First Monday Book Day – Hugo Awards (and others)

It's that time again, to survey the various science fiction and fantasy awards and see what kinds of interesting short fiction we can find.

2013 Hugo Award Nominees

2012 Nebula Awards

2012 British Science Fiction Association Shortlist

I've read the majority of the short story nominations for those three awards. The three up for the Hugo are all excellent. My favorite is probably "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard. It's about a society that uses avatars to keep harmony between conqueror and conquered, and the identity confusion that results.

Of all the awards, my favorite story might be "Limited Edition" by Tim Maughan about a group of hoodlums going after a load of precious cargo.

I'll put more extensive links in the comments if people are interested, but that should at least get us started on some book talk.

31 thoughts on “First Monday Book Day – Hugo Awards (and others)”

  1. Still working on The Brothers Karamazov. Not particularly far into it. DPWY has passed me easily. Haven't had/made a ton of time for it, and also I'm a slow reader. But it's even better than I remembered. And totally different as a parent than when I read it before as a non-parent.

    1. I'm halfway through The Brothers Karamazov and I'm not liking it nearly as much as I enjoyed Anna Karenina. The characters, for the most part, just seem much less relatable (is that a word?) to me. Still, I expect our two-man book club to have a pretty good discussion once we're both done (I should be done by next month barring something unexpected).

      1. I'll make a more concerted effort to spend time reading. I agree that we'll have plenty to chat about.

        Also, I've been debating between Anna Karenina and War And Peace as my next big read (probably not until very late into 2013, as I want to burn through some quicker reads first, just to feel better about myself.).

        1. I'd vote for Anna Karenina unless you have a thing for very long, descriptive battle scenes. AK has stuck with me far more than W&P did.

  2. Finished The Book of the New Sun tetralogy. Not entirely my thing, but I liked the setting and Wolfe created a rich world. And he writes rather well.

    Read The Cheater's Guide to Baseball. Zumsteg looks through the history of cheating in baseball and its role in the evolution of the sport. His thesis is that cheating, especially early in the sport's history, was integral to making it the game we love today. He covers gambling, which really did nearly destroy the game. He dedicates a chapter to steroids and points out everyone's indifference until children needed protecting. There's a sidebox about collusion and I wish he covered this more, especially since one of the two owners that convinced everyone else is now the commissioner. There are several glaring errors in the book (Pierzynski didn't play for A's) that detract from an otherwise enjoyable book. I recommend it, unless you think Shoeless Joe Jackson is beyond reproach.

    Finally, since The Book of the New Sun wasn't really my thing, I'm reading the sequel, The Urth of the New Sun. Should be done today or tomorrow.

    1. I liked The Cheater's Guide but I wish he had been able to be more thorough in some points or could have provided more "opinion" and "analysis" by identifying people who likely cheated but who weren't caught on the field.

      For example, about once or twice a season, Jim Perry's name will be referenced by Dick'n'Bert. Well, Jim Perry's brother was perhaps the best-known cheater in the last fifty years. Oh, and Jim Perry randomly had his career revived (enhanced?) when Billy Martin took over. Well, Billy Martin is probably the best-known manager at bending the rules in the last fifty years. With circumstantial evidence, I would wager that Jim Perry was loading up the ball in beginning in 1969. Plus, when he is mentioned on TV, Bert always makes very cryptic remarks about how much he learned about pitching from Jim Perry. I would be willing to bet Perry showed Bert how to throw a spitball (not that Bert had to throw one often).

      That's the sort of thing I wish the book contained (on top of the rest of its really interesting content).

    2. The Book of the New Sun was a good read, but anti-heroes and muddled timelines aren't really my thing, either. Haven't tried the sequel yet.

  3. If you remember the talk about dioxygen diflouride, that blog led me to Ignition! subtitled "An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants". It is listed as out of print, but the comment section led to this website where it's available as a PDF.

    I'm about 1/2 way through it and it is fantastic. One guy is described as having "more courage than insight" when working with a particularly nasty reactant, and may of the tales of various experiments end with some version of "Somehow, the entire lab didn't blow up." The chemistry is a little over my head at times, but chemistry was never a strong point. MOstly, it's pretty accessible. Anyone who likes science should give it a read.

  4. I was browsing the book shelves at a pawn shop and came across a copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. It's one of the sci-fi classics that I've never read, so I was kind of excited to pick it up. Pretty heavy on Catholicism and theology, with a wry sense of humor and some fun tweaks to Scripture, I found it enjoyable, if more than a little bleak.

    1. that one is indeed a classic. For some reason, I have trouble keeping it and Deus Irae separated in my head, even though they are very, very, very different.

      1. I'm still planning to read Deus Irae, too. After glancing at the wiki page, I see why you get the two of them mixed up.

        I think it was you (or maybe Rhu-ru, or both) that posted some Top 100 Sci-fi lists that first made me aware of these gaps in my reading, so thanks for that, bS!

        1. I'm a huge fan of Roger Zelazny's stuff. A collaboration with Philip K. Dick just takes it to eleven.

  5. Thanks for the links, Ghosty.
    I've been meaning to keep up with the short stories in your GDocs reading list, but I've fallen way behind.

    1. I have to update that. April wasn't a great month for online short stories, but I still have a rather long list of links to read through, so perhaps May will be more fruitful.

  6. Besides starting The Brothers Karamazov, I finished Shelby Foote's The Civil War trilogy last month. That was just magical storytelling. I cannot recommend it highly enough and am kicking myself for waiting this long to read them. I picked up a few good history books for dirt-cheap at Half Price Books recently, so I'll be back to history as soon as I finish TBK.

    1. I really need to tackle that Shelby Foote trilogy sometime. Maybe once I power through the 4 other books on the bedside table.

    2. I realized I forgot to mention that I read Ragtime last month, too. That was an extremely ambitious concept that didn't quite land for me.

  7. Thanks for the post, Ghostman. I got nothin for this month. I'm still trying to finish 1491 and The Lords of the Realm. It has been a very slow reading month.

  8. It's been an eclectic month.

    Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank. This is a new novel that has gotten mixed reviews, but I picked it up from the library partly to check out the subplot about insider-y book publishing stuff. It was compelling enough to finish, but I didn’t love it. There are three different plot strands, and all three involve failing relationships. It’s one of those books that makes me feel like all of contemporary literary fiction is about bad marriages and affairs. Schrank also spends a lot of time describing in detail what characters are wearing, which I found a little odd.

    Feynman by Jim Ottaviani, illus. Leland Myrick. I’ve been meaning to pick up this graphic novel for a while. I learned more about Feynman and the art did a surprisingly good job of keeping things interesting visually, but I came away thinking that the better choice might have been to read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! if I really wanted a sense of the man.

    The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep by Harvey Karp. Yeah, getting ready for the sleep rollercoaster all over again. This book came out since my son was born, so I thought I’d check it out. I wasn’t that impressed—he talks a lot about how brilliant the “5 S’s” are for young babies (not that I disagree that they work) and has some useful information if you’ve never read a sleep book, but I thought there was an annoying lack of specifics throughout.

    Anagrams by Lorrie Moore. This is a reread that I’m currently in the middle of. I still can't get over what a good writer Moore is—there are so many sentences I just want to pluck out and admire. And there's much humor, though also a rather bleak and depressing undercurrent (as is true of her work generally).

    1. Anagrams sounds interesting. Is there a better Lorrie Moore book? I haven't heard of her before, wondering if I should just start with this one.

        1. I’d recommend starting with one of her short story collections

          Excellent work staying with the theme of the post. I will definitely check out the linked story, and will most likely get to "Self-Help" at some point as well. Thanks!

  9. Hugo Short Story Nominations:

    "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard - discussed above

    "Mantis Wives" by Kij Johnson - I liked it, it's a bit different from what you would expect from a sci-fi story, but worth a read.

    "Mono No Aware" by Ken Liu - Earth is destroyed by an asteroid, and the narrator is the only person of Japanese descent on a generational escape ship. I only have this in a Kindle format, so no link, sorry.

    Nebula Short Story Nominations:

    "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard - discussed above

    "Nanny's Day" by Leah Cypess - A mother has to fight to keep custody of her son when her nanny challenges her.

    "Robot" by Helena Bell - Strangely dark. I liked this one a lot, but it might not be for everyone.

    "Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream" by Maria Dahvana Headley - Witches, wizards, and their love affairs. An odd one, I liked how different it was.

    "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain" by Cat Rambo - I liked the idea, but the ending wasn't what I had hoped.

    "The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" by Ken Liu - Similar to Mantis Wives, which I liked better.

    "Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes" by Tom Crosshill - A sweet little story about a mother and a son trying to see eye to eye about death and memory.

    BFSA Short Story Nominees

    "3 Moments of an Explosion" by China Mieville - Very short, but well done. I recommend this one.

    "Song of the Body Cartographer" by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

    1. Also, I highly recommend two of the Hugo Novella nominees.

      After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress is different from any apocalypse or post-apocalypse book you've read (probably). It's short, but really well done.

      The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson comes up with another very cool magical system and puts it into a good story. The Emperor is nearly assassinated and is in a coma-like trance, the only cure is for a new soul identical to his previous one to be forged.

  10. Things I read this month that were really good.

    Volt by Alan Heathcock. Wow, these stories were great. I've actually read a lot more short stories this year than ever before, but this has to be far and away my favorite collection so far. These are not happy stories. Everyone is struggling in one way or another in these stories, and each one requires a moment after reading to remind yourself that you aren't struggling right there with them. "Lazarus" might have been my favorite, but not by much. "Volt" and "The Staying Freight" and "Peacekeeper" and... well, they're all good.

    Ignorance: How it Drives Science by Stuart Firestein. There is an interesting idea here. Although I'm not sure it needed all of the pages it got here, the attempt at defining the scientific method in a slightly different manner was enough to get me thinking. It is clearly written with the non-scientific reader in mind, but, as a scientific reader, there was plenty here to keep me interested.

    We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen. Read it cover to cover in one day. Maybe it sputtered a bit near the end, but I thought the characters were wonderful, and the conflicts felt very real. One of my favorite novels I've read recently. It's about a Finnish family that adheres to a strict religious code. The children of the family rebel, repent, or stay the path, and throughout they hold your attention.

  11. I finished Salt, Sugar, Fat. Which describes how food companies manipulate Salt, Sugar, and Fat to entice customers to consume more and more of their products. It's quite fascinating and recommend it to anyone who is a regular reader of the WGOM Fitness entries.

    I'm nearly done with Wild about a Minnesota woman who lost her mother to cancer then lost her bearings in life -- started sleeping around, dabbled in heroin, etc. So she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from California to the Oregon-Washington border with a bunch of new equipment from REI and no training. Although I'm not finished its being marketed as a inspirational story so I don't think it's a spoiler by saying it looks like she's gonna make it. It's a warts-and-all book and the writer isn't always a sympathetic character but you have to give her credit for putting one foot in front of the other and grinding it out.

    Next on the bedside table is a book about the making and impact of my favorite western: The Searchers.

  12. Born To Run was a fun, quick read. Subtitle A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen says a lot about this book by Christopher McDougall.

    A recommended read especially for Los Hombres on the WGOM Fitness thread.

    Spoiler SelectShow

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