Thursday, August 1, 2013

My favorite Hugo nominee: Ken Liu's "Mono no aware"

I just submitted my Hugo ballot, a few minutes before voting closed at midnight CDT on July 31. Because I got my Worldcon membership just two weeks ago, I wasn't able to get through all the books and stories that were e-mailed to me, but I did the best I could, and finished roughly half. I'll post my more complete reactions later, but I wanted to go ahead and praise one of the nominees.

Ken Liu's "Mono no aware" moved me to tears. I had to stand up and walk around for about 10 minutes before I could return to my self-imposed reading reading marathon.

What an extraordinary work this is, heartbreaking, breathtaking, and inspiring. In this 32-page short, Liu packs an amazing amount of story, context, understanding, and poetry.

“The stars shine and blink.
We are all guests passing through,
A smile and a name.”

According to an interview with the author, mono no aware means an empathy for the inevitable passing of all things.  The protagonist draws strength and motivation from this concept, but his actions also exemplify some of the things from life that endure: courage and love. I must find more of Ken Liu to read. As far as I am concerned, this short story is the all-category winner, the Best in Show of the Hugos.