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April 24, 2011 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Blogging the Hugos: Decline (part 1, part 2, part 3), is a series of blog posts covering some dystopian trends in recent Hugo nominees and itself winner of the of the BSFA award for non fiction. Meanwhile the 2011 Hugo finalists have been announced, with Mefi favorites featuring strongly: In Best Novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (previously), In Best Short Story The Things by Peter Watts (previously). Doctor who features heavily under Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (too many posts to mention), but has strong competition from Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.
posted by Artw (27 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nothing for MeFi's own Hugo usual suspects, possibly they've been a bit quiet this year and will be back on form next time.
posted by Artw at 7:29 PM on April 24, 2011


Interesting to see Feed on there: my impression was that it got a lot of buzz but then was generally disappointing when people got around to reading it. Was it actually good?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:52 PM on April 24, 2011


No love for Surface Detail? I thought it was better than Bujold's latest, which was far from her best Miles book, even though it was nominated...

And MeFi's own missed out - Charlie Stross had a new Laundry book last year, and Scalzi published something as well, I think.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:30 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm of a split mind about the Hugos - on one hand, I'm generally willing to accept the nominees as among the best SF of the year; on the other, I maintain that "some attendees of WorldCon" are not a particularly well-suited group of people to be judging The Very Best SF Of the Year. Inasmuch as I care about awards (which is mainly as a convenient way to find some stuff that's almost definitely worth my time), I much prefer the Nebula model.

And on the gripping hand, a system that recognizes of "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" alongside Doctor Who screenplays and on par with Inception and a Connie Willis novel has got to be doing something right.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2011


I haven't paid attention to SF in the past few years but the first two nominees described in this blog series seem rather predictable for a genre that's supposed to speculate. Steampunk, airships, zombies, America in decline. I don't need to read SF to hear about these trends, they're all over the Internet. Only The Windup Girl sounds like it might present a hint of the unique, tantalizing speculation that makes SF literature the nursery of dreams: human migration and arrival, urban life after the oil shock, and the rise of non-Western cultural centers. Sounds like good stuff.
posted by shii at 9:15 PM on April 24, 2011


Interesting to see Feed on there: my impression was that it got a lot of buzz but then was generally disappointing when people got around to reading it. Was it actually good?

I didn't follow the buzz, so stayed disconnected from any sort of gestalt opinion, but I really liked it. It is, like anything about zombies, ultimately a story about people and how monstrous they can become, but it is also crunchily post-apocalyptic in a way that most zombie stories can't be, giving you lots of information about how zombies work, exactly. Most stories can't do that, concerned as they are with survivors making it through the apocalypse with their brains intact.

I haven't paid attention to SF in the past few years but the first two nominees described in this blog series seem rather predictable for a genre that's supposed to speculate.

You've a different definition of SF than most, I think. Any story which uses fantastic elements is speculating on what humans would do in those situations, and simply because the elements used are not new doesn't mean that one can't tell a new story with new ideas.

You could as well complain that non-SF fiction is pretty much set on Earth and how many interesting stories can you tell about Earth, after all?
posted by TypographicalError at 9:28 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vincent and the Doctor FTW!
posted by crossoverman at 9:36 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting to see Feed on there: my impression was that it got a lot of buzz but then was generally disappointing when people got around to reading it. Was it actually good?

I'm in the middle of it right now and I'm finding to be actually kind of awesome. This coming from someone who likes China Mieville, Iain Banks, and others of that ilk, not to mention that I've read and enjoyed The Dervish House (pretty good!) and Cryoburn (by far not the best of the Vor series).

Thanks for the first three links - I hadn't come across Big Other before. I've read The Windup Girl and really liked it despite its somewhat depressing storyline. It was a fresh take on the dystopian world that is so popular these days and well-written.

I read Boneshaker as well and although it was interesting with great ideas and a fantastic setting, I found it to be written in a trite and simple manner. The target readership is obviously for teens, and certainly the events and emotions that occurred to the characters were strong, it was still a little too...meh. But what a vibrant world Priest created.

I've looked at Julian Comstock a few times and given it a miss - it just didn't seem like my cup of tea, but maybe now that I've read a decent review of it I'll give it a chance.
posted by ashbury at 9:59 PM on April 24, 2011


Huh, the nominees for Best Novel are all women, except for a Scotsman.
posted by orthogonality at 10:31 PM on April 24, 2011


SF Signal Hugo nominations post - including links to online versions of many of the stories.
posted by Artw at 11:35 PM on April 24, 2011


Interesting to see Feed on there: my impression was that it got a lot of buzz but then was generally disappointing when people got around to reading it. Was it actually good?

The only buzz I heard was from friends with ties the author, but I liked it. Some parts were a bit predictable, but it builds an interesting setting and tells a good story. I'm looking forward to the sequel coming out soon.
posted by JiBB at 12:30 AM on April 25, 2011


I've heard odd things about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It got a lot of positive attention when it first came out, but the excerpts I've read make me more inclined to side with the people who have been calling it overrated. (I had a very similar reaction to Brandon Sanderson's stuff, Mistborn in particular.)

On the other hand, The Dervish House looks like it will be good as long as it doesn't descend into a lot of Orientalist stereotypes.
posted by anaximander at 3:48 AM on April 25, 2011



Huh, the nominees for Best Novel are all women, except for a Scotsman.


He's a woman too.


Fuck Me , Ray Bradbury
- is this a sci-fi porn flick ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:23 AM on April 25, 2011


I'm of a split mind about the Hugos - on one hand, I'm generally willing to accept the nominees as among the best SF of the year; on the other, I maintain that "some attendees of WorldCon" are not a particularly well-suited group of people to be judging The Very Best SF Of the Year. Inasmuch as I care about awards (which is mainly as a convenient way to find some stuff that's almost definitely worth my time), I much prefer the Nebula model.

I've been making a bit of an effort to get in at least all the short stories for the various awards, and it's definatly the case that they have different biases and favours - though in theory the Nebua, picked by the SWFA sounds like it work better in practicce I'm definatly more of a Hugo guy than a Nebula guy, for instance, and perhaps not suprisingly I'm usually quite into the BSFA award stories (though this years batch was a little uninspiring).

Jo Walton has been revisting the Hugos over on tor.com and it's been very interesting seeing all the hits and misses - I'd say they've got it right more times than they;ve got it wrong, though many times they've gotten it very, very wrong.
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best way to approach literary awards is don't place too much emphasis on the winner, but treat all books on the shortlist (or longlist) equally. The final winner is chosen by committee which is unreliable, as past awards have shown time and again, a strong personality on the panel will decide things for better or worse.
posted by stbalbach at 8:06 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


on one hand, I'm generally willing to accept the nominees as among the best SF of the year; on the other, I maintain that "some attendees of WorldCon" are not a particularly well-suited group of people to be judging The Very Best SF Of the Year. Inasmuch as I care about awards (which is mainly as a convenient way to find some stuff that's almost definitely worth my time), I much prefer the Nebula model.

Instead of a popularity contest among a self-selected group of con attendees, you get a popularity contest among a self-selected* group of writer's association members that has historically featured explicit log-rolling (until recently, voting wasn't anonymous so it was easy to check who'd lived up to their promises.) To look at the results, I think it's really hard to say the Hugos have done worse than the Nebulas.

* yes, also with a low-barrier selection criterion where having sold 3 stories 20 years ago is good enough to be a basis for membership for the rest of your life
posted by Zed at 10:04 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feed was fine, as books about zombies and teenagers go, rather good for that standard -- I enjoyed it (especially the way that zombies worked in that world) and will read the sequels, but it is not a book for the ages. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, though, because although I generally like books about teenagers, I generally dislike books about zombies.
posted by jeather at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2011


SF Signal Hugo nominations post - including links to online versions of many of the stories.

For what it's worth, "Eight Miles" and "For Want of a Nail" will also be available online in a couple of days. /inside info
posted by Amanojaku at 12:31 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


because although I generally like books about teenagers, I generally dislike books about zombies.

We are opposites.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:37 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I too was wondering about the lack of Surface Detail. Boo.

Actually, I shouldn't complain. I already knew about and read that one. Maybe one of the other nominees will be as good.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:50 PM on April 25, 2011


We are opposites.

So... thsmchnekllsfascistsbutrevivesthemintoanundeadbrainhungrystupor
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on April 25, 2011


I generally dislike books about zombies.

What, you don't like wooden stereotypical characterization? (Zombies, the physical incarnation of bad art).
posted by stbalbach at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2011


People who don't like zombies are just secretly scared that their own brains wouldn't make for good eating.
posted by Zed at 1:26 PM on April 25, 2011


Of the short fiction, all of it except for two novellas is now available on-line.
posted by Zed at 3:24 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


thsmchnekllsfascistsbutrevivesthemintoanundeadbrainhungrystupor

Nazi zombies dawg.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:13 AM on April 28, 2011


The Hugo packet is out. And PDF hegemony is at least as far over that all the entries in the prose categories offer an epub or rtf (which is friendly to convert to epub.)

There are worse deals in this world than shelling out $50 on a supporting membership just for all the nominated material.
posted by Zed at 5:11 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nebula Award Winners 2011
posted by Artw at 7:14 PM on May 21, 2011


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