Thursday, July 28, 2016


While I've fallen off the face of the web, I have done a little work on reading/watching the Hugo finalists and getting ready for voting. Sadly, I haven't had the energy or will to write about it, until now, and I'm pretty sure I won't have time to write about all of them. So I'll just do what little I can before voting ends.

After last year's attempt to be completely fair in my judging resulted in me wasting my time on total garbage, I decided this year to avoid any works created by rapid puppies, which whittled down the list a bit before I even started.

Because the puppies nominated a bunch of good stuff this year, that many others nominated as well, I am NOT going by what they nominated. That would throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So, let's start with the novels. I had read all but one before the finalists were announced. That one I hadn't read was "The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass" by Jim Butcher, which was easy to get from the library and read.

"The Fifth Season" by N.K. Jemisin is haunting and strange and hints at a completely different world and culture. There is a narrative at work that is amazing and deep, and I loved it and am looking forward to the second book to see if some of my guesses were correct. The biggest flaw was that it was slightly drawn out in some places, but not badly so. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

"Uprooted" by Naomi Novik has the best opening lines of any of these books, which isn't enough to put it on top, but combined with how good it is overall, it's worth noting. The characters are fascinating and the premise is both fun and a bit of a challenge to figure out. There are a few squicky moments between the lead characters, but I felt they emerged naturally from the situation and were resolved in a way that doesn't diminish the main character. Overall, an excellent book.

"Ancillary Mercy" by Ann Leckie is a lovely finale to a great trilogy. I was not expecting the solution that came out of everything, but it worked for me. The entire trilogy was solid and twisted my brain in good ways. I love the use of language to challenge perceptions and found this to be a good read.

"Seveneves: A Novel" by Neal Stephenson is way too long. It's also two completely different books thrown together to create a kind of symmetry that's both good and bad. I have a lot of issues with the science, although it's one of those "suspension of disbelief for the sake of a story" things. Not my favorite of the bunch. In fact, although it's a good read and decent book, I have to put it at the bottom of my list.

"The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass" by Jim Butcher is a fun little read, a bit of a popcorn book. I put it slightly over "Seveneves" because I found it more readable and interesting, but it's still not really in the same league as the top books. The characters are varied and have a great deal of potential, but still manage to come off as slightly stereotypical. Future books in this series will determine if they stay that way.

So, while I enjoyed all of them, a nice surprise, it's between "The Fifth Season" and "Uprooted" for the top prize, and I'm probably going to put "The Fifth Season" first and "Uprooted" second.


pookha said...

I didn't enjoy 'The Aeronaut's Windlass' as much as I enjoyed Jim Butcher's other books. It seemed like he was just trying to tick off a check-list of items for steampunk. But at least it was well-written and engaging.

I thought 'Uprooted' was probably the best fiction book I've read in the last 2-3 years. I thought at first it was just going to be a very good 'Beauty and the Beast' pastiche, but it was a lot more and it was also interesting and riveting. I'm now reading her 'Temeraire' series and it's fine, but much more spotty.