Archive for Hugo Awards

a journal of the plague and pestilence year [continued]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2022 by xi'an

Had a full week in Coventry for the first time in a while, thanks to my CDT masterclass on GANs and other acronyms. Arriving on a Bank Holiday in a Math Science Building only populated by a few graduate students. And stayed in an Airbnb rather than the traditional math house, which afforded me a picture of the local community as warmer and drier weather meant more people on the street in the evenings (and more lawnmowers as well). Including discovering that the traditional UK ice cream van [which I had first seen & heard in a Birmingham suburb in the mid 1970’s summers] had not gone extinct! One was touring the neighbourhood every night with the customary chime. (Also spotted what strongly looked like a home delivery of drugs, without the chimes.)

Read Half-Witch, by John Schoffstal, which I bought for no clear reason quite a while ago and only read in the past fortnight, maybe because I was somewhat put off by the unusual cover. The contents were unusual as well, a sort of modern take on a Grimm’s fairytale, with a complete lack of attention to realism, and a witty sarcastic tone for a coming of age story where a young girl manages goblins, witches, an hopeless Trinity, a similarly hopeless father, and plenty of nasty people, by outwitting them all. Also quickly went through two (Tor gifts) novellas A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, which I enjoyed tremendously as a Zen tale, following a tea monk!, and Unlocked, by John Scalzi, which is a sort of prequel to Lock In I read eons ago. Where half-a-page viewpoints follows the unraveling of a World pandemic that first looks like a super-flu, follows air routes to reach all countries, had a high fatality and high contamination rates, and is kept under control by the massive investment of governments… Reading this in 2022 is presumably much more exciting than when it appeared, as the setting sounds prescient and follows to some extent what happened with COVID, except for the US President to react much more efficiently than the Agent Orange “in charge” at the time.

Did not cook the first green asparagus I found at the market, as they are great eaten raw in a minimalist salad. Also had a great spaghetti alle vongole in a local Italian restaurant, if far from an Italian pricing!

Hugo Awards finalists 2022

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2022 by xi'an

Here are the finalists of the Hugo Awards for different categories, with some read, somne watched, and some to-read:

Best Novel

  • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (Tor / St Martin’s Press)
  • A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
  • Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)
  • She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)

Best Novella

  • Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom)
  • Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
  • The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
  • A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Dune, screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth
  • Encanto, screenplay by Charise Castro Smith and Jared Bush
  • The Green Knight, written and directed by David Lowery
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, screenplay by Dave Callaham, et al.
  • Space Sweepers, screenplay by Jo Sung-Hee, Yookang Seo-ae, and Yoon Seung-min
  • WandaVision, screenplay by Peter Cameron et al.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Wheel of Time: The Flame of Tar Valon, written by Justine Juel Gillmer, directed by Salli Richardson-Whitfield,
  • For All Mankind: The Grey, written by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi; directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
  • Arcane: The Monster You Created, written by Christian Linke and Alex Yee; story by Christian Linke, Alex Yee, Conor Sheehy, and Ash Brannon; directed by Pascal Charrue and Arnaud Delord
  • The Expanse: Nemesis Games, written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, and Naren Shankar; directed by Breck Eisner
  • Loki: The Nexus Event, written by Eric Martin, directed by Kate Herron, created for television by Michael Waldron
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: wej Duj, written by Kathryn Lyn, directed by Bob Suarez

a journal of the plague and pestilence year [stop the war!]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2022 by xi'an

Still standing, impotent, facing Ukrainian cities shelled by Russian bombs…

Read the third & last volume of Arnaldur Indriðason‘s Inspector Konrad new trilogy, Tregasteinn, with no further enthusiasm… There are even more repetitions than in the previous volumes, including recaps from these previous volumes. If this is a literary style, it should be discontinued! If the author thinks the reader has trouble remembering what he wrote a few pages earlier, he should think again. If the author himself cannot remember what he wrote, this is worrying..! Also read Spinning silver by Naomi Novak, a mix of Eastern Europe tales, like Rumpelstiltskin, and of centuries of anti-Semitic persecutions, from a feminist viewpoint where all leading characters are women. While the book has been praised and nominated for the Nebula and the Hugo awards, and won the Locus award,I found it hard to keep up with the rather thin story and fell asleep while the characters were taking yet another sleigh among a fantasy version of Russia or Ukraine… Speaking of whi(t)ch(es):


Watched Juvenile Justice, a 2022 very dark and graphic Korean series on judges in charge of juvenile delinquents. The story is a wee bit thin and the many connections between the characters a cheap trick, with long static shots of the main judge lost in her thoughts and endless passages about her annotating mountains of reports on the case, but the resulting zoom on the judicial procedure and on the harsh penal system make it worth watching.

a desolation called peace [book review]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2022 by xi'an

This book by Arkady Martine is a sequel to the Hugo Awarded Memory called Empire, which I appreciated, pverall. I also did enjoy this one, no matter how different the settings are.

“The statistical chance of imago-integration failure leading to irreversible psychological and/or neurological damage is 0.3%”

Indeed, this second (and last?) volume is much more space-opera-esque in that most of the action takes place on a spatial fleet trying to fight an incomprehensible and invading alien force (whose mindset is rendered through an initially obscure chapter!). And subject to internal tensions, despite its military hierarchical structure. While the attempts at communicating with this unknown enemy are central to the story, they echo the main theme of the Teixcalaanli series (duology?), which is on how to reach the delicate balance between complete assimilation into a rich and fascinating culture and isolationism in order to preserve one’s original culture and way of life, doubled by the dilemmas caused by falling in love with someone from this other culture. (This may be the strongest aspect of the novel.) The related theme is the opposition between collective and individualistic societies, even though power competition is described in both the Teixcalaanli and the space station societies. (All three groups have achieved a way to operate as a collective. I actually wondered whether the “desolation” in the title was itself an intended collective, as in a murder of crows, esp. since a major character is nicknamed Swarm, but I could not find this collective ever being used.) It brought back some memories of Ender’s Game, in the sense of facing a radically different but still sapient species and backing away from complete annihilation. (The futuristic component of the book is as sketchy as in the previous one, with USB sticks being carried by spaceships as the only way to communicate, for no clear reason… But this is far from being of importance.) As an aside, the author linked her Teixcalaanli construct with the Mixtec civilisation, from Oaxaca.

Hugo Awards 2021

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2021 by xi'an

Martha Wells received another Hugo Award this year for the fifth installment, Network Effect,  which I enjoyed as much as the earlier ones. And yet another one for the entire series! A radically new translation [or rather a retelling] of the epic and Old English poem Beowulf translated by Maria Headley also won the best related work Award. (Tolkien wrote a modern version of the poem in 1926.) With the Old Guard being (disappointingly!, imho) the recipient of the best film.

%d bloggers like this: