Friday, July 8, 2011

2011 Hugo Nominee: Novella - "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)

Emery, Leonard, and Robbie became friends working at the Smithsonian aviation wing under a scholar named Maggie Blevin thirty years ago. Now, Maggie is dying of cancer, and Leonard comes up with a plan to give her the gift of re-creating lost footage of a strange experiment in early flight that she had been obsessed with. The re-creation involves a trip to a small, semi-abandoned island in North Carolina, and hints of mysterious alien forces…but most of the focus is on these characters and their fairly humble lives.

This novella reminded me a lot of that ‘80s Spielberg-produced anthology show Amazing Stories, a show that I’m kind of ambivalent about. It told some good, character-oriented stories, like this one, but it was also so steeped in a sense of nostalgia and over-reaching attempts to capture that Spielbergian sense of mystery and wonder that it sometimes overlooked more basic principles of storytelling. That pretty much sums up my feelings here. Hand creates some nice moments, and evokes some nice emotions (again, especially nostalgia), but the sum total only did so much for me.

Grade: B

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