The Nebula Awards will be announced May 19, 2018. The awards are given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This post is the fifth in a series of reviews of the nominees for this year’s Nebula award for best novella. The Nebula defines a work as a novella if it is between 17,500 and 40,000 words. These are short books.
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang is…shoot, I’m not sure how to describe it. Others have described it as silkpunk (it’s not), Asian fantasy (kind of but not really), or some sort of epic thingy (that’s not written in the style of an epic at all). I don’t usually like to provide details of an author’s created world in my reviews because authors work really hard to introduce readers to their worlds in their stories. Who am I to short circuit that introduction? At the same time, though, I want to give MY readers, friends, and followers kind of a heads up of what they’re getting into if they were to pick the book up. So, the highlights: it is an entirely fictional world, set in an entirely fictional country that has magic, and the magic fuels technology levels to more-or-less 19th century/early 20th century. There is an “Asian” flavor, but that’s confined to pretty much names and some creature/legend stuff.
Now that the description of the world is out of the way, we come to the real question…is it any good? I don’t know if it’s good or not – I’m not some gatekeeping arbiter of all that is Good and Worthy in the written world – but I do know that it is not a book that I particularly enjoyed reading. People that share my tastes would also probably not enjoy this book too much.