Sunday, May 1, 2011

Plan: 2011 Hugo Award Nominees

The nominees for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel were announced last Sunday, April 24th.  The winner will be announced Saturday, August 20th, 2011, during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at "Renovation" in Reno, Nevada.  As I did previously for the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award, I intend to read each of them before the winner is announced.  I'll provide a review of each, and then see if I can accurately predict which one will be chosen as the winner!  The amount of reading required this time will be a little less than for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, since I've already read two of the nominees.  Here they are, in the order that I have read, or intend to read, them:

1) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

"Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together." ~from

I unfortunately read this one before I began my blog, and I don't think it's fresh enough in my mind to give a full review.  Instead, I'll just give my general impressions here.  I found it to be a very entertaining novel, and I particularly enjoyed the mythology of Jemisin's world.  Don't go into it expecting an intricate political power struggle, or you'll be disappointed.  The emphasis is much more on Yeine searching for the secrets of her mother's past, and the story of the gods.  Oh, and there's a fair bit of romance, too.
2) The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

I've already read and reviewed this one, and it is a terrific novel.  Click the title for the summary and review.

3) Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

"Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. All well and good, so long as they kept to themselves. But now the Kibou-daini are attempting to franchise out their Fountain of Youth wares to the rest of the galaxy and the Barrayar Galactic Empire is none too pleased with the implications.
Cue Miles Vorkosigan, malformed royal troublemaker—but also heir and savior of empire. On Kibou-daini, Miles unearths a war of generations as the oldsters in charge refuse to die and their descendants threaten outright patricide, matricide and maybe even genocide—the prize being a big fat slice of the immortality pie. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping–something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and Miles is up to his neck in trouble and adventure once more."  ~from

This is the 14th book of the Vorkosigan Saga.  I've not read any of them yet.  I've been meaning to get around to the saga someday, since I've enjoyed Bujold's fantasy Chalion Series.  Ideally, I would read the first 13 novels before this one, but, the more I think on it, the more I'm not sure if that's the best idea.  I feel pretty confident that I'm going to like the Vorkosigan Saga, and I would hate to dampen that enjoyment by trying to zoom through them as fast as possible.  Also, it is my understanding that, while the saga does have a chronology, the novels mostly stand alone.  Taking all this into account, my current plan is to go ahead and read Cryoburn first, and then jump back to the rest of the series. Vorkosigan Saga fans, is this a good idea or am I ruining the saga for myself?

4) Feed by Mira Grant

"The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them." ~from

Sounds like zombies to me!  I'm excited.  I know this is not very high-brow of me, but zombies stories are so much fun.  The only one I've ever read that I might consider award-worthy literature is World War Z (which I definitely recommend). Perhaps Feed will raise that number to two!

5) Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

Oh, come on.  That's not a novel, that's two novels!  So, anyway... Blackout:

"Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past." ~from

And now, All Clear:

"Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.
Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own—to find three missing needles in the haystack of history."

I'm saving these for the last, since I just read one of Willis' time travel novels, the tragic Doomsday Book.  It looks like this one is going to have a few more parallel storylines, and a few recurring characters.

So, what do you think about this year's Hugo Award nominees?  Have you read them all?  Which do you think is most deserving of the honor?

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