Sunday, April 8, 2012

Not a Review post, not on Friday, 4/8/2012

Happy Easter!

Events conspired such that I have not actually finished a book this week. I'm part way through a pair of books, but have not completed either; a little frustrating. In lieu of a review, here are some thoughts on the Hugo awards:

This is the short list for the novels. (I haven't read any of the rest of the slate - the novellas and etc, and so will not comment at all.)

Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown by China MiĆ©ville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)
I have read all but one of these - I should take a look at Deadline.

I didn't really like Dance With Dragons, the series has started to feel like a chore, and I'm no longer convinced that the pay off in the end will be worth the reading. I'll probably continue with it, but I certainly wouldn't vote for it for a Hugo. So that one is out.

I enjoyed the story of Embassytown, and the concept. I also thought it was weaker than some of the other Mieville I've read. I liked what he was doing with language, but not enough to get over how what he was doing with language made it hard to read, if that makes any sense at all.

Leviathan Wakes was a solid space opera and a solid hard boiled detective novel. It had strong world building, and I liked the characters. I'm especially interested in seeing where future installments go. I think the assertion that the space opera, as a sub genre, has fallen out of favor is a little over played.

I really liked Among Others as a book. I loved the sense of literary discovery, and the feeling of being 14 or 15 again. The Golden Age of Science Fiction is, of course, 12. (or 13, or 14, or 15), and Walton's ability to tap into that frame of mind is brilliant. The solid framework of sci fi/spec fic fandom was delightful as well. My initial thought is that the spec fic elements of the story are very light; of course, the awards are for quality, not quantity, so that might not matter.

So, were I the final arbiter, I think I would say that Among Others was the better book, but Leviathan Wakes was, perhaps, the better spec fic.

I predict that the actual vote will come down to a number of factors:
1) Deadline - I haven't read it, so it may well be amazing, and, if so, should totally win
2) Martin fanboys - I don't know who is voting, but there are lots of members of the World Science Fiction Society. If enough of them are die-hard Martin fans, willing to overlook the fact that Dance With Dragons is far from Martin's best work, that may swing the vote.
3) Voters sense of nostalgia, and whether they agree with Walton's assessment of their favorite books. If Walton is able to connect with enough of the voters inner early teen, I suspect they will vote for her on the grounds that she has written the superior book. On the other hand, Mori makes some value judgments about the books she is reading - if those judgments don't concur with the views of the voters, it may be a problem for Walton.

So, I'm going to tentatively predict that Walton will win, but don't hold me to that.