03 June 2013

2013 Hugo Shorts

Aliette de Bodard, "Immersion." In a distant future, the scientists/engineers of the Galactic Empire (I think empire; could be a federation) have invented immersers, which people can wear as simultaneous language and cultural translators. The narrator is Quy, who spent some time off her home station and came back. There is a second-person narrator as well, whose identity isn't revealed until later. Quy has to assist her uncle, who runs a restaurant, in booking a wedding party for a galactic and his wife. (It's more of an anniversary party, but they go with all the traditional wedding foods.)

The story is an allegory for colonialism and assimilation, and it starts somewhat didactically. It gets less didactic as the story progresses and the reader learns more about the second-person narrator. It's well-written, and I think it's the first fiction piece I've read from de Bodard. (I've read some of her blog posts.)

Kij Johnson, "The Mantis Wives." If preying mantises were artistes. The female preying mantis seeks artistic ways to kill her mate, and the names for the various methods are evocative of Tokugawa-era Japanese poetry. This was well written, but it was very much not my thing.

Ken Liu, "Mono no Aware." Mono no Aware is the Japanese term for finding beauty in the fleeting moments, for recognizing the impermanence of things and finding beauty therein. In the future, a mega asteroid is on course for Earth, and the various governments attempt to build ships to save humanity. In Japan, where the narrator is from, the company contracted to build the ships lied to the government, and the multiple ships they promised turn out to be non-functional models. The narrator, a boy at the time, is taken secretly to Tokyo to the former lover of his mother, who is an American scientist, who promises to take him on the ship with him.

One day, the narrator notices that the solar sail has a tiny hole in it. The options are to repair it or to let it continue to rip, which would set the ship off course and eventually lead to everyone's death.

I'm not sure which I liked better between Liu and de Bodard.

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