Hugo Reading Update

I am almost done with the Hugos. I have decided not to try to read everything this year. However, here are my quick thoughts on what I have read and how I will vote:

Best Novel
1) Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie – This was by far my favorite of the nominated novels. I read it as soon as it came out and really enjoyed. Second novels always make me nervous but this one did not disappoint. I really enjoyed seeing Breq’s interactions with her subordinates and her ship.

2) Skin Game by Jim Butcher – I had a really hard time deciding whether to rank this one or The Goblin Emperor second. Eventually, I decided on this one because I enjoyed it more. While I have read Butcher’s Codex Alera series, I had never read any books in the Dresden Files and was prepared to dislike it as I’m not a huge fan of paranormal fantasy. I listened to the audio version of Skin Game which is narrated by James Marsters. It did a good job of distracting me when I was feeding Julian which I am quite grateful for. It took me several hours to get into the book but by the end I was hooked. I always love an implausible but fun finish.

3) The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison -I didn’t like this book nearly as much as many other people did. There were interesting elements and I did finish it fairly quickly. However, I had a hard time connecting with the protagonist.

No Rank) Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu – I read about half of this book and found many things about it fascinating. I’ve been dabbling with learning Chinese characters and it was quite interesting examining the English sentence structure and word choices in the context of what I’ve learned about Chinese so far. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the plot.

No Rank) The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson – I started out listening to the audio book, gave up, switched to the physical book, gave up and quit. It’s a massive book. At this particular time in my life, there has to be a huge payoff for me to be willing to commit to a very long book. Unfortunately, I didn’t get hooked enough to commit to The Dark Between the Stars. I think I got about 1/3 of the way through before giving up. I don’t particularly like reading books where you have lots of different viewpoints represented. In general, I prefer one strong viewpoint with occasional forays allowed into other people’s minds if it’s absolutely necessary. There were some viewpoints I found interesting but not enough to keep reading about everyone else.

I did not use “No Award” in this category because I felt most of these books had something in them that made them reasonable Hugo potential.

Best Short Story
1) “Totaled” by Kary English – This was the only short story that I really liked. It had a fairly interesting premise.

2) No Award – I did not feel like the other short stories should win.

No Rank) “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli – I liked how ghosts were created in this story but other than that it didn’t really interest me.

No Rank) “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright – I had to read the opening paragraph of “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” several times before it started to make sense to me. I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction and the style felt fairly familiar to me. At first I thought it was a terrible story. Then, I ran across someone on the internet claiming this wasn’t Christian allegory, it was horror. I’m not entirely sure if the reviewer was being serious or not but all of a sudden it clicked and I agreed. However, I don’t like horror and since this is my ballot, I don’t have to vote for it.

No Rank) “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond – Meh.

No Rank) “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa – This one almost made it above the No Award fold. It could be the setup for an interesting novel. However, I didn’t feel the story was particularly interesting in isolation.

Graphic Novel
1) Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt – I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It was a lot of fun and I the appreciated trial and error process Kamala went through both with her super powers and figuring out who she wanted to be.

2) Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch – Another fun story.

3) Saga Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples – I feel a bit guilty putting this at #3 as it’s still a great graphic novel. However, it feels mid-arc and as such was more depressing than I was interested in dealing with when I read it.

4) No Award

No Rank) Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky – This graphic novel had an interesting premise and made some good points about sex in our culture. However, overall the plot bored me.

No Rank) The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid – I did not read the actual book. However, I went to the author’s website and read quite a few of the comics to get a feel for the style and content. Basically, I didn’t find any redeeming aspect to get me over my dislike of zombies.

I’m still planning to vote for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form). I’ve watched all the movies except Interstellar. I just need to find a night where A) Julian goes to bed quickly B) There’s nothing else urgent I need to do and C) I haven’t fallen asleep.

I was originally planning to read the “Best Novella” and possibly some of the The John W. Campbell Award nominees. However, I downloaded the Hugo packet, looked at the files, and couldn’t summon any enthusiasm. Instead, I’ve decided to focus on doing more due diligence prior to nominating stories for the Hugos next year. I’m going to try to broaden my short fiction horizons ahead of time. In addition, there’s several novels I’m looking forward to that will be coming out in the next couple of months. I’m especially looking forward to N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.

This has certainly been an interesting year for the Hugos but I’m hoping next year can get back to normal.

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