A Brief Note to Nebula Award Nominators
Posted on February 10, 2016 Posted by John Scalzi 43 Comments
So, I was chatting today with Lois McMaster Bujold, as one does, and she mentioned to me that her latest novel, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, which officially came out last week, was also in the last couple of days judged eligible for the Nebula Awards currently being nominated for, which are for books released in 2015.
Why is it eligible now? Presumably because an eARC version (an electronic version, before all the copy-editing and other cleanup is done) was offered for sale by Baen in 2015, and that’s enough to qualify it for 2015 consideration rather than 2016 consideration.
All well and good, of course, but it’s also the case that there are five days left for nominating for the Nebulas this year, and some Nebula nominators might not know that the book is eligible now, rather than later.
So: Hey! Nebula nominators! Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen is eligible for your consideration now. If you’ve read it and liked it enough to want to nominate it, this would be the time. And if you were planning to read it with an eye toward nominating, you have until the fifteenth to do that.
(Please note this is informational on my part and not an endorsement of this particular book, for the simple reason that I have not yet read it. But I am looking forward to reading it. What can I say, I’m a Bujold fan.)
It’s next on my list.
I’ve been wondering about this very thing, for Hugo rather than Nebula. I know I should worry about this after I read it, but since I always hold out hope that a book in this series will be that good, I can’t help it.
This seems bad for a Nebula because the book hasn’t been in general release for long and few of the voters will have had a chance to look at it. Does this mean that it’s not eligible for Nebula next year. It’s less of a problem for Hugo, because there will have been more time to read the book before the nomination deadline.
Thanks for giving us the heads up. I enjoyed the last adventure with cuz being in the spot light.
I finished reading it a couple of days ago and liked it a lot. Very different from most of the earlier Vorkosigan books, though. Don’t want to say much more for fear of spoilers, but will note that Cordelia is the central character among the Vorkosigans and family. Admiral Jole – the other major character – may have appeared in earlier books, but if so he was a minor enough character that I don’t remember him.
I enjoyed the book and have been a fan of hers for years, but in terms of my interaction with the characters I’ve loved for years the massive retcon that drives the story along was really disconcerting for me. (Not the content of it, but the lack of prior art. If we were supposed to experience that epiphany the same way non-POV characters did, I don’t think that structure worked.)
I just finished it last night, and it was fantastic. Not quite as good as Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, in my opinion, but I’ve been an Ivan fan forever and was deliriously happy when he finally got his own book.
I did think the ending of Gentleman Jole was a bit rushed. Or if not rushed, not as fleshed out as I’d have liked. I’ve felt this way about a number of Bujold’s books, and I’ve never been sure if it’s because I really think they’re tied up too quickly, or if I just don’t want the story to end. It could easily be just the latter.
I’m very curious to see where Bujold will go after this. I’m hoping she keeps up the pattern and gives another so-far background character their own book. I’d love to get an entire book about Mark and Kareen, or Alys and Illyan. Or Armsman Roic, now that he’s had time to get over Taura’s death and locate some pants.
I’m not a Nebula Award nominator, but I did just started reading it…
It’s not a retcon. It’s just filling in some blanks we couldn’t even see.
Aiede, the retcon hit me really hard, too, but it totally worked for me. It made me realize just how little we’ve actually known about Aral and Cordelia’s lives for a very long time. Barrayar was published in 1991. I believe I first read it in Cordelia’s Honor in 1996,which would be about when I first started reading the series. So it’s been over twenty years since we’ve seen a book that was focused on Aral and/or Cordelia, rather than a Miles book in which they maybe show up or get mentioned once in awhile.
They could’ve been doing anything all that time! If we’d found out that they had an entire career as interstellar cat burglars, I would’ve had to think about it for a minute, but I’d probably have decided, yeah, I could see that. In comparison, the actual big revelation makes a lot more sense. I see it as a retcon in the true, Roy Thomas sense, something that has never been part of the history before but fits remarkably well, rather than one of those brute force “Batman has never been a member of the Justice League, he never caught his parents’ killer, and everyone thinks he’s just an urban legend” types of retcon that can never be sufficiently damned.
In other news, yes, I’m still a bit pissed off about Zero Hour, speaking of stories that are at least twenty years old. But that’s neither here nor there.
I just got it the other day…I haven’t started it yet……
It’s wonderful. Her ability to remove the tablecloth whilst leaving the place settings on the table untouched has a magical quality to it…
I need to read the book, but I want you to know I am insanely jealous that you can just happen to be chatting with Bujold, because that is not what this one gets to do.
Pretty good entry in the series, especially since I love me some Cordelia. Most series could do with a character like her. There would be less angsting and more getting things done. On the down side, the cover art is a travesty. It seriously looks like placeholder art while the real cover gets contracted out.
I have never heard of this author. Thanks. I’ll start with one of the older books.
Yeah, I read that on my Nook late last year. So good to delve back into Vorkosigan World! I was late to the series and read the first 15 Vorkosigan Saga books (plus novellas) back-to-back, which gave me courage to do the same with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. All that reading occupied the first six months of my retirement. Not a bad way to start!
I’ve read it. It’s good.
“Soldiers do not gossip. We exchange mission critical information. Except with more bragging and lies.”
I haven’t read much Vorkosigan material (or Bujold for that matter), but I did have a chance to read this prior to wide release… I don’t think it’s Nebula award worthy, but it is nonetheless a good read. Even as a relative newcomer to the saga, I found the “turning point” midlife crisis conflict at the heart of the book interesting for character study. Bujold does a great job drawing up her characters, and for long term fans this installment sheds a lot of light on past events. And hey! Lots of extraterrestrial biology! Well worth the shout out :)
The “retcon” did not really surprise me. Cordelia is one of my favorite characters, ever, and I did not love this book as much as I might have. But I have had other of LMB’s books grow on me over time. The Hallowed Hunt grew on me over several years. Her “worst” book is still pretty damn fine.
To the poster who is jealous that he gets to chat with Lois, she is surprisingly available on Goodreads.
Bujold has said that this plot turn (what I assume people are referring to as “retcon” has actually been brewing in the back of her mind for a long time, since Jole first appeared as a minor character in The Vor Game. And she referred to the book as a character study, which I think is an excellent description.
As for me, besides being happy to have Cordelia back in the center of things, and learn more about Chaos Colony, it’s a pleasure to have an older woman protagonist for a change.
I read and enjoyed the book! (Though Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is also my favorite of the more recent installments; it was so great that Ivan-You-Idiot got an adventure of his own.)
If this decision means it’s not eligible in 2016, that seems particularly unfortunate. I wouldn’t have thought an unpolished draft would count.
I read it twice and liked it. I’ll be very surprised if it wins a Hugo or Nebula, just because of the particular nature of the book. I won’t mind if it does, though!
I also think using the word “retcon” is very unfair. It misleads readers into thinking the book contradicts or changes the history of the series, which is not at all the case – the things we learn in this book are entirely consistent with the story so far (they’re just not what the readers, or Miles, expected).
I’ve read it twice already. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is up to 4. Of her books, only Paladin of Souls has been read more.
I wish there was a way to do
$ grep Jole *
on all my paper books and find all the places he wandered on and off stage.
“Admiral Jole – the other major character – may have appeared in earlier books, but if so he was a minor enough character that I don’t remember him.”
He’s appeared or been mentioned, but not much. Goes way back to the Vor Game, Aral’s brilliant and gorgeous aide. Then mentioned in Cryoburn and CVA as Commodore or Admiral of the Sergyar fleet.
Anne: your grep can be speeded up by the entry for Jole in the Vokosigan wiki: http://vorkosigan.wikia.com/wiki/Jole
which gives book and chapter for Jole’s previous appearances.
Yes, I did read the novel the milisecond it appeared. It is a uturn…but what a challenge to our preconcieved ideas of …well, No spoilers. Bujold just keeps smacking us upside the head and saying, “ha! Pay attention Grasshopper. These characters have a real life arc, not some sitcom in your head.”
Love her for that!
I would place it closer to Ethan of Athos, as a character study that makes your brain bigger. Also her political ecosystem is very living and nonstatic.
Well done, madam. My bigger brain thanks you.
Please nominate it! Maybe it’ll help get it translated (Bujold’s English, like OGH’s, is to advanced for me)
As a fan and reader of Lois since the very beginning, I really disagree with the characterization of what is presented in this book as ‘retcon’.
1) Cordelia is BETAN, and if it is one thing that has been hammered into our heads about Betans is their upbringing and wide open practice of sexual mores. It’s a factor in practically every book she’s ever written, generally presented as a contrast to the uptight Barrayaran sexual mores.
2) With regard to Aral, his proclivities were spelled out in explicit detail in both Shards of Honor and Barrayar. In Shards of Honor, Ges Vorrutyer explained it for Cordelia as he was preparing to rape her. In Barrayar, Vordarian the Pretender spelled it out to her as he attempted to blow up her marriage and was stunned when she gazed fondly at Aral across the room and explained how Vorrutyer told her all about it.
The third strand of DNA follows logically, even though it was obviously never spelled out explicitly because it was going on in the background.
So, really interesting, but not retcon.
Also, that wiki entry about Jole has a huge spoiler, while really, really understating the situation.
Lois has three channels by which she interacts with her fan/readers online. First is via the mailing list run out http://www.dendarii.com, Baen’s Bar and Goodreads.
I really really enjoyed this, but as I said somewhere else I think it might be the worst stand-alone book in the Vorkosigan series.
I mean, “A Civil Campaign” was a relationship drama comedy, but “GJatRQ” wasn’t really a comedy, for all that it had its moments. And there wasn’t really any drama (how could there be with Cordelia involved?). It was just… a relationship. A sweet, funny, heartwarming one, but none the less, if I hadn’t already got years of investment in the characters, I think I would have found it terribly boring…
NancyB – many thanks for the wiki link
I loved this nook. Among other things, it’s a detailed and compelling character study of a man who’s been dead for three years.
@Miles Archer, Are you serious? (I’m jealous) Start at the beginning, “Shards of Honor”…. And you are going to love Miles V. in the later novels. (I don’t suppose you are short and hyper active?) To Scalzi, thanks for the heads up… I just ordered a copy. (Along with “Penric’s Demon”) which I didn’t know about either.)
I agree that it helps to come in caring about Cordelia and Aral. I do like that SF can do things like this, a quiet book about governing a colony, relationships, grief/healing and about growing older*. It also pairs well with Cryoburn in that both have themes of how technology can change the process. (On the other hand, it’s probably something that you need to sell as part of a series if you do it in SF. One keeps expecting a B plot along the lines of CVA, and there really isn’t.)
Also, part of my internal need of symmetry thinks the book should have been called Sergyar.
* And a bit about what that means in a SFnal society. Cordelia is 76, but by her reference, that’s a bit more like a 21st century American in her 40s or 50s: still old, with grown children, but expecting decades more of life.
I loved it. Huge Bujold fan — re-read Miles’ adventures at least biannually. This is an excellent and interesting twist and I have always adored Cordelia. One of the best female characters I’ve ever read — I could read Shards of Honor and Barrayar over and over again and still find new things. I like an author who keeps challenging her loyal readers.
I do like that SF can do things like this, a quiet book about governing a colony, relationships, grief/healing and about growing older*.
Totally. And given my life situation, I felt the growing old part keenly.
Not your usual SF drama. But I run across similar stories all the time in other art forms.
I would also note that the publisher’s description of this book is misleading. I assume somebody in Marketing tasked a poor copywriter with the mission of making this sound like a more typical, Miles-centric, Vorkosigan novel. That does it a disservice, setting up expectations for the book that won’t be met. It’s better taken on its own terms.
“Character study” is Lois’s own phrase for the book, in an interview. Something I think you’d more often find as a fanfic than as a published genre work. I don’t mean that in a bad way! I read a lot of that, and have tried writing some. Just that something relatively quiet and personal is more often found in genre fanfic, or maybe in published literary fiction, than published genre.
I’ve almost finished it and I’m already plotting a complete reread with the new information from this book in mind.
I kept hearing so many divided opinions on the book after people read the eARC, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. And I’m loving it so much that I can’t stop talking about it. Yes, it’s not the full-on action adventure space opera that we usually get. It’s a quieter character study and that’s exactly why I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Miles and his shenanigans, and I’d gobble up more big adventures in a heartbeat, but I’m really enjoying the chance to really explore two characters in depth without explosions.
Cordelia is her wonderful self, and I’m enjoying the chance to visit with her again after so long and really learn about this, 76 years old version of her. And Jole is new(ish) but somehow I felt invested in him from the first page.
I think that the mixed reaction is because it’s so different from the usual Vorkosigan books. My only question is which year it’s eligible for a Hugo in, because it’s gone onto my potential ballot already.
I love that you promote other authors.
Agreeing with Techgrrl72 at 2:26am above. This is not a retcon. We just didn’t properly understand the underlying meaning of comments like Aral’s “funec rlr sbe ubg arj gnyrag”. (Rot13’ed for spoiler implication, though the revelation in question is in the first chapter of the GJ&RQ.) Miles, as the main series viewpoint character, was clueless, but he is neither omniscient nor a wholly reliable narrator. We as readers tend to forget that. And it’s a nice covert smackdown of Miles for snarking over Ivan’s cluelessness about a parallel development in an earlier book.
This revelation had also been the subject of substantial fannish speculation and was the basis for an impressive series of fanfiction which, despite now being slightly inconsistent with canon, still works well as filler for the bits Lois cruelly left unwritten. The only big shock was that Lois actually decided to spell it all out bluntly and got it published. I suspect both would have been somewhat more difficult when she was a newer writer and times were different.
I read it back in November when Baen offered the eArc (couldn’t wait) and then re-read it last week when it arrived in the mail. I love it – it’s in the quieter vein, but I’ve always felt like most of Bujold’s stories are more character centered than adventure – I mean, we only really have Labyrinth and Borders of Infinity for true Dendarii mission adventures. Brothers in Arms is relationship driven with Mile and Mark and Galeni and his father. Mirror Dance likewise. It is quieter, in that the the only explosion is terrestrial, but it’s not entirely unusual especially for the later books.
Anyway, I love Cordelia and would read pretty much anything Bujold writes gladly. Also I recently re-read Cryoburn (which makes me cry every time, especially the epilogues) and felt like this story was an opportunity to grieve with the characters – from the description of Aral’s funeral to how they make new lives and go on.
It’s Bujold, so I immediately got it and read it in a day or two. Of course. I enjoyed it, but not as much as other installments.
“we only really have Labyrinth and Borders of Infinity for true Dendarii mission adventures”
Yeah. The closest thing we have to “mature Admiral Naismith leads an assault raid” is actually Mark impersonating Naismith…