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Showing posts from February, 2017

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman, at Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons has published my review of Naomi Alderman's The Power, a twisty, thought-provoking tale about a world in which women suddenly develop the ability to shoot bolts of lightning out of their bodies.  As I say at the beginning of the review, it's the sort of premise that seems designed to get SF fans' motors revving, and I think that it could easily have overwhelmed a lot of authors--in the rush to cover all the possible stories that could emerge out of a premise like this, it would be easy to lose sight of the one you want to write.  Alderman teeters on the verge of this failure mode, but in the end her idea of what she want to say with The Power is too strong.  The result is one of the most satisfying, but also disquieting, books I've read in some time. 

There's a lot I would have liked to say about The Power that didn't make it into my review.  Alderman's use of Jewish scripture (including one of my favorite Bible passages, which she uses as …

The 2017 Hugo Awards: Why Hugo?

There's just over a month left in the nominating period for this year's Hugo awards, and if you're hanging out in the same fandom spaces as I do, you've probably made the same observation I have: the conversation surrounding this year's Hugos has been surprisingly muted, to the point of nonexistence.  Certainly when you compare it to the veritable maelstrom of public commentary (including in venues well outside of fandom and penetrating quite deep into the mainstream press) that accompanied the awards in 2015 and 2016, when the Rabid Puppies succeeded in infesting the nominations with barely-literate garbage that reflected their fascist, racist leanings, only to get smacked down during the voting phase.

There's obviously no mystery as to why the Hugos aren't really on anyone's mind this year.  Not only did the results of last year's voting phase indicate that the Puppies and their legions of flying monkeys had grown tired of a game in which the priz…

Make of Heaven a Hell: On the First Season of The Good Place

"Welcome! Everything is Fine." So says the big, friendly sign that greets Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) when she wakes up in a pleasant waiting room. She is quickly informed, by the genial Michael (Ted Danson) that she has died, and that because in life she worked tirelessly for poor and disenfranchised, she has gone to "the good place". This particular slice of heaven looks like a quaint, cod-European neighborhood, full of charming cafes and many, many frozen yogurt shops. Eleanor has her own house, designed exactly to her liking, and there she also meets her soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), who in life was a professor of ethics.

There's only one problem: Eleanor was not the selfless person that Michael believes her to be. In real life, she was selfish, manipulative, and narcissistic, committing evil deeds that ranged from the mundane (littering, constant rudeness) to the disgusting (selling useless diet supplements to the elderly, abandoning a dog…