Saturday, June 30, 2012

My thoughts on the Hugo novella category

This is my first year as a supporting member for the World's Science Fiction Convention, occurring at ChiCon 7. That means I get to vote on the Hugo Awards! I have until July 31 to submit my votes online, and only have a few categories left.

Today I focused on the novella category.  In my opinion, I think Catherynne Valente should take home the award for Silently and Very Fast.  After this brief review, I'll rank the remaining nominated novellas.

#1 -  Silently and Very FastSilently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Inside, Neva is infinite. She peoples her Interior."

This is a line from the last few pages of Silently and Very Fast, and to me describes Catherynne Valente's inner creative world, the world that she is somehow able to communicate to the rest of us through lush language and quirky-beautiful settings and characters. I deliberately read this Hugo-nominated novella last because I always expect to enjoy the worlds she creates, and I guess I'm just a delayed gratification girl.

I loved the incorporation of technology and programming language and to still have that Valente identity. I just can't help responding out loud when I read her words - gasps of delight, laughter, sighs... it is actually a tiny bit embarrassing.

If you are more of an audiophile, Kate Baker recorded this in three podcast segments for Clarkesworld Magazine. I enjoy Valente in audio more than other authors, and Kate's voice does a great justice to the language in the story. Even reading the print, I find myself slowing down to get all the imagery set in my head.

#2 - Countdown by Mira Grant - a prequel to the Newsflesh trilogy, and told in an interesting way.

#3 - The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary by Ken Liu - interesting historically but I'm not sure it completely succeeded in its storytelling.

#4 - Kiss Me Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal - Police with AI partners.

#5 - The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson - I had a hard time finishing this one, and she's usually a favorite.


  1. Wow, Silently and Very Fast sounds really interesting. I'll have to check it out. The title sounds like a reference to the last line of W.H. Auden's poem "The Fall of Rome." Do you think there is a connection thematically? Either way, I'm definitely interested in reading it. Thanks for the review.

    Here's a link to Auden:

    1. Actually, I can see a thematic connection, and knowing her it is intentional but I can't be sure. She is one of my favorite authors, and I'd recommend trying anything by her. :)


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