Your Hugo/Campbell Recommendations
Posted on February 15, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 45 Comments
I’ve got a magazine story to finish today so I can’t hang around here, but in my absence I thought I’d give you all something to do, particularly those of you who are (or wish to be) science fiction geeks. My request:
Give your recommendations for the Hugo and Campbell Awards for 2005.
For those of you catching up: Hugos are awarded at every Worldcon for the best science fiction and fantasy novels, short works, dramatic presentations and SF-related books (here are the categories). The Campbell is an award for best new writers. The Hugos are voted on by the attendees of the Worldcon, which this year takes place in LA (well, Anaheim, really).
Why do I ask for your recommendations? Well, first, I’m curious as to what you folks think was the best SF/F in 2005. Second, it’s nice to have another “Hugo rec” resource for people who are nominating this year. Third, the Whatever gets visited by lots of people who don’t read a lot of SF/F, so getting recommendations from those of you who do might give them a place to start reading. Fourth, I want to know if I’m missing something this year before I mail in my own nominations, and asking all y’all seems a good way to check.
One caveat: Exclude the host (that’s me) in your recommendations here. Yes, I’m eligible for awards this year, but it seems unlikely Whatever readers are not already aware of my work since I blather on about it interminably. Let’s put the spotlight elsewhere for the moment. Now, if you are eligible this year (and you really think your work is worth a nomination), I heartily encourage you to make note of your own work. Don’t be shy — ego is not a problem here. But I hope you’ll give due recognition to the other writers you think deserve on of those rocketship awards.
So: What and who do you recommend for the Hugos and the Campbell this year?
I say Fledgling by Octavia Butler for best novel.
The Hugo for Best Novel should go to Charles Stross for Accelerando, if there’s any justice in the world.
(I’ll humbly point out, too, that it appears I am eligible for the Campbell Award this year, after all.)
It’d be cool to be like “The winner of the Best S/F Novel this year is… ME.”
Orphan’s Destiny by Robert Buettner
Another great SF war novel, the sequel to Orphanage. It was almost as entertaining as Old Man’s War, and that’s saying something.
I also wanted to add that I’d be thrilled if the Hugo award for best novel went to an actual science fiction novel instead of fantasy this year. I’ve tried to read fantasy, and I’m bored senseless by it. I was reading through a list past Hugo award winners and nominees, and it’s surprising how much fantasy fiction has take over for SF. I actually wish the two categories weren’t lumped together as much as they are, since I don’t think they usually have much in common.
I’ve tried to read fantasy, and I’m bored senseless by it.
What fantasy have you tried to read, Chris? There’s more than one kind.
I second Abigail’s assertion.
Counting Heads – David Marusek
I don’t know if it’s the best novel or not, but I found it was interesting and engaging and new.
I liked it the same way I liked Neuromancer the first time I read it.
Was “Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town” published within the timeframe? I consider that the best fantasy novel of the year, if so.
I’d say Tim Pratt, if eligible, should win for best new writer.
I thought that Spin by Robert Charles Wilson was head, shoulders, and most of the torso above any other SF novel I read last year. It’s a fantastic book, one of the best SF novels of recent years.
NESFA has a list of recommendations for the Hugos, for those who are interested.
[QUOTE]What fantasy have you tried to read, Chris? There’s more than one kind.[/QUOTE]
I was mainly referring to sword and sorcery type books like A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. I know people love that series so much, and I’ve tried a couple times to get past the first two hundred pages of that book, but I can’t do it. Robert Jordan would be another example. Stories with castles and elves and characters with names like Lord Stark of Winterfell. I can’t keep all the characters’ names straight, but most of all I just don’t identify or care about those types of characters. But I admire people who can read that type of stuff. I just get so bogged down by it…
What other types of fantasy are there? I love time travel stories and some alternate universe stories, but I mostly think of that as SF.
Yes, “Someone Comes to Town” would be eligible for the Hugo this year.
Good fantasy, off the top of my head… Terry Pratchett. Charles de Lint, though you shouldn’t binge. I read a fair amount of YA, so Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series is up there. Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring. Kij Johnson’s The Fox Woman. I also like Lynn Flewelling’s books, but those are edging into what you’ve mentioned.
Wow. I haven’t been able to get to a bookstore in so long, I can’t think of any others. There’s a lot out there that isn’t epic Tolkienesque fantasy. It’s like SF, more or less– you have your Star Wars and Star Trek clones, your dystopias, long-winded thought experiments, military, humorous, whatever. Not liking fantasy because you dislike the epic quests is like not liking science fiction because you dislike aliens. You can work around it.
Let’s do keep the focus of the comment thread on Hugo recs, please, if only to make a useful resource for folks looking for good, late model sf/f to read and catch up on.
Though it’s almost impossible to beat Accelerando, I’d like to suggest Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes. It’s a great story that explores humanity’s relationship with uber-high technology.
I just ordered the Counting Heads novel. Thanks for mentioning it.
Another possible Hugo nominee is Market Forces by Richard Morgan. I think it was first published in 2005.
Sorry for derailing this thread.
Well, for the Campbell… Hal Duncan for Vellum or possibly Maria Snyder for Poison Study-very different books, but both very good. Don’t be put off by the fact that Poison Study was a Luna-it’s not at all what you might imagine.
I loved Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked) and while it was on the NYTimes Bestseller list, it seems to have had very little buzz in fandom.
Alan Lee’s Lord of the Rings Sketchbook is a lyrically-drawn and written book about creating the visual look of Tolkein, both before and during his work for Peter Jackson’s movie. One of the most interesting art books I’ve seen, and eligible for Best Related Book.
Otherwise, I’ve read shockingly little SF or fantasy over the last year or so, something I need to fix.
I’d probably go with Cory’s Someone Goes to Town… for Best Novel. There are still a number of SF novels from last year I need to read. Even for a guy like me, so many books, so little time. I know a lot of people loved Accelerando, but it kind of left me cold in the same way the GRRM stuff left Chris D. I can certainly see giving Hugos to a number of the individual novellas in it…
Just finished something I can pretty safely guarantee will be on next year’s ballots, Vernor’s Rainbows End.
Any chance we can get all of the recommendations combined in either a single entry (John) or a single comment (random commentor)? I know I’d love to have these all in a list for future reading.
That being said, I can put together the list for the comments if it doesn’t warrant another post. Seeing how I have nothing to offer in terms of entries, it’s the least I can do.
I may pull them together at some point in the near future (not today) for easier reading.
Rainbow’s End was really sweet. How about Newton’s Wake, by Ken McLeod? I went out and read all his other books after reading this one.
The fine Newton’s Wake isn’t eligible for this year’s Hugo, having been published in both the US and the UK in 2004, not 2005. MacLeod’s more recent Learning the World is entirely eligible, and a fine SF novel it is too.
Allow me, though, to second Chad Orzel’s observation that Robert Charles Wilson’s 2005 novel Spin is one of the best SF novels of the last several years. It’s out in mass-market paperback right now. Go read it.
For novel, I would nominate Divided Kingdom and Spin. Divided Kingdom wasn’t published by a SF imprint, but I think it certainly qualifies based on subject matter and style. It is, with all due respect to our host, the best novel I have read in a couple of years.
The only short story that I remember as being really good is The Clockwork Atom(ic?) Bomb.
Is Elizabth Bear still eligible for the Campbell? If not, unfortunately, no new names jump out of my memory.
“Is Elizabth Bear still eligible for the Campbell?”
Since she won it last year, probably not.
I’m all over Leah Bobet for the Campbell, even though I’m eligible, too. (Mostly that just makes me go “bwah?)
I’ve got a heavy Strange Horizons bias for short stories, ’cause, well, it’s free and I can read it if I’m bored at work… but I *love* Daniel Kaysen’s “The Jenna Set,” Deborah Coates’s “Magic in a Certain Slant of Light” and Liz Williams’s anything (but in this case, “La Malcontenta”).
I have a year’s worth of Realms of Fantasy to read through before filling out my Hugo form, too, so, this is not a fully informed opinion. And that’s all I’ve got–much research ahead before March 10th. Which is to say, not much research ahead, because I’m not exactly swimming in excess time.
I think “Minister Faust’s” The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad is eligible this year, and perhaps he’s eligible for the Sweet New Writer award, too. But I don’t know for sure.
(goes to check) Gah, where did that year go? That knocks System of the World off the list, too. Well, if the Campbell Award goes to two consecutive years, right? So I suppose Faust could be up for the Campbell, if nominated.
My novel came out in July of last year … am I eligible?
Do I have to sleep with anybody? Not that it’s a dealbreaker, I just wanna know, I’m just trying to handle my calendar …
Richard Morgan’s Market Forces carries a 2005 publication date but, frankly, it does not measure up to his Takeshi Kovacs novels. However, the latest of those, also carrying a 2005 date, Woken Furies, is stunningly good.
Some of the other titles mentioned comments above — like Spin and Accelerando — are also first rate books and I’m not sure how I would vote were I to be an attendee at the party.
(Hey, so Ghost Brigades should count as a 2006 book, right?)
Jim: Since it comes out next week, yep.
Here are some choices of mine. I cheated a bit by choosing five SF and five fantasy; I’ll have to whittle those choices down whenever I fill out my ballot. For the Locus Award, though, splitting my novel ballot works just fine…
Market Forces by Richard K. Mrogan
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnick
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Accellerando by Charles Stross
Glass Soup by Jonathan Carroll
The Prodigal Troll by Charles Coleman Finlay
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt
Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The thing about filling out these ballots is that it’s so difficult to remember *everything* that was good that you read, or to remember what year it was published. So I very well may have forgotten to mention something I thought was great.
I’ve got the Marusek upstairs and am too lazy to check, but is it a late ’05 book or early ’06? I want to read it, but I’m a judge this year for the Sunburst Award (www.sunburstaward.org) and have 80 or so books to read, so it sits and waits. That said, I concur so far with Wilson’s SPIN, which will rank high if it finishes as well as it started. Also Karl’s LADY OF MAZES and Cory’s SOMEONE COMES TO TOWN…
Hal Duncan’s Vellum is my first choice for a Hugo, and I don’t think anyone has mentioned Gaiman’s Anansi Boys yet.
I’ve heard grumps that nominating Bujold’s The Hallowed Hunt would just be name brand recognizion, but I really think it’s one of her best novels. I enjoy the religious theme.
Accelerando and Al Reynold’s Pushing Ice is on the reading list before I make up my mind, though.
Let’s see. I’d vote for Accelerando for Best Novel, “Magic for Beginners” for Novela…I don’t think I’ve read enough of the novelettes or short stories to be a good judge. Best Professional Artist, John Picacio. Best Editor, van Gelder.
And for Best Related Book–tough to say–very strong category this year. But I think my ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASTIC VICTORIANA (Monkeybrain Books) should be included in the conversation, even if it isn’t quite up to the level of Ashley or Stableford or Mendlesohn.
If anyone’s stuck for ideas for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), might I suggest some fine audio fiction?
Everything we did last year is eligible, of course (including one story by our esteemed Host), but our reader’s poll suggests that “Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw” by Jeffrey DeRego was the most popular reading, so that’s the one we’re especially pushing for.
The story is a really interesting take on the social assumptions behind superhero universes. If you’re bored for 20-30 minutes and have some speakers connected to your PC, you could do worse than checking it out.
After looking through the books I read last year, I realized that virtually all the SF I’ve read is at least 4-5 years old.
Ditto the previous poster’s comments on Accelerando. Great book.
Anansi Boys was fantastic and prompted me to read American Gods, which was even better.
And one of the best alternative history books I’ve read was Harry Turtledove’s Drive to the East.
Upthread, Patrick mentioned my name for Best New Writer. I appreciate the kindness, but, alas, I had my chance at the Campbell (was nominated in 2004) and lost, and my period of eligibility is behind me now. My novel, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, is eligible, for what it’s worth.
Accelerando was the novel that most blew off the top of my head last year, so it would get my vote. I really enjoyed Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and (to get away from one of the usual Big Award Winning suspects) Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps. John Varley’s Mammoth was a lot of fun, too.
Novels listed so far:
(I’m sure John can do something prettier once everyone’s weighed in, but I was putting together a “cheat sheet” for my book hunting expedition, and figured I’d share)
Fledgling – Octavia Butler
Charles Stross – Accelerando
Orphan’s Destiny – Robert Buettner
Counting Heads – David Marusek
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town – Cory Doctrow
Spin – Robert Charles Wilson
Lady of Mazes – Karl Schroeder
Market Forces – Richard Morgan
Takeshi Kovacs Novels (Woken Furies is latest)
Vellum – Hal Duncan
Poison Study – Maria Snyder
Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire
Rainbows End – Vernor Vinge
Learning the World – Ken McLeod
Divided Kingdom – Rupert Thomson
The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad – Minister Faust
Peeps – Scott Westerfeld
Starship: Mutiny – Mike Resnick
Glass Soup – Jonathan Carroll
The Prodigal Troll – Charles Coleman Finlay
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl – Tim Pratt
Four and Twenty Blackbirds – Cherie Priest
Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
The Hallowed Hunt – Lois McMaster Bujold
Pushing Ice – Al Reynold
Mammoth – John Varley
Generic Fantasy Recommendations:
Brown Girl in the Ring – Nalo Hopkinson
The Fox Woman – Kij Johnson’s
The Clockwork Atom(ic?) Bomb.
The Jenna Set – Daniel Kaysen
Magic in a Certain Slant of Light – Deborah Coates
La Malcontenta – Liz Williams’s (or anything)
Grrr…formatting didn’t come through. It was supposed to be:
Title – Author
Title – Auther
(indent) Other Title by same Author
The indents got lost. And it looks like I forgot to edit out some of the possessives. And the “The Clockwork Atom Bomb” is by Dominic Green. And, and and… Oh well. So fire me.
That’s great, Jon. Thanks!
At least one of those on the big list — The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad — was already determined to be ineligible because it’s from 2004. Also, it’s dreadful.
Oh, nevermind. I see Jon Marcus’s big list is just a book hunting list, not necessarily a Hugo rec list.
I’d have to add another mention of Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin. It’s certainly one of the best SF novels of any stripe that I’ve read in the last few years, and perhaps the best piece pure SF that I’ve read from the past decade (it’s really that good, and also somehow manages to be a novel that could probably be appreciated by a smart non-SF reader—I think I remember one review saying something along the lines of it being the most successful marriage of the hard SF novel and literature yet, and I’d have a hard time arguing that).
Then perhaps Accelerando, which I think is already becoming a seminal SF novel, though for me its original existence as a series of linked stories hurt it a little bit in that it didn’t always feel like a natural novel (at least to me… though it could have been that, even as a long time reader of SF, a good deal of the harder stuff in it was almost too much for me to deal with, making it difficult to read at times).
I suppose I’d round things out with 9tail Fox, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.
I know a lot of people loved Accelerando, but it kind of left me cold in the same way the GRRM stuff left Chris D. I can certainly see giving Hugos to a number of the individual novellas in it…
I found it left me a little cold towards the end too.
You should find “The Jennifer Morgue” (sequel to “The Atrocity Archive”) more entertaining. And I suspect his current near-future project will tap into a ready audience immediately.
I’m certain Accelerando will win the Hugo for Best Novel, and it should certainly be considered, by virtue of its brain-exploding idea density…
… but, like (Thomas) Martin Wagner above, it didn’t do that much for me, personally.
Woken Furies has the opposite problem — I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s “deep” enough to merit a Hugo.
What the heck, I’ll recommend George R R Martin’s A Feast for Crows. Yes, it has structural problems, yes, it is anything but stand-alone, but it was still my favourite book of the year.