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Thomas Olde Heuvelt - The Day the World Turned Upside DownYou might have gathered that this year's Hugo Awards have, to put it mildly, a bit of a problem. If not:

Two related groups, calling themselves Sad/Rabid Puppies, respectively, created nomination slates of what they felt should be on the final shortlist (predominantly right-wing, white, male et al) and animated a good number of people to stuff the nomination ballots with these slates. With the results that a good amount of the shortlist now indeed comprises of these artificially elevated entries.

The hubbub surrounding this is not edifying - go read about it at your own peril, regardless what your thinking is in regards to what should be considered 'Good Science Fiction' (it's a question of taste, I suspect).

But here is The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - the only entry in the Novelette category which was NOT nominated by slate voting - and, given the backlash against said tactics this might well mean that the awards will equate 'only' with 'best' and will thus award Heuvelt a Hugo Award for it.

I would suggest you have a read yourself, and make up your own mind if this story, published in Lightspeed Magazine in April 2014, can be considered the best short story of the year (that one is a question of taste, too!).

Links: The Day the World Turned Upside Down - Thomas Olde Heuvelt Lightspeed Magazine - Hugo Awards

 

Peter Watts - MalakFor reasons mainly to do with my brain, and what's current in it, I'd like to point you to Peter Watts' story Malak. Malak is a drone. More so, it's an autonomous drone, and is being trained (there seem to be software upgrades, and neural networks, and general tinkering in play) to make its own 'moral' decisions. All in the name of removing slow, fallible, guilt-stricken, hesitating humans out of the equation. Because it's so much easier to have machines make our dirty decision for us, never mind do the dirty work...

The drone here is called Azrael (after the angel of death...), and we experience the story through its 'eyes'.

I'm not gonna spoil your enjoyment of the story by giving away more. If you know Peter Watts then you know that what he shows is realistic, rarely very edifying (especially when humans are involved) and mirrors the complexities of the real world.

The picture on the right is of a drone called Azrael (I don't know if that's inspired by this story, or a parallel development), built in Lego, and posted on Flicker by a user called [MIXBRIX]. Recommended soundtrack to reading this: Drones, by Muse. Obviously.

Links: Peter WattsMalakFlickr - [MIXBRIX] - Drones

 

Aliette de Bodard - The Breath of WarWhilst I'm enjoying myself at Dysprosium, the 66th National SF Convention out in Heathrow, here is an interesting short story by Aliette de Bodard, called The Breath of War.

It talks about  a society coming out of a (civil) war, about what people do during such a time, even if not directly involved, and what his means you have to live with afterwards, when times and the situation have changed, when you're older, and when your aims and desires have evolved.

Haunting, fascinating, and nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award (which is for stories published in 2014, and will be awarded in 2015).

 

The picture on the right is from the Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where the story was first published.

 

Links: DysprosiumAliette de BodardThe Breath of War - Beneath Ceaseless Skies

 

Angela Slatter - St. Dymphna’s School For Poison GirlsTor.com have reprinted Angela Slatter's collection The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings.

To launch this they have posted a little taster, called St. Dymphna’s School For Poison Girls. It is, to some extent, a school and schoolgirl story, albeit with a twist. St Dymphna's is a finishing school - for girls who plan to kill their future husband, and potentially more of his family, in the name of revenge, of family honour, or any other societal reason.

But, as you might have guessed, there's more to the school than simply preparing girls to kill proficiently!

The story in illustrated with pen and ink drawings by Kathleen Jennings - the picture to the right is an example.

It's an entertaining read, and a good recommendation for the book, methinks!

 

Links: Tor.comAngela SlatterSt. Dymphna’s School For Poison Girls - Kathleen Jennings

 

Xia Jia - Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, JoyThis is a recommendation for the wonderful, and wonderfully understated Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy by the Chinese SF writer Xia Jia, translated by the apparently ever-present Ken Liu.

The story consists of a number of short vignettes, focussing on family occasions and celebrations in a near-future Chinese society.

It was, in it's translated form, published over at Clarkesworld - go check it out, it's well worth your time if you have any interest in non-US/UK based SF with an interesting societal slant.

 

Links: Xia JiaKen LiuClarkesworld - Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy

 


Andy Weir - The Martian

 

Doris Lessing – The Sirian Experiments

 

Ken MacLeod - Cosmonaut Keep

 

Sydney Padua - The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

 

Doris Lessing - Shikasta

 

Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me

 

Liz Williams - Empire of Bones

 

Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner

 

Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives

 

S.P. Somtow – I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City

 

Lavie Tidhar - Central Station

 

Somtow Sucharitkul - The Throne of Madness

 

Ian Sales – Adrift on the Sea of Rains

 

Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku

 

Peter Watts – Maelstrom

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