What is Worth Nominating for the Hugos This Year?
January 21, 2013 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I am eligible to nominate for the Hugo Awards (one of the big science fiction and fantasy awards) this year, and I want to do it right. I have about two months to read more books from last year to broaden my slate - what should I read?

I am mostly interested in books, but shorter stuff is totally welcome if its available somewhere reasonably accessible, and feel free to chime in about all the other categories if you have opinions. I feel ok not nominating in, say, graphic novels, because I don't follow them enough to have a sense of proportion, but I am always happy to have interesting new recommendations.
posted by restless_nomad to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry if these are obvious or you've already read them, but personal favorites have been:

Felix Gilman, The Rise of Ransom City. Gilman offers a powerfully written drama of personal disillusionment and the search for redemption, set against a gently genre-bending backdrop of a fantastical "Western" frontier where the industrial age's demons live and breathe. It has a continuity with his previous novel but billing it as a sequel does it a disservice: it stands on its own. I recommend this one highly.

M John Harrison's Empty Space. I didn't understand it on first reading, but it struck me as ambitious and important. It is a conclusion to threads begun in Light and Nova Swing; I can't speak to what kind of sense it makes without that frame of reference.

I would imagine there will be a lot of noise around Saga for Graphic Story, which it probably deserves to be a contender for. It can be had digitally.
posted by Theophylactic at 1:01 PM on January 21, 2013

Have you read the novel Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker? It's great, though perhaps not the typical sci fi book since it's also a coming-of-age novel about a girl.

I will confess not having read it yet, and I will say I also know the author. However! The Prince Who Fell from the Sky by John Claude Bemis is on my reading list, and I've heard great stuff about it.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:47 PM on January 21, 2013

I haven't yet read Paula Bacigalupi's "The Fractal Prince," but if it's as good as its same-universe predecessor "The Quantum Thief," then I'd recommend it enthusiastically.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:48 PM on January 21, 2013

Response by poster: The Quantum Thief was brilliant, and The Fractal Prince is on my list, but it's by Hannu Rajaniemi.

Obscure is good but not required - I read a ton of books last year, but a surprisingly small percentage of them were brand-new books.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:56 PM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: If I had to submit right now, my ballot would say ...

Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata
K. J. Parker, Sharps
John Scalzi, Redshirts
China Mieville, Railsea
Joe Abercrombie, Red Country

Of those, I could recommend Sharps with few reservations to the largest number of people. But I loved The Hydrogen Sonata best of all.

Anyway, I'm still reading ...
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:46 PM on January 21, 2013

Yes, The Hydrogen Sonata was perhaps the only book I read last year that made me feel delight.
posted by Malla at 2:52 PM on January 21, 2013

Best answer: Snap, got my Hugo PIN this afternoon, and I have opinions. I am under-read in novels and playing frantic catchup, so ask me again in six weeks' time. Personally I liked Jack Glass by Adam Roberts, The Coldest War by Ian Tregilis, and London Falling by Paul Cornell, but I don't think any of them have a chance of getting on the ballot.

It's easier to get up to speed on short fiction - nearly everything on Tempest Bradford's best of 2012 list is good. My picks are:
One Little Room An Everywhere, KJ Parker (novelette)
The Boomaking Habits of Select Species, Ken Liu (short story)
Fade to White, Catherynne Valente (novelette)
The Contrary Gardener, Christopher Rowe (novelette I think)
Mantis Wives, Kij Johnson

The three Year's Best volumes (Horton, Dozois, Strahan) have released their picks for the year and a lot of them are online if you want further pre-filtered reading:
"Holmes Sherlock", Eleanor Arnason (Eclipse Online)
"Things Greater Than Love", Kate Bachus (Strange Horizons)
"Invisible Men", Christopher Barzak (Eclipse Online)
"In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns", Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s)
"Heaven Under Earth", Aliette de Bodard (Electric Velocipede)
"Scattered Along the River of Heaven", Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld)
"Immersion", Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld)
"The Keats Variation", K. M. Ferebee (Strange Horizons)
"Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream", Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed)
"The Castle That Jack Built", Emily Gilman (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"The Grinnell Method", Molly Gloss (Strange Horizons)
"A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight", Xia Jia (Clarkesworld)
"The Education of a Witch", Ellen Klages (Under My Hat ed. Strahan)
"The Weight of History, The Lightness of the Future", Jay Lake (Subterranean)
"Uncle Flower’s Homecoming Waltz", Marissa K. Lingen (Tor.com)
"The Finite Canvas", Brit Mandelo (tor.com)
"Swift, Brutal Retaliation", Meghan McCarron (Tor.com)
"About Fairies", Pat Murphy (Tor.com)
"Nightside On Callisto", Linda Nagata
"Let Maps to Others", K.J. Parker (Subterranean)
"Prayer", Robert Reed (Clarkesworld)
"Four Kinds of Cargo", Leonard Richardson (Strange Horizons)
"The Governess and the Lobster", Margaret Ronald, (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
"Honey Bear", Sofia Samatar (Clarkesworld)
"Ruminations In An Alien Tongue", Vandana Singh (Lightspeed)
"The Memcordist", Lavie Tidhar (Eclipse Online)
"A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones", Genevieve Valentine (Clarkesworld)
"The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring", Genevieve Valentine (Lightspeed)
"Astrophilia", Carrie Vaughn (Clarkesworld)

Best Graphic Story: I plan to nominate Kieron Gillen's 2011-2012 run on Journey Into Mystery (which is issues 622 to 645). It's all available as single issues on Comixology, or as collected trade paperbacks - not that quick to catch up on, but it is good. Saga I've also heard good things about, and the first volume is out in trade.
posted by penguinliz at 3:06 PM on January 21, 2013 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I recently read The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, and it moved me in a profound way that so many sci-fi books have failed to do.
posted by greenish at 7:35 AM on January 22, 2013

I recommend The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (and others), and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. (Taken at a quick glance through Good Reads of 2012, these are the books that I have read and loved from the fantasy and sci fi sections.) I plan to read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness because I loved A Discovery of Witches -- I'm guessing whether you've read the first book in the trilogy will inform whether you'd want to read it or not.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:12 AM on January 22, 2013

Best answer: The Best "Related Work" I read this year was Lizzie Stark's exploration of Live Action Role Playing culture, Leaving Mundania. My favorite bits come at the end, when she talks about the transformative art-larps going on in Northern Europe, since that's been an interest of mine as a game designer for a few years, but I learned a lot about the communities that have formed around larping over the last few decades.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, folks - I'll mark stuff "best" as I read it. (I have had a surprising amount of trouble digging some of them up at the library.)

Leaving Mundania is going on the list for sure - that was great.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:04 PM on February 21, 2013

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