(I'm very busy, so I'm reposting a criticism of a story that remains one of my favorite novelettes today.)
"Hotel" is a sci-fi novelette by Suzanne Palmer published in the January issue of Asimov's. It seemed to match its publisher's style perfectly. The time-span is too long to make an accurate statement, but I believe this was my favorite story out of this issue.
Setting is, as most people know, important in sci-fi. This story is set on Mars. While not entirely unique, the localized setting was fresh and intriguing. I won't give too much away. As the story suggests, most of the action takes place in a hotel. The hotel is also sort of a character (a simulated intelligence), bringing new meaning to "setting as a character".
There were a lot of characters in this story. I like that. A lot of people feel that a novelette should have very few characters. I don't think that's necessarily the case. However, you have to be a talented writer to get it right. Ms. Palmer did a great job with this story. I connected with the characters, could tell them apart 95% of the time, and found them to be quite cool. As a bonus, two of the characters were aliens! The characters had many secrets to be discovered over the course of the novelette. Which is, of course, a plot device.
The plot had an awesome feel to it. It ranged from high-action to suspenseful to almost mystery at different points. Tension was always there, something ever story should have to keep the readers' chests a little tight. One tiny section at the end could have been shortened even further, but it had to be mentioned anyway, so I can live with a few paragraphs spent on it. Every problem presented was resolved, typical for a short fiction piece. The resolutions were satisfying, all except for the death of one character. It was foreshadowed passably, but felt a little far-fetched and slightly like a "deus ex machina".
I recommend this story to anyone who likes sci-fi, especially in the style of Asimov's. It gets a 94% from me.