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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hugo and Campbell Award Nominations for Novel with Comments (by Liviu Suciu)

The nominees for the 2011 Hugo Awards and for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have been announced. The winners will be announced on 20th August, at the Hugo Awards Ceremony held at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Reno, Nevada. There are the usual categories but since my short fiction reading was appallingly low in 2010, I will include only the best novella nominees since at least there I read two of the nominees.

Demonstrating once more the age and demographic of a majority of its voters, the Hugo nominations for fanzine and fan writer are to pre-Internet stuff which is most likely read by a majority of Hugo voters and no-one else, while the editor short form category is almost the same as you could have had 100 10 years ago despite the huge changes in the short fiction market of recent times. Though it has Jonathan Strahan who is a big favorite of mine in short fiction editing, so at least I can "root" for someone there. For long form though there are some new names - finally - and as usual Lou Anders is my favorite for all the reasons mentioned HERE. For the full list you can head to the link above


Best Novel:

“Blackout/All Clear” by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
“Cryoburn” by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
“The Dervish House” by Ian McDonald (Gollancz / Pyr)
“Feed” by Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

I have been delighted and a little surprised by the inclusion of “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” (FBC Rv of it, FBC Rv of The Broken Kingdoms) by N.K. Jemisin (FBC Interview with the author HERE (by Mihir) and HERE (Guest post by Kelly Link)) and of course that is my favorite hands down.

As originally from around there, not quite Turkey but the neighborhood - and not surprisingly based on how people from the appropriate "there" saw River of Gods and Brasyl, which I liked a lot but I am not from there - I disliked The Dervish House which is the kind of novel that modern Westerners tend to write about other cultures - researched and well intentioned, but mostly clueless beyond the physical descriptions.

I have been a huge Miles fan across the years, but I think the series should have closed with the awesome A Civil Campaign since Diplomatic Immunity read tired and what I read from Cryoburn is even worse, feeling like the author just went through the motions.

I tried Blackout since a few reviewers I respect were enthusiastic about it, but I was not interested enough to continue; I read too many books about England 1940 and the Blitz - I recently reviewed The Distant Hours which despite having the war in the background and not being sff is considerably more interesting. I keep wondering why the sf authors do not get even a little more adventurous and explore other moments in alt-history since after all the big bestselling alt-hist genre series of today is about the 30 Years War in Germany 1630's, showing that when done well, less Anglocentric periods can generate lots of interest.

I even opened Feed since I saw one or two enthusiastic reviews from people I respect, but it was still a zombie novel, so no interest.

Prediction for the Winner: The Bujold/Willis juggernaut is way too strong among Hugo voters, so I give 60% to Cryoburn and 40% to Blackout/All-Clear.


Best Novella:

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
“The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)

Here I read two as mentioned and I voted for both in the Locus Poll, while I put some thoughts about them on Goodreads: “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Read it free HERE), “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club) and both were very, very good but not quite the top of the game for the authors.

However Ted Chiang is simply the current master of sf novella/short story form and Alastair Reynolds is probably second or third with only Greg Egan for competition in sf (beside Chiang of course), so even "not quite the top of the game", means better than almost anything out there.

Prediction for the Winner: “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang


John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer:

Saladin Ahmed
Lauren Beukes
Larry Correia
Lev Grossman
Dan Wells

Here the rules are a bit arcane with two years of eligibility - Lev Grossman has been writing fiction for years now but as mentioned, rules are arcane - and it seems that for all authors this is their last year of nomination.

As it happens, here at Fantasy Book Critic we published a story by Saladin Ahmed: Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela - originally published in The Clockwork Phoenix 2 - and I have been reading the author's short fiction since, while his debut novel scheduled for 2012 is high on my anticipated reading list since I tend to like sff written about other cultures when done credibly - or at least my lack of real-life knowledge about them and the research that fits with what I read previously in other books allows me to believe it's credible.

Since I have strongly disliked The Magicians and I have not read anything by the other nominees, Saladin Ahmed is my clear favorite.

Robert has reviewed I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells and Mihir has interviewed the author.

Prediction for the Winner: this one is tricky but I expect Lauren Beukes or Lev Grossman to win at about 35% each, though I think Saladin Ahmed has a reasonable chance too at say 30%.


Matt said...

Cryoburn was actually pretty good. It's much better than Diplomatic Immunity and brings the whole Vorkosigan Sage to reasonable end.

Liviu said...

I plan to read it at some point - I read all about the ending on the Bar and that makes it more likely I will read it since I am a sucker for emotional endings- but the first 50 or so pages were flattish and most reviews I saw were kind of meh

I still believe that A Civil Campaign was the time to end it - I know the author's belief that series should go beyond the 'they lived ever happily after", but sff does not really work very well that way and the fourth Knife book showed it too - that one I read and found a pure disaster, all repetitive and boring

There is something about sff that requires tension from most aspects


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