Tag Archives: Hugo Awards

Book Day: Award Season

Before I get to the somewhat traditional recap of the science fiction and fantasy awards from this year, I wanted to take a moment to recognize a book on the longlist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.  I was furnished a copy of this by the editor (someone we probably all would recognize if she didn't go around in a trench coat and sunglasses all the time).  It's a really affecting story and a gorgeous book (as much as any book about the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki can be gorgeous).  If you don't believe me, you can read the review in the New York Times.

This year, all the sci-fi and fantasy awards actually got handed out, so there was improvement from last year.  Some of my favorites, and lots of links, below.


Nebula and World Fantasy Winner - Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers - by Alyssa Wong - (link)

Just read it.  The title kind of sums it up. This was a really good and deserving winner.

Hugo and Locus Winner - Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer - (link)

Finally, an explanation for the internet's fascination with the feline.


The Dowager of Bees - by China Mieville - I have Mieville's story collection (Three Moments of an Explosion) sitting on my bedside table, and I'm very excited to get into it. The title story and this one are both really really good.  This one involves the presence of secret cards that can appear in any regular deck.

The Game of Smash and Recovery - by Kelly Link - Link is such a master of revealing just one more thing as you get further and further into the story.

Madeleine - by Amal El-Mohtar - The narrator remembers being someone else.  And it keeps happening more and more often.

The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill - by Kelly Robson - Tiny aliens trying to keep their host alive.


Hugo Winner – Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang – (link)

A very cool idea, Beijing is three cities, each only active while the other two sleep, and travelling between them has dangers.

Nebula Winner – And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander – (link)

A kind of tech crime/virtual reality/love story?  I don't know the best way to describe it except that it moves fast and is a lot of fun.  Definitely worth checking out.

Locus Winner – Black Dog by Neil Gaiman –

Can I tell you a secret?  I don’t like Neil Gaiman’s novels.  On the other hand, I have consistently enjoyed his short fiction.  “Black Dog” is a good ghost story where a traveler stumbles upon a town with more to it than meets the eye.


Our Lady of the Open Road - by Sarah Pinsker - A band on the road in a slightly more post-apocalyptic world than our own.

Another Word for World - by Ann Leckie - A recently anointed ruler is shipwrecked on an unfriendly planet.  (scroll to the end of the linked post for a download link)


Hugo & Nebula Novella – Binti by Nnedi Okorafor –

Standalone book. Very good.  The main character is the first of her family/community to attend a university on another planet.  The trip there is hijacked by an alien menace.  An exploration of what is alien.

World Fantasy Novella – The Unlicensed Magician by Kelly Barnhill –

Standalone book.  A 1984-like state has been rounding up magic children.  Written in a very particular style (an affected, self-aware childlike tone) that made the world interesting, this still told an engrossing story.

Locus Novella – Slow Bullets by Alistair Reynolds –

Standalone book. A generational starship of war criminals, soldiers and settlers from the recently concluded space war begins to wake up. Reynolds is a pretty good sci-fi author, and he delivers some pretty good sci-fi here.


Penric’s Demon – by Lois McMaster Bujold – A country boy is unwittingly tapped as a vessel for a demon and the magic that comes with that.  This might have been my favorite of the novella nominees.  The audiobook is a brisk 4 hours and it tells a good story.  Bujold has published two more in the series this year, which I keep meaning to check out.

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn – by Usman Malik – A story of multiple cultures and generations.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls – by Aliette de Bodard – A space station disappeared years ago, and now it seems it might be possible to find it, visit it, or maybe bring it back. I'm just going to keep recommending de Bodard's short fiction every time I write one of these. This is in Asimov's SF magazine, whose stories sometimes appear and disappear online if you search them.  I couldn't find it right now, but keep an eye out.

Guignol – by Kim Newman – Horror story revolving around a theater of the grotesque in Paris.  This was terribly gory, but still did a great job of creating suspense and payoff.

The New Mother – Eugene Fisher – Genetic mutation and what it means to be human and to tolerate those on the other side of that line.

Honestly, this year there wasn't one story that I was over-the-moon excited about, which is kind of rare.  Hungry Daughters and Folding Beijing were both really good, but I don't know that either rises to that level where I will remember them when I write a recap like this next year.

As far as novels go, I'm still working my way through the nominees there a little bit, but N. K. Jemisen's The Fifth Season is probably my current favorite.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik was also really good.  A good old magic story.

I'm currently reading The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi and I'm not too impressed.  It's like a re-setting of The Wind-up Girl.  Which I don't mean as a compliment.

The thing I'm most excited to read from the nominee lists is K. J. Parker's Savages.  I really liked some of Parker's novellas (A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong and Let Maps to Others), so I'm looking forward to reading this longer effort.

First Monday Book Day – Awards Season

The World Science Fiction Convention has come and gone in the past month which means one big thing to me. Hugo Awards. I like the Hugos because they are far enough into the year that most everything they recognize is widely available. Lots of people have lots of very valid criticism about the nominating and voting process for these awards (both are done by fans and convention-goers only), so “Hugo Award Winner” doesn’t necessarily correlate to “Absolute Best Stuff Out There”, but it’s a nice place to start for those who haven’t read every bit of sci-fi published in the last year.

Other big awards that have lead me to really good stories in the past are:

Nebula Awards

Locus Awards

World Fantasy Awards

That’s a lot of reading, and I won’t pretend that I got through everything on all those lists. Instead we’ll start with the Hugos and maybe fill in some editorializing about things I enjoyed that missed out.   As always, where I can find material freely available online, I've provided a link.


The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere (John Chu) – Hugo Winner. A love story in a world where every time someone lies, they are immediately drenched with water.

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love (Rachel Swirsky) –Nebula Winner. I really liked this story, the gimmick of the story almost wears thin, but it fits the events that put the whole thing in motion. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and WFA.

Selkie Stories Are for Losers (Sofia Samatar) – My favorite of the four. The narrator’s mother was a selkie, a seal who was trapped in human form when the narrator’s father stole her coat. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and WFA.

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket(Thomas Olde Heuvelt) – Nominated for Hugo and WFA. Set in a village in Thailand where all the wishes that are set in the river during a festival are collected. A good enough story.


Effigy Nights (Yoon Ha Lee) – Her collection Conservation of Shadows was incredibly good. If you like this story, get the book, because every single story in there I liked.  WFA nominee.



The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Mary Robinette Kowal) -  Hugo Winner. You should read anything by Robinette Kowal, this is a good story about an aging astronaut having to revisit old disasters.

The Waiting Stars (Ailette deBodard) - Nebula Winner. From the same universe as “Immersion” (my favorite story from last year’s awards), deBodard is amassing a bunch of these really powerful pieces about alienation and culture. Another really good story.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling (Ted Chiang) - I love Ted Chiang’s stories. He always does an amazing job of weaving technology and memory together. This story is very good, but I can see why it didn’t win.

The Exchange Officers (Brad Torgersen) (link goes to a .pdf) – I struggled to finish this one. Especially as it was in a category with three writers that I knew and had enjoyed in the past, this one felt as though it didn’t belong.


The Prayer of Ninety Cats (Caitlin Kiernan) - Nominated for Locus and WFA.  A story of fear and illusion framed by a movie that tells the (fairly graphic) story of Elizabeth Bathory.


Equoid by Charles Stross - Hugo Winner.  This is pretty good horror. It uses Lovecraft as a jumping off point, but it will turn your stomach and sets up a pretty good monster. My only quibble is that it’s clearly a part of an existing universe (Stross’ Laundry series) and so it’s not self-contained like some others on the list.

Wakulla Springs (Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages) - Set in a Florida swamp over several generations. Nominated for nearly everything (Hugo, Nebula, WFA, Locus).

Six-Gun Snow White (Catherynne Valente). I have loved Valente’s work before this (“Silently and Very Fast” was one of my Hugo favorites a couple years ago) and this transposition of Snow White’s story to the American West is a pretty good story. Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, WFA, Locus - Winner of Locus Award.
(Not freely available that I know of)

The Butcher of Khardov (Dan Wells). A character study of a monster. The butcher’s motivations won’t really surprise you too much, but Wells does a pretty good job of telling the tale in an entertaining fashion.
(Not freely available)

The Chaplain’s Legacy (Brad Torgersen) (link goes to a .pdf) - Liked it fine. Didn’t surprise me much, though there were some scenes that were nicely executed. A chaplain who averted the destruction of the human race is called back into negotiations with an alien race.


The Weight of the Sunrise (Vylar Kaftan) - Nebula Winner.  Didn't get to read this, but I will sometime soon.


Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie) -

This won everything it was nominated for (Hugo, Nebula, Locus). I finally got a copy that I hope to get to this month. Everything I’ve heard has said this is very very good, so I’d recommend it based on that alone. If you read it in September, then we’ll have something for sure to talk about in the next Book Day post!

The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson) -

Enough has probably been said about this. If you feel like 10,000 pages of fantasy might be up your alley, this will scratch that itch.

Neptune’s Brood (Charles Stross) -

I don’t know Charles Stross’ work at all (save for his story in the novella category), but this was nominated for a Locus and a Hugo, so I’ve been tempted to check it out.


The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker). I'm two-thirds of the way through this book right now, it seems as though it's a bit longer than it needs to be, but the title characters are interesting. Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula.

Stranger in Olondria (Sofia Samatar). Sounds interesting, and I really liked her short story, so I might get around to this one.  Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman). I wasn’t impressed. But then I haven’t connected with Gaiman in the couple of chances I’ve afforded him. Nominated for Locus, WFA, Nebula. Winner of Locus award.


That might get us started for some discussion.  What have you been reading?

First Monday Book Day: Summertime Blues

Happy New Year (celebrated). I'll be heading to the office shortly, to get caught up a bit. I don't have ESPN anyway, so I won't be missing the bowl games (grrr).

The New Year is a traditional time to look backward and look forward. Today's selection, Joan Vinge's 1991 Hugo nominee, The Summer Queen does both of those things.

The book is the long-awaited sequel to Vinge's 1981 Hugo winner, The Snow Queen, based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. I read the original perhaps five years ago -- it was a masterpiece, but I've forgotten too much. This volume (I'm half-way through) is complex, confusing, and tantalizing. Moon Dawntreader, the hidden clone of the Winter Queen and heroine of the first volume, is the Summer Queen, presiding over an effort to drag her techno-phobic people toward modernity during the long "summer," during which her planet's wormhole gate to a wider human civilization is inaccessible. Her planet holds both a Spice-like life-extending substance and the secret to a civilization-wide information technology mediated through "sibyls" -- human computer interfaces. Meanwhile, outside, other characters are in a race to rediscover a long-lost technology for faster-than-light travel.

The characters and (most of the) relationships are interesting and compelling, and the action sequences well drawn. I'm hooked on this space opera. But you'll want to read The Snow Queen first.

New Year's is a time for lists, so here, here and here are links to NPR's top sci fi picks, of the year and for evah (thanks, Sean, for that third link).

I don't yet know where The Summer Queen will rank on my top whatever list, but it will be in the mix. What are you reading?

First Monday Book Day: Dram-atic Adventures

Programming Note: This is a Very Special Episode of First Monday, as it features contributions from both bS and Daneekas Ghost. Enjoy!

Book bS
Man, these are tough times around the Nation. Tough times require tough action. Fortunately, I chose a book this month that fits the times -- a book about whiskey.

I picked up a hardback copy of Kate Hopkins' 2009 book, 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink for a song at my local used book store recently.

What is whiskey, you ask? Why, whiskey is mediocre beer made over into nobility.

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
--Noah S. Sweat, Jr., 1952

I'd dare say that we need a song in our hearts right about now.
Continue reading First Monday Book Day: Dram-atic Adventures