The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Hugo Packet: The Novels and Related Works

Posted on | June 13, 2015 | 13 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

It’s been a while since I did a book post, since most of the time when I was on the road I was either driving, recovering from driving, or hanging out with friends and relatives, but I hope this makes up for it.

As most of you are aware, the Kulturkampf between the Social Justice Wankers who want to use the arts to preach and dictate and the rest of us who just want some decent entertainment has spread to SF fandom, much to the distress of the SJWs, who had been having it their own way with the Hugos up until this year, when it became public knowledge that anyone with $40 could register for the convention and actually vote. Thousands of people did this (further enraging the SJWs) and it looks like Sasquan will have the biggest membership of any World SF Convention (Worldcon for short) in quite some time, if not ever. In fact, if you haven’t registered yet, you can still get a supporting membership for $40 through August 2, which entitles you to not only vote for the Hugos, but to get free e-copies of many of the nominated works, which is arguably worth more than the $40 you’re shelling out all by itself.

So, having duly registered and obtained my packet, and read most of what’s in it, here’s how I’m going to be filling out my ballot. This is, of course, subject to change once I read the stuff I haven’t gotten to yet.

Best Novel
This is the biggie, the one that draws most of the attention. Before I got the packet, I was strongly inclined toward putting Jim Butcher’s Skin Game at the top of my ballot for two good reasons: up to that point, it was the only one of the nominees I’d read, and I thought Jim Butcher deserved some long-overdue recognition for the “Dresden Files” books, which arguably put urban fantasy on the map as a subgenre.
Unfortunately, now that I’ve read Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, I can’t honestly do that any more. Liu’s book is an awesome combination of alien contact, secret societies, an immersive computer game, the Cultural Revolution and its effects, and a hard-drinking chain-smoking policeman who doesn’t care who he pisses off because his people instincts are damn near infallible. A great book, and getting it for free from Sasquan beats forking out $13 to Tor. Also very good, but not quite good enough to beat out Butcher’s novel, is Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. The tale of a half-goblin prince who suddenly ascends to the throne after the Emperor and other senior heirs are killed in an airship “accident”, this makes for very hard reading in the early chapters, since our hero knows nothing of the Imperial court, has no friends or relatives he can trust…Maggie Hogarth is absolutely right. And yet, you keep going, maybe because you can’t believe the author will put the screws to such a well-meaning protagonist, maybe because you want to see the trainwreck – but to give any clue beyond that would spoil the book for you, and I’m not going to do that.

So when the dust settles, my ballot is going to look like this:

  1.  The Three-Body Problem
  2.  Skin Game
  3.  The Goblin Emperor
  4. (not yet read) The Dark Between The Stars
  5.  No Award
  6.  Ancillary Sword (No copy, no vote. Screw you, Orbit.)

Related Works
This category too had a virtual lock going in: Mad Mike Williamson’s Wisdom From My Internet, since 1) it was chock-full of politically incorrect humor, 2) the SJW’s deserved a swat on the nose for handing a certain mediocre author and former SFWA president a Hugo for a similar collection, yclept Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, and 3) they deserved a further swat for completely ignoring Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better 1948-1988the second volume of William Patterson’s Heinlein bio in favor of some ahistorical trash by Kameron Hurley.
Once again, I find myself forced to change my mind as a result of reading the packet. John C. Wright’s Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth is a collection of brilliant essays on SF and fantasy that in many ways parallels what Stacy has been doing in his Sex Trouble posts, but with particular attention to our corner of literature and media. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Tolkien” is particularly funny, but all of his criticisms are on point.
Lou Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner was not in the packet, and I haven’t read Tedd Roberts’ essay yet, so the tentative rankings look like this:

  1.  Transhuman and Subhuman
  2.  Wisdom From My Internet
  3.  “The Hot Equations”
  4.  (not yet read) “Why Science Is Never Settled”
  5.  No Award
  6.  Letters From Gardner

I’ll try and throw up some more posts in the coming week regarding the other categories.


13 Responses to “The Hugo Packet: The Novels and Related Works”

  1. JeffWeimer
    June 13th, 2015 @ 11:18 pm

    Just finished The Dark Between the Stars, and I found it quite a bit unfocused, and without a satisfying ending. There are a good number of characters and separate plot-lines to keep track of. Since it is the first in a series, it spent a lot – too much – time setting up the various plots and leaving most of the resolutions for the rest of the series.

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Three Body Problem, from all sides. It’s a non-puppy nomination that slipped in when Marko Kloos and Larry Correia rejected their nominations. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m taking a break and going to read the shorts and Novellas – I like One Bright Star to Guide Them as my initial favorite.

  2. Julie Pascal
    June 13th, 2015 @ 11:43 pm

    A couple of people have pointed out that there isn’t a good way to recognize novel vs. multi-volume novel vs. a connected series. The narrative necessities of a stand-alone novel are different from a multi-volume (often a trilogy but sometimes more) story that has a single arc and a series of connected novels.

    I might not have broken those up exactly the way others have but it would be nice to have a clear way to recognize the different long forms. When two books have built to the third and final climactic novel… does the third novel really stand as an individual?

  3. Wombat_socho
    June 14th, 2015 @ 1:24 am

    Good question. As you’ll see in the next post, I’m having a similar problem with the nominees in the novella category.

  4. John Rose
    June 14th, 2015 @ 7:08 am

    I discovered John C. Wright only through Sad Puppies. He had written, in (apparently) one afternoon, a, well, rebuttal, I suppose, to last year’s Hugo winner “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”. Taking it from a semi poetic feminist ramble to a hard sci-fi story, with time travel, paradoxes, self-sacrifice for one’s love, etc., titled appropriately enough “Queen Of The Tyrant Lizards.”

    From that moment I was hooked. Transhuman and Subhuman was INCREDIBLE. One Bright Star To Guide Them was similarly enjoyable, The Plural of Helen of Troy, another goodie. His “Book Of Feasts And Seasons” is incredible (but I’m Catholic, YMMV), with a couple of real heart wrenchers in there.

    I am steeling myself to read the Eschaton series (Count To A Trillion, etc.); I say ‘steeling’ because Wright’s SHORT stories are DEEP. I’m almost afraid to attempt a series of full novels, for fear of never coming back. I mean, man can this guy write.

    In a similar manner, taking a cue from the hatred being poured out on the puppies, (both Sad and Rabid), I decided to move forward on two other fronts, Tom Kratman and Vox Day. I’d already sampled Kratman (Big Boys Don’t Cry, State Of Disobedience, Caliphate), and liked his work. The Carrera series takes it to a whole new level. I’ve liked the samplings I’ve read from Vox Day’s fantasy world, and am endeavoring to find out the best starting point from those several novels.

    Sad Puppies = Good Stuff.

    And I’m voting for Skin Game for number one. Harry Dresden stealing from the gods? How do you top that?

  5. Fail Burton
    June 14th, 2015 @ 7:42 am

    I suppose you don’t like gender studies in Westerns or detective stories either.

  6. Daniel O'Brien
    June 14th, 2015 @ 8:28 am

    Just finished reading a SF series that included among other things, a homosexual (can we still say that) robot in a “full” relationship with an alien mammal humanoid. Go figure.

  7. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 14th, 2015 @ 9:54 am

    Thanks for the heads up!

  8. #Transracial Rachel Dolezal Rule 5 | Batshit Crazy News
    June 14th, 2015 @ 11:06 am

    […] Socho: More SJW and fiction (the science/fantasy […]

  9. Wombat_socho
    June 14th, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

    It’s pretty hard, but Cixin Liu pulls it off. You’ll see. Not going to resort to spoilers, but I’ll just say this: John W. Campbell Jr. would have bought it.

    Also, the Eschaton series has a lot of awesome action in it to go along with the mind-blowing game of cultures being fought out between the hero and his enemies. One of the best series of books I’ve read in quite a while.

  10. Wombat_socho
    June 14th, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

    I can’t even…what?

  11. Daniel O'Brien
    June 14th, 2015 @ 7:50 pm
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  13. malclave
    June 15th, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

    I don’t know if I’m going to be able to read all the novels before voting (along with everything else), and since there were a couple of excerpts-only, I decided to read the first 40-50 pages of each and vote based on that. If I end up with time before voting, I’ll go back and read the full books (or as full as the excerpts get), but otherwise they’ll be in my TBR list.
    I’d have to check my notes, but I think my planned vote aligns with yours, except I put Dark Between the Stars either 1st or 2nd, and I’m trying to avoid voting “No Award” (though frankly, the graphic novels have me leaning that way).