The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternate history novel. It’s “What if…?” assumption is “What if all of Europe had been wiped out by a plague around about 1400?”. It’s at the same time a very intriguing and impossible “What if…?” to answer. Imagine earth without “Western civilization”. Where would it stand today, culturally and in terms of scientific and sociological progress? Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR) did an amazing job in trying to answer these questions and in writing this novel. Of course we will never know whether his extrapolation of possibilities comes close to an actual alternate history of the earth without Europeans. But it’s still a great read.
While I was traveling, this year’s Hugo Awards were awarded at Loncon3. I wasn’t there, but I read all about it. I am mostly happy with how voting fell out and with who won in each category. (At least the categories I care about.) So let’s look at those categories.
Best Novel: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
No surprise in this category. I was not only hoping but fully expecting Ann Leckie to win this category. And she did! What I wasn’t expecting was the poor performance of Wheel of Time. I was expecting it to come in second, but it only made 4th place with Neptune’s Brood coming in second and Parasite taking 3rd place. Larry Correia finished last. I shouldn’t feel sorry for him, because he had it coming for him.
Interesting: Mira Grant‘s Parasite only made the ballot because Neil Gaiman did not accept the nomination of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Didn’t make the ballot because of collective voting efforts: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar.
I’ve already tried to read the Samatar for the Campbell category and will not go back to it, but both the Gaiman and the Beukes sound interesting, especially the Beukes which has time travel, and do I love time travel? Yes I do!
Best Novella: “Equoid” by Charles Stross
Not my choice for first place, but this is not a surprising outcome. Charles Stross has a huge fan base and this year’s Worldcon was in the UK, which probably brought in lots of British voters. My favorite, Six Guns Snow White, came in second, Wakulla Springs took 3rd place and the sad puppies brought up the rear.
Didn’t make the ballot because of collective voting efforts: How Green this Land, How Blue this Sea by Mira Grant and Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes.
Note: Mira Grant/ Seanan McGuire seems to have a small but very dedicated fan base, as several of her pieces appear on various extended nominations lists.
Best Novelette: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal
My favorite won :-). Second place goes to The truth of fact, The truth of Feeling, third place to The Waiting Stars and fourth place to The Exchange Officers.
Interesting: This is the only category where No Award beats one of the nominees. No Award receives 377 more votes than Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day. I was nor surprised to see this. This really was the worst piece on the ballot by a wide margin. Also, I believe some people voted this story below No Award because of who wrote it. Which I can understand, now that I had a look at Vox Day‘s blog…
Didn’t make the ballot because of collective voting efforts: The Litigation Master and the Monkey King by Ken Liu and Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire (dedicated fans, indeed!).
Best Short Story: “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu
Well, I liked all the nominated stories in this category and looking back I must say that John Chu‘s story gave me a stronger long-lasting impression than Sofia Samatar‘s story did, which I placed first on my ballot. So maybe John Chu‘s story actually is the better story. It doesn’t matter. I would have been happy with any winner in this category.
Note: Nobody was kept off the ballot here. Good :-) .
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER: Sofia Samatar
Well, I expected her to win. A lot of people love her novel and it almost made the ballot for Best Novel. I am sad that Benjanun Sriduangkaew ended up last. But I guess, it is hard to compete with novelists as a writer of short fiction.
I am off on a vacation for the next three weeks, hopefully reading lots of great books. Expect me to be back in the last week of August. I am really curious as to how the votes for the Hugos will fall out this year. This year was the first time ever that I voted on the Hugos and (not that surprisingly, but still) this makes me much more interested in the results than ever before.
I might chime in to answer comments (if any appear) depending on the availability of Internet.
I always liked reading short fiction, but after my three-month-effort to read as many Hugo nominated works as possible I have formed the resolution to read even more of it. I am planning to especially focus on short fiction published in 2014, so that I might have read a lot of it when the time for nominating for next year’s Hugo comes. To find as many raisins as possible, I will of course listen to recommendations by other bloggers and commenters on blogs.
Max Gladstone is nominated for this year’s Campbell Award. So, in the course of my Hugo reading I got to read his novel Three Parts Dead, and I loved it. While I was browsing the Tor.com site I noticed that he recently published the short story The Angelus Guns on that site. So, of course I read it.
I have now been blogging for three months. So far, it’s been fun. In the past three months I have almost exclusively concentrated on reviewing this year’s Hugo nominees. That’s a very niche-type of topic and I would not have expected a lot of people to read my blog. As it is, a lot more people dropped by than I ever expected. (Thank you!) The blog even has some followers. (Wow! Thank you, again!)
my rating: 5/5
genre: historical fantasy
When I was reading Nexus by Ramez Naam I got bored and picked up Wild Seed instead. I bought the book used on eBay several years ago and never came around to reading it. (It was lost in my TBR-pile…) Well, I have read it now and I loved it!
This is a very difficult category for me to vote on. When I signed up to be a supporting member of Worldcon so that I could vote on the Hugo Awards, I decided that I would follow the blogs of all the nominees in this category to get an idea about whom I like best. This didn’t really work out.
There are three novel nominees that I started and could not finish. I actually read so little of them that they do not call for an individual post per nominee.
I started off with the novel by Larry Correia. Since Warbound is the concluding part of a trilogy I thought I’d start with the first part of the trilogy, Spellbound. (The Hugo voter packet contains the whole trilogy. That’s awesome, Baen!)
length: 416 pages (paperback edition)
obtained: bought e-book at amazon
my rating: 5/5
This is not really a review, although I will try my best. I read this book about half a year ago, so probably the best approximation of a review I can give is my opinion on the book/ reading experience with the book. (But then, aren’t all my reviews just my opinion? Hm.)