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text 2018-07-30 23:36
2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novel
The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
Provenance - Ann Leckie
Raven Stratagem - Yoon Ha Lee
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.


Two sequels and several set in space. The downside of this list is that Orbit tends to only include excerpts. The upside, there's only one Orbit title I didn't already own.


  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor) - 3 Stars. Fun romp, fun narration, but did not love.


  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit) - DNF'd early, could not get into.


  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) - I DNF'd this pretty early. Great writing, but not at all my style of story.


  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) - 4.5 Stars. An excellent book. I look forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy.


  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit) - 4 Stars. A solid read I enjoyed quite a bit.


  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) - 5 Stars. One of the best books I read last year and easily the top of my ballot for this award. An excellent conclusion to a brilliant series.


So, yeah, kind of an obvious top of ballot here in The Stone Sky. I really liked both Six Wakes and Raven Stratagem. It's a hard choice, but I think Raven Stratagem will go next on my ballot. Fourth with be Collapsing Empire, and I just won't include the two novels I didn't finish. Wow, this is usually not such an easy category for me.

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review 2018-06-19 01:59
Yes, please, more of this
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty

I was worried that IAN, the AI, wouldn't play much of a role given the excerpt of this novel given out for the Hugo packet.   So I took it out of the library, and quite frankly blew through this.  I disagree about the flashbacks.  I say disagree, and what I mean is I read at least one review about how great it was to learn about them in the past. 


I was far more interested in the present, and while I didn't particularly mind the flashbacks, I found a couple a bit too drawn out and I found myself starting to get bored.   


However, this is a minor complaint.   This is a mystery set on a spaceship in a universe where people can clone themselves, put their memories in the new bodies, and voila, new life.   When you die and wake up in a new cloned body, it's called a wake.   (And you can only wake in your own body; in this universe, there are issues in going into other bodies, those issues being going crazy.)


Criminals are chosen to go on the first ever generation ship: they will be cloned as much as needed until they get to a new body, and then clone their crew.   The proper memories will be put in the proper bodies, and hey, new colony.   And the criminals will no longer have to live as criminals on this new world. 


But just in case something goes wrong, the super sophisticated AI, IAN, will run the ship and be able to protect the criminals from, well, their criminal tendencies.   And it all works, until they all wake up in a bloody room.   They've been killed, someone has thrown the emergency switch that will clone them and wake them.   IAN is malfunctioning, and their cloning tech has been destroyed.   Their memories of the twenty five years they've been on the ship have been erased.   These are their last lives, unless they can manage to fix IAN and fix the tech, or at least find a way around it. 


It's a pretty tight mystery and a fun book as they try to figure out which of the crew members is the murderer, as well as worrying about how much time they have left.   And IAN comes into play pretty heavily in the end, so I was super into that part.   Especially since I didn't see how he was going to play into the story until it was revealed: I was pleasantly surprised by his origin story, so to speak. 


Knocked down one half star for feeling like it lagged a bit during the flashbacks.   They wouldn't stop me from rereading this, but they bothered me enough to knock off a half a star.



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review 2018-06-15 06:01
Six Wakes: A locked door mystery in space, where no one (including the murderer) knows whodunit
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty

I love the idea of a locked door mystery in space, where no one knows whether or not they are the murderer. I love stories about cloning, and how that influences a culture and morality. I love weird weird near-science speculation, like 3D printing an entire pig. I dig stories with amnesia, and paranoia, and unreliable narrators. I quite like page turners. So all that said this book checked a lot of boxes for me. The pacing was fast, the story quirky, and the world building, while lightly drawn, interesting. I really enjoyed reading this book.


There is a flip side to this book though in that I don't think it is particularly well written. The characters all have a core background schtick, and that stands in for a personality. The dialogue is pretty cringe worthy. The pacing is a bit uneven, and certain twists or turns are either poorly explained, or don't track well with previous information. Also: Bad science? You betcha! There are even numerous typos and grammar errors, which I don't expect to run into at such volume in a finished book. It honestly felt like it needed more editing and a tighter re-write.


Luckily, this is one of those books that hit me at the right time and in the right mood, so I was willing to let a lot of things slide that might have ordinarily driven me nuts. I was having enough fun that I could forgive the flaws and just enjoy the ride. Sitting with the book some time later those flaws start to stand out a bit more, which is why I can't give it a higher rating. If you're looking for fun pulpy sci-fi this one fits the bill and should keep you entertained. If you're looking for stunning prose or deep philosophical explorations this one will likely miss the mark.

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text 2018-06-07 21:43
Full review to come
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty

This went from the fourth or fifth pick to the first pick for the Hugos.   What Lafferty did with IAN was just fantastic.  If you're interested in AI, this is a book that will interest you, which answers my questions.   Took this from the library to finish it because I didn't think I'd love it as much as I did. 

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text 2018-06-06 17:21
Reading progress update: I've read 132 out of 352 pages.
Six Wakes - Mur Lafferty

I asked for my library to hold this; they said they couldn't find it, so I looked everywhere else - I was going to pick up another book - and then to sci-fi, and it was there. 


I love IAN, but there's not enough of him.   I'll bring this up in my review.   Still, this may be my second place choice since I love Leckie's novel so far, and lack of IAN is killing this run for the top spot.

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