Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Rob B, Mar 20, 2009.
Vote on YOUR choice for the 2009 Best Novel in the 2009 Hugo Awards!
The only one I've even heard of is Anathem. I think it's at the local library. I ought to read it.
Each copy is delivered by it's own lorry...
It is an awesomely impressive achievement, not only in its concept but its size. Some might say complex, meandering and dull, but there are some who LOVE it.
Anathem is basically a history of Western philosophy of science, with a plot roughly glued on. I totally love it, but I imagine people who aren't uber-nerds will find it a bit slow.
I'd probably vote for Anathem though I haven't read it yet. To be honest, I don't want to vote for any of these as none of the books I nominated even made final list.
I`ve only read three, didn`t like two and the third doesn`t really FEEL like a Hugo....
Adam Roberts has a big rant in which he heavily disses the 09 Hugo novel shortlist - Anathem for being "boring," and the rest for not sufficiently challenging the form of the novel, or something like that.
Apparently he expects SF fans to suddenly change from a bunch of science nerds into a bunch of lit-crit nerds. Seems to me he's setting himself up for disappointment...
I don't think being science nerd is the problem here. Lately, there seems to be a backlash against fantasy in the Hugos. Take this year for instance. There were several very good fantasy novels published last year and yet not one made on the short list for the Hugo. Makes one wonder.
Adam Roberts has been a reviewer/critic of SF for quite a long time, but his opinion is just that - an opinion. Quite a lot of people enjoyed the books on the ballot and many of the are not exactly new to the list either.
The books on the list I read I enjoyed. I can't say the same for fiction by Roberts.
I'm not really enthused about any of them, actually. Scalzi's book is a re-telling from a different viewpoint of a novel he already did. Stross is a good writer, but a noir with sex and black humor doesn't get me enthused at this point. Gaiman's Graveyard Book was yet another musing on themes he's done a zillion times and sounds remarkably similar to Coraline and Stardust. Doctorow's Little Brother has had a big impact in the field, done well with the awards, but seems to be a standard dystopia screed. Stephenson's Anathem brought him back into the category market fold, to a degree, but it's a Socratic dialogue that is, yet again, another dystopia screed. It sounds like it just doesn't have the heft of Cryptonomicon, though it beats it in sheer weight of paper.
So for me, it's a field of five good authors who weren't doing anything particularly stunning. My mind might change on reading them, but since I haven't had the chance to touch a one yet, my vote would be for whoever hasn't won a Hugo so far. Anybody know which it would be on that criteria?
Anathem is most definitely not a dystopia screed. The monastic life that scientists lead in Anathem is portrayed as being simple, pure, and in many ways superior to modern life.
In fact (spoiler)...part of the plot of Anathem revolves around the idea that the world in the book is actually cosmically better than Earth itself.
Oh why see now, this is why you don't trust reviewers. They never give me the facts correctly.
Incidentally, while I'm saying I'm not that "enthused" about the shortlist -- which I freely admit is partly a condition of not yet having read any of the shortlist -- I do fully believe that all of the authors on the list are well worthy of being on it. Just thought I'd make that clear in case I get accused of being like Mr. Roberts.
Honestly this is just ignorance talking; Mr. Roberts has a point and at least he read (some if not all of) the works in cause but talking like this is to me very weird
I read 4 of the books, or to be more precise read one 4-5 times (Anathem) and I found it excellent and quite original at least as far as sff goes - maybe if you read Penrose tome on the current frontiers of physics and some philosophy, it would be less original, but as sff novel goes it's maybe not for everyone but it is what makes sf great
I finished one fast and I found it quite bad but I have come to expect such from the author's novels so i will avoid them from now on (Saturn)
I fast browsed two of them and I found one very mediocre, a barely readable book with some ok stuff (Scalzi) and one a boring political tract that got outdated fast (Doctorow)
The only one I have not read is Gaiman so while of course I would love Anathem to win and I find it like 1000 times superior to the other 3 which i think got on the ballot on author name, i cannot comment on Gaiman and how it stacks against it
But talking like this out of ignorance does no one any service...
Taking away the fact that John Scalzi has a book on the shortlist, he still (as usual) has some clear-headed things to say about Roberts's post.
John Picacio takes Roberts to greater task, and rightfully so.
Am now going to go out and buy all of John Scalzi's books.
The Android's Dream begins on a fart joke, have fun.
And my response to you calling me ignorant is the same as it would be to Mr. Roberts calling me ignorant -- I don't care what you say. However, Mr. Roberts is not specifically calling me ignorant, as I did not vote for the Hugo nominations. He's calling Hugo voters who read the books ignorant.
The five books on the list don't sound immediately interesting to me, which is a subjective opinion. I explained why this was the case. I definitely intend to read Anathem, The Graveyard Book, and Little Brother, and may read the others, in which case, my interest in them may increase. If you have a problem with this, again I don't care.
I have read nearly everything Neil Gaiman has done in fiction, and a good chunk of his Sandman comics besides. I have read John Scalzi's Old Man's War, which starts the series that Zoe's Tale is part of. I have read nearly all that Stephenson has written except his early thrillers and the Quatro series which I started but then stopped, but may get back to. Cryptonomicon is my favorite of his that I have read. I have read short fiction and excerpts by Mr. Stross, who is on my reading list. I have not yet read Mr. Doctorow's fiction, though I've read some of his non-fiction and I've heard many good things about him. So I've read three out of the five authors, even if I have not yet read the books selected, and I am very aware of their reputations and impact on the field.
As I am a fan of Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Gaiman, Mr. Roberts does indeed consider me ignorant by extension. As you are a fan of Mr. Stephenson who wants Anathem to win, Mr. Roberts considers you ignorant. I consider you both juvenile to be running around calling other readers ignorant. But as personal insults are against the rules of the forum, what say we get back to talking about the Hugo nominees? (And no, this is not me shaking my moderator stick; it's me pointing out that you insulting me will be a waste of your valuable time.)
I agree that the Hugo votes often seem motivated by factors other than how much the voters liked the books - specifically, people seem to sometimes vote for the author instead of the book. Would Speaker for the Dead have gotten a Hugo if people hadn't liked Ender's Game so much? Would every one of Charles Stross' books for the last umpteen years really have won a Hugo nomination if they had all been written under different pen names? I have my doubts.
That said, Roberts is trying to turn sci-fi fandom into lit-crit, which I think is a ridiculous thing to do. There is no accounting for taste an no objective scale for quality. All Roberts is really saying is "I don't like what you fans like, so screw you." Which would be a lot funnier if he said it that way (hey, I enjoy dissing stuff I don't like!), instead of trying to appeal to pseudo-academic snobbishness.
I think Speaker for the Dead would have gotten the nomination, yes, because I think Speaker for the Dead was a better book than Ender's Game, not that I think Ender's Game wasn't a great book. That the two books remain very popular and respected in the face of many fans' discomfort with Card's personal views (including me,) is something of a testament to how the two novels resonated.
I don't think an author always gets nominated just because they really liked the last book. There usually has to be something about the book that attracts people -- the subject matter, the style, the character voice, the plot, etc. Once they get a first nomination for some category, authors are more likely to get nominated again, but it doesn't happen for all of them, and it doesn't happen consistently for every book. The tendency to write series, in fact, often means an author doesn't get another shot at the novel nomination until he or she starts a new series. But sometimes they'll get nominated for more than one novel in a series. So again, not consistent.
Separate names with a comma.