down and read these… My problem is that I don’t like reading at my computer, given that I spend hours and hours working at it. But if I get a free afternoon and feel like a treat, this sounds like a splendid way of having one, Cap!

    Like

    1. That was the first story I read by her even though (I sadly) had forgotten who wrote it. After I read this new one and went to see what else she had written, I was pleasantly surprised to see she had written the cat story too. She is certainly an author whose works I will watch. In fact I took a small break from this comment to follow her on Goodreads where I learned that she wrote a YA novel about the AI from the cat pictures story. It is called catfishing on catnet. Sign me up! Arrrrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. All of them are free online. I read them all in one sitting, taking the breaks in between to write me thoughts down. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. I plan on doing the same for the short stories 🙂
      x The Captain

      Like

  2. I’m personally rooting for the Zen Cho story because I fell in love with it, but I agree, Naomi Kritzer’s was amazing too. And I felt the same way about When We Were Starless – I just… couldn’t get into it? I understood nothing and had no idea how anything looked like, so I DNFed it. I almost felt like the author was trying to write a novelette with a novel’s worth of worldbuilding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to admit that I was torn between the two stories. I wouldn’t be adverse to Zen Cho winning. They were both stunning. The Starless story was just plain odd. It did feel like I was missing something. I felt a little bad not finishing because it was short. It being the last story I read after such strong comparision pieces made the decision for me though. Thanks for reading!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll have to check these out! I wouldn’t be surprised if your hope/prediction is correct and Naomi Kritzer wins this one. I haven’t read this story yet, but I’ve read other work of hers and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly have to read more of Kritzer’s work. Does she write novels or just shorter works? Any recommendations? I can’t wait to hear what ye think of the new story. Do ye tend to post reviews of shorts on Goodreads or yer blog more? Where should I look?
      x The Captain

      Like

      1. I have only read a short of hers, “Cat Pictures Please” which won the Hugo Award. I try to review shorts on my blog, but they’re probably more likely to end up on Goodreads because I seem to be better about keeping notes there as I am reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I loved that short! I recently reread it and liked it just as much the second time around. That was me first introduction to her work too. I will track down more. I keep forgetting that ye can log short stories on Goodreads. I will try to remember so I can read other crew member takes. Arrr!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I forget to log short stories also, at least when I have read the short as part of a book. When I read them online, I do log them in Goodreads as shorts, but (for example) I think I read Cat Pictures Please in a Hugo or Nebula Award collection, and so it’s logged with the compilation book and not on its own. I confuse myself sometimes…

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  4. I’m heading over to read Daryl Gregory’s story now! And Naomi Kritzer’s. I had a NetGalley edition of The Only Harmless Great Thing but the copy was so terribly formatted I couldn’t read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that the crew seems engaged with these posts. Ye will have to tell me what ye think of both of those. Also read the Zen Cho one if ye haven’t. Good stuff. Thanks for visiting.
      x The Captain

      Like

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