Posted by: Matt Y | 06/02/2015

Review: Championship B’Tok

Onto the Novelettes! Going to change the Paulk Metric of Judgement to the One Puppy Metric as I don’t want there to be any confusion with the Judgement that it’s reflective of her personal opinion when I don’t know what that might be, I’m just using her guidelines as a way to critique the nominated works. So going forward I will list it as such.

Onto Championship B’Tok. Which is a story about…hell I don’t really even know after reading it. A hidden conspiracy.

Early Immersion – Begins with a character it never circles back to. Aside from it never bothers to incorporate the beginning into the larger tale it’s fine. The immersion is broken by a severe issue with awkward punctuation placement and editing.

Immersion is maintained – Punctuation is a constant issue that made it difficult to be immersed in the story. In fact though I read several worse stories prior to this one this was the very first one I almost gave up on for sheer readability issues. The author used punctuation like a child learning their first cuss word, too often and most of the time not correctly. There’s implant to implant communication that sometimes interrupts the flow of the story when it switches back and forth.

There is a plot – Hardly. The story brings up a possible conspiracy, starts showing the potential conflict for the characters and then THE END. Felt like the first couple of chapters of a longer book.

There are characters – There are a couple, and the story is best when it’s talking about the separate motivations of the main characters as it sets them up as distinct individuals. One of the protagonists keeps referring to a shadier background history that’s never really expanded upon or given a role in the story so I don’t get the reasoning behind it.

There is foreshadowing and it doesn’t suck – At one point a female protagonist pretty much explains everything to the main male character in the middle of the story, it’s not so much as foreshadowing as it is telling the reader what’s really going on. It draws a conclusion that the end supports instead of giving vague hints and then coming together later.

There are no gaping plot holes – None that I could tell. Though the story is called Championship B’Tok, the game is explained in the book, characters play the game against each other and yet at no point is the game important or even a major plot point. The conspiracy as it is revealed seems to hint that there are forces playing a version of the game on a galactic scale but it never really gets around to connecting the two.

Pacing is appropriate – Moves forward quickly.

The piece has an emotional payoff – It delivers a bullshit one. Just as the story really begins we get The End. Not To Be Continued… or Part One or whatever. Just The End. The story literally just gets to revealing the antagonists, sort of, and then it is over.

Championship B’Tok is a story that should not have made the ballot just for how poorly it was edited, if at all. It appears to be part of a larger series yet nowhere in the packet does this mention it and as such it feels very incomplete. It’s like ending Star Wars: A New Hope the moment after Vader comes on screen. The titular game makes very little impact on the story. Unfinished work should not be in consideration.

One Puppy Metric of Judgement: Unworthy by all accounts. No clue how this got on the slate.



  1. I just read it, and I have no clue what I just read. I think I abandoned hope when we got an info dump about a characters background that would have been clumsy in the middle of a series of novels.

    • If I was ranking them best to worst of the Hugo packet this one would’ve been solidly towards the bottom. We’ve got an abandoned character, a game that’s explained in depth but isn’t plot important, character backgrounds that are info dumped pointlessly and don’t develop the characters in a meaningful way and then it just ends.

      Some of the Novellas are really bad but this I think takes the cake as an example of a work that shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as the Hugo awards.

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