- If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho
- The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly
- Nine Last Days on Planet Earth by Daryl Gregory
Running later with this than intended due to being wiped out at the weekend and not having had a free evening yet this week to get this written up. But here we are, time for my first part of the Novellettes I read for the Hugos, the second one to come soon.
As a note, if you want to read any of these there are links above to them all and you can read them for free. There is also an excellent audio version of The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections on the Cast of Wonders podcast which is well worth a listen.
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
So this story follows an imugi (a Korean lesser dragon) in their quest to become a fully fledged dragon, failing a number of times over thousands of years (each attempt can only be done once every thousand years).
Along the way their path meets that of Dr Leslie Han and they end up more entangled in human affairs than they would ever have thought possible.
I will not go into more detail than that because it would be too easy to spoiler this story and I absolutely do not wish to do that! It’s a beautiful tale and honestly it really got to me emotionally. I was quite teary by the end of it. I mean to be honest, given how much I love dragons this story was always going to get to me on some level, but it actually got me on several levels and I absolutely adored it.
Please read it, it’s well worth a look and an excellent start to what was a category full of excellent stories.
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections
With this one, I actually heard half of the Cast of Wonders audio version of it before I got to reading the category, but had to finish it in the text as the second one wasn’t going to be out when I needed it to be. I have now heard both parts and definitely worth a listen.
The story is about a land where it is now ruled by an oppressive regime. In this land there is a baker and his wife, he has developed a way of making pastries that trigger memory responses in those who eat them and the rule now holds banquets for their court with the pastries as a central part.
One of the most impressive things about the story is the way it uses the premise of the pastries as a vehicle to explore how events led up to the banquet at the centre of the story. It also deals with ideas of revolution and the quiet ways that people can resist an oppressive or harmful government.
There are parts of the story that can be hard to read at times, though it is in no way graphic about it, but it does resonate with elements of our current political situation and is very well told.
Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
In this tale we follow LT, a young man in an alternate version of history where a meteorite shower seeds the earth with strange plants that seem to be from another world.
The story entwines him growing up, dealing with his sexuality along with the growth of the plants and humanity’s struggle to deal with the problems caused by them.
Again, I don’t want to go into too much detail about what is going on with them because it will spoil the story and it is something anyone can read for free.
There was a lot I liked about the story, it’s always nice to see positive gay representation and this does that very well. It’s also an unusual take on an alien invasion that reminded me a little of Rosewater by Tade Thomson (which is also definitely worth a look), though not quite the same scenario and definitely not the same sort of ending.