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August 20, 2018 10:19 PM   Subscribe

Last night, N.K. Jemisin made history by becoming the first author ever to win three consecutive Hugo awards for best novel for the final installment of her Broken Earth trilogy. Her acceptance speech [transcript here] is a "shining, rocket-shaped middle finger" at all the naysayers who claim her success is unearned because of political correctness or identity politics.
posted by j.r (85 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think I finally understand how gods are created.
posted by aramaic at 11:01 PM on August 20 [9 favorites]


Good for her. I read the transcript and then had to immediately watch the video.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:10 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Congratulations.
posted by infini at 11:49 PM on August 20


aramaic, I also recommend her Inheritance trilogy if you want to learn how fictional gods are created.
posted by j.r at 11:54 PM on August 20 [17 favorites]


The trilogy is somewhere in my to-read pile, and I have heard good things about, especially, volume one.

Luke Burrage, whose SF book review podcast I have a huge respect for (and who incidentally recently divulged that he had purposely been reviewing 50/50 female/male authors for the past few years without telling anyone and without anyone noticing), was quite positive about the first volume, but rather less so on the later two volumes, which gives me some pause.
posted by bouvin at 1:58 AM on August 21 [8 favorites]


They reminded me why I ever read Fantasy.
posted by Nothing at 2:20 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I would be interested in reading reviews by other PoC and WoC to help me decide how to approach the trilogy.

From the transcript link:

I get a lot of questions about where the themes of the Broken Earth trilogy come from. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m drawing on the human history of structural oppression, as well as my feelings about this moment in American history.

posted by infini at 3:52 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I couldn't crack the first due to the extremely bleak tone. I assume that doesn't change much?
posted by selfnoise at 3:57 AM on August 21


> I couldn't crack the first due to the extremely bleak tone. I assume that doesn't change much?

It's about adversity and challenge in the face of a world - physical, material, social, cultural - that is doing little more than attempting to beat down anyone and everyone, often indiscriminately, sometimes deliberately. So it's a bleak setting, but explores the individuals who attempt to fight that in some way and the ways in which they do that. I find the books inspiring rather than depressing.
posted by humuhumu at 4:21 AM on August 21 [20 favorites]


I get a lot of questions about where the themes of the Broken Earth trilogy come from. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m drawing on the human history of structural oppression, as well as my feelings about this moment in American history.

I'm partway through the first book (fantastic so far!). I am the worst person in the world at recognizing metaphors, symbolism, real-world parallels etc. but it's so obvious here that I can't see how you'd possibly miss it. I mean, orogenes is nearly an anagram of negroes and its slur form rogga is... well, I don't need to spell it out.
posted by jklaiho at 4:27 AM on August 21 [13 favorites]


It's a great series from start to finish. I think I first heard of it here on MeFi and I'm so glad I read it.

Without revealing any spoilers I'll note the Jemisin, herself, characterizes it as a series about what it takes to survive, let alone thrive, in a world that is determined to beat you. (That's a near quote from her acceptance speech.) Perhaps this says something about me, but, taken as a whole, I found the series to be, in essence, optimistic.
posted by oddman at 4:47 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


I love the series but I have seen people bounce from it because child abuse features heavily.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:00 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I started the Inheritance trilogy and it was an amazing first read. I want to pick up book 2 but it's been so long that I've forgotten much of the story and I don't want to re-read the first but I also don't want to feel like I don't know what's going on and this is my fantasy book reading anxiety that I constantly deal with.

That being said, what a wonderful speech and maybe I just start with Broken Earth and go back to Inheritance some day down the road.
posted by Fizz at 5:05 AM on August 21


Huh. I thought I'd read The Fifth Season, but I guess that's not the case since nothing that I've just looked up about the book is familiar. I think I just read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Killing Moon. Weird.

Good thing I have a long plane ride in September!
posted by minsies at 5:07 AM on August 21


Yessssssss I’m on book two and loving it!
posted by lazaruslong at 5:10 AM on August 21


I’m resistant to start reading series before they’re finished, as I’ve followed along too many promising series that take a nosedive into shit. So when the third book in the Broken Earth trilogy won the Hugo, I figured it would be pretty safe to start so I bought the first one yesterday. That was before I had seen the speech. But that speech made me put Fifth Season in my backpack when I left the house. I’m starting it today
posted by Kattullus at 5:15 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


that when they win it it’s meritocracy but when we win it it’s “identity politics”

Preach!!

Haven’t read this series, looking forward to! And would probably have never heard of it if not for the Hugos.
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:21 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


That speech was, as the kids say, everything.
posted by Foosnark at 5:27 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


They start bleak and they end,,,less bleak in certain ways, but not what you'd call upbeat?

Leaving aside the politics of the books (I know, but many very fine writers have talked about them in great depth, as has NK Jemisin herself), I'd like to praise the books science-fictionality, the way they do things that SF novels tend to be expected to do. Some spoilers but not too big ones follow:

1. Vast landscape and the shifts in perspective that Delaney describes as integral to the genre - like, Jemisin telescopes your viewpoint in and out as if she had a telescope - you look close, then ZOOM you're looking at the whole planet. The books cover an enormous amount of landscape, too - we see a huge amount of the world. I have a very strong sense of vast distances, traversing space, etc.

2. Extreme inventiveness both in framework and up close. All, all have praised the tectonics of this world (the frame, if you will!) but I also want to praise the up close stuff. I can't do it iin detail without too many spoilers, but Jemisin is constantly introducing new and astonishing images, creatures, technologies. You think she's basically done inventing and has set up her world, and then she's throwing new stuff at you - the boil bugs (augh), the technologies of the place the daughter goes...right up to the very end, Jemisin kept dazzling me with new inventions.

3. Sharply differentiated settings. Sure, they're all bleak, but each one is extremely vivid and thoroughly realized.

4. Characterization. This is a big epic, and one is used to characterization sometimes being a little thin in such books. While there just isn't room to deeply characterize every single person we encounter, they're all very well differentiated, and they're all pretty different - different class, regional, racial and personal backgrounds. And you get a strong sense that you're in settings populated by full, complete characters, even if you don't see too many details.

5. Effective plot twists. Folks talk about the big narrator reveal in the first book, but TBH I've been to this rodeo before and figured it out almost immediately. But the science fictional plot twist in the last pages? That knocked me out. It was great! The sheerly science fictional pleasure I got from that was one of my best SF-reading experiences.

6. Pacing and reveals. One thing I noticed again and again was that I'd be puzzling something out about the book, I'd have an a-ha moment and right after that NK Jemisin would show you the full details. It was intensely pleasurable. She's really good at giving you all the stuff you need to wonder about and semi-solve a puzzle about the world of the book at just the right pace.

My only quibble is that I wish the last book had been a little longer - I felt that the time in [that city] and the interactions among [those people] needed to be fleshed out a little more, and I wished we'd gotten slightly more and more complex dialogue at the very end big scene.

But I've read a lot of trilogies at this point, and NK Jemisin wraps up this enormous, fast-paced one just amazingly - far better than pretty much any comparable contemporary trilogy I can think of.

These are enormously accomplished books, and they fully deserve all the awards. They have grown the genre.
posted by Frowner at 5:29 AM on August 21 [48 favorites]


Page-turning prose, fresh ideas, and relevant social commentary. The Broken Earth books are exactly what awards like the Hugos are for, and I can't think of a single author more deserving of this level of achievement than Jemisin.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:30 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


How does the Broken Earth series compare to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? I really, really hated the latter, enough that I haven’t read Jemisin since, but that might not be fair if the books are really different.
posted by corb at 5:42 AM on August 21


How does the Broken Earth series compare to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?
I didn't hate either of Jemisin's previous two series -- I liked them enough to keep reading all of her books. But fantasy gods are not my favourite thing, and I much preferred the secondary world, SF-nal vibe of the Broken Earth trilogy. It still undeniably has certain fantastic / supernatural elements, but I liked it a lot more. YMMV. I guess it depends on why you disliked the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms so much. I don't find Jemisin as variable as some other writers whose individual works I reacted to much more variably (e.g. Aldiss, Mieville).
posted by confluency at 5:50 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I was never happier to not win a Hugo.
posted by jscalzi at 6:07 AM on August 21 [133 favorites]


Ok, you have all convinced me, and I'm all set to use this month's Audible credit on The Fifth Season. tofu_crouton above mentioned that it's got a fair bit of child abuse in it though and now I'm hesitating. Is it worse than A Song Of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones?) I can handle all sorts of adult death but kid stuff turns me into a sleepless crying idiot.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:08 AM on August 21


One thing I think is interesting in the books is how strong the “sci-fi anime” aesthetic is — Jemisin is a big gamer, and I assume has seen the usual anime touchstones as well (and I can easily picture orogeny in the Avatar world). It’ll be interesting to see how the tropes of that visual medium begin making their way into narrative prose over the coming decades.
posted by curious nu at 6:11 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


selfnoise: I couldn't crack the first due to the extremely bleak tone.

It weighed on me for about the first hour of the audiobook, and then it kind of faded into the background -- like Florida heat, you know?

I finished that audiobook hungrily, and launched straight into the second one, which I am just halfway through now. When I was nearing the end of the first one I expected to want a change of pace, but I looked through my TRP and there was nothing there that I wanted more than another helping!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:18 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]



Ok, you have all convinced me, and I'm all set to use this month's Audible credit on The Fifth Season. tofu_crouton above mentioned that it's got a fair bit of child abuse in it though and now I'm hesitating. Is it worse than A Song Of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones?) I can handle all sorts of adult death but kid stuff turns me into a sleepless crying idiot.


There's significant child death. I would say it's much more in the register of literary child death and is worked through much more seriously than in most epic fantasy, so if part of what troubles you is the barrage of trauma that exists to advance the plot, or if part of what troubles you is the casual and pervasive quality of violence, well, these books don't do that. But it's some haunting, I will confirm.
posted by Frowner at 6:22 AM on August 21 [14 favorites]


I greatly enjoyed the trilogy, Frowner's comments above are spot on. I finished it just before embarking on the jococruise with both Ms. Nemisin AND Mr. Scalzi. As a non-writer, and not nearly as big a reader as I pretend to be, I truly appreciate it when things rise above the noise and shine as something worthy of attention. Broken Earth deserves its kudos and I can't wait to read whatever she does next.

People worried about bleakness and misery, it's in there, a lot. But it serves a purpose (quite well).
posted by DigDoug at 6:31 AM on August 21


One thing I think is interesting in the books is how strong the “sci-fi anime” aesthetic is — Jemisin is a big gamer, and I assume has seen the usual anime touchstones as well (and I can easily picture orogeny in the Avatar world). It’ll be interesting to see how the tropes of that visual medium begin making their way into narrative prose over the coming decades.

This is very true. And I've definitely noticed that the Ancillary Sword books are very visual in a way that also speaks of games and movies. The visualness is something I really loathed in Harry Potter (though that was movies alone, obviously) and I was pretty skeptical about it because it's so thinning and trivializing there. But it's different here!

~~~
On another note, when people are all "ooooh, these books only won because of political correctness", I always wonder what they'd hold up as "non-political" but still serious contenders.

Like, I can definitely think of books where, while I like the plot, setting and prose, the politics really put them over the top. And I can think of books where the politics are so explicit and Our Earth Today that you can't even begin to consider them as "here's an adventure story". And I can think of books where I am not totally wild about the prose or the setting but the politics draw me in. And while some of those are my very favorite science fiction novels in all the world and deserve to be on the classics shelf, I probably wouldn't say, "these are natural fits for the Hugos".

But if even you were to say, "I don't care about the issues of justice, race, class and gender raised in these books, I totally ignore all that, la la this has nothing to do with our world", you're still left with a trilogy which sustains its energy, themes and inventiveness over all three books and which manages to introduce new, vivid places and things which also forward the plot right up through the last pages.

I cannot imagine any way in which these books would not at the least be very, very serious contenders for the Hugo on those grounds alone, and while I mostly pay attention to the Strange Horizons end of science fiction and thus don't really see everything, I'm hard pressed to think of something else that eclipses Jemisin and could plausibly be put in place of this trilogy.
posted by Frowner at 6:39 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


I guess it depends on why you disliked the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms so much.

I think it was specifically the god-romance elements, I feel like /usually/ when people do the “and then the god and the protagonist have a romance because the protagonist is just that amazing” the books are only going to get worse from there. I don’t mind fantasy elements, but those ones I really dislike - but it sounds like the Broken Earth should be fine, then. I’ll see if my library has it and give it a shot.
posted by corb at 6:49 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I read primarily sci-fi and fantasy, and I came to this trilogy knowing nothing about it except that I’d read one of Jemisin’s other novels and enjoyed it. It became clear over time that the vast majority of people in the books were people of color, but I definitely didn’t pick up on the “orogenes = anagram for negroes” idea because I’m a derp. (But the analogy that there’s a minority population who gets persecuted for their inborn characteristics was definitely clear.) To be fair, I listened to the audiobooks as opposed to reading the print version, and btw the audiobooks are great.

Anyway, having no preconceived notions about what the books were about beyond what the blurb said, I found them to be really rich and complex and interesting. Definitely in the top end of the range of quality that I usually find in this genre. In that light, I would say that the people complaining that she only won because of political correctness are really embodying the idea that a mediocre effort from a white guy should be given higher pride of place than a stellar effort from a minority. If you took the names off these books and didn’t tell anyone what they were about to read, the quality of the writing and world-building would be patently obvious.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:00 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


All I can say is....YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS!!!!
posted by astapasta24 at 7:18 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I'm in total agreement with selfnoise here: the bleakness is immediately offputting to me.

I tried listening to The Fifth Season, and bounced off it harder than I can remember bouncing off a book in a long time. Relative to my fantasy-reading friends, I'm an outlier, and I'm OK with that, but yeah, N.K. Jemisin's books just aren't my cup of tea.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:18 AM on August 21


The transcript includes a link if you want to pre-order the box set from Barnes & Noble. In this discussion for which one of the major axes is representation, I thought it might be worth pointing out that there is another pre-order option, from "one of the largest independent, full service, African-American owned bookstores in the nation" - it's cheaper there, too.
posted by solotoro at 7:26 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I always wonder what they'd hold up as "non-political" but still serious contenders.

Easy answer: Heinlein. As usual, "non-political" just means "reflecting my politics and not anyone else's".
posted by tobascodagama at 7:27 AM on August 21 [24 favorites]


Wonderful news. It's been years since I really enjoyed, I mean really enjoyed, any SF/F. I'd pick up something every once in a while, but never finish it. I got The Fifth Season last spring for a beach trip based on recommendations here, and wound up spending the whole week with my nose buried in my kindle. Once I'd completed the first I immediately downloaded the second and third books. I haven't powered through a series like that in 20-30 years.
posted by calamari kid at 7:36 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


So when The Fifth Season came out, I too had read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and been meh about it, and I was just like, fine, whatever, and ignored the books entirely. (I heard the buzz but still thought they were not for me -- as happens, sometimes, with buzzy books.) Then, last year, about a month before The Stone Sky came out, I decided what the hell, I'll read the first one, then I can read some other stuff, then the second, then other stuff, then the third.

Reader, I read the first one, then the second one immediately, and was mad at myself both for waiting so long to read the first and for timing it so badly for the third.
posted by jeather at 7:38 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


Good for her. If you want to dip your toes into something less apocalyptic, her next project is an expansion of City Born Great.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:43 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


On the abuse issues: One of the reasons I've been primarily reading feminist and queer SFF is because it's really rough for me to have those things used in ways that are trivial, titillating, or as a cheap way to up the stakes. I don't have the link at hand, but I trust Jemisin when she says writes that doesn't use sexual violence in that manner. She's also written that she understands if some people check out of her work when that happens.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:53 AM on August 21 [9 favorites]


I started the Inheritance trilogy and it was an amazing first read. I want to pick up book 2 but it's been so long that I've forgotten much of the story and I don't want to re-read the first but I also don't want to feel like I don't know what's going on and this is my fantasy book reading anxiety that I constantly deal with.

You're in luck! I'm in the middle of book 3 of the Inheritance Trilogy, and can report that they are actually separate novels, not the 1-book-in-three-volumes that some trilogies are. Each novel is set sometime after the one previous (10 years, 100 years) and may have some overlapping characters (gods and godlings live a LONG time), but the main characters / viewpoint character is different for each book. Book 2 especially stands on its own, as the main character doesn't know what happened in Book 1, and only learns over the course of the story. You will have a different reading experience of discovering along with her - and I'm a bit jealous. (Book 3 focuses on a character who was significant in Book 1, but not the main character).
posted by jb at 8:00 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


This makes me so very, very happy! Jemisin is brilliant, and the Broken Earth trilogy is superb.
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Metafilter: Stop texting me
posted by JohnFromGR at 8:40 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


SUCH an amazing speech!!!
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on August 21


I've only read the first one so far and I missed the overt political commentary (the implicit commentary is unavoidable) because I'm generally oblivious, and I generally like more upbeat fare.
I loved it. It was gripping and felt real.
I suspect it's not for everyone but the first completely deserved the Hugo and if they kept the quality I have no doubt that the others did too.
posted by PennD at 8:55 AM on August 21


corb, as others have said, The Broken Earth trilogy isn't much like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I also bounced off them after the first one: I'm not much into the whole gods-and-mortals romance/sex thing, and I just wasn't that interested.

But I really enjoyed the Killing Moon duology, which is super-creative in its world-building but a bit more traditional in its plot structure -- possibly because those were written first, although she didn't sell them until after the 100K novels.

I don't know if I could listen to The Broken Earth novels (versus reading). Although they have a lot of narrative momentum, there are scenes of such horror, sadness, or brutality that I don't think I could bear to hear it. Some things I deal with best on text.

That said, they're really really well-written, well-characterized, and plotted. I found The Stone Sky to be harder to follow and a little shakier than the first two, but I still think she nailed the landing.

Every award Jemisin has won is well-deserved, and I'm so pleased I got to meet her once (we hung out a bit at Wiscon just before she published her first novel).
posted by suelac at 8:59 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


It was a remarkable stroke of good luck that Fifth Season was the book I decided to take with me when I traveled to Iceland a while back. It’s immersive, in every sense of the world, to read about super-powerful sci-fi geology mages while sitting in sulphur-smelling hot water pulled from a massive geothermal hotspot at the meeting point of two massive plates.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:13 AM on August 21 [29 favorites]


I, too, found The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms not really appealing (especially the way the book was stacked to make the protagonist a pure innocent and her opponents vicious to monstrous...yeah, and the god-sex). But I've wished her well, and maybe I'll get around to trying these in the relatively near future.
posted by praemunire at 9:30 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I recently read these and loved them . I picked the first up in a store and then I thought "why am I, a white guy, reading yet another white guy book ?" (Thanks mefi) then I flipped to the author pic and was like ahhhh cool NOT a white guy. This looks cool and I need to try harder . I really thought the writing and world building were amazing , with none of the GoT meandering through 1000 characters and she stopped at 3 books! With a proper ending !

Any commentary on treatment of marginalized groups I found "just right" and integral to the story . Although most characters are of color at no point did I feel that i was reading a message book. Super easy to climb inside the heads of cool characters who don't look like me .

Also to jscalzi - I'm finally reading my first book by you (lock in) and I am loving it . Page turner!
posted by freecellwizard at 9:37 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a young writer's book. The main character is largely an authorial insert without ethical flaws. She struggles, but she never has to make a choice that changes who she is in a significant way. Nor is she ever in the wrong, really.

This cannot be said for the Broken Earth books. The characters are all a lot more complicated.

Every one of her Hugos was earned. The SFWA will not be regretting these in 50 years time.
posted by bonehead at 9:44 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


These books are a masterpiece of pacing. Completely disregarding the story itself, these books are an act of storytelling that is unparalleled. As others have noted, the way Jemisin sets up puzzles, builds suspense, and gives the story momentum is itself worth an award. If this were a movie, it would win best editing and best director as well as best film.
posted by juice boo at 9:50 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


for those like me who've never heard of these books before this FPP, here's a handy link to the first book on Amazon that'll also help out MeFi!
posted by numaner at 9:54 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


One of the highlights of my weekend at Worldcon was getting to take Jemisin's worldbuilding workshop. She splits worldbuilding into what she calls macro (universe/planet, geography, climate, etc.) and micro (species, raciation, culture, power, roles). We in the audience tried to build a world together and in her critiques and nudging it was so clear that she really does work her ass off as she says in her speech. We ended up with an oceangoing culture and struggled for a while to come up with plausible-ish reasons why a society would take to the sea and live there. Her questions for us showed that she has done so much work not just examining her culture, but learning about others and why humans act the way they do on big and small scales--i.e. it's not enough that our culture was forced out of their rightful lands by another one, since that's happened in our world and no one lives on the ocean just because of that. I was especially fascinated by her thoughts on power dynamics, though unfortunately we had to rush through that part. But that work shows through in her work bright and clear: there is an entire universe there that makes sense, she understands how all the characters think and act even if we only see them for a little while, and those characters make sense in the context of their world and their society.

I've been trying to write my own sci-fi and it's clear I have a lot more work to do. But I feel very lucky to have gotten to learn what I could from her those in 2 hours, especially because it's my first Worldcon and she decided to actually attend. I didn't realize that she doesn't normally and with how the fandom has been this decade, I don't blame her at all. It's wonderful that she is finally getting the recognition she deserves but I think a black woman had to be truly unimpeachably excellent in order to get it. The audience has gotten more and more female but it is still very white, and we have a lot of work to do. Case in point: Wonder Woman still beat Get Out in the Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category.
posted by j.r at 9:55 AM on August 21 [14 favorites]


In addition to what the rest of you are saying about this being a tremendously powerful series (all three books)...

super-powerful sci-fi geology mages

..may I just add that as a geology-adjacent scientist I deeply enjoyed all of the rock nerdery and look forward to more science fiction that embraces the more literarily obscure fields of science as a jumping off point.
posted by puffyn at 9:57 AM on August 21 [22 favorites]


Re: the other categories, I was a little surprised to see that Wonder Woman won for best screenplay. I thought it was good, but The Best?

Also, I'm glad The Good Place won for the TV category... but why did it need two out of the five slots? Especially when something like The Expanse got none?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:08 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Every one of her Hugos was earned. The SFWA will not be regretting these in 50 years time.

Assuming the SFWA (and, y'know, society) still exists in 50 years time, I fully expect that they will have mentioned these books in the presentation of a Grandmaster award.

Re: the Dramatic Work awards, those are always a bit less highbrow than the rest. And the TV nominations often go to multiple episodes of a single popular show -- in the past, it was usually Doctor Who or Game of Thrones that was the benefit of a blitz like that. Perils of nomination by the masses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:22 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm glad The Good Place won for the TV category... but why did it need two out of the five slots?

Because 164 people nominated one episode, and 87 people nominated another episode, and there's nothing in the rules that says only one of those gets to stay on the ballot. Which isn't to say that there couldn't or shouldn't be, but it's not a jury-selected ballot.
posted by asperity at 10:27 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


As others have noted, the way Jemisin sets up puzzles, builds suspense, and gives the story momentum is itself worth an award.

The way the first book casually drops "Have you ever heard of the [MASSIVE SPOILER]?" at the end is among the greatest hiding-in-plain-sight twists in all of literary history, yes.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:33 AM on August 21 [22 favorites]


Confusingly, the Hugos are World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) while the Nebulas are Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:40 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Ordering the first one right now. The plot synopsis sounded great, the books are winning rewards, and any of the non-praise I've read her is entirely irrelevant or admissible. I've been wanting a new series to sink into and I hate when fantasy novels pretend human beings are anything less than the miserable monsters they are, so I think this is right up my alley.

"Also, I'm glad The Good Place won for the TV category... but why did it need two out of the five slots? Especially when something like The Expanse got none?"

...what did The Good Place win anything for? Most obvious twist? Vanilla humor?
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:49 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Possibly people found an episode of a show about moral philosophy entiteled “The Trolley Priblem” with an actual trolley delightful and charming?
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on August 21 [11 favorites]


...what did The Good Place win anything for? Most obvious twist? Vanilla humor?

Let me be the first to say: Fork you.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:14 AM on August 21 [30 favorites]


There is always a lot of tv that gets a few things on the ballot. GoT got 2 last year (though the Expanse won), Doctor Who got 2 in 2014, 3 in 2013, 3 in 2012, 3 in 2011, 3 in 2010 . . . there are more years with one tv show in multiple slots than not. The Expanse got the two top slots that didn't make the ballot, but it was also nominated for the whole season, so there might have been ballot splitting, or maybe the voters just didn't like it as much.

Anyways it isn't a Hugo without one category you just are Not Happy with.
posted by jeather at 11:14 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


On which note, I get the conceptual appeal of The Murderbot Diaries but the execution just didn't do anything for me. At least And Then There Were (N-One) finished a strong second (also, definitely read that one if you're a regular con-goer, the high concept is delightful).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:27 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


the Hugos are World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) while the Nebulas are Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

I actually knew that and got it wrong anyway. Darn. The WSFS and voters won't have anything to worry about either, IMO.

Jemisin won at the Nebulas too, btw.
posted by bonehead at 11:29 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


See, Murderbot fan here.

My controversial one-i’m-not-jazzed-about is Wonder Woman, which I like well enough (Well, if grumbke that the ending is just bad) but was surrounded by better movies

At least Grognards didn’t push Bladerunner over the top, that thing has vast flaws.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


The Broken Earth trilogy has shot to the top of my all-time favorite books. Her speech was phenomenal, and man, that cape she was wearing was perfection.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:33 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


I listened to The Fifth Season after bouncing off the opening chapters twice — the multiple POVs, plus a tone that came off as disengaged by the reader — but the third time a persevered and ended up really enjoying it. So if you try the audiobook and find it hard going, try sticking with it for at least the first 90 minutes or so, and you may also get past that barrier.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:39 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


The other one I’m really happy for is Revbecca Roanhorse winning - FPP on her story here.

Was also rooting for A Series of Steaks and Fandom for Robots but I guess it wasn’t Vina Jie-Min Prasad‘s yeah - better luck next time.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I was also underwhelmed by Wonder Woman, largely because Thewlis's best scenery-chewing ended up buried under SFX.

I think Binti: Home suffered a bit from being the first half of Binti: The Night Masquerade. I ended up reading The Night Masquerade and All Systems Red on a road trip this weekend, and I suspect that there's more overall in Binti than I've seen so far in Murderbot. I like both, but Murderbot felt a bit like the future is corporate monoculture, while Binti suggests that our ethno-religious bullshit will probably continue for another millenium at least. (The denouement where characters from Earth discover that the events they experienced are not all that unusually or hugely significant to galactic history probably says something.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:48 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


By "ethno-religious bullshit," I mean the dynamic where the Khoush look down on the Namib, while the Namib don't even bother to learn the names of the people who live in the deep desert, not that the ethnicities or religious exist.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:54 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I loved both Murderbot and N-One and could not decide who I wanted to win there. There is something just intensely charming about a robot who just wants to be left alone to watch tv.

Levar Burton opened season 3 with Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience, and I think it's even stronger read aloud.

(I also agree about WW, I would have gone for Shape of Water, Get out, Thor, then WW, as I didn't see the other two.)
posted by jeather at 11:54 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


my new bookclub had never picked science fiction. So when it was my turn, I nervously chose The Fifth Season. Out of 6, only one other person read sci-fi but she leans towards fantasy. i wasted my time worrying. The women tore through the book. Our meeting ran 30 minutes over because we couldn’t stop talking. And 3/4 of us picked up moved onto The Obelisk Gate and are frantically juggling it with our next selection. We may end up formally going thru the trilogy. The accomplished beauty of the prose and sheer breadth of her world is sooo compelling.

side note: our current book is Pratchett’s Wee Free Men due to very short interval between meetings. I’ve opened the door and now sci-fi & fantasy is tumbling in . . .
posted by lemon_icing at 12:15 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]


Enjoyed the narrative device of Vol 1, was really digging into the characters emotionally at Vol 2 but didn't love it, by Vol 3 I was ready to throw the book against the wall for all the plot block, internal narrative padding, false stakes, moral handwringing and overall mess. I'm glad I read it but was fed-up by the close of the series.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:28 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I did get a bit frustrated during Book 2 by the number of times Alabaster refused to give a satisfactory explanation for what was going on and the number of supposed reasons for it. He needs her to figure it out for herself for [reasons], or he has selective amnesia/isn't able to think clearly anymore, or it's too mind-bendingly complex to explain in words, or he's too exhausted to talk for long periods of time - ok, sure. But using all of those excuses, over the course of months? That was the only thing in the books that felt contrived to me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:36 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I mentally chalked that up to the continuing subplot where Alabaster is an unhelpful dick.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:56 PM on August 21 [17 favorites]


Jemisin's website, August 2015: I did a recent talk for the Writers’ Digest Online Workshop and Annual Conference on worldbuilding, in which I basically explained how I do what I do, and led participants through an exercise in creating their own world...

N.K. Jemisin's Worldbuilding 101: Growing Your Iceberg
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:12 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


I loved The Fifth Season when I read it last year - it is exactly tuned to my tastes and I would recommend anyone on the fence about reading it grab a copy immediately. I can't think of a book that deserved its Hugo more.

I figured out the central mystery about half way through - that is not a criticism of the book, the clues are all there (and I am very smart).

I didn't enjoy the sequel quite as much, it seemed to be spinning its wheels a little but only in comparison to the first book.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:08 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


> quite positive about the first volume, but rather less so on the later two volumes, which gives me some pause

My experience too. I now remember more of book 1 than I do of book 2 and 3 combined.
posted by nnethercote at 8:07 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


...what did The Good Place win anything for? Most obvious twist? Vanilla humor?

Clearly you're not a fan, and that's ok. But it's worth recognizing one thing about the show that is groundbreaking: sitcoms normally follow an episodic formula, whereby nothing ever changes. Or things change extremely slowly, e.g. two characters become a couple after a couple of seasons. The Good Place absolutely shreds that formula to pieces.
posted by nnethercote at 8:10 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I wish I liked Jemisin's work better as a fuck-you to all the appropriate people. I shall settle for this speech instead.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 AM on August 22


Appreciated Nora's last line: "The stars are ours." That's the title of a top-notch 1954 Andre Norton book. "Andre" was born in a proletarian Cleveland neighborhood, as "Alice", discovered it was necessary to use male pen-names, and was the first woman inducted into the SFF HoF (1997).
posted by Twang at 9:21 PM on September 5 [4 favorites]


I just finished the last book in the Broken Earth trilogy (though I should say it's really a three-volume novel, like Lord of the Rings, rather than a traditional trilogy) and oh boy did she stick the landing. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
posted by Kattullus at 4:27 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I loved The Broken Earth and I thought it worked really well as a trilogy. The first volume in particular can be pretty disturbing to read, especially as a parent, but the second two weren't nearly as traumatic. If you can get through the first volume, it's definitely worth reading the rest.

I didn't find the same true for some high profile trilogies by other authors, where they seem use up most of their ammunition in the first volume, and the later books are weaker
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:50 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


This thread was very timely - my birthday was coming up when it was first posted, so when my brother asked what I wanted I mentioned both trilogies. He got me the Inheritance trilogy. I finished Book 1 over that work week, then tore through 2 and 3 (and the included additional novelette) over the long weekend. So. Good.

I have a few other reading projects lined up before it, so I'll probably wait until the box set is shipping rather than jump at the individual volumes now, but Broken Earth is definitely on my list.
posted by solotoro at 5:55 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


I just finished the last book in the Broken Earth trilogy (though I should say it's really a three-volume novel, like Lord of the Rings, rather than a traditional trilogy) and oh boy did she stick the landing. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

and I got to see him buy it!! ;p we were hanging out that day
posted by infini at 10:24 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


I also got to see him get married yesterday!
posted by infini at 10:29 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


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