Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Benjanun Sriduangkaew - Several Stories

John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo Award) for Best New Writer Nominee: Benjanun Sriduangkaew.

To check out this nominee, I read "The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly." And then I immediately picked up "Fade to Gold" and "Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade."

Some spoilery thoughts behind the link.

All three are weirdly awesome stories. All three start out contemplating death in one way or another, and death remains a central theme. The protagonists are all dead or dying in a way. That's what's really weird. I'm not usually drawn to stories like this, but I found all three of these stories very compelling. Perhaps the fact that love was also a consistent central theme makes the difference.

"The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly" 
Available for free here!
It took me a little while to get into this one. There wasn't much that was familiar for me to latch onto. As the story went on, though, I was drawn in more and more. By the end, I really loved it. I was immediately compelled to pick up the other two stories included in the voter packet.
This is a far-future story that explores human consciousness, and human interfaces with virtual technology, and identity, and love, and death, and immortality. I'm really intrigued by the bees, especially the way they play into the network interfacing. I'm still playing around with this concept in my head.

"Fade to Gold"
A love story, with death and sadness and a culture that is intolerant of some kinds of love. This one left me really sad, and more than a little grossed out, but it was very compelling nonetheless.

"Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade"
Available for free here!
This one also explores identity, group and individual, mind and body.

My comments are pretty short on all of these stories, I know - I'm still processing, and I'm going to need to read them all again after the next week's Hugo-reading madness concludes.

Sriduangkaew's style of writing, her ideas, her stories - they're all just weirdly wonderful! Her voice is different from anything else I've read. I definitely want to read more from this author. The stories I've read so far all leave me with a sense of wonder.

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