Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Short Story - "A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers", by Alyssa Wong

"A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers", by Alyssa Wong is about a pair of sisters, a universe of possibilities, and how things end.

I guess this story makes it official. I just cannot connect with Alyssa Wong's writing. I can see the beauty in it, and I can understand it (I think), but it doesn't grab me. There's a passionate comment about this story on the Tor website, and I almost feel ashamed that the story didn't touch me like it did that person. Hey, I thought, I suffer from depression, too. Why am I not feeling the same things you do from this tale? I guess her language just doesn't move me the way it moves others. I've been told it's not shameful to bounce off particular works - heck, I bounced off Tolkien the first time I tried to read it and loved it the second time, years later. But it still feels like I'm missing something valuable by not having a visceral reaction to the story.

The good: From a strictly literary point of view, there's a nice use of repetition to build up the idea that Hannah is searching through the various probabilities to look for one in which everything ends up better. The hints dropped within the repetition that give the reader some idea of their powers and what's actually happening work nicely in the narrative.

The bad: The entire story feels like it's incomplete - like we've not been given quite enough to work it out. I feel like it's an item on a high shelf I cannot reach. I can see it. I suspect I know the weight in my hand if I could get it down. But I can't get to it to be sure. Some readers might find this a good thing. In this case, it detracts from the story for me.

Conclusion: Well, this is number three on my list now. Again, I'm afraid I just don't connect with this writer, based on my reaction to her other Hugo finalist in the Best Novelette category.

Best Short Story: I've read "A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers", "That Game We Played During the War" and "The City Born Great". I need to read "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" and "Seasons of Glass and Iron". I do not plan on reading the sixth finalist.