Thursday, May 7, 2015

Championship B'Tok

So.  The Hugos.  Up until this year I was not aware that this was a vote-by-random-people-with-memberships award.  As I've mentioned, I'm not really an awards person at all.  I tend to disagree with all the award-winning choices and therefore don't put much stock in them.  It's very political ... which this year's Hugo Debacle (I think it deserves capitalization after all of the drama generated) aptly demonstrates.  Many other bloggers and authors have explained it much better than I can, but I was curious to read some of the short stories and novellas that were up for awards.

I'd read a book by Edward Lerner a long time ago: it was Fools' Experiments.  I remember that I didn't really like it because it seemed silly, but I had hoped that Lerner would grow as an author and clean up the writing a bit.

I think things got better.  They're not fantastic or mind-blowing or OMGREADTHISNOW, but I rather enjoyed Championship B'Tok.  I didn't realize that this is part of a ... how would I describe it?  A cycle?  A panorama?  A jigsaw puzzle universe consisting of different stories to flesh it out?  So my one major complaint about this is that it didn't really have an ending.  I am tempted to pick up a few more stories and novellas and see where this goes.

But dear sweet lord, this is one of the worst covers I've seen in a long time.
And I've seen some bad covers.
Basically, this is the story of alien invaders who got their butts kicked and were imprisoned on an outer planetary moon for their audacity.  Now, human political alliances are trying to work with these aliens, called Snakes by humans because CREATIVITY, but the Snakes have ideas of their own.  Concurrent to the ssssneaky plotting, one of the humans in charge of the colony gets embroiled in some good ol' galactic espionage.  As it turns out, we've found hints that our existence, and that of the Snakes, and of other species, seem to have been manipulated by an as-yet-unknown species we'll call the Interveners.  Who are they?  Where are they?  What is their purpose?

Okay, so this pulls A LOT from Revelation Space by Reynolds (please lord, go read that series first), but it didn't irk me as much as I thought.  The concept that humans are tiny pieces in a huge universe (or set of universes) controlled by an unthinkably powerful being or beings is a tale as old as time, no matter what you believe.

This is reinforced in the game, B'Tok, that's referenced in the title.  It's a four-dimensional game of strategy that relies on misdirection and subterfuge to conquer the other players forces.

Championship B'Tok is on the Hugo ballot as a "novelette."  Without getting too much into the whole Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies/Evil Puppies/Whatever Puppies debacle, I think it is a good idea to see what's out there, even if it is put forward by someone whose ideas or morals that you don't agree with.  In fact, I'd argue that that's even more important than reading something that's promoted by someone whose ideals you share.

But I'm still not reading any John C. Wright (his early stuff was nigh-incomprehensible to me, and now evidently he's had some sort of "religious epiphany" so ... no) and Vox Day is a particularly aromatic turd in the publishing world.  It's been far too long for him to fester in the public eye.

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