Book review: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

The Lucky Peach is one of the most compelling time travel stories I’ve read in the recent years.  In an age when almost every viable trope in the time travel subgenre had been explored, Robson makes the wise choice of not focusing on it too much and instead packs this novella with so many other concepts that nearly every reader will find something to hold on to.  From environmentalism, through the ethics of killing, generational changes and body autonomy, to communication technology, this book works on many levels.  However, its greatest strength is that even though it is densely packed with these concepts, The Lucky Peach is still very accessible to its readers.

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Book review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

It is exceedingly rare for me to miss my tram stop because I’m so engrossed in a book.  This little gem managed it.  I was absolutely in love with this adult fairy tale.  It features a highly original story, likable characters and very compelling worldbuilding.  And all of it is measured out in small but dense quantities, to force the book into a small, manageable package that can be enjoyed over a long evening.  Or a few tram rides, at least one of which could turn out to be unexpectedly long.

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Safety in Dublin during the 2019 Worldcon

I’ve been living in Dublin for eight years, and for most of the time I’ve walked, run, cycled or taken public transportation.  Prior to that, I spent 16 years in the US and over 20 years in various countries in continental Europe, so I am well aware what differences visitors in Dublin should be expecting.  In addition, I have been hosting meetups for newcomers to Ireland who wish to meet their fellow expats and the locals.  From these meetups I gained understanding of what information was most appreciated by visitors to Dublin.  The following is the safety advice I came up with, and which consists solely of my personal experiences, observations and opinions.  Please note that this describes the worst-case scenarios.  Dublin is a cosmopolitan city, which I’d consider on the safer side of Western Europe.  As such, common sense is usually all that’s needed to keep safe, but I’ll be listing the worst that could happen, and the readers may make up their own mind.

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Book Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Second in the Murderbot series, Artificial Condition is an endearing piece of science fiction, which has a lot going for it.  In particular, it’s not pretending to be more than it is: an inconsequential story in a large, fleshed-out universe.  I really like these kinds of works.  By focusing on the adventures of a person or two, during a very short time period, they are usually very tightly written and their personal insights into the fictional universe are more important to me than descriptions on a monumental scale.  This novella is a good example of such a story, but the writing isn’t as focused as I’d like it to be.

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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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Book 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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