Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Hugo Review: John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer - Malka Older

Malka Older's packet included four works, three short stories and one novel. I enjoyed the short stories, but the longer work... well...

The novel is called Infomocracy, and while the premise seemed ok, the fact that it's all about politics, which I don't feel like thinking about at all and that it's written in present tense made it a slog. I got about halfway through before setting it down and looking for greener pastures, and have only just managed to get through the rest. I cannot say I enjoyed it.

The Rupture is a short story set on a future earth which suffers from cataclysmic eruptions as it nears its death - but is still populated and accepts visitors from other planets, humans who have gone to live on other worlds. The story is set from the point of view of a visitor and was solid, if not brilliant. Looking at why anyone would choose to live on a world that is dying was an interesting exercise, and I felt it got the mood and emotions across.

The Black Box is a little more difficult to define. It covers the lifetime of one person who has a computer helper installed as a child and makes a choice about that helper as she grows older. I got mixed messages from this one - was she better off not being able to access it or was she at a disadvantage? What was the point of the whole thing? And the ending seemed to just turn off any potential for liking the tale. While it makes me think, I'm not sure what it was trying to say.

The last one, Tear Tracks is also a bit problematic for me... mostly because the two representatives of humanity are downright STUPID about what they are hearing and seeing. Flur should have figured it out much quicker. With the hints we were given, I had it worked out before they went for refreshments. The fact that trained diplomats couldn't figure it out was disturbing.

Conclusion: Older will be toward the bottom of my ballot. Some great stuff, but the novel failed to engage my interest and I had issues with all the short stories.