Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hugo Awards Announced

This weekend, at LonCon 2014, the Hugo Awards were announced and there are some excellent, excellent winners and I believe that much of the SF community is coming away with some good feelings about the whole thing. 

For me specifically, one of the most interesting aspects of this year’s awards was the short list for the best novel, specifically the debut Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and the massive Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan '(with the help of Brandon Sanderson for the final 3 novels). As best as I can tell, these were the two leading titles and people would have only been surprised if neither of them won. Despite both being favorites, there are some decidedly noteworthy differences. While AJ has been sweeping the awards this year, snagging a Nebula, an Arthur C Clarke award, and the British Science Fiction Association, the WoT series has been around since 1990, was only recently finished and weighing in at 3.5 million words, does a good job of defining epic fantasy. 
In fact, some would argue that it is, the very dentition epic fantasy and very likely trots out just about every trope of the genre at least once. Don't get me wrong, the books are still good and have a strong enough following that the series even has its own Convention. In fact, there was some worry in the community that there would be a glut of voters signing up solely to vote for the WoT series and would disregard the other categories (analysis shows that this didn't happen). Finally, Sanderson had to be brought in to finish the series. A feat that is difficult to manage and that he pulled off wonderfully. 

Conversely, Leckie's debut gives a unique perspective of a revenge tale mixed with an excellent exploration of self and gender. In my opinion, there are two things that make AJ simply excellent. First, you get thrown right into the deep end. There is no winding road to learn about the protagonist and their toils and tribulations. In fact, the first few chapters make for some mental chewing and revisiting just to stay afloat. Then, when you start to feel you have a handle on things and you think you are getting the hang of the depths, Leckie starts hurling waves at you. Second, the protagonist has difficulty telling gender and defaults to "she" and "her". It might not seem like much, but to have all of the characters resist even this level of categorization drastically changes how the entire story is read.

In realizing that this post is in danger of rambling on eve more, I will end with this, go out and read both of these stories, they are both excellent for some very diverse reasons. 

No comments: