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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

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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