Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Novelette - "You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay", by Alyssa Wong

"You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay", by Alyssa Wong is about a massive injustice done to a man who is more than a man, and the consequences of that injustice to his son, the local town, and the people in it.

This is one of the few finalists I'd read before the finalists were announced. I hadn't really enjoyed it the first time I read it, but it improved on the reread. The second-person narrative is hard to pull off, and on my first reading of this story it didn't work for me at all.

The good: Lots of strong world-building in this story, with a mythic level of importance. The sense of the universe and what exists in it is developed nicely throughout, without too much shoving. The ending reminds me of old fables of dancing with the dead, although I'm not entirely sure that the fate of the townsfolk is the same as the fate in the old fables. Ellis and Marisol are both strong characters, and the whole thing is tragic in a classic way.

The bad: The language and the point-of-view are a bit hard to take in, and it took a reread before I feel like I "got" the story. The narrative has to be pieced together, which isn't a bad thing, but it didn't quite gel for me the first time.

Conclusion: I liked it better on the second read-through, but it's still not my favorite in this category. Yes, it's elegant and interesting, but it didn't pull together fast enough for me. It's still in the second-place spot on my ballot.

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.