Posts Tagged ‘novelette’

“Think Like A Dinosaur”, by James Patrick Kelly

February 28, 2013 2 comments

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is a 1995 science fiction novelette by James Patrick Kelly.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1996, and won.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is the story of a man who is helping a woman through the difficult process of teleporting to the stars, and the conflict between his humanity and the . . . dinosaurity of the aliens who actually control this gateway to the universe.  And they haven’t decided it we should have it yet, because we don’t think like them.

Why should you read it?

The old Campbell chestnut: “Write me an alien who thinks as well as a man, but not like a man.”  What if the price for humanity joining aliens in the stars. . . is thinking like them?  What do we give up by changing ourselves to match the way they think?  Would it be an individual decision?  An offer that can be accepted by one person alone?  Or would it be forced on the unwary by others?  And what’s left of the core of humanity inside a person once they’ve looked at this change?

This is an amazingly good story that I am hampered in recommending because I can’t answer any of these questions for you.  If you can, read it.  I have rated over a thousand stories in my database; this got the thirteenth 10 out of 10.

Where to find “Think Like a Dinosaur”

There is no free online version. [UPDATE: there is!  It’s at Mike Resnick’s new Galaxy’s Edge!]  The story can be found in several anthologies.  There is an audio version available online, which I have not listened to.

“Six Months, Three Days”, by Charlie Jane Anders

“Six Months, Three Days” is a 2011 science fiction short story by Charlie Jane Anders.  It has been nominated for the Hugo for Best Novelette of 2012.

Non-Spoiler Summary

The man who can see the only possible future has a relationship with the woman who can see all the myriad possible futures.

Why should you read it?

Oh, man, just the high concept should be enough to make you run for this one. . . but the writing is also extraordinary.  The characters are both bent, shaped by their powers, entirely human both despite their specialness and because of it.  They have all the problems you expect that each of them would have, and that they would have as a couple.  The writing takes into account that sometimes they both already remember having a discussion, and they’re tired of it before it even happens.  I cried when Doug was enjoying his first intimacy with Judy. . . and at the same time mourning that now, one of the limited number of really special moments in  his life was past, instead of still to come.

Strongly recommended.  I don’t see anything in the field that would keep me from this being at least my second choice for the Hugo, and I’d be happy for it to be my first choice.  I think it deserves the award.

Where to find “Six Months, Three Days” has generously allowed us to read it online.

“The Copenhagen Interpretation”, by Paul Cornell

“The Copenhagen Interpretation” is a 2011 science fiction short story by Paul Cornell.  It has been nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2012.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Hamilton, a spy in an alternate steampunky world, finds that a woman he loved once upon a time is back, after disappearing completely fifteen years before.

Why should you read it?

I’d really like to say that this story is flawless, but I actually have a problem with Cornell’s writing style.  For some reason, and this is likely just me, I constantly find myself going back to find what I missed in the previous paragraph, and finding that I didn’t miss anything–I just feel like I did.

However, the ideas.  Oh, the ideas.  He suggests, for example, what dark matter is made out of.  A connection I would never have made, that dropped my jaw.  Well worth the time.

This is the third story featuring Jonathan Hamilton, so if you enjoy this one, look for the other two.

Where to find “The Copenhagen Interpretation”

The story was originally published in Asimov’s in July 2011, and they have generously allowed us to read it online.

“The Cambist and Lord Iron”, by Daniel Abraham

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s Thursday, right?  Still?  I mean, I was sick for a day and a half, but I don’t remember mornings, so it’s still Thursday.  I’m sure of it.

The Cambist is a moneychanger.  He changed one currency for another, at a posted rate.

Lord Iron is a bored noble with an evil streak.  He goes in to the Cambist’s office with an unlisted currency, and points out that if the Cambist can’t change his money in a certain time period, the Cambist will lose his license.  Lord Iron does this because he’s bored, and it seems diverting to destroy the Cambist.  Hence, evil.

The Cambist does not allow himself to be destroyed.

Lord Iron does not allow himself to be put off.

The subtitle is “A Fairy Tale of Economics”.  I can not imagine another story that would deserve that subtitle.

Text of “The Cambist and Lord Iron”
Audio of “The Cambist and Lord Iron”

The Hugos!

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

In case this blog is your only source of news about the world of science fiction–and that’s all kinds of sad–the Hugo awards were given out a week ago.  The winners  were very satisfying to me, because I thought they were mostly great stories, and also because I got most of them right. 

You can find all the information on the official Hugo page, but here’s the highlights:

  • Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville; The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (my first two picks, in the order I picked them.)
  • Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (This one I got completely wrong–this was my last choice. Not a bad story in any way, but a tough field.)
  • Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts  (My second choice, and I understand why it won.)
  • Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (My first choice, absolutely.)
  • I really enjoyed reading the nominees to vote, and will do so again next year.  Heck, maybe I’ll nominate this year, too.

    “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth”

    July 27, 2010 2 comments

    I have been a fan of the Disney theme parks for, depending on how you measure, either one or three decades. So when I heard that a science fiction novel called Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, set in a future Walt Disney World, was coming out, I put it on my to-read list, and moved on.

    Then I found out that the author, Cory Doctorow, had made it freely available. While being blown away, I downloaded it, loaded it onto my handheld, and started reading it.

    It was good. It was so good that I didn’t finish the electronic version; I wanted to support this author, and so I went and bought the book. And that was my first experience with free fiction–power, immediacy, value, and infectiousness.

    When I had the idea to do this blog, I knew–knew–that the first author I was going to recommend was Cory Doctorow. I assumed that it would be Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. But then I decided that I was going to focus largely on shorter fiction, and I was left with a problem. Sure, I’ve told you that I’m going to make exceptions and include longer works, sometimes non-free fiction, sometimes non-fiction even. . . but to make an exception in the very first post seemed bad policy. If you can’t keep to a rule even once, it isn’t much of a rule, now, is it?

    And then I remembered “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth”. A story which has never failed to make me cry, make me think, and make me proud to be a geek and former sysadmin. And I knew I didn’t have to break my rule for the first recommendation.

    “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” is an end of the world story, told from the point of view of one of a very special group of survivors. The people we spend the bulk of the story with are the sysadmins of the hosts and routers that run the Internet in and near Toronto. And as the world they know disappears forever, they have to decide what to do about that responsibility, while still balancing their personal issues and needs. And dealing with the decreasing amount of information flow–and hope–coming in from the outside world.

    The story is enormous: it sketches the end of a large part of human civilization. It is tiny and personal: it details one man’s reaction to crushing loss. It is true to my experiences as a geek, as a sysadmin, and as a father. And it is beautiful. I’m proud to put it forth as my first recommendation to you. If you like this, you stand a good chance of having similar taste to me. If you don’t like this, I’d be very interested in knowing why.

    Doctorow’s website
    Text of the story

    Full cast audio
    Buy in print from Amazon
    , as part of Doctorow’s collection Overclocked
    Awards: 2007 Locus Award for best novelette