Tuesday, July 30, 2013


"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.


  1. Now you have made me eager to read this story as I am a big fan of the short story. I like the idea of having the setting as a character.

    Where can I read this story?

    1. If you have an iPad you can download the free Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine app and then buy the issue it's from (January 2013) for $3.99. I'm not sure how you can get it otherwise. The issue has a mix of qualities. I've done Literary Criticisms on some of them. Three of the four novelettes in the issue are very good. "The Legend of Troop 13" (the other novelette in the issue) is R-rated, so I never finished it. The first short story is nice ("The Family Rocket"), while the other short story in the issue was very sub-par. It's still worth the $3.99, in my opinion.