Getting to the big ones! As a warning, I’ll probably post my novel choices last, as I haven’t gotten close to finishing any of them, coupled with the fact that Connie Willis’ story is 1100 pages long over two books. Yikes! But I digress, and I ought to talk about the novellas. This was a mixed bag, covering many ideas. In my opinion, other than “Bellerophon”, any of them could be number one.

While both my personal favourites, “Software Objects”, and “Troika” deal with near future issues, each setting is completely removed form the other. Chiang’s story of how our attachments manifest themselves really moved me, and I felt the pain and worry of the main characters over their digients.

Troika’s mystery, wrapped with psychological elements, pulled me through right to the end. I could see the ship they used: cobbled together, slightly tatty, probes limping along and the metaphor of the ship as the state of the “Second Soviet”. The ending surprised, but satisfied me.

I enjoyed “Sultan” mainly because it featured me, or at least I could see myself in the main character. I got to go to Venus, suckers!

I found “Lady” curious, as it isn’t the type of thing I read, normally. I liked it, and the ending was very satisfying. I think it showed me that I need to branch out a bit with my reading.

“Bellerophon” annoyed me. Unless I missed something in my reading, it committed an act that throws me out of stories every time. The viewpoint character has no real connection with the rest of the people in the story, other than having worked with them for a summer forty years before the story. Plus he’s a bit thick. He gets used constantly as a “Oh let’s tell the reader what’s going on by explaining to thicko here everything that he missed by not being our friend”. Sigh.


Anyhoo, here are my choices. It’s a real shame that “Troika” isn’t linked here, as it is really worth reading.


  1. “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines,Science Fiction Book Club)
  2. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean) – Read Online
  3. “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010) – Read Online
  4. “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010) – Read Online (PDF)
  5. “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow) – Read Online

Which just goes to show: I won’t vote you higher just because you put me in your story… 😉