For Best Novel:
Way back in the 90s, I got into the habit of reading the stories nominated for literary SF’s premier awards: the Hugo and the Nebula. The Hugo nominees are chosen by the members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, and the Nebulae by the professional writers who make up SFWA (Siffwaah), or the Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Writers of America. Pretentious snob that I am, I’ve always preferred the more refined Nebula winners to the selections of the red-shirt clad masses.
The Hugo sometimes reminds me of a high school popularity contest. Four of the five authors nominated for best novel this year are also immensely popular bloggers: Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and Charlie Stross (I was a fan of Scalzi, and I think, Doctorow, as bloggers before I began reading their SF). Don’t get me wrong–I love all of them as SF writers, but I was particularly disappointed last year when solid but less than inspired offerings by Scalzi (The Last Colony), Stross (Halting State) and Robert Sawyer (Rollback) beat out edgy and exhilarating works like Richard Morgan’s Thirteen.
All my Ole Man Remy griping aside, until I get on my ass and crank out a few printable stories, I can participate in the selection of the Hugos but not the Nebula awards. (Where’s that red shirt of mine…) The other cool thing about the Hugos is that in an attempt to garner votes, most of the stories are made available for free download! Finally, even if the stories may not always be the cream of the 2008 crop, the risk of getting a total dud is pretty low. Plus, did I say they’re (often) free!? (limited time offer!)
Since I plan to attend this year’s World SF Con in Montreal (where Neil Fucking Gaiman, and I say “Fucking” with All Due Respect, will be the Guest of Fucking Honor), I want to make sure I read every nominated novel, novella, novellette, and novelletenito and watch every performance, so that I can vote carefully on who will get to grasp the exceedingly phallic and polished rocket of Señor Hugo. I’ll try to make this process transparent, and I hope you’ll join me in reading and talking about some of these works. If you write about any of these books or stories on your blogs, let me know so I can link to them!