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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Monday, June 01, 2015

Some more on the 2015 Hugo Voting Packet

Sorry, folks, but this might all be a bit random for the next few days - I'm reading some of the shorter material more or less as it strikes me, rather than in any sensible order. So, three more items for me to comment on:

1. "On the Spiritual Plain" by Lou Antonelli (nominated for Best Short Story). I wish I could have liked this tale of human/alien interaction, but it doesn't belong in an award nomination list at this level. I expect that some readers might assume I'm hostile to its religious theme, but that doesn't bother me at all (I may be somewhat anti-religious, but I'm not a fanatic). Quite simply, the story is not up to Hugo standard in its basic technique. Some good copyediting might have improved it, but even with a lot of additional work this would not, as I see it, be a legitimate Hugo-winning story. Antonelli is a prolific, well-credentialed writer (particularly of short stories), but if he has published something worthy of a major international award, this is not it. Note: The story is often listed as "On a Spiritual Plain" but the title on the version received by voters is clearly "On the Spiritual Plain" - go figure.

2. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery - written by Curtis J. Weibe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch (nominated for Best Graphic Story). This bawdy fantasy romp, set in a Tolkienesque secondary universe complete with elves, orcs, and trolls, entertained me from beginning to end. The characters who make up the eponymous Rat Queens - a band of magical (female) adventurers - are unfailingly fun to watch, and are strongly distinguished in their individual designs and personalities. The action is fast-paced, and I'm all for the non-stop violence and low comedy. It's a hoot, but does it have sufficient gravitas to merit a Hugo Award? Debatable, perhaps... but I wouldn't be wanting to stand in its way. I rate it a bit below the next item, but it has its attractions.

3. Saga Volume Three - written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples (nominated for Best Graphic Story). Here we have a potential winner. I rate it below Ms. Marvel, but an earlier volume of this complicated, engaging space opera has already won a Hugo Award (in 2013). The characters are worth caring about; the storyline is intriguing; and the overall narrative, when it's complete, could become a classic of its kind.

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