Congratulations to Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis for winning the 2011 Hugo Award!
It took me a while this time (summer is hard), but I’ve finally finished reading the five novels nominated for this year’s Hugo Award. I’d like to give a general summary of my thoughts before the winner is chosen. For the convenience of anyone reading this, I'll edit this to indicate which novel won, once the announcement is made.
The Hugo Award is one of the most prestigious science fiction awards. It was named after Hugo Gernsbeck, the found of the science fiction magazine “Amazing Stories”. The Hugo awards have been awarded annually since 1955. There are two novels that I would really like to see take the Hugo this year:
My Predicted Winner
Feed by Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire) – I absolutely adored this book. It featured three 20-something news bloggers in post-zombie-apocalypse America, and their journey covering a presidential campaign. Not only did it include zombies, it also featured top-notch world-building and engaging characters. Feed gives the most interesting and complex explanation for the ‘Rising’ that I’ve ever read, and I was impressed with how thoroughly Grant imagined a post-Rising society. I became very invested in the main characters, bloggers George, Shaun and Buffy, and there was never a point that I felt the story dragged. I did have some issues with the simplicity of the over-arching plot and main villain, but, overall, it was intellectually and emotionally a satisfying book.
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald – This novel rose above the rest in terms of literary style. It featured a near-future Istanbul, full of ancient mysteries and developing nanotechnology. The story followed many characters, all with some physical connection to a certain dervish house. I thought it was beautifully written, and it was fun to see how the different storylines brushed by each other or intersected throughout the book. However, having so many characters in the mix gave it something of a slow start, and their stories never really meshed to my satisfaction.
Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear is an incredibly ambitious dual-novel about time traveling to WWII Britain. I enjoyed reading it, but I did have some issues in the second half with repetition and weak characterization. Cryoburn was an interesting story, but I think it works better as the 13th addition to the Vorkosigan Saga than it does as a stand-alone novel. N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a book that I actually read before starting this blog, but it was a solid debut novel. I enjoyed the creative mythology of her world, but certain other aspects, such as the political power struggle, were drawn a little too simply for my taste.
Best of luck to all the Hugo nominees!