The Hugo Awards, conferred by the World Science Fiction Convention (aka WorldCon), are even more controversial this year than they were last year, and the odds are that they will be controversial next year too. Basically, a small but motivated group used bloc-voting, which is not forbidden in any way by the Hugo nominating process, to place a bunch of their friends’ work on the shortlist.
Then some people withdrew their works from consideration, which meant the next –in-line books made it into the finalist categories. You can read about some of that here.
This makes the short list just, well, kind of weird. I am mostly interested in the Best Novel category myself, and when everything shook out, here were the finalists:
- Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, sequel to last year’s every-award –winner Ancillary Justice
- The Dark Between the Stars, by Kevin Anderson, which looks like traditional space opera
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette), the first in a new fantasy series
- Skin Game by Jim Butcher, the latest in the long-running Harry Dresden series
- The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu, book one of an acclaimed hard science fiction trilogy from China.
It will take me a very long time to read The Three Body Problem because it falls into none of the categories I enjoy, but I probably still will, just because it’s so noteworthy. Many of the talking heads see it as an upset winner, (mostly those people who thought Sword would be the shoo-in).
Ancillary Sword was as good as Ancillary Justice, going in a different direction and providing more depth to the Radch Empire. Skin Game, to me, just another Harry Dresden. I love Harry Dresden, but really, it’s another good story and it’s like, what? Book fourteen? I think it suffers the same problem Wheel of Time had last year; how good is it, if you haven’t read all the previous books?
Normally I wouldn’t be in a rush to read The Dark Between the Stars, either, but I said I would for FanLit. It’s not a subgenre I love, and I haven’t been enamored of Anderson’s writing in the past.
While there are some strange omissions on that list (City of Stairs, no nod? The Peripheral?) it’s not a bad Best Novel list.
In future chapters, I’ll discuss what I think the solution is to “hi-jacking;” and I’ll take a look at some of the other categories — which is where things start to get freaky.