Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hugos 2012: the novels

The 2012 Hugo Voter Packet, containing all the written fiction nominees, has been released. I thought I'd celebrate by writing a post about how I intend to vote in the Best Novel category. If you've been following along, my choices won't be much of a surprise:
  1. Embassytown by China Mieville
  2. Among Others by Jo Walton
  3. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
  4. No Award
  5. Deadline by Mira Grant
  6. A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
In the past, I've always considered this category the Big Award; I was reading all the Hugo nominated novels long before I started chasing up the shorter fiction. But this year, I confess, I'm not all that interested.

Partly that's because I read the majority of the books before the ballot was announced. Partly, I suspect, it's because the result seems a foregone conclusion to me (and it's not a result I can get behind). And partly, it's because other Best Novel ballots have excited me much more -- particularly the Nebulas and the BSFA Awards. Which isn't to say that the books on the Hugo ballot aren't worth reading; three of them are great.

I could very easily have put Among Others at number one; that I chose Embassytown instead probably just reflects my preference for science fiction. I think Christopher Priest has convinced me that Embassytown is more flawed than Among Others, but I also think it is reaching further. Trying for something a bit more complex. I'm going to tell myself that's why I'm voting for it. 

I've already spoken about my reluctance to nominate space operas like Leviathan Wakes for big awards. I'm still not comfortable with that, but there it is.

Voting for No Award ahead of both Deadline and A Dance With Dragons may be an overreaction. They (probably) aren't terrible books. But here's the thing: I can imagine recommending Embassytown to anyone who might like idea-rich SF, Among Others to anyone who'd enjoy beautifully-written fantasy, Leviathan Wakes to anyone who likes rollicking space opera. But I could only give Deadline or A Dance With Dragons to someone who read and enjoyed their prequels.

So those are my votes. I'm looking forward to the shorter fiction categories -- the two stories I've read already have been great, and that makes me hopeful.

My prediction: A Dance With Dragons, in a landslide.
Dark horse: Among Others, thanks to a nostalgic streak in Hugo voters.

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