Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Novelette - "The Art of Space Travel", by Nina Allan

"The Art of Space Travel", by Nina Allan is about a woman tangentially involved in big events. She's not the hero, she doesn't have powers or anything - she's just a woman with a sick mother and a giant mystery. The story keeps you guessing, although it isn't really hard to figure it out - as long as you can see past the fictions.

The good: Lovely prose, lovely build-up. There's a lot of "future history" dropped in the story that makes it into a nicely woven science fiction tale, and not just a tale of relationships. The focus stays on the relationships, though, which gives it a solid foundation on which to build everything else. I like the main character - a strong woman with responsibilities in a difficult job. I like her mother and what we learn about her throughout the story. I like how the demetia makes it hard to figure out what it true and what is fantasy.

The bad: The conclusion becomes clear a little too early in the story, although I tried to convince myself I got it wrong. The story itself has very little action, very little happening - although a ton happens in the background. I don't really know if that's a bad thing, but from one perspective it could be argued that it's a story about nothing. However, I'm grasping at straws to find a flaw - this really was a very good story.

Conclusion: I really enjoyed this. It's a good story that leaves plenty to the reader's imagination while supplying enough framework to build on. It is sweet and touching without being too much of either.

I've read one of the other finalists in this category, and at the moment, this is my top pick. That may change as I read and reread.

Best Novelette: I've read "The Art of Space Travel" and "You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay". I need to read "The Jewel and Her Lapidary", "The Tomato Thief", and "Touring with the Alien". I do not plan on reading the sixth finalist.