Since I’m not ready to talk too much about my own work yet – I’m still waiting to hear back from two publishers and holding off on announcements until then – I wanted to talk a bit about drastically underrated work by other people that are already published.
“Hardfought” by Greg Bear was published in 1983 – and was mind-blowingly ahead of its time. It immediately won a Nebula Award, and then was all-but forgotten in the subsequent decades.
The reason this is my favorite novella of all time – one I have a tradition of rereading every year – is because it succeeds at an unbelievable array of levels.
It’s about love between a man and a woman in an age of madness.
It’s also about the fates and motivations of human societies.
It’s also about the potential differences between different types of life that could evolve in the Universe, based on an author’s understanding of astronomy, physics, biology, and sociology so advanced that it’s still cutting-edge nearly half a century later.
And it addresses all of these things in a way that is once poetic and perfectly efficient – not a word is wasted or unnecessary. Not a word fails to be beautiful.
And it’s now available for the Kindle eReader software, which can be run on any computer or smartphone, for $1.99.
I will say a few words about the existing reviews of the Kindle version. When I found it, the novella had three stars on Kindle, based on ten reviews. Most of the mediocre-to-negative reviews complained that the story was “too weird,” “confusing,” or “too short.”
Its novella status – (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel) along with its intentionally, and in my mind perfect, ambiguous ending – seemed to confuse some modern readers who are not accustomed to that format.
As for being “confusing” – in the words of another reviewer “this gem is one of those stories that thrusts you thousands of years into the future, with no glossary to help you understand the slang words and cultural changes of the time.”
A reader who enjoys what Prufrax terms “brainflex” will get no end of enjoyment out of drawing inferences from the novella’s futureslang, which eventually builds into a complex and intricate series of references to advanced physics and a testament to cultural change. But those who found the use of futureslang in other works like Dune or Queen of Angels frustrating will be equally frustrated here.
I will also say a few words about the eBook cover – do your best to ignore it. I selected the image above in reference to the first piece of scenery that is described in the novella. It does much better justice to the story, whose vision of far-future society is so unique and scientifically astute that it is underserved by pictures of conventional spacecraft as imagined by artists of today.