As I consider to be ethically required of me if I’m going to vote in this year’s awards, I am slowly working my way through the nominees.
First up, the short story nominees. They’re *all* puppy nominees. My first read: “Turncoat”, by Steve Rzasa, available here: https://steverzasa.wordpress.com/turncoat/
Go read it, before reading my comments. 🙂
I will be rating this story below ‘No Award’.
On the one hand, it’s not the sort of thing I typically like – it’s milsf, which isn’t my cup of tea. But it’s got an interesting idea: a human-machine hybrid warrior fighting against humans, trapped in a society which is turning ever more hostile to its own human origins and which has determined to wage a war of extermination, turning on his society to protect the humans he used to despise but has come to love.
Great concept. The execution, on the other hand:
(a) the way the character is established in the opening of the story, he has nothing but disdain for, and a feeling of superiority regarding, the humans, so much so that when he says: “Everything about a man is dynamic. Short-lived and vulnerable, yes, but ever-changing. This is what makes me feel alive, to be in their presence”, I fell out of the story in stumped disbelief with a “where the fuck did that come from?” the character is internally inconsistent and unebelievable, and it’s not so much that the character is growing and changing in response to stimulus as it is that he’s *not believable*.
(b) the story raises questions about why human-machine hybrids communicate in human ways and then *ignores it* in future human-hybrid communications, making the exploration seem half-baked.
(c) the villain of the story is cartoonish and appears to be a cardboard cutout.
(d) the moral dilemma is painted in extremely unsubtle and didactic ways, in a way that suggests the comfort-with-complexity of a preteen.
I really liked the idea explored by the story. I really *wanted* to like the story. I think the author is asking an interesting question and that a great story could be built on the concepts contained within. This story, however, wasn’t it.