Hawkins’ ‘Digital Rites’ from Interzone #237 was chosen by no less than Gardner Dozois for his Year’s Best for 2011, which was a surprise to me as it didn’t engage me – “The filmic writing style didn’t really work for me – I’d much rather read a narrative than a form of screenplay” I said in my review.
And my response to this story was very much the same. Hawkins’ leaps straight into the plot, with no attempt to get the ready to engage or empathise the protagonists, there’s some wooden dialogue and very two-dimensional characters. And, as with the earlier story, it just reads like a quickly written novelisation of an average TV drama. Plenty of description of what things look like, how they move – and at one point the reader is invited to imaging a spaceship : “Take a beer can and add a cone to one end a half a transparent ball to the other…” etc.
Suffice to say, after a few pages I decided that enough was enough.
A couple of years ago, a previous story by Hawkins I praised as “One of the strongest stories in IZ over recent issues, and one I can see being atop the Readers’ Poll for 2010”, with some ‘vibrant characters’ – review here – which is a bit of a conundrum!