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Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend Discussion: (On a Monday) Hugo Nominees

I think I mentioned this before, when I discussed the Nebula and Andre Norton award nominees, but an award sticker or mention on a book usually influences my decision to purchase or read a book very little.  The distinction is usually nice if I've already read the book; I appreciate feeling like my opinions are validated about as much as the next person (who doesn't like to be told they have good taste?).

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 MiĆ©ville
  • 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
Also of interest, John Scalzi's The God Engines has been nominated in the Best Novella category (the same for the Nebula); for Best Graphic Story, Fables vol. 12 (I have only read up through 11, sadly).  A few of these titles overlap with the Nebula nominees, which is interesting. Since this is the first year I'm keeping track of both awards, I can't say whether this is rare or pretty common. I would guess it's more common than not - the awards will inevitably overlap when both focus on the same areas of literature.

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. :)


Ms. Laura said...

I have seen the nominees for both awards listed on a few blogs, but haven't actually sought out the source for the nominations.
They don't generally influence my reading selections, but some of these look interesting. I'm rather strapped for money at the moment so I'm limited to what my library has. I'd like to be able to read all 6 but I think only 1 is at my library.
I'm defiately interested in your picks though!

Erika said...

@Ms. Laura: I hope your library gets more of these in stock. Which one did you find? :)

Anonymous said...

i know we talked a bit on twitter, but i just had to stop by and comment here, too. i can honestly say that i didn't read the Mieville book because of the nomination, since it had made it onto my wishlist prior to the announcement, but i'm glad that i read it.

i haven't read any of the others, so i can't offer any opinion on who will win, but i'm tempted to pick up The Windup Girl based on the synopsis and your review...

Erika said...

@thelittlereader.net: I did mention I had noticed more people reading The City & The City since the nomination (Nebula and Hugo), but did not mean to presume your motivation for choosing to read it. I apologize if it came off that way. It's a new book and only fair that it and the author are getting more attention, as tends to happen with releases within their first year.

I'm glad you stopped by to say something, though! I appreciate it. :) You should absolutely pick up The Windup Girl. It was one of the best books I read last year.

Anonymous said...

Curious to see who takes home the Nebula. As far as the Hugos are concerned, the July theme is going to be a vote on the nominees I haven't read, so the Bacigalupi and Priest are out. Still, that'll be a fun way to gear up for the Hugos!

Erika said...

@calico-reaction: The Robert Charles Wilson title is the only one I haven't heard of, but I do want to read the others. I look forward to the July book club selection in that case. :D

I'd really hoped I could get to Finch before this weekend, but poor planning has ruined that for me. -.-

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest, the RCW title is the one I'm not really interested in, so I hope that's not the winner for my poll! :)

I already have the Valente and the Mieville, so I'll be silently rooting for those two to win the July Challenge!

Anonymous said...

Wait, why do I keep saying July? It's the August challenge! But we'll be voting on it next month. :) The July theme is Cats in Fantasy!

Erika said...

@calico-reaction: I'll keep my fingers crossed for Valente, since I've read The City & The City. ;)

I'm excited about July... I will use that an excuse to get started on my copy of Tails of Wonder and Imagination. I've been meaning to do something with all of the anthologies I have. I think I want to try reading one a month... For some reason, I postpone reading those.

Anonymous said...

I postpone my anthologies too. It's so easy to do! However, I'll be having a couple themes this year to knock one or two of them out. One will be a themed-anthology theme, and the other will be a single-author collection. :)


Lily Child said...

Interesting nominations! There are definitely some awesome books up there! I have been meaning to read Boneshaker for some time now!

Erika said...

@calico-reaction: I think it's easy to set aside an anthology because I know the stories are short. It's easiest to find a spot to stop when you can read one story in one sitting; there's plenty of time to do that, right? No rush. I can do that any time. Ironically, it's counterintuitive that I set aside the anthologies which I would probably finish faster than I realize for the same reasons if I just bothered to pick them up and start reading!

@Lily Child: There are some good ones, aren't there? I say that only having read half the nominees, but if any of those wins, I think I'll be pleased. ;) You should read Boneshaker, I think you'd like it!

Anonymous said...

erika, i hadn't meant to come across as defensive and didn't even think that you were implying anything at all. :)

i'm now on the waitlist at the library for windup girl and i'm really looking forward to it!

Erika said...

@thelittlereader.net: Well then, no harm done! :) That's great news - I really liked The Windup Girl. And you'll get to read it before the Hugo winner is announced, too. :)

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