The Long Way to a Small, Giggly Award
Vonne steps up to the microphone. “Nominated for the 2015 Golden Giggle Award – or Giggly – are the following: Terr—“
“You already gave out the 2015 Benedict to John Scalzi.”
“No! I gave Scalzi the first ever Giggly, unspecific to any given year, for a wide range of works. THIS is the official Giggly for 2015, and please stop calling it Benedict!”
“’Benedict’ sounds more noble than ‘Giggly.’”
Vonne turns to the audience. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please pardon our Webpage Master Director. He’s a bit of a stickler for fine points, and calls this award ‘Benedict’ because he’s in lust with that CucumberBatch Brit actor. . .”
“I am not! But if Hollywood gets an award nobly called ‘Oscar,’ I don’t see why –“
“’Oscar’ sounds like a weiner! It is NOT noble! Admit it, you love that Cummerbund guy!”
The WMD (sic) pondered this. “Well, he does look rather dignified in a cummerbund . . .”
“There you have it, folks!” Vonne cried. “The WMD loves a CabbagePatch Doll named Benedict!”
“He is NOT a CabbagePatch Doll!”
“Take a good look before you say that again,” Vonne sneered. “Now leave me alone so I can give this award to Becky Chambers.” Vonne turned back to us, the audience.
“Before awarding Miss Chambers the 2015 Golden Giggle Award, it would behoove me to explain why it is so long coming, and – since we are in the 2017 Award Season here in the SF/F Universe – what it portends for her future award chances. (Vonne decides to dispense with quotation marks for the time being, as Vonne is the only one talking.)
I had heard some good noise about a novel called “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by one Becky Chambers. It was described as “fun space opera.” I do loves me some space opera, and am gaga over anything fun, so this seemed like something good to look into. But lo! The cover artwork was full of big, blocky, epic lettering like some bad 1950’s B-movie. Decided to pass.
Then in 2016, folks started raving about “A Closed and Common Orbit” by the same Becky Chambers. I filed that away in ye olde memory banks for an oddment to be tasted later. Besides, I had lost a filling and needed something to suck on.
On January 31st of this year, 2017, Locus Magazine posted its recommended reading list for 2016. Most of the Awards to be handed out will come from this rather long list, and “A Closed and Common Orbit” (CaCO) was on it. Noted.
Normally I would wait to see what the voters decide is on the shortlist that will become available later before picking the winner. Yes, I ACTUALLY PICK THE WINNER. I know this because once I say who it is, it actually turns out that way! No one realizes this, but I am the sole determiner of who actually gets the awards, even though I do not qualify to actually vote! Weird, right? Go figure!
Anyway, this year I decided to be real ballsy and pick the 6 nominated works for Best Novel for the Hugo before the voting even ended on March 18th! I posted that on February 5th, including among them the one I have deemed to win. (You may read it here: http://vonneanton.com/2017/02/early-hugo-predictions-2017/ ) If they don’t listen to me and omit one that I put on the shortlist, that’s okay. Alas, I did not list CaCO because I hadn’t read a word of Becky Chambers’ anything.
The Nebula people trotted out their shortlist on February 20th, and I usually don’t bother voting for them, but still had some balls left over from the Hugo excitement, so on February 23rd, I decided to pick the winner in the Best Novel category for that award also. (Here: http://vonneanton.com/2017/02/2017-nebula-nominees/) There was one book on that list I hadn’t read (Borderline by Mishell Baker, excellent by the by, and you can read it by scrolling down to the following post below) but, having read it, I decided to leave my pick in place. CaCO wasn’t on their shortlist, so that’s not on me.
On February 17th, the long-list of works for the Arthur C. Clarke Award was posted, and I checked: yep, plenty of balls left, so I decided “Why not? I’m on a roll!” So, I picked my 6 short-listers and named the obvious winner. Guess what?!?!?! I actually picked CaCO to be on that shortlist! Still hadn’t read it, but felt obligated to read it soon, so why not? Might be lucky! (Still didn’t pick it to win, though.)
Well, now I was fresh out of balls and had nothing to play with, but felt a certain next morning angst about not being faithful. So, I ran down to Ye Olde Book Shoppe to grab a copy of “A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers!
Head Thud against bookrack. It’s a sequel to “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.” So I did the only right thing to do and grabbed them both and resigned myself to reading an early 1950’s B-movie before I could get on to the main attraction.
WELL! I finished TLW2aSAP and THAT is what Becky Chambers is getting her first Golden Giggle Award for! YES! You are correct to applaud that! And now for the big surprise! A special Review of it in my typical Vonnette style added right into an Award announcement!
Profanity: Yes. The f*bomb drops occasionally. It’s not pervasive, but is still present. But, that’s the worst of it. Most kids know that word pretty well by the time they are 12 these days, so whatever.
Sex: Sorta. Definitely pillow talk, flirting, etc. The strangest part of this is all the inter-species sex. No less than 5 members of the 8 crew members are having cross-species flings with aliens. And yes, I’m counting one that is more technical than actual. However, all of them are showing love for each other and enjoying the intimate nature of real sex. So it’s treated in an adult manner, and there are no detailed descriptions.
[Brief aside here. How would aliens know what goes into where? Mistakes like that could start interstellar wars.]
Violence: There is a little in one scene, but no one is killed in that scene. Actually, humans have lost the ability and desire to commit acts of violence in this novel, so that is a really GREAT thing for young readers.
So, parents: you know the drill. This is not publicized as a YA offering, but you can read it for yourself and determine what is proper for your precocious ten year old.
The spaceship “Wayfarer” is a tunneler. That is, it tunnels through the fabric of space to make wormholes to speed up traffic and commerce between species.
The crew is a HOOT! Quirky, funny, fabulous, the adjectives will keep going until someone puts a sock in me. The synopsis on the cover would lead you to believe that Rosemary Harper is the main character, but it just doesn’t work that way. The whole crew are the main characters! They all get their moment to shine, and Rosemary’s time “onscreen” is no more than anyone else’s. I really CARE about these characters! (Spoiler!) One of them will die, technically.
They are given a mission to tunnel a wormhole from one of the vast Galactic Commons main stations to near the galaxy Core, where one clan of a particularly warlike species has finally decided to join the GC for trade, stability, and protection. This is “a Small, Angry Planet” that the crew heads off toward.
It takes them “The Long Way to” get there. They receive the mission around page 90; they get there finally at page 380; and the book ends by page 438. A LOT happens in the meantime and goes mad in the last 50 pages, so stick around! It’s all fascinating, fun, interesting, and just buggers! (This also explains the madness behind this meandering blog post! It’s an homage to the novel itself!)
This made some lists for awards, but I’m not aware it won any of them. But it truly is FUN SPACE OPERA! And this is the kind of stuff I go ape about!
[Another aside: I wonder if the author realizes she has a calling that is not mentioned anywhere, including on the bio part of the cover; not even on her own website! Here it is: To make the wormholes, the crew has to “pin” an opening in space/time “fabric” at one location. Then they jet off to the other end, “threading” in and out of real and hyper space. Once there, they “pin” another opening, and then navigate the two openings, “hemming” them together. One of the characters is even born on a planet named “Stitch!” At the end, my favorite character takes up knitting! (I won’t tell you what they knit, because that would be too much spoiler-age and give away the awesome whackadoodle-ness of this book that everyone should enjoy for the first read without any more help from me!) Yes, Becky Chambers, you are a SEAMSTRESS! Did you know?]
GO READ THIS BOOK! If you like fun, read it! If you like space opera, read it!
It would be so easy to compare this to a mashup of “Firefly,” “Star Wars,” and “Star Trek.” But it would also be wrong. This has the FEEL of those things, but not the substance. It’s much more correct to say that this Becky Chambers critter has found one of her biggest, newest fans! She gets compared to no one! Now, they all have to get compared to HER!
And, I STILL haven’t read “A Closed and Common Orbit!” But, two things are obvious. One: It’s next to be read. Two: I stand by my Arthur C. Clarke Award nomination. (Still don’t think it will win, but mainly because the Clarke people tend to lean serious.)
Regardless, Becky Chambers, your FIRST Award of this Award Season is the belated 2015 Golden Giggle Award from me for “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet!” Enjoy your Giggly, because I certainly enjoyed the gigglies you gave me! That’s right, take that bow!
OMG! The audience is giving you a standing O! Soak up the love! You deserve it!
And watch out! Because “A Closed and Common Orbit” just may walk away with the 2016 Giggly also!
Peace. Love. Out.
26 March 2017