Shorts, Awards, and Reviews

It’s book launch day, but really, the reason I don’t have an official review is that I haven’t had the time to read much of anything. I started a book, but it’s not an easy read, so you might get that one next week and you might not. In the mean time…

You can buy The God’s Woflling here. 

Hattip to D. Jason Fleming (and you should check out his lovecraftian novella, it looks good…) for this. It’s a site where you can buy reviews! I knew they existed, and if I recall correctly (and I might not, I’m only a half-cup of coffee into my morning) I’ve spotlighted another one where you could buy like five reviews for thirty bucks. Folks, so far from advocating this, I am saying stay away. Stay far away from get-rich-quick schemes like this. This is why when an author told me they were going to get a ‘rave review’ from a ‘professional reviewer’ I snorted in my coffee… I may be an amateur, but it means I can review with honesty and integrity.

There is a reason when I see a book (other than one by a major bestseller like, say, Butcher) with a hundred or more five-star reviews, I steer very clear of it. Every book is going to have those who love it, and those who hate it, and plenty in between. But a whole lot of rah, rah, rah, yay! reviews make me lift an eyebrow and start looking for linguistics. It’s fascinating how much you can tell with just word choices and usage. Most of the people who churn out these reviews haven’t bothered to read the book (who would have time, at $10 for the service?) so you won’t see a lot of specific detail to the story.

Speaking of specific details, rather than taking time myself to review the Hugo slate (I voted, did you?) I’m going to point you at Stephanie Souder’s insightful take on the short stories. She’ll be doing more later, and I’ll link as she posts them for those who are interested. She and I talked about the offerings overall, and we both think that there are more soap-boxes, messages, screeds, and general societal tracts in the tales than there are real plots… or magic, or science. So next year, we’re hoping a bunch of you join us in nominating and voting. It’s time to make the Hugos about great stories again.

Here’s what Stephanie has to say: “First of all, while all four stories are technically competent, only one can arguably be classified as sci-i/fantasy (“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” — if you squint at it sideways); the others are mundane stories in genre dress. “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” for example, would not have fundamentally changed even if the narrator’s mother had abandoned her family for wholly ordinary reasons, and “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” would’ve held together as a basic “coming out” tale even without – well – the water. Both “Selkie…” and “The Water…” may have included fantastic elements, but neither the Gaelic folklore in “Selkie…” nor the mystical lie detector in “The Water…” was critical to the flow of its story. The otherworldly element in both cases was mere ornament — and in my view, you can’t simply shoehorn a little unnecessary magic into a literary story and sneak it in under the sci-fi/fantasy banner. In sci-fi/fantasy, the magic – or the advanced technology – is an inalienable feature, not a careless afterthought.” 

Now, for a really great read, I have high hopes for the winners of the new Baen Fantasy Adventure Awards. Their stories will appear at some point on the Baen.com front page, although there is usually good stuff there to read at any given time. Keep an eye out!

In other news: You can pick up Stargazer for free, any time from now until Monday. A short story written while I was a young mother, it’s definitely from my ‘dark’ period. I’ve started a prequel to it, but still haven’t decided if I will ever finish it.

Cedar Sanderson
Science fiction, short story…