Monday, April 6, 2015

Reading Challenge: Hugo Awards 2015

The finalist list is out for the 2015 Hugo Awards, and, as I have been super mega slack this year in taking on literary prizelists, I thought it would be good to get back in the swim with this one. (Not least of my reasons is the luxuriously long time stretch to get 'em read: the winners will be announced at Worldcon in Spokane, Washington, on 22 August).

The Hugos, for those who aren't familiar, are the biggest of the fan-voted science fiction and fantasy awards. Hugo proponents will tell you that these are the most prestigious speculative fiction awards in the world; that's probably fairly accurate, although the author-voted Nebulas also have a claim to the title. In any case, except in weird years, the Hugo list gathers up the best and brightest in any given year and provides rich fodder for sci fi and fantasy fiction reading jags.

The full list is here, but as is my wont, I will only attempt titles in the fiction categories. They are:

Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Roc Books)
Best Novella
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (, 11-2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)
Best Novelette
  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
  • “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
Best Short Story
  • “Goodnight Stars”, Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
  • “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)
  • “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
Just on spec, there's some promising-looking stuff in there. I note with pleasure that Ann Leckie's sequel to Ancillary Justice is up there, which doesn't surprise me given how good the first one was. Some of the other authors are altogether new to me, which is rather nice as a possible mission of discovery.

My plan, insofar as I have one, is to start with one of the novels to read in an ongoing way while I try to get hold of and tackle the short stories. Because it sounds like it might be interesting, and because it's fantasy rather than sci fi (more in sync with my current mood), I'm going to lead off with The Goblin Emperor. The goal will be to complete at least two of the four fiction categories before Worldcon, and, optimistically, all four.

It's good to be trying a reading challenge again!

POSTSCRIPT: Since writing this, I have been made aware that this year's Hugo ballot was strongly dominated by the Sad Puppies voting slate, organised by writers Larry Correia and Brad R. Torgersen. Indeed, all of the three short-form categories are either entirely or mostly derived from that slate, and all but two of the novels.

This greatly tarnishes my interest in reading the finalist list, for a range of reasons, not least of which is the general tenor of the political, social and ethical views of some of the writers on this slate (and in this list). I don't know if I have the heart or the stomach for it, especially given that I would not normally support such views with my money.

Before I became aware of this, I had already purchased John C. Wright's book, The Book of Feasts and Seasons, on Kindle - it contains his nominated novella, novelette and short story. I've decided to read it and review it, and I will be as fair as I can be in this endeavour. I'm going to use it as an opportunity, though, to reflect on what impact a writer's views has on how readers can / should / may receive their work.

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