Sometimes bad writing inspires me with the thought, “I can do better than THAT!” Not this time.
This year’s Hugo awards (the People’s Choice awards for science fiction) have been swamped by the sad puppies and the rabid puppies. You can check the awfulness of the short story nominees in this blog post by Andrew Hickey.
I work hard on my short stories. I craft, edit, chop up, reassemble. And then a short story with a paragraph like this gets nominated for a Hugo this year.
“Eight point nine decaseconds later, the Hermes-class corvette ATSV Swiftsure rolls onto its belly and opens fire with twin 100 mm projectile cannons at a range of ninety kilometers from its closest companion. At such range the hyper-accelerated bolts of metal shred the second ship’s hull. The second ship returns fire with a set of 12 cm lasers that cut perfectly straight swathes of armor plating from Swiftsure. Atmospheric gases spray out of the violated hull in glittering white streams.”
This sounds awfully familiar … oh yes, the worst story ever written, The Eye of Argon!
“He has slept three times and had been fed five times since his awakening in the crypt. However, when the actions of the body are restricted its needs are also affected. The need for nourishmnet and slumber are directly proportional to the functions the body has performed, meaning that when free and active Grignr may become hungry every six hours and witness the desire for sleep every fifteen hours, whereas in his present condition he may encounter the need for food every ten hours, and the want for rest every twenty hours.”
At least the Eye of Argon was consistent about spelling out numbers. Although it violates hulls in a slightly grander fashion.
“The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.”
There’s more. The same supposedly Hugo-worthy short story has this sentence. So much wrong in so little space.
“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; they must be crippled, damaged, destroyed.”
I’m jerked from singular to plural. My sense of opposites is assaulted: in this context, disabled is a synonym for crippled and damaged. I offer this rewrite.
“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; it must be destroyed.”
Simple, short, and direct. Even a Dalek would smile at that. As for these puppy stories, I urge a vote of no award. In other words …