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The Nebula-nominated novella Breathmoss by Ian R. Macleod is available online for your perusal.

I just read it as part of the sf anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction #20. I don’t know what it is about me and critically acclaimed sf (like Little, Big and The Left Hand of Darkness), but we just don’t get along. I did not enjoy Breathmoss at all…

My reviewlette (which I will include in the anthology’s review) is as follows:

Breathmoss [Ten Thousand and One Worlds] by Ian R. MacLeod [2002 novella] (Rating: ) [Read 02/20/04 – 02/21/04]

  • Jalila, a girl in a female society on the verge of womanhood, makes the long trip down from the mountains to the lowlands where she expunges the breathmoss that her lungs needed to breathe the thin air. The story follows Jalila’s coming of age. Jalila befriends Kalal, a boy her age (Kalal and his father are the only two males in the story), Nayra, a girl who becomes her first lover, and a “tariqua”, a wise woman.
  • I really wanted to like this story but somehow I just could not get into it at all. The writing is infused with lots of made up words that slowed reading. But the bigger obstacle was the multi-claused comma-ridden verbiage. The pacing was way too slow. So much time was spent on world/society building (which was not all that interesting) that the plot was almost nonexistent by comparison. This was more of an exercise in literary creation than it was a vehicle for storytelling. Not very entertaining and therefore very disappointing.
  • This is a finalist for the 2002 Hugo Award for best novella. That surprises me.

Oh well. At least it gave me 4 SF-Points©!

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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