Hugos 2019: Best Graphic Story

Graphic novels were a mixed bag this year.  While my top pick got me all teary-eyed, and any of the top three books is a contender for the Hugo award, I feel that many better books, especially those dealing with harder science fiction were overlooked.  Of the six books, only two can conceivably be considered science fiction; the rest is either space opera, fantasy or a straight-up superhero story.  I’m none too fond of nominating volumes within ongoing series, but I have to admit that some of those were much better than standalone volumes this year.  Here are my views on the nominated comic books, sorted from my favorite one.

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Hugo Review: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

Sherlock Holmes meets the Culture.  This, in short, will be used by many reviewers of this Hugo-nominated novella.  On a superficial level, this will hold true (after all, I’m using the same analogy), but I think there are a few nuances that make this work well worth reading.  Most notably, given what a prolific writer de Bodard is and how she likes to group her works into a series of fictional universes, this novella marks her third one in the already story-rich (over two dozen short stories) Xuya universe.  It fleshes out the worldbuilding and sets up possibly more works to come.

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Book Review: Trail of Lighting by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lighting is yet another highly praised title from Rebecca Roanhorse.  After universal acclaim for her short story in 2018, when she took home the Hugo, Nebula and a few other awards, this book got nominated for the Best novel Hugo Award of 2019.  And it very well may have a chance, given the trends of recent years.  The book, which features a monster huntress in a post-apocalyptic Native American reservation, is a solidly written, low-key affair which provides for a pleasant reading.

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Hugos 2019 – Novelettes

The novelettes category for the 2019 Hugo Awards is amazingly well stacked.  It will be the only one where I’d rank all the nominated works, and with a good reason: I liked all stories.  Many of these works were deeply emotional, others provided me with sleepless evenings as I was thinking about their implications.  I wouldn’t be unhappy to see any of the stories win the award, but the three I’ll be rooting for are When We Were Starless, The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections and The Thing about Ghost Stories.  Here are my reviews of all the novelettes, ranked by my order of preference.

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Book Review: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera generated a lot of buzz when it was published last year.  This year, it got nominated for the 2019 Hugo Award for the best novel.  And rightfully so.  This is one of the funniest books published in recent years.  It is uproariously funny, unpretentious and unapologetic about reusing tropes that should have died a long time ago, and so well crafted that many readers won’t even notice these tropes.  It is a story of impending annihilation of humanity, which can only be prevented by Yoko Ono…

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Hugos 2019 – Short Stories

This year’s short stories nominations for Hugos were a disappointment for me.  I’ve read three of the six nominated stories last year, and my records indicate that none of the three were in my top twenty short stories.  What’s more, I can’t, even by the greatest stretch of imagination, call two of the six stories science fiction or fantasy.  The top story on the list is good: had I read it before, I would have probably nominated it.  It also so happens that it’s the only science fiction story of the lot.  So let’s take a closer look at the short stories nominated for the 2019 Hugo Awards, ranked from best to worst, according to my tastes.

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Book Review: The Bobiverse Trilogy by Dennis E. Taylor

The Bobiverse trilogy is an excellent blend of high concepts, believable future, adventure and action.  It is both entertaining and introspective, with deep moral dilemmas.  The prose is easy flowing, and the characters relatable.  However, is misses its mark by not fully exploiting its potential, becoming already dated at its time of release, and occasionally getting bogged down by false leads and unfinished threads.  The books are thus a mixed bag, which one reader may enjoy while another may find boring.

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Hugo review – The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

K. Jemisin became he first author to win three consecutive Hugo awards for this trilogy. Between 2016 and 2018 she took home the Best Novel award for The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky. If I’m not mistaken, this is also the first time all books in a trilogy won the award.  In this heavily spoilerish review, I will argue that while the first book certainly deserves all the accolades it got, the next two titles aren’t on the standard I’d expect from a Hugo winner.  Even though the worldbuilding and unique concepts are superb, I found little to like about the characters, think the author took too many shortcuts as she neared the ending, and missed a great deal of potential.

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The Story So Far: The Magitech Chronicles by Chris Fox

Space dragons, magic-powered weapons and spaceships, dead and resurrected gods and planet-sized skulls.  That and much more can be found in this blend of science fiction and fantasy.  After five books I must admit I am a fan.  The books are pure, unadulterated fun, easy to read and not forcing any moral lessons on the audience.  They have their flaws, but nothing that would stop me from grabbing the next part as soon as it is released.

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Musings on the 2019 Academy Awards

The Academy Awards have never been heavy on science fiction, and the 2019 awards are no exception.  Still, some movies should have been nominated, while others could have been left out.  Allow me to write a few words on what I think of this year’s nominations, as they pertain to the science fiction genre.

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