I’ve posted my thoughts about 2016 short stories, 2016 novels, and 2016 indie reading. Many of the stories I mentioned could have been #1, but it’s time for me to quit being indecisive and pick my nominees for the Planetary Awards.
“Paper Cut” is a tense, urban-fantasy story about a man, on the run from the Yakuza, fighting for his life. Although the story wraps up with a solid ending (or I wouldn’t have chosen it), I keep envisioning ways it could spawn related stories: other mundane objects becoming threats or weapons, more Yakuza or Chinese tong involvement, and Gulf War vets looking to set things right.
I was leaning towards Larry Correia’s “Into the Wild“, for being pure stay-up-too-late-to-read-one-more-chapter fun, but I saw that the author is declining future Dragon Award nominations after winning one last year, so I think I’ll give someone else a chance. I’ve also heard Correia is busy with traffic control for the dump-truck drivers leaving piles of royalty money on his front lawn, so he might not have time to accept a Planetary Award.
Instead, I’m nominating The Girl with Ghost Eyes by MH Boroson. I enjoyed the setting of late 19th / early 20th century Chinatown in San Francisco. The portrayals of Chinese culture and Chinese mythology (this is an urban fantasy, so mythical creatures are present in the story) seemed authentic, although I’m not an expert. The heroine is a young widow, Daoist priestess, kung-fu fighter, and monster hunter, who has to deal with Shaolin monks, tong (Chinese mafia) gangsters, and demons/ghosts/really scary things. There are a number of surprise twists to the story, and a conclusion that wraps up the plot nicely, but leaves you with the feeling that the character has another story in her.
The only reservation I have concerns the pacing. There are a number of instances where a tense conversation, or even an action scene, is interrupted by the heroine’s introspection. Instead of rising and rising to a peak, the intensity levels off to a plateau. If you’re willing to overlook this one flaw, I think you’ll enjoy the story. I’m surprised the book hasn’t gotten more publicity. In addition to being a good urban fantasy, it touches on some hot-button political topics, like immigration and male-female interactions (social/professional interactions, not bedroom interactions). It presents those issues as they were seen during the story’s time period, so they make the setting more realistic, rather than injecting 21st-century opinions. I’m planning to post a slightly longer review of the story in the future.
I’ve surprised myself by choosing two urban fantasies, as I consider myself primarily a science-fiction guy. Leave a message psychoanalyzing me, or commenting about my story choices.