About a month ago, the Hugo nominees were announced. I bring this up, not because I feel obligated over the nature of the content of this blog (lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy reviews), but feel this year's going to be exciting. Of the six nominees in the Best Novel category, I've read three. I do believe that's a first for me. This means I can root for a winner.
The list for Best Novel is as follows:
- Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
- The City & The City by China Miéville
- Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
- Palimpset by Catherynne M. Valente
- Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
But listen to me going on. I haven't even explained what the Hugo awards are. Taken from the official website, here is a succinct definition that works wonderfully for me:
The Hugo Awards, given annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award.That's about it. The name is given in honor of Hugo Gernsback, the founding editor of Amazing Stories, a groung-breaking American SF magazine (Amazing was THE first SF magazine in the US) that helped shape, promote, and revolutionize the genre to the reading public. Some of the most prominent SF/F writers saw their early careers published within the pages of Amazing Stories (for example, Ursula K. Le Guin). The other thing we can all thank Gernsback for? He was the first to coin the term "Science Fiction." I think having an award that honors and recognizes SF named after him is only fitting, don't you? To be fair, the award also recognizes Fantasy, but comes from a long history rooted in Science Fiction.
Now, I know what you're thinking: doesn't the Nebula also recognize Science Fiction and Fantasy? Why do we need two awards? True, but there is a difference. The Hugo Award reaches across many different mediums and areas - short story, screenplay, graphic story, editor, artist - the Nebula only considers novel, novella, novelette, short story, and most recently, best script. Both awards are also judged from separate bodies of members, albeit I don't doubt some are members of, and can vote for, both awards. The huge different in those voting blocs is who is elegible to become a member.
The Hugos have their basis in the SF fandom - Amazing Stories was the first to create a collective for fans to gather in print, read across the nation and develop a sense of togetherness that has forever bound readers of SF together (whether arguments arise over definitions relating to the genre, we must all realize in the end: we all love SF). If you are a paying (yes, you have to pay) member of the World Science Fiction Society, you are eligible to vote for the Hugos! Of course, you must pay each year to vote, but still, you are eligible. Fans can vote - that's part of what makes this award so wonderfully weird.
The Nebulas are more discerning in who gets to vote. Only active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are eligible. This means you either need to have a qualifying novel, three short stories, and/or a full-length dramatic script. It's not easy.
The Nebula winners (including the Andre Norton) are announced next weekend, but the Hugos will have to wait until the award ceremony at AussieCon 4 on September 5th - the site of this year's WorldCon. Am I partial to any one book? Maybe. I would love to read the remaining three.
Do I have a favorite picked out for the Nebula and Andre Norton? You'll have to wait for the announcement and my follow-up post for that. :)