METAtropolis Booklist Review, Plus Hugo Thoughts

METAtropolis, which has you may recall is nominated for a Hugo this year in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, has gotten the first review for its book form, from Booklist, and it is excellent:

Scalzi and his contributors/collaborators have created a fascinating shared urban future that each of them evokes with his or her particular strengths… Originally an audio anthology, this stellar collection is a fascinating example of shared world building, well deserving of a parallel life in print.

This obviously makes me happy. The anthology was designed for audio, but it’s good to see that it’s successfully made the transition to print. In case it’s unclear, the print version is not a “novelization,” it’s the complete text of the original stories by Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Karl Schroeder and myself. It’s all there (text-wise), baby. It’ll be out in July; the audio version, of course is out now (and is part of the Hugo Voter Packet).

Speaking of the Hugos, I’ve been asked a number of times whether I think METAtropolis actually has a chance in its Hugo category, inasmuch as it’s a tiny audiobook presentation up against The Dark Knight, Wall*E, Iron Man and Hellboy II, all of which cost over $100 million to make and market, and which have brought in an average $570 million in worldwide box office.

Bearing in mind I’m not unbiased about this, and that, in fact, I’ve enjoyed all the other nominees in the category quite a bit, my answer: Yeah, we do have a chance. The thing is, as massively successful as these films have been, METAtropolis is not competing against them in the arena of worldwide public opinion; we’re competing against them in the arena of Hugo voters, which is a few thousand science fiction fans who are almost by definition rather attentive to the works nominated in each award category. The average guy on the street has not heard of METAtropolis, but the average Hugo voter has — and since along with many other Hugo nominees we’ve made it easy to check out the work by putting it into the Hugo Voter Packet, I think that helps put us on more equal footing with our other category nominees than we might otherwise be.

More than that, if I may crow on my fellow METAtropolis nominees for a moment, I think the world that Jay, eBear, Toby, Karl and I have created in METAtropolis, both in our mutual worldbuilding and in each of us writing our stories, stands toe-to-toe with the worldbuilding of any of those films — and unlike those films, who had the benefit of creative crews numbering in the dozens and production budgets in the millions, there was just the five of us, collaborating through e-mail. For that matter I think the people reading our tales (Michael Hogan, Scott Brick, Kandyse McClure, Alessandro Juliani and Stefan Rudnicki) do as good a job of making our world real as the actors in those films do for their worlds — and what they have to do it with is our words and their voices, without the visual and production assists other actors have. My point is, on the level of dramatic presentation — and of entertaining our audience — we’ve got the goods, same as every other nominee in the category. I think the Hugo voters will hear that when they check us out, along with the other works.

So, yes: We have a chance, just like every other nominee. That’s all we can ask for. We’ll be at the ceremony in August waiting to see what the voters decided. If we win, we promise to jump up and down like monkeys on the stage in celebration. Not that this will sway any voters. But still, it’ll be fun too see. It’d be fun to do, too.

11 Comments on “METAtropolis Booklist Review, Plus Hugo Thoughts”

  1. Bonne chance, mon ami!

    …the cover pic alone makes me want like hell to read it.

  2. I think it has a chance at the Hugo – maybe an excellent chance. The movies it’s up against will probably steal votes from each other, and all of you in METAtropolis are well-loved writers for us. Besides, it was a fine audiobook, the kind I look for extra dog-walking or gardening so I can finish. I got the whole front yard weeded!

  3. Rather than “a few thousand” Hugo voters, shouldn’t that more accurately be “a few hundred”?

    IIRC, the number of people voting on the Hugos has been decreasing for a number of years, and crossed the “less than a thousand” line some years back.

    I’ll admit, I haven’t paid close atention to Hugo voting numbers for a long time (the last Worldcon I had a membership in was in 1984). I’d be pleased to find out that I’m embarassingly wrong.

  4. It does bring up the question of “what is a dramatic presentation”…if it weren’t for the lack of an explicit audiobook category, I would have real qualms about voting for this in the category it is in. To me, “dramatic presentation” in audio play means “radio play”.

    That said, there is no audiobook category, and I think METAtropolis deserves attention. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an audiobook that was so well done as an audiobook. The stories were great, but I think equal credit has to go to the readers because the readings were outstanding.

    There really is no excuse for not being a Hugo voter this year. You don’t have to go anywhere, and these days, it requires you to accept over $100 worth of ebooks for $55.

    As far as the category as a whole…I think WALL-E is your only real competition.

  5. I’m very excited about the book edition (already pre-ordered from Subterranean).

    I listened to METAtropolis when it first came out. What I liked about it, versus the other Hugo nominees, is that I got to build those worlds in my imagination. My version is probably not like anyone else’s. But that’s what makes it unique and exciting.

    All of the nominees are phenomenal. But I have a special interest in METAtropolis because I think it was so well done, I loved the stories, and I enjoyed the different narrators chosen for them. It was an ensemble endeavor that shows how complex and imaginative the audiobook field can be.

  6. Re: #3

    I hope we do see a sequel, but please just call it METAtropolis II. Otherwise every story will have to be about the prodigiously pooptastic porkers.

  7. Glen Murie @ 9: I couldn’t have said it better.

    John – Just finished your section on the way home tonight. Too funny! You and the METAtropolis crew have put together a marvelous piece, and whether or not you bring home the hardware, you are already winners in my book!

  8. Listened to the audiobook a few weeks ago (while exercising). Really enjoyed Michael Hogan’s reading of the first story and Lunch’s story was excellent. Good luck with the Hugo!

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