The OF Blog: Various award finalists and my review plans for them

Friday, March 21, 2008

Various award finalists and my review plans for them

Ah, spring is here and with the bird chirping and the trees fucking themselves and our sinus cavities, it must mean that it is time for the usual spate of spec fic awards announcements. I decided to wait a bit before linking to the various finalists, but here are a few interesting finalists (for novels only, although I do plan on reading the shorter fiction where possible):

Arthur C. Clarke Award

The Red Men: Matthew de Abaitua - Snow Books
The H-Bomb Girl: Stephen Baxter - Faber & Faber
The Carhullan Army: Sarah Hall - Faber & Faber
The Raw Shark Texts: Steven Hall - Canongate
The Execution Channel: Ken MacLeod - Orbit
Black Man: Richard Morgan - Gollancz

I have read only one of these so far (the Morgan), but I recently placed an order for the Hall and I do hope to have bought, read, and reviewed at least some of these six months in advance of the April 30 awards ceremonies.

Nebula Award

Tobias Buckell, Ragamuffin
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine
Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon's Arms
Jack McDevitt, Odyssey

I have read the Buckell and Hopkinson last year and recently received a copy of the Chabon. I do plan on buying the other two in advance of the awards announcement, which is scheduled for the weekend of April 25-27.

Hugo Award

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Ian McDonald, Brasyl
Robert J. Sawyer, Rollback
John Scalzi, The Last Colony
Charles Stross, Halting State

I haven't read any of these yet, although I do have the Chabon and will order the others before the 2008 WorldCon in Denver, which meets August 6-10.

Of the three awards, I have to say that I am the least enthused by the Hugo list. Besides the failure of Richard Morgan's Black Man/Thirteen to make the list (along with a dozen or more 2007 releases that I believe are better quality stories than the finalists, an expected reaction I suppose), I have had lukewarm to negative reactions to stories by Sawyer, McDonald, and Stross. I did enjoy some of Chabon's earlier fiction and am looking forward to reading his entry, but I am hesitant to try Scalzi's work, mostly because I am not interested in the sort of story (based on blurbs and a few reviews I've read over the years) that he prefers to tell. I will give them all a shot, but with a sense of trepidation.

The Nebulas are a mixed bag in my opinion. I did enjoy the Hopkinson and Buckell and Hopkinson's book made it onto my personal Best of 2007 shortlist while the Buckell was on the extended list. Again, I have high hopes for the Chabon, while the Haldeman and McDevitt books just seem to be indicators of the growing belief that there is a "voting bloc" among the SFWA members that chooses friendship above story quality. Whether or not it's true doesn't matter as much as the perception that such things are occurring.

The Clarke shortlist intrigues me the most. Although I've only read the Morgan, I have been curious about most of the others on that shortlist and from what I've gathered, there is a broader range of styles between those six novels.

On a related note, Victoria Hoyle has done a lengthy and interesting two-part examination of the finalists for the Crawford Award (awarded for the best debut work in "fantasy" - with the quotation marks to indicate that there isn't a strictly-defined meaning). While I have read, enjoyed, and reviewed the winning book, Christopher Barzak's One for Sorrow, I am not as familiar with the other finalists and based on her comments and how she provided small samples of their style and prose, I might just have to go out and buy some of these to read and to review in the coming months.

I guess I better get back into the reviewing swing of things sooner rather than later if I want to have informed opinions on these books when the winners are announced.

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