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Hugo Packet - The Wrong Way to Wright

I am really bouncing hard off of John C. Wright's novellas. For One Bright Star to Guide Them I'm baffled by the attitude to magic. Robertson, our first character, hasn't thought of magic for years, yet the instant he sees a black cat he's all magic!!!! - Then when we visit Richard, he alternates in the same paragraph between "yeah magic, especially if it gets me laid" and "no magic for me, I'm British." Oh, and since when have you described out loud what somebody was wearing to the person wearing it? Sorry, no dice. (Oh, and I checked - somebody on File 770 thinks that Wright forgot the name of one of his characters, and changed it from Sarah to Sally randomly. Not so - she is referred to as both names, but there's no explanation as to why in the story. It would have been better to be consistent.)

For The Plural of Helen of Troy I got five pages into it and found myself wondering who I was supposed to be rooting for and why. I get that Wright was trying for a hard-boiled hero, but for that (or any hero) to work, we need a reason to root for the hero. Kratman did that quite well in Big Boys - I liked Maggie The Tank. I don't like anybody I've met in Troy.

Pale Realms of Shade suffers from a similar problem. I guess I'm supposed to care about Mathias, the ghost, but I'm not told why. Moreover, we spend entirely too much time figuring out that the narrator is a ghost. It's first person, just tell us!

Results - the Andrews is a novel fragment, and the Wrights all have the wrong stuff in them. So my decision is between one-and-done (Kratman then no award) or just no award the whole category.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
baron_waste
May. 20th, 2015 03:19 pm (UTC)

Well, “The Plural of Helen of Troy” is an interesting story title at least.  I could see that showing up in the 1940s or '50s, with whatever storyline.  [Come to think on it, there was “Helen o'Loy.”]

catsittingstill
May. 21st, 2015 02:45 am (UTC)
I... am not looking forward to reading this category. A puppy story will have to really knock my socks off to get placed above No Award and my socks are feeling quite tight this Hugo season. I will give it a try.
daveon
May. 21st, 2015 06:24 am (UTC)
Wright also has a 'tin ear' for the British accent in that one. It was just horrible to read his 'core blimey govnor and stone the crows' dialogue for more than a few pages....
livejournal
May. 21st, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC)
The Customer is Always Right
User johncwright referenced to your post from The Customer is Always Right saying: [...] which argues for incompetence or carelessness. http://chris-gerrib.livejournal.com/563712.html [...]
(Anonymous)
May. 21st, 2015 03:46 pm (UTC)
[spoilers]

I actually thought ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM was fairly clever. The magical kingdom storyline is an incoherent mess and the protagonist is irrational. When I reread that as being psychosis, as the protagonist Richard having a psychotic break and becoming a raving homeless person accosting old friends from his childhood, the story begins making sense. Its actually pretty fun, like AMERICAN PSYCHO crossed with THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, and a generous streak of David Icke thrown in.

I wouldn't call it a deconstruction of fantasy but it is a fun "what-if" take on it. Richard's friends meet him first with surprise, then with seeming concern. As they begin to distance themselves from him, Richard warps them into his crazy viewpoint. And he begins to pull figures of authority into his delusions the same way you see UFO crazies fixate on Men In Black and fluoridation and vaccination programs.

I've always been a fan of crazy conspiracy theories so I thought it was fun to think of the kids from NARNIA as middle aged men breaking into museums to steal "magic" swords. I'm not sure if I'll give this story the Hugo but it is definitely more fun than most of the stories I've read this year.
(Deleted comment)
chris_gerrib
May. 21st, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
So I've been told and assumed.
(Deleted comment)
chris_gerrib
May. 21st, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC)
Molly as a diminutive of Mary is a new one on me.
(Anonymous)
May. 21st, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
One Bright Star to Guide Them
On the strength of the Hugo Packet and "One Bright Star" in particular, I’d assumed that when Wright claimed he wrote literary fiction, he meant he published it under a pseudonym.

Anon’s comment has made me think again! The protagonist – Tommy – is a middle-aged single man living in Brighton, the gay capital of Britain. Clearly his problems stem from his inability to come to terms with his sexuality.

Incidentally, can anyone make sense of the time frame of this story? Penny was born in 1940 and died in 1987. Sally/Sarah is under forty, Tommy is a little over forty and Richard is perhaps slightly older. The four knew each other as children, and visited the Summer Country some thirty years ago. If the story’s present is late 1987, early 1988, that would make Penny seventeen at the time – hardly a child.

On the other hand, Richard was expelled from school for getting a girl pregnant. The girl had an abortion on the NHS, which can have been no earlier than 1968. At the very outside Richard might have been eighteen when he was expelled, so he was born in 1950 or later and is only thirty-seven at most. (But the impression given is that he is at least Tommy’s age, if not older.) And if Richard is younger, what on earth was the almost adult Penny doing playing with a bunch of ten year olds? Is this why Tommy can’t come to terms with his sexuality? Either there’s some very strange subtext here, or Wright is a sloppy and careless writer. Given Wright's utter inability to mimic a British voice, I suspect the latter.

A pity he didn't have the services of a good editor.

JK

chris_gerrib
May. 21st, 2015 08:06 pm (UTC)
Re: One Bright Star to Guide Them
I had assumed that the camp was during WWII, which would put the present as 1975. But there's no clue in the first chunk of the story as to when it is happening. By the time we get Penny's tombstone, I had long since stopped caring.
Tom Kratman
May. 22nd, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC)
I think you
should "Noah Ward" everything. Non-binding, of course, but that's my preference.
chris_gerrib
May. 24th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
Re: I think you
I suppose I could go through some long Princess Bride dialog over whether or not you really want what you say you want, but my Too Hard light is illuminated. Thus, I'm going to do what I think is right for the Hugos, which (at the moment) is vote you 1 and No Award the rest of the category.

Edited at 2015-05-24 10:31 pm (UTC)
Tom Kratman
May. 25th, 2015 12:30 am (UTC)
Re: I think you
Yeah....I'm not Sicilian and death is not on the line. You will do what you will and you have a right to do so; I can only state preferences.
livejournal
Jul. 18th, 2015 10:52 am (UTC)
2015 #HugoAwards: how some more bloggers are voting
User nwhyte referenced to your post from 2015 #HugoAwards: how some more bloggers are voting saying: [...] "Big Boys Don't Cry" (4): Chris Gerrib [...]
livejournal
Jul. 31st, 2015 09:50 am (UTC)
2015 Hugo voting: a final blogging roundup
User nwhyte referenced to your post from 2015 Hugo voting: a final blogging roundup saying: [...] "Big Boys Don't Cry" (5): Chris Gerrib [...]
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This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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