The OF Blog: I was considering reviewing all of the shortlisted Nebula Award for Best Novel, but...

Friday, March 09, 2012

I was considering reviewing all of the shortlisted Nebula Award for Best Novel, but...

I forgot to post this list for the Nebula Awards for Best Novel (I had considered briefly covering the other shortlisted titles, then realized that with my current reviewing schedule, I wouldn't have time), but seeing that the winner will be announced around May 19-20, I thought I might as well start acquiring the books that I haven't yet read (bold for the ones I've already read):

    Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
    Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey; Subterranean Press)
    Firebird, Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
    God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
    Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime Books)
    The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Based on the authors that I've read, it's not a bad list...with one notable exception.  I see that yet once again, a Jack McDevitt novel appears on the shortlist.  For the past decade, one could hardly go a year without something by him appearing on a Nebula shortlist.  Sure, it's SF and it seems he has a devoted fanbase, but I become quite skeptical about this, ever since I sampled one of his novels (I believe it was Chindi) several years ago and found it to be competent but far from very good.

Now I have heard rumors that McDevitt was one of several SFWA authors who would solicit votes much more vigorous than just a simple "hey, something of mine is eligible" post somewhere and while I do not know how valid those rumors are (after all, I likely will never be a SFWA member), there is that contrarian streak in me that does not want to promote with a review a work that may have been placed on a shortlist more due to personal ties than to quality of work.  True, the possibility of others appearing here due to "popularity" issues rather than story quality is at least plausible, but my experiences with their works has been better than my fleeting encounter with an older McDevitt work.

So I plan on reading the Walton and Jemisin (even though it means I have to read her second novel, The Broken Kingdoms, as well) in addition to re-reading the Hurley and Valentine for review purposes (I gave a mixed review to Miéville's book last year).   I just will not be reading or reviewing one of the finalists for reasons stated above.  It may seem a bit petty, but it is one way to protest the suspected state of affairs, even if many may believe this to be a mistaken policy.


Ben Godby said...

I'm really interested to see what you think of "Among Others"--namely its ending. Because I was all like "yeeeeaaah" for a couple hundred pages and then I was like "wut."

Lsrry said...

It likely won't be until late March/early April before I get to it (I have reviews to write for the Man Asian and PEN/Faulkner Prize finalists first), but hopefully within a month I'll have a review of it up (it'll likely be the first review outside of the already-posted Miéville one).

Unknown said...

My only concern is that you're dropping the McDevitt out for what mostly seems to be a problem with a rumor. You might want to confirm that before you chuck him off the list. Rumors are a strange thing, after all.

Beyond that, it should be interesting to see what you think. Hopefully the Hugo list looks more like A Dribble of Ink's list...

Lsrry said...

Well, if I hadn't read a sample years ago that left me wondering why in the hell it was on the list, I would have dismissed it, but that, combined with this Firebird being the sixth book in a series was enough for me to just say no. Since I plan on reviewing all of the others, it behooved me to give reasons why right now, even if some might question my motives.

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