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July 25, 2018

Comments

I have you tried Marsha Wells's Murderbot series. I love them.

Thanks for the recommends, will look at several. Personally, I thought La Belle Sauvage was pretty good, and I'm rereading the whole His Dark Materials trilogy on the strength of it.

Thanks for these! I'll have to look up the Memoirs of Lady Trent, which I have not read. (We seem to have similar enough takes on the ones I *have* read-- including the Divine Cities and Six Wakes-- that I'm hopeful that I'll also have a similar liking to Lady Trent.)

For other folks who turn in incomplete ballots: Due to the way the Hugo voting system works, *if* you include No Award on an incomplete ballot, then any work you leave off the ballot is considered to be ranked below everything you put on the ballot, *including* "No Award". (In other words, as Kevin Standlee puts it at https://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/1440530.html , there isn't currently a way to effectively vote both "no award" and "no opinion" on a Hugo ballot-- instead, a "no award" vote penalizes everything you leave off the ballot.) I'd imagine Doctor Science already knows this, but since it's a source of confusion among Hugo voters, I thought I'd mention it here.

One alternative if you don't want to penalize works you haven't read, and don't care as much about supporting or penalizing works you found "meh", is to rank the Hugo-worthy works you want to vote for, and end your ballot there (without including "No Award", the works you didn't like so much, or the works you didn't read).

I'm interested by Doctor Science's remark about the 'gyptians in La Belle Sauvage. I thought Coram van Texel was a splendid character, I'm curious to know what anybody else who's read it thinks?

I'm not the SF junkie Dr S is. But Lady Trent is definitely someone that anyone with even a passing interest in the genre should check out.

Popping in to co-sign dinging The Stone Sky for going too far in the magic direction. By any objective measure, it was very very good, but as someone who likes world building, I was looking for something more than magical hand waving.

Jemisin is such a talented writer, if she was to go back and do a prequel to fill in the gaps, I'd be very happy.

As an aside, I've relented to the calls of friends who have insisted that I watch The Expanse, but since I can't stand watching a show or movie based on books without reading said books, I burned through the first two.

Do the books get better as you go along? I'm only about 6 episodes in to the show and I'm asking the same question there: Do they get better?

The science is light to the point of being basic and the protomolecule is bordering on a trope as is the belter/inner planet tension.

If you are inclined to go looking for “Summer in Orcus” be advised that it’s published under the pen name T. Kingfisher.

GftNC:

"'gyptian" is the same word as "Gypsy", except without acknowledging anything I can detect about the actual Roma.

The characters are very interesting! But the appropriation and white-washing has not aged well.

Doc,

Not being, surprisingly, a complete halfwit, I had in fact reaised that the "'gyptians" were "gypsies" in the same way that "chocolatl" is "chocolate". It seems to me that his gyptians are actually what the English have always called "water gypsies" or "bargees", the most famous descendant of whom is probably Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. In an interview in the Guardian he said:

Alcoholism is, he says, in his blood. It's quite a big thing with him, this idea of blood. His still-black hair is, he says, 'one of the blessings of being a Gypo'. And on the wall of the gallery there's a super-romanticised self-portrait of him as a boy being dandled on his father's knee, a Romany caravan behind and two narrowboats in front. He was actually brought up in a council house in Yiewsley, Middlesex, but 'my roots are on the water. All my family back to the 1700s were water Gypsies. My brothers and me, we were the first ones to be born on dry land. All the rest of them were born on barges in the canals.'

Whatever one's feelings about cultural appropriation, the 'gyptians in Pullman's universe, as well as knowing everything there is to know about water, the rivers etc, seem almost uniformly to be written about in approving terms as "good guys" and enemies of the Magisterium, to be relied on when Lyra et al need help, and given the actual historic prejudice against and vilifying of gypsies that alone seems to me to make their use as a group acceptable. I do understand, however, that YMMV.

Doc,

Not being, surprisingly, a complete halfwit, I had in fact reaised that the "'gyptians" were "gypsies" in the same way that "chocolatl" is "chocolate". It seems to me that his gyptians are actually what the English have always called "water gypsies" or "bargees", the most famous descendant of whom is probably Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. In an interview in the Guardian he said:

Alcoholism is, he says, in his blood. It's quite a big thing with him, this idea of blood. His still-black hair is, he says, 'one of the blessings of being a Gypo'. And on the wall of the gallery there's a super-romanticised self-portrait of him as a boy being dandled on his father's knee, a Romany caravan behind and two narrowboats in front. He was actually brought up in a council house in Yiewsley, Middlesex, but 'my roots are on the water. All my family back to the 1700s were water Gypsies. My brothers and me, we were the first ones to be born on dry land. All the rest of them were born on barges in the canals.'

Whatever one's feelings about cultural appropriation, the 'gyptians in Pullman's universe, as well as knowing everything there is to know about water, the rivers etc, seem almost uniformly to be written about in approving terms as "good guys" and enemies of the Magisterium, to be relied on when Lyra et al need help, and given the actual historic prejudice against and vilifying of gypsies that alone seems to me to make their use as a group acceptable. I do understand, however, that YMMV.

"'gyptian" is the same word as "Gypsy",

and they both come from the ancient and mistaken notion that Gypsies were from Egypt.

Doc, could you expand a bit on what you mean by the "white-washing"?

I remain baffled how so many people I respect think Six Wakes is award-worthy.

Well, I'm one of them. I was pretty sure early on that Six Wakes and Raven Strategem were going to be my top two, but I ultimately decided to give the nod to Six Wakes. I agree with the review by Steven J. ("No Relation") Wright (warning: he makes a somewhat cryptic reference to avoid a spoiler, but some people may consider the very existence of the reference to itself be a spoiler). Wright also has a lot of reviews of other Hugo works and both his regular and Retro ballots at that same blog.

I also think it's one of two works on this year's ballot that draws inspiration from Agatha Christie's classic And Then There Were None. Sarah Pinsker's "And Then There Were (N-One)" is the more direct homage, but Six Wakes draws more indirectly in terms of tone and setup.

My novel order: (1) Six Wakes, (2) Raven Strategem (3) The Collapsing Empire, (4) The Stone Sky, (5) Provenance, and (6) New York 2140. Raven Stratagem I thought was even stronger than the first book, NineFox Gambit, and had what I thought was a strong and satisfying ending for a duology (though I now understand that Lee will be extending it into a trilogy this year). Of the others, I thought The Collapsing Empire was a bit too much setup for the next novel and not enough resolution, but I enjoyed reading it enough to put it #3. The Stone Sky is my "lots of people whose judgement I respect liked it" novel - I really liked The Fifth Season, the first novel in Jemisin's trilogy, but I bounced hard off The Obilisk Gate last year, and felt no desire to pay for the full novel after reading the Hugo excerpt. This year's excerpt recovered a little ground for me: I can recognize it as a significant work that's Hugo-worthy, but I don't love it as much as I do the three above it. Maybe someday I'll try to read the complete trilogy together if I can get it from the library - I might appreciate it more if I can read the whole series in context with each other. I liked aspects of Provenance, but I do think it's not as strong as the Ancillary trilogy, and I'm not sure if I really buy the ending. Finally, I think we agree about New York 2140: my short review was that I think it would have been twice as interesting at half the length. I was really intrigued by the setup and the first 200 pages or so, but the middle section really dragged for me to the point where I was counting the remaining pages like checkpoints in a marathon. It picked up a bit towards the end, though.

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