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Worlds Without End Blog

2014 Hugo Award Nominees Posted at 10:07 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

  Neptune's Brood Parasite Warbound The Wheel of Time

The 2014 Hugo Award nominees have been announced.  The noms in the Novel category are:

See the full list of noms in all categories on the official Hugo Award site.

So, it’s the entire Wheel of Time series that is up for the best novel.  The Hugo rules allow a series to be eligible after the final volume has been published and as long as none of the books in the series were nominated individually.  The argument is that it’s one long continuous story which is the same reasoning that lead to Blackout and All Clear being nominated as a single volume.  Interesting.  Will the legions of Jordan/Sanderson fans out there carry the award for them?

What do you think of this crop of nominees?  Anything strike your fancy?


Scott Laz   |   19 Apr 2014 @ 23:31

I’ve been reading Neptune’s Brood, and greatly enjoying it.

If anyone else is wondering how Larry Correia was nominated, check this out:

Sadly, as someone who used to follow them avidly, I can no longer work up any interest in the Hugo Awards.

DrEvilO   |   19 Apr 2014 @ 23:40

Ancillary Justice is a worthy nominee, and based on my impression also the likely winner. It is by far the most frequently read of the books listed on WWE and also the best rated.

Engelbrecht   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 01:58

Hmm, worst ballot ever?

Two books that I wouldn’t use to line a cat box with, the lame-sounding Parasite, and Neptune’s Brood, which was OK, but not really that impressive. Thank goodness Ancillary Justice is included…

2013 wasn’t really a great and shining year for SF, but there were some decent books that could/should have been nominated: Wilson’s Burning Paradise, Robinson’s Shaman, McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty, Beukes’ The Shining Girls, all decent books.

There was some GREAT fantasy last year, especially by debut authors. I’m really surprised that Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane wasn’t included, especially given that this year’s convention is being held in London. I also thought that the excellent London Falling by Paul Cornell (another Brit) might have had a chance.

In an alternate universe, my all-women debut novels ballot would have been a far, FAR stronger ballot. In alpha order:
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
Vicious by V. E. Schwab
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler

DrNefario   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 03:47

I was very surprised not to see the Gaiman, too. I wonder if he declined the nomination?

My gut reaction is that it’s a dreadful shortlist, certainly the worst that has been announced this year. Maybe I’m being unfair, but we’re getting dangerously close to completely devaluing the award.

Roland Johnson   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 09:10

Except for Ancillary Justice they are all series too (I moved Neptune’s Brood to the Saturn’s Children series). Except for Leckie and Stross (who I would always have time for even when bad) I have no strong desire to read any of them.
It would also seem that, with the nominations of Larry Correia and Vox Day (for novella), the Hugos are on an anti-Scalzi jag. Have the Hugos been hijacked by the Tea Party? Only time will tell.

Rhonda Knight   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 09:48

Hi Guys, I hate to say it, but I think we are all reacting to the populist drive of the Hugos. I think I might be turning into an old fart, but rarely do I think what is popular is actually good anymore. In fact, I usually come to good and popular things late because I’m dubious that they are actually good because everyone else thinks so.
The other awards this year have piqued my interest, not this one.

Scott Laz   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 11:31

As SFF fandom has grown, it has also fragmented into constituencies based around subgenres and authors. Looking at the blog post where Correia encourages his fans to become Worldcon members and nominate him, he motivates his troops by saying, right off the bat: “You too can tell stuffy literati types to go screw themselves.” It’s not the populism that bothers me, but the pretty explicit antagonism against, and failure to even consider engaging with, anyone with different tastes or ideas. (Yes, kind of like, as RJ mentions, the Tea Party mentality, which also contains a similar strain of anti-intellectualism.)

The Hugo is meant to be a populist award, but it could also be described as elitist. Anyone can join the convention, but there is a pretty hefty cost for a supporting membership, and most fans aren’t going to see that as worth paying just to participate in the awards process. As it is, then, a motivated bloc of voters from a particular constituency, which can come down to a tiny fraction of fandom overall, can get something nominated. In the case of Correia’s book, his attitude toward “stuffy literati types”, and looking at the comments from his fans, its pretty clear that they are happy to stick to their own part of the field, and are unlikely to have read anything else on the Hugo ballot or explored other parts of the genre (especially the “stuffy” corners). That’s not a knock on Correia and his fans, who are free to think and read what they want, but it is a knock on the Hugo process, which can reward such campaigning, and empower small groups with an agenda not just to advance their own favorites, but to joyfully tear down other parts of fandom in the process, and to succeed in influencing the award that is the best-known SF “seal of approval” to the world outside of fandom.

The growth and increasing diversity of SFF is a great thing. But unlike when I was a kid first getting into this stuff, it’s impossible to keep up with much of what comes out, so inevitably there is less of a consensus on what the core books to read each year are. The fragmentation of the readership is inevitable, and the Hugo is bound to reflect that. Like Rhonda, I don’t expect what’s popular to line up with my personal tastes, and I’ve rarely “agreed” with the Hugo nominators, but I’ve always been interested in the process, because it should provide a snapshot of what the popular trends are. But not if the process can be hijacked the way it seems to have been. I’m fine with the Hugo’s populism–that’s what it’s designed to reflect–so at this point I would advocate turning it into a real populist poll. Create a “voting membership” at a much lower price ($5?), and start a movement within all of the subcultures and constituencies of fandom to get everyone to vote. Make it easy to vote. I’m not likely to agree with the result of that process either, but that would be fine. It would still tell me what most people think is the best of the field.

Sorry to go on at such length, but I’d love to know what others think about this. I could just give up on the award–it’s not important in the grand scheme, after all–but I have a bit of emotional investment in it that goes way back, so would prefer not to do that, if possible. Now I’ve got to go chase some of the neighborhood kids off my lawn…

The Cardinal   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 13:57

Ugh. Really?…Mira Grant again?

Stephen Poltz   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 14:13

I’m going to ramble a bit too…

I’m really disappointed “The Golem and the Jinni” wasn’t nominated. I just finished it about a week ago and loved it. But my tastes run towards the literary and away from the space opera. In my SF/F book club, which runs over 30 people per meeting, space opera, hard science, and high fantasy are always big hits, even if they’re poorly written or obviously derivative. I tend to be in the minority when polling for likes and dislikes at the end of the each meeting.

There’s a part of me that says, “Well, at least they’re reading. Does it matter what they’re reading?” I have this same thought on my daily train commute, marveling at how many people are actually reading a novel. However, when I realize how many are reading the same pop novels and authors, I despair. It makes me think that if the National Book Award or the Pulitzer was voted on by these people, Grisham, Patterson, or Evanovitch would win every year, except when the hipsters vote in a bloc and sneak a Kafka or Sartre in.

Inevitably, every award is a popularity contest of some kind. Like the Oscars, sometimes they are given because an award is overdue, or it’s because they have a big fan base, or it was marketed the best. Sometimes, it’s an odd fluke. Look at “The Forever Machine” and “The Wanderer”, a paean to Scientology and a creepy cat-lady alien (and not creepy in a good way), respectively.

I really appreciate some of the comments already made, like the tea-party analogy and how popular is often something to be avoided. That’s why I love this site. I think the awards listings gives an opportunity to find some worthwhile reads. It also provides extensive reader reviews to help you in your selection process. I’ve read quite a few books because of the reviews featured in the blog, and am now following some people’s blogs because of their reviews. And by filling up the author databases, it’s like browsing in the library or a used book store, and having more than just the quotes on a back cover to go by.

daxxh   |   20 Apr 2014 @ 17:03

I gave up on the Hugo Award a while ago because it was a popularity contest. Some of the books that were winning were, although entertaining, just not worthy of an award in my opinion. It’s nice to see that I am not the only person that thinks that. I am starting to wonder about the Nebula Award since I have read a few from previous years nominees that left me wondering how they got there. This year’s list is decent though (I’ve read four so far), so I haven’t entirely given up on that one.

I have read Ancillary Justice, an awesome book, and will probably read Neptune’s Brood since I read Saturn’s Children. The rest, no.

Cecily Kane   |   21 Apr 2014 @ 00:09

Oh, FFS. Vox Day and Larry Correia can’t even hold my interest for a thousand-word essay. They are ignorant and obnoxious douchecannons, and I have a very difficult time imagining that their books are any better than their insufferably boring blog posts.

I’d also second Engelbrecht’s imaginary ballot upthread.

This is just a suggestion — how about we WWE’nders all concentrate on the great stuff on the Hugo ballot this year? Catherynne Valente’s “Six Gun Snow White,” Klages’ and Duncan’s “Wakullah Springs,” “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard, and of course “Ancillary Justice.” Just because the nomination list is BS doesn’t mean the award has to be, in the end. The good works can use our support, y’all.

Roland Johnson   |   21 Apr 2014 @ 09:25

I love Scott’s idea of the $5 Hugo voting membership. The Tea Party was able to hijack Republican primaries because of restrictions to the voting process and the same seems to apply for the Hugos. Opening up the process should eliminate skewed results like these. The odd rule of voting for an entire series should probably be abolished too. Of course there will be a lot more canvassing by authors and more cerebral authors may opt out of the process but that’s popularity in the age of social media.
The Nebulas are, as they say, the Oscars of SF&F, where professionals vote for professionals and like the Oscars are subject to a fair amount of log rolling. That accounts for Jack McDevitt’s surprising number of wins and nominations. (Now I like McDevitt, on a rainy day when I’m feeling under the weather he can be entertaining, but he is a mediocre writer and does belong on any award list.)

Scott Laz   |   21 Apr 2014 @ 13:26

Yes, CK. Leaving aside the sad puppies, there are some good things on the ballot. I loved “Wakulla Springs”, and look forward to catching up on the Valente, de Bodard, Chiang, Swirsky, Samatar, and others–all authors I’ve enjoyed. The related work, fan writer, and Campbell Award lists also stood out with some great choices. Graphic story has some good things, though Hugo voters are clearly limited in their knowledge of comics. Outside of the absurd political statement, the ballot actually shows encouraging diversity, and even those nominations could be seen as a sign of growing participation in the nominating process.

bazhsw   |   21 Apr 2014 @ 14:13

From my point of view my re-entry into SF was by looking at the Hugo’s to see what was happening in SF and what was worthy of picking up. Just a couple of years later and I’m already beginning to see the Hugo’s of little value.

From my point of view series shouldn’t be there – if individual efforts have never been worthy of nomination then it seems strange to nominate an entire body of work. Either the work stands on it’s own or it doesn’t. This seems to be a way for fandom to reward an author with a Hugo even if it doesn’t warrant (I don’t really have a problem with a ‘best series’ type award but that’s always going to be problematic as sales often dictate when a series ends rather than a ‘full stop’.

Authors begging for nominations under the guise of sticking two fingers up to the establishment is crass.

I haven’t read the Mira Grant novel but she seems to be nominated every year and I’m really not a fan of her work at all.

Fans voting for winners is a democratic process and also the fact that one needs to make a financial commitment to vote does give the voter an investment. Therefore, it probably is fair as an award but I suspect this vote in future says more about what is popular rather than ‘good’.

Scott Laz   |   21 Apr 2014 @ 18:14

The Wheel of Time nominators are taking advantage of a rule not originally designed for that purpose. It used to be that many major SF novels were serialized in one of the magazines before reaching book publication (and when the Hugos began in the ’50s, SF novels being published as books was a pretty new thing). The rule says that a multi-part novel can be nominated in the year that the final installment is published, even if earlier parts were published in a prior year. It was really meant to deal with a situation where the final part of a serialized novel appeared in the January issue of Astounding or Galaxy, after the first two parts had appeared in November and December of the year before. I’m pretty sure it was never used to nominate a series like this before (I could be wrong). It seems an unfair comparison, and if it wins (which I’ve seen lots of people predicting), it would be a strange outcome for an award that’s supposed to be for the best novel of 2013. It’s the gaming of the rules that is disheartening.

DrNefario   |   22 Apr 2014 @ 11:13

I think it’s the nomination process that’s not really working. Who really reads that many brand-new novels? I consider myself quite a heavy reader, and I had read three 2013 novels before the nomination deadline, one of which was a freebie I won from the author, and one of which was a book I’d been waiting for for years. (And it’s the third one, Ancillary Justice, which I actually nominated and which made the ballot.)

Ancillary Justice would be a perfect Hugo winner: a book that seems to have come from nowhere and risen to the top purely on buzz. I haven’t read any of the others (apart from 11/14 of the Wheel of Time), and maybe I’ll be surprised, but really if AJ doesn’t walk it, I’ll have to consider the Hugos broken.

Rhondak101   |   22 Apr 2014 @ 15:47

I think that Scott is correct that the voting membership is often prohibitive for many.
I wonder what would happen if people could have two options, no frills voting for $5 or the supporting membership that contains the e-texts package for the usual rate, isn’t it about $35?

I usually get the supporting membership, not because I’m that interested in voting, but because it is usually a good deal on books and novellas I have not read yet. This year I was thinking that I would not buy it because of the obvious. However, I think I will wait to see how many of the other award nominees end up being in the package, because those titles could make it worth it after all.

htaccess   |   23 Apr 2014 @ 02:08

You guys think about this stuff way more than I do. All that thinking should be used to more effect, hence I propose the WWE Awards, where _we_ get to select the nominees and the winner.

Allie   |   23 Apr 2014 @ 06:12

The nominee list this year is frustrating, and the only ones I’d really like to read are Ancillary Justice, and maybe Charles Stross’s series. I also didn’t really get a chance to read much new SF last year, and so was in bad shape for nominations. I’m reading The Golem and the Jinni now, and so far it’s really good. It would have been nice to see something like that on the Hugo list. Engelbrecht’s list covers a lot of books I’ve been wanting to read, but haven’t gotten around to yet.

I think it would be fun if we had a yearly WWEnd award :).

DrNefario   |   23 Apr 2014 @ 07:28

We could pick a Champion of Champions, from each year covered on the site. 🙂

Rhondak101   |   23 Apr 2014 @ 14:19

I love DrN’s idea. Maybe folks could sponsor RYO challenges for particular years. Then the folks who sign up and complete the challenge could vote for the winner. Obviously, there would have to be some way for those among us who’ve already read everything (i.e, Engelbrecht) to vote as well. Thoughts?

Cecily Kane   |   23 Apr 2014 @ 17:42

I love the idea of a Worlds Without End award.

Roland Johnson   |   24 Apr 2014 @ 10:21

Well, we have about 3,500 registers users that’s twice the number that voted for the best novel nominations.

Dave Post   |   24 Apr 2014 @ 14:10

I like the idea of doing a WWEnd Recommended Reading List for people to consider when they do their Hugo nominations next year. Like how the Locus Award started out. We do have a lot of members but the majority don’t participate so I’m not sure how many people we could get on board. It would be interesting to try and develop the rules and voting procedure for an award. Lot’s of pitfalls to avoid but surely we could do something better than the Hugo. At least we wouldn’t charge $50 to vote.

Cecily Kane   |   25 Apr 2014 @ 10:44

Dave, I think that’s a great idea — to form a recommended reading list for other award nominations, etc. as a group, and then maybe consider an award at some point in the future. How do we start? Should we perhaps start with a thread in the forum for discussing 2014 and 2013 novels we’re reading/plan to read/etc. and pull from that? A 2013/2014 Challenge maybe (though I think most of us are up to our eyeballs in challenges) — or perhaps that would be more appropriate for next year?

DrEvilO   |   25 Apr 2014 @ 20:46

Don’t we already all vote on the books during the star-rating portion of a book review? If there were a way of categorizing the book database by year and sorting by mean rating (I’m assuming the decimal form is stored somewhere) we could pull and publish the top five books by year for all of time. Not only would we have to go through an arduous nominations phase but the ranking of best book would be flexible to the changing tastes of future readers. Members would not be forced into a ‘book club’ styled process and could read books at their leisure not because it happens to be released in the year and now needs to be voted on. The list could be titled WWEnd Top Ranked Books or WWEnd Top Ranked Books by Year and would represent an authentic ‘voted awarding’ process. If you have a proclivity for spectacle we could raise a hullabaloo about appending the list with the latest years sort results on the blogs/the Twitter, etc.

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