14 June 2012

Hugo nominees, part 1

I'm going to WorldCon this year, which means I get to vote on the Hugos. This is pretty exciting. I've never had the chance to vote before. As a member, you can download all the nominated works so you can read them before deciding. It's great, because otherwise you'd be spending upwards of $300 to get all the materials.

So I'm going to review the nominees. Probably just the textual ones.

First, the short stories. John Scalzi has a post with links to all the nominated short stories, so you can go read them yourself. These are my opinions.

"The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees" by E. Lily Yu: A village discovers that the wasp nests in their trees have maps on the inside, and they're better than the official maps. The wasps seek to expand their territory and invade a region previously occupied only by bees. They force the bees into subjugation, but some bees are born with anarchist leanings, and they attempt to retake the hive from the wasps. The language is evocative, and the metaphor for colonization doesn't come across too heavy-handed.

"The Homecoming" by Mike Resnick: A son returns home because he learns that his mother has an advanced dementia. His father rejected him years before, when he went into a program to live on another planet and study the native sapient beings. This involved extensive modifications to his body. This story is a fairly straightforward metaphor for learning to accept a son's homosexuality. The father narrates the story, and he's not (to me) terribly sympathetic. He's kind of an ass.

"Movement" by Nancy Fulda: This story is told from the point of view of a teenaged girl with autism. Her parents discuss a new technology that can cure her autism, but they're unsure about it. It's very well done.

"The Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu: A man gets a mail-order bride from China. She makes little origami animals for her son, and, because she has magic, she breathes life into them. The son plays with them, but as he gets older, he begins to reject her and her foreignness, to reject his own foreignness. Deeply moving.

"Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue" by John Scalzi: This is a parody of epic fantasy, written as an April Fools joke. I admit I didn't read the whole thing, because I didn't think it was that interesting. A lot of people seem to enjoy it, however. Maybe I don't read enough epic fantasy to get the gags.

Three of the stories are stories of acceptance. In "The Homecoming," a father accepts that his son isn't what he wanted him to be, but his son is happy. In "Movement," a girl with autism decides that she wants to remain who she is. In "The Paper Menagerie," a young Chinese-American man learns to accept himself--his entire self.

If you've read them, what do you think? Agree, disagree?

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