Sandwiched between the word count of a short story and that of a novella, the novelette is a strange beast.
While I believe every story has an ideal length, I’m new to the world of the novelette. I almost felt like I was reading a bizarre mix of long short stories and short novellas. Which I suppose, as far as word count goes, encapsulates what a novelette is.
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”
The title may be a mouthful, but the setting was interesting.
Humans, the first to colonize the planet Alluvium are now subjugated by a lizard-like alien race that arrived later. In the story, a few characters exploits cultural differences as a form of protest.
Honestly I felt the point of the story became rather muddled, leaving me wondering, “So was the point of this character’s actions?” I enjoyed the world-building but although the story had real potential, but wasn’t quite there.
I feel cheated. This was not a story, this was part of story.
This story may move the plot of Lerner’s Intersteller Net series forward, but makes little sense as a standalone. Scenes felt rushed, plotting was hard to follow and the only thing I can say is that the game of B’tok does sound cool.
Perhaps if I was already following the series, this would be a great part of the story. Unfortunately, as a standalone novelette, it has little merit.
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”
On this year’s Hugo ballot, “The Day the World Turned Upside Down“ stands as something completely different.
Although it won’t appeal to everyone, for me, this surreal fantasy was a breath of fresh air. On the day after Toby’s girlfriend calls to break up with him, the world flips upside down, sending people tumbling into the sky.
It’s a story of loss and one that ignited my imagination while tugging at my heartstrings.
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”
You can be forgiven if you forgot you were reading science fiction and thought you were reading a western or something similar.
I really struggled to finish this novelette. My biggest problem was the horrendous dialogue that was written mostly in dialect (“…much kenning since big-fight-in-sky…“). But perhaps I could have gotten used to it, but the bulk of the story was dialogue.
Overall, it was a tedious read for me.
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”
I enjoyed this “golden age tale” of a human, a martian and a venusian.
In it, three disgraced cadets trying to communicate with a newly-discovered sentient species. Over the course of the story, likable main character Emily learns to trust herself and appreciate the two others on her crew.
Although it’s suggestive of old pulp sci-fi, it avoids many of the problems early sci-fi has. Some sections felt like they were an awkward info dump via first person narrator, but that being said, I love the retro feel.
My Top Pick
While “The Triple Sun” was pure entertainment, “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” was so much more, bringing a fantastical landscape to life while playing with emotions.
It’s a far cry from classic sci-fi or fantasy, but the surrealistic story is an outstanding piece of fiction and my top pick.
The Hugo Awards are the most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy and I’m excited to be voting and attending WorldCon this year. This analysis only considers the written work, ignoring other factors. I’ve shared my views on the Hugo Awards controversy separately.