Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hugo Awards 2010

For my first actual post, I wanted to discuss the Hugo Awards, since they are less than a month away from being announced. Up until a couple of years ago when I first joined The Sword and Laser Book Club, I really didn't read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. So the books they would pick were what I would read in that genre. I learned in library school to select books that were nominated for awards in a specific genre, or at least the winners of those awards. Some of them, like the Bookers, seem a little too publisher-driven to be "honest." The Hugo Awards are run by and voted on by fans, which I thought was pretty impressive. The Hugo is awarded for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and has been going for over fifty years.

Wonder of wonders, this year I actually saw the list of 2010 nominees early enough to read the majority of them and make my own predictions. If I wanted to, I could pay the $50 to join the World Science Fiction Society and to get to vote, and that would have come with copies of all the novellas and short stories, not all of which are available online. I found this out after I'd read almost everything, however, but I may do it next year. It actually is a pretty good deal price-wise!

The majority of the non-novel nominees were available online, and I read enough to make a prediction in three categories.

For novel, I would love to see Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente win it. The story was unique, about people who travel to a fantasy world by connecting to other people who share their mysterious skin tattoos in the real world, and the writing was just spectacular. I found myself holding my breath and I wrote her a fangirl e-mail immediately after. I've also sat and read through everything I could get my hands on by her afterwards, and while I love her poetry just about as much, I think it is her best work yet.

I can imagine Windup Girl or even The City and The City winning, particularly because of how well-known Mieville already is. I have to admit I didn't care much for it, and I've heard his other work is better. And for me the Bacigalupi had interesting ideas but the pacing of the story was way off.

I didn't make a decision on novella, because only 2/5 were available to read online.

For best novelette I enjoyed It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith the most, with the ideas of advanced medicine and mind control. The Swirsky was a fun read, but some of the others in the category are exemplary for why I thought I hated science fiction so long - too many details, too many spaceships or aliens, too much geekery.

For short story, I think I would go with Bridesicle by Will McIntosh, because I loved the somewhat humorous look at the future of cryogenic life extension. I half expect Spar by Kij Johnson to win this category, because it definitely causes a strong reaction. When you write first-person about eternal alien rape, you are bound to be memorable. It was incredibly oppressive and uncomfortable to read; is that genius writing or a trick?

The Hugo Awards will be announced Sunday, September 5, but that's in Australia so maybe we'll hear about them on Saturday in the states. I'm eager to see if I share any of the opinions of the voting majority!

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