Hugo Nominees 2008

The Hugo Award nominees for this year have been released. The category I care most about is Best Novel, where we have:

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, Fourth Estate)
Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog Oct. 2006-Jan/Feb. 2007)
The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Tor)
Halting State by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit)

Does Robert J. Sawyer have secret mind control powers, or something? The Chabon is a fantastic book, Scalzi’s book is the best thing he’s written, the Stross is very good and he’s a buzz-worthy author, and I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Brasyl. I’ve never heard anybody mention Rollback at all– Locus doesn’t list it, NESFA doesn’t list it, and yet, there it is. What the hell?

I’m really amazed by this, mostly because every time I’ve looked at the cover copy of one of his books, it’s looked unreadably awful to me. But, really, I don’t recall anybody talking about this book as a possible nominee, and I read a whole bunch of nomination lists when I was trying to fill out my own ballot. So what gives?

Other notes:

– Not a huge improvement in the gender balance area– only four nominated works by women, out of twenty. Still, better than last year.

– Shaun Tan’s The Arrival made the list in Best Related Book. It really is a terrific piece of work, and eveybody should read it and vote for it.

– A really good slate of Professional Editor, Long Form nominees. I always forget about Beth Meacham, because she’s quiet and sensible, but she does a terrific job for Tor. And Lou Anders (who looks and talks like a hit man) is doing really good things at Pyr. Any of these people would be a fine choice for the award.

– Another Fan Writer nomination for Scalzi, which is particularly amusing given that he’s also nominated for Best Novel. That ought to make some heads go all explodey.

– Scott Lynch for the Campbell in a walk.

Your thoughts?

Comments

  1. #1 Ed Yong
    March 21, 2008

    Chad, how does the Chabon compare to Kavalier and Clay?

  2. #2 Chad Orzel
    March 21, 2008

    Chad, how does the Chabon compare to Kavalier and Clay?

    It has a narrower focus, but I thought it was probably a stronger book for that. Kavalier and Clay is a big sprawling mess, covering a lot of time and a huge number of issues, but it gets a little out of control. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is tighter, and gets more into the characters because it doesn’t have as much ground to cover.

    It’s not as extravagant and fun as Kavalier and Clay, but in some ways it’s a better book.

  3. #3 Romeo Vitelli
    March 21, 2008

    Haven’t read the others but I thought Rollback was pretty decent. It’s nice to see a Canadian make the list.

  4. #4 Kate Nepveu
    March 21, 2008

    In recent years, there’s usually been at least one Canadian on the ballot for Novel. Robert Charles Wilson & Sawyer are both multiply-nominated and have each won one; Peter Watts was on the ballot last year.

  5. #5 Kevin W. Parker
    March 21, 2008

    I’m appalled. I thought Rollback was utter garbage – if Sawyer wants to write up masturbatory fantasies, that’s okay, but don’t try to publish them.

    Short plot summary: old couple gets “rollback” treatment to allow them to live much longer because wife is distinguished astrobiologist. However, it only works on the husband, who promptly starts having an affair with a young female science student who is beautiful and brilliant and sexy and practically perfect in every way.

    There’s more to it than that, but that element of it destroyed any appeal of the book to me.

  6. #6 Waterd
    March 21, 2008

    I haven’t read any of this year’s nominees, but I do like Robert J. Sawyer. Have you ever read him, Chad, or do you just not like his covers?

    I had no idea Robert Charles Wilson was Canadian. Spin (past winner) was one of the best sci-fi novels I read recently, thought I hadn’t heard of him before that. I plan on checking out the sequel, Axis, relatively soon.

  7. #7 mollishka
    March 21, 2008

    So if a hypothetical someone has time to only read one of these five, which would you recommend?

  8. #8 Adam Lipkin
    March 23, 2008

    Mollishka — although I liked most of the books (and still haven’t read the Sawyer), Brasyl is, hands down, the one that I’d vote for if I had the cash to throw at a Worldcon membership.