Currently Reading…Hugo Finalists

So my Kindle and I went to some high up places and did some solid reading. This is what has been read so far:

  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing) – Novella
  • “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018) – Novelette
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager

Left to go in the story categories are:

  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan) – Novel, (currently reading)
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com publishing)
    The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com publishing) – Novella
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com publishing) – Novella
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency) – Novella
  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018) – Novelette
  • “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018) – Novelette
  • “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018) – Novelette

I’ll start posting reviews of novel finalists this week. In the meantime, here is a photo of my Kindle part way up the walk to Paro Taktsang aka The Tiger’s Nest Monastery. I had a chest cold, so I had planned only to do part of the initial walk up. In the end I did most of the big hike up but decided discretion was the better part of valour at this and hung out at this spot reading Revenant Gun. I always regretted not taking a picture of the Fifth Season by Machu Picchu (easily THE best pairing of book & location I’ve ever done) but this is a close second.

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Star Trek Discovery: Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2 (S2E14)

Thanks to some decent hotel wifi in Nepal I managed to download the season finale onto my phone and watched this barnstorming episode in a crowded airport waiting room.

Having spent a few episode spinning its wheels, Discovery goes out with literally all guns blazing. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi has made several Discovery episodes and they’ve generally been the better examples of Discovery trying to do its own thing (as opposed to the actually better episodes that stuck more closely to Trek-style plots). There are no big surprises as the story goes where it had to: resolving all the basic background plot issues with Discovery as a series and tying together the plot coupons of this seasons Red Angel plot.

I think there is a good case for this being the best space battle I’ve seen on screen. There was an excellent combination of external space action tied to multiple on-ship character plots. Aside from Michael, Spock, Saru and Tilly there was plausible chances that any character might get a heroic end. OK, Captain Pike also had to survive but I was strongly expecting him to get his infamous accident. Even Number One could have plausibly been blown up by that stray torpedo as there’s no canonical plot reason why the character was in the pilot but not the original series. In the end the ethically compromised Admiral Cornwell did the noble sacrifice bit and in the process erased her as a symbol of Discovery Season 1.

There were the customary plot weak points, not least of which was the pointless arrival of the improbably spacefaring Kelpians. It seems churlish thought to dwell to much on that as they also arrived with a huge Klingon battleship and a few rounds of TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE Klingon action.

It would have been so much better though if this final battle was with an actually corrupt Section 31 rather than the AI hacked Section 31. The final battle as a conflict of the dark, morally compromised Star Fleet of Season 1
versus the noble and always-striving-to-be-better Star Fleet of the Enterprise epitomised by Captain Pike would have worked both as a story and as self-critique of Discovery’s themes.

Season 3 Discovery will get to start all over, flung far into the future with a ship with a unique spore drive and a treasure trove of alien data.

Commander Kruge explains the Red Angel plan to Morty

For all its flaws Discovery has established itself as a significant addition to the Trek franchise. Pike, Saru (especially this episode) and even Lorca are now plausible answers to the “who is you favourite captain” — although I’d worry about anybody who says “Lorca”. Georgiou is a bit short changed in her non-Terran form but the mirror universe Empress turned special-circumstances operative has been a great character.

So erased from Star Trek history by Spock but not erased from our hearts. We’ll see Discovery again when it boldy gets to wherever it is going.

Rankings

  1. Such Sweet Sorrow Pt 2 (e14): WOOSSSHHHH Pew BANG zap ARGHH RAISE SHIELDS! [Enterprise alert noise] etc
  2. An Obol for Charon (e4) – Classic Trek on a magic mushroom trip
  3. Point of Light (e3) – season one Discovery is back for revenge
  4. Brother (e1) – an action orientated fresh start for the Discovery crew
  5. Perpetual Infinity (e11) – Mistakes were made, repeatedly
  6. The Red Angel (e10) – the cast gets an episode to catch up with the plot and trap the Red Angel
  7. If Memory Serves (e8) – A sequel to The Cage and a prequel to The Menagerie
  8. New Eden (e2) – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
  9. Saints of Imperfection (e5) – Let’s get the old gang back together!
  10. Project Daedelus (e9) – Airiam we will miss you, though we barely got to know you
  11. Light and Shadow (e7) – Michael goes one way, Discovery goes another
  12. Such Sweet Sorrow Pt 1(e13) – Morty, do you know what “wubba lubba dub dub” means?
  13. Sound of Thunder (e6) – Non-consensual medical procedures on a whole species
  14. Through the Valley of Shadows (e12) – Pike visits Klingon Hogwarts to get a plot coupon

Bits and Pieces

  • Tilly saves the day.
  • Also Spock saves the day.
  • Michael saves the day without shooting any commanding officers.
  • Spock never mentions Michael again, having never mentioned Sybok at all this season for other reasons.
  • Saru saves the day.
  • Admiral Cornwell saves the day.
  • Doctor Hugh comes back.
  • Georgiou ends up in the future and presumably has to find her way back.
  • Ash Tyler gets to command section 31
  • Cora’s review is here http://corabuhlert.com/2019/04/20/star-trek-discovery-boldly-goes-where-none-has-gone-before-in-the-season-2-finale/
  • And because we miss him, here’s some gratuitous Jason Isaacs

Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Where next?

My return had been eagerly foretold by many portents and harbingers of good fortune. Those scoundrel police officers had had their hessian bag confiscated and could no longer grab innocent cats off the streets for merely setting fire to things and-slash-or burning down buildings. I forgave my many enemies and declared a week long festival in my honour.

My servant prepared the house and before you could say “The Cat of Monte Cristo” I was living in a manner to which a cat of my nobility should become accustomed too.

Not long after Straw Puppy and I finally got our publishing business together, as we had always dreamed. Soon we were joined by robotic vacuum cleaner and an oversized lizard.

I had been to hell and back metaphorically and Straw Puppy had done the same but literally. The world was my oyster and fate was my litter tray.

I look back now on those amazing times: the fun, the drugs, the wild parties, the customised faberge Kindles and I laugh at my devil-may-care attitude. I have grown both wiser and marginally taller and in doing so I have become deeper and more attractive. I have seen the world at its worst and at its very best.

What will the future bring? Hover pants. That’s my guess anyway. Don’t ask me how they’ll work but they are on their way!

Triceradvice 12 & 13

A reader asks
“I’m a history teacher and I keep getting weirdly off-topic essays from my students. The last assignment was about the impact of the reformation on Tudor England and instead of an analysis of how the Church of England attempted to retain both protestant and Catholic aspects, I got an essay about a dog called Sukie instead. What is wrong with young people these days?” Clio Mancy

Dear Clio,
More and more people these days wander off topic. It is something I have noticed and I sympathise with your predicament.

A reader asks
“Thanks for your earlier reply but are Marsha Supial, Key Eops and Clio Mancy actually all the same person? If so how did they get out of the death maze and what happened on that balloon trip?” Zoch Pupette

Hi Zoch. I’ve reached out to all three of them and they replied:
“we are definitely three different people and obviously we escaped from the death maze using the hot air balloon.”
I guess that clears that up!

Thanks for everybody’s questions! I’ll be around to answer a few more before I have to head back to the far future and see my friends in fungus town! Toodle-pip!

Timothy’s Hugo Picks

I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.

Best Neville

My for vote for Hugo for Best Neville goes to Neville Weasley in Harry Potter and the Very Angry Man from Dundee.

Best Novellan

My vote goes to all the good people from the planet Novella. I can’t pick between you.

Best Smurfette

There is only one Smurfette

Best Toy Story

Toy Story 2.

Best Dramatic Railway Station

St Pancras obviously

Best Traumatic Short Form

When I crouch down really low, ready to pounce on something.

Best Flan Artist

Pass. I don’t eat flans.

Best Prone Artist

I think probably Van Eyck lying down for a short nap.

Best Semiprozine

I have no idea what this is mean.

Best Editor Long Trouser

Mr Clopps & Son – Tailors, of Bortsworth High Street, Bortsworth. Excellent tailoring and also snacks.

Best Editor Short Forms

Myself. I edited the post-office forms for a new passport by crossing out all the words I though might be foreign. This made for a much shorter form and got me kicked out of the post office.

The Annual Campbell Soup Tin Award

Goes to Chicken and Mushroom condensed soup. I eat it straight from the can with a spoon.