by Kage Baker
On the shortlist for Hugos this year a novella. I was far less impressed with this one. It was decently written and at times fairly amusing, but the story never really went anywhere, the mystery aspect was highly unengaging and felt very by the numbers, and the wider background didn't seem engaging. It’s the type of setting that seems custom designed for great adventures, but in this case it left me resentful that given such liberties the author didn’t offer anything more exciting than the set plot we got. The piece's themes also seemed very dollar-store feminism, not using its genre status to do anything terribly challenging or creative. A lot of these faults could have been downplayed if I’d cared more about the central characters, but the story invests all its talent in this score on making them whitty and funny, and doesn’t produce complex enough roles to drawn main focus.
Worse than: A Billion Eves by Robert Reed
Better than: Act One by Nancy Kress