Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hotel (Repost)

(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.

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