The Hugos

It’s award season in the science fiction and fantasy world. The British Science Fiction Awards (BSFAs) were announced last week, the Clarke awards have come out, and the Nebulas will be announced on May 17th, and the Hugo winners will be announced in August, in London.

As far as the Hugos go, they wouldn’t be the Hugos if there weren’t some kind of controversy. There are actually a few, but the nominations for best novel is the controversy I have an opinion about.  I think it’s a scandal. Shocking.  The World Science Fiction Society should be ashamed.

How can you justify nominating fifteen books, written by several different people, for “best novel?” I’m talking, of course, about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The entire series.

Wheel of Time? Seriously? All of it?

Clearly the WSFS rules permit this or at least don’t screen it out. I can understand why you might want to nominate a multiple-volumed work as “best novel.” I really do. But fifteen, starting from 1990? Several of which are not even written by the original author? Why would you do this?

Okay, well, it’s obvious why you would do this. Robert Jordan was sick and dying. Then he did die and they brought in some other guy to finish up the books. He did a great job and the fans were pleased. But Jordan was dead. If you gave the new guy, Sanderson, the award, it looked like you were somehow slighting the creator. Some people must have felt that this would be disrespectful to a series that meant as much to its generation as Lord of the Rings  meant to mine.

Still, practically speaking, I don’t get this. The Worldcon members who want to vote will have to read all fifteen books before August, in addition to all the other works that are nominated; in addition to spending time with their families, going to their job, and engaging in some personal hygiene now and then. Are you going to vote for Best Novel without reading one of the candidates? Probably you are one of the readers who has already most or all of the books, but if you’re not, you have a moral dilemma. And how do you judge all 15 books? As one long story?

Of course, while people are doing this, a couple of really exciting novels, most particularly Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, will probably get overlooked because the voters are too exhausted to read it. To be fair, she’s already won awards, but still. C’mon, guys.

All awards are largely popularity-based, and to some extent sentimentally based, so this isn’t really a surprise. It’s just a head-shaker. The good news is, win or lose, WOT will leave us with lots to blog about.

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2 Responses to The Hugos

  1. Chad Hull says:

    I tried reading this series in grad school. I remember my experience so clearly. I sat down to read the first book and after 200 pages I was ready to put it down for ever, and then… (after 200 pages mind you) things starting happening and I was hooked. I finished that first book in a two or three days.

    I think it was book four or five where I put it down for good and never thought about picking the series up again. I read a 700 plus page book and nothing–i.e. “nothing”–happened. It served to lose me as a reader but I don’t begrudge anyone else who loves the series; I just don’t understand why.

    All that said, I think I’m weird, or perhaps just weird when it comes to fantasy. I thought LoTRs was all kinds a boring too.

  2. Marion says:

    I finished the first book, and fell into a coma reading the second one, and never went back. I have heard from several people that around the fourth or fifth book it just deflated. Some say it gets good again about Book Eleven. I will never know. Not enough time and too much to read.

    It’s an unspoken truth that large parts of LoTR was actually boring; flat descriptions, long family histories, etc. I didn’t care when I was thirteen because I was so absorbed in that world, but I would care now if I tried to read it again.

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