The nominees for this year's Hugo Awards were announced last night. The most important category is, as always, Best Novel:
- Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
- Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK) — Free download
- Saturn's Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
- Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
Surprisingly, I've already read four of the five. This is either blind luck, or a sign that I'm better in tune with the tastes of SF fandom than ever before. I'm not sure which I'd prefer.
The as-yet-unread fifth book is Charlie Stross's Saturn's Children, a book he proudly describes as a late-Heinlein tribute novel, complete with nipples that go "spung!" It is really difficult to describe how little enthusiasm I have for the idea of reading this.
Two of the five (Anathem and Litle Brother) were books that I nominated. I don't have any real problem with The Graveyard Book getting a nomination-- it was a good read, and less cute and in-jokey than I feared ("cute and in-jokey" is the dominant failure mode of Gaiman's fiction). Zoe's Tale I didn't nominate because I don't think it stands alone that well. It's an interesting exercise, a sort of secret history of The Last Colony, but it's not quite as good as the earlier book.
If you're interested in the question of nominee diversity, four of the twenty fiction nominees were by women. I don't know enough about the authors to say anything about racial/cultural background, though all five of the novel nominees are white guys.
The rest of the categories are pretty much the usual subjects. The "dramatic presentation" category does include an audiobook, which is either a first or the first in a very long time. The editor categories all look fine, the fan writers are the people who are usually nominated for fan writing, the artists are the people who are usually nominated for art, etc.
Any thoughts or comments?
Strong year. Neal versus Neil -- is that hyperfine splitting?
Very strong year -- all of those books are better than a few of the recent winners. Good point about Zoe's Tale not standing alone, though.
But you really should read the Stross -- while that description is technically true, I'd almost say the book itself reads more like one of John Varley's last few Eight Worlds books.
The dramatic short presentation is interesting in that a musical is nominated, Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog. While some of the music doesn't hold up well to rehearings, the whole project is incredible, with great character creations in such little time.
I thought Little Brother was only OK - not very subtle, not funny, not really thrilling but very preachy.
I've actually read all five, and was very surprised at two of them getting nominations: I would rate SC as easily Stross' weakest work, and TGB as cute but not complex enough to get a nod. Don't disagree with your read on ZT. So my choice would be between your two nominees, and I'd be happy with either; my bet for the actual winner would be on Neal.
Certainly an aberration in terms of having a set of widely-read nominees. Don't expect it to last.