Archive for category Great Hugo Read

Unofficial 2014 Hugo Packet

I’m sure I’m not the only one waiting for the Hugo Packet to drop. So I thought I’d look to see what’s currently available for free (free being the keyword) to tide over until the official packet is available. Linked titles go to the story online, unlinked stories I can’t find for free.

BEST NOVEL

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross
  • Parasite by Mira Grant
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

BEST NOVELLA

BEST NOVELETTE

BEST SHORT STORY

As a bonus, I found this site which has an archive of The Mercury Theatre On Air and Campbell Playhouse, which will get you four of the five nominees for the 1939 Best Dramatic Presentation. Nominee #5 (RUR from the BBC) exists in no known form and is thus running entirely on it’s reputation of being the first known science fiction television broadcast.

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The Juvenile and the Juvenile

stranger_in_a_strange_landThere’s one unavoidable name when reading the Hugo winners: Heinlein. For anyone following along at home, we’ve now made it through thirteen months and four Heinlein novels, with one coming up in December. It’s been, to be frank, a mixed bag. I know there are Heinlein devotees out there, those who devour every word he’s written and love them to pieces. With the four books we’ve read together these last few months, I’ve now read 6 Heinlein books.

I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed two of them. I rather liked reading Starship Troopers, though I like the movie better (sorry-not-sorry), and I loved reading Job a dozen years ago.

You’ll notice neither book from January on that list of books I loved. That’s not to say I disliked them, it’s just to say I didn’t love them.

This time around, the Hugo Awards served up one of his adult books, and the Retro Hugos served up one of his juveniles.

Stranger in a Strange Land is the most famous science fiction novel of all time. At least, that’s what my copy says on the cover. I will admit, I know no other science fiction novel name dropped in a Billy Joel song, though I do wonder what books others might think deserving of that title. The book is certainly Heinlein’s opus, and in many ways is the quintessential Heinlein book. Which is to say it delves deeply into the philosophical, allows characters to expound for chapters on end, and eventually includes a woman offering herself to a father figure.

Alright, that last one isn’t necessarily quintessential, but is something I’ve stumbled across in both this book and, more literally, in Farnham’s Freehold.

farmer-in-the-sky-robert-a-heinlein20-lgeBut the debates, those have shown up in several of his books. In Starship Troopers they took the form of future military history classes, expounding on the nature of force and citizenship. In Stranger it’s the nature of religion and humanity. I’m never sure where the characters end in a Heinlein novel, and the author takes over. Perhaps I don’t actually want to know.

There were some hard jumps in Stranger that didn’t sit well. There is, most startlingly, the sudden introduction of a Greek chorus looking down on the action from heaven. It’s necessary for the conclusion of the novel, but even in a book that has Martians, an element like that is a rather sudden change.

It’s an odd shift to jump from a novel postulating a religion based on group sex to one of Heinlein’s juveniles. Farmer in the Sky was originally published in Boys’ Life, the magazine for the Boy Scouts of America. Which is important, as it explains why one of the primary plot points revolves around whether or not the main character will achieve Eagle Scout status. It’s always hard to figure out what to say about novels that I liked but didn’t love. It’s a novel that I read, a novel that I put down, and a novel that I’m already having a difficult time putting thoughts together on.

What can I say? Not every novel is going to win over 100% of readers.

And so the Read pushes on, into a month of alternate history. Our primary read is one of the scions of the Nazis-win-WWII novels, The Man in the High Castle. The secondary read postulates a Confederate victory in the Civil War in Bring the Jubilee.

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Great Hugo Read: Year One Wrap-Up

Perhaps the biggest victim of the rarity of blog posts around here has been the Great Hugo Read. I’m still going through the books, and there is still a small community of readers occasionally having opinions over at the Goodreads Group. This month is a double dose of Heinlein as we look at his Hugo winning opus Stranger in a Strange Land, paired with the Retro Hugo winner Farmer in the Sky. But let’s talk about those later, especially since I’m only about 80 pages into the quite long Stranger. Instead, let’s catch up with 2013. Specifically the old winners. And since the end/beginning of the year is the time for lists, here’s my ranking of the seven past Hugo winners that came up in 2013:

7) They’d Rather Be Right. Look, I don’t know what I expected going into this book. I’ve seen it called the worst novel to ever win the Hugo, and came away with nothing that convinces me otherwise. The novel has a decent start. For a handful of chapters, I even wondered if the reputation was ill deserved. However, the second half of the book falls rapidly apart. It’s a book I can only recommend to Hugo completists.

6) Double Star. This was probably my biggest disappointment of 2013. No, it’s not as bad as They’d Rather Be Right, but it’s a book that I actually had expectations for, and just fell flat. You can say what you will about Heinlein’s various novels, there are some of his books that drive me absolutely batty (Farnham‘s Freehold anybody) some that I’ve loved (Job) but falling flat is not a problem I ever expected to have from one. But…there it is.

5) A Case of Conscience. Much like They’d Rather Be Right this is a novel of two halves. The first half is a rather interesting story that hangs out on another planet that is suitably alien in every way, while still being approachable. The second half takes the story back to earth, and just didn’t hold me quite the way the first half did. It was the first of two novels in 2013 that had Catholic undertones to the science fiction, and that isn’t where the fault lies (if you look ahead, you’ll see). The fault lies in the integration.

4) The Big Time. This goes right in the middle because it was the novel that stuck with me the least. I could only remember six of the seven books while putting this list together, and I even had to remind myself of the plot to The Big Time. It’s fascinating in that it’s a small story told in a big world. A closed door mystery where, on the other side of the door, is a massive war being fought back and forth through time. Some books stay with you for what they do right. Some for what they do wrong. And some, perhaps by no fault of their own, just come and go. This fell into that third category, and it feels fitting to use it to separate the two other categories.

3) Starship Troopers. I’ve seen the movie. I love the movie. It might even be one of my top ten all time favorites, if you’d believe it. However, this was my first time reading the book. In part I haven’t bothered because I heard so many times that the novel and the movie are two very different things. That the movie is a satire of the novel. I knew the diehard fans of the book often don’t like the movie, so I assumed as a diehard fan of the movie I would dislike the book. I was wrong. It’s clearly the same story, but told in a very different ways. I see the bits that the movie decided to take out of context, to twist, to put into a different light. It was hard not to read the novel as a satire of itself, if that makes sense. To not take it at face value as I might otherwise. That I’ve put it at number 3 on the list says more about the novels ahead of it than the novels behind it.

2) The Demolished Man. I seriously thought about putting this as #1. For most of the year, I would have. About this time last year I started gushing about this book, because it simply blew me away. From word one, I was sucked in and was disappointed when it was over only because there was no more of it to read. I could go over my reasons, or simply point out that I wrote three posts on the book back in January 2013, and link to them here. (One Two Three) I will say, it was my biggest positive surprise of the year.

1) Canticle for Leibowitz. Alright, you looked ahead when I said my problem with Case of Conscience wasn’t the Catholic science fiction. Yes, that means I put the other right at the top of the list. Leibowitz creates not one, but three compelling futures, jumping centuries at a time between portions of the book. Each is eerily plausible, each flows from the previous. The third is, perhaps, the weakest, but the strengths of the first two sections carry so much gravitas into the ending. Perhaps it’s the futility that peppers the final third, combined with reading it so close to Christmas, turned me off the message of Book Three. I’ve made an attempt to not hold that against the book, which I apparently succeeded at, since I’ve put it at #1.

That’s my breakdown. If anyone read some or all of the books and has a different ranking, please let me know. I’m looking forward to another twelve months of science fiction classics I may not have otherwise read. Though there are some weighty reads coming up, with Stranger and Dune as primary reads, and the first two Song of Ice and Fire books as secondary reads.

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State of the Writer: November 2013

Mmm, turducken. Available at your local Harris Teeter.

Mmm, turducken. Available at your local Harris Teeter.

October is gone, and November is here. First, I like to start the month by wishing best luck to anyone intended to do Nanowrimo. It was originally my goal as well, but chose instead to start The Chain instead. Still, I’ve done Nanowrimo several times in the past and know it isn’t easy. It isn’t a sprint. It isn’t even a marathon. It’s a marathon of sprints. Hopefully everyone is making good use of the month starting right at the weekend. My best year on Nano was a year that November 1st was a Saturday. That turned into a 5000+ word day that created a barreling momentum.

Speaking of not breaking the chain, my chain is going strong. I just wrapped up day forty-nine, a nice seven by seven block of x’s on my calendar, each representing 500+ words writing or 30+ minutes of outlining or editing. With one exception, a night that I counted writing a reference letter I’d put off long enough. Thus far, better than six days out of every seven have been writing, and due to that the manuscript is up over 28,500 words with 30,000 getting ready to fall early this week. The deep parts of the outline are even starting to come together, and I figured out where each of the three plot lines intersects with the other two.

Yay writing!

Not sure what’s going to happen during the holidays, but it’s not like I’m putting a lot of time into each day. That’s part of the power. A little bit of work every day adds up to a lot of work. It’s the same lesson I learned back when I could do fifteen minute hunks of morning writing.

The Great Hugo Read plows on, and this month we get to…I’m not going to say it’s the book I’ve looked forward to the most. Perhaps it’s better to say it’s the book I’ve anticipated the most. If that makes sense as a distinction. I have watched Starship Troopers a half-dozen times. It’s probably one of my ten favorite movies. But I’ve been warned, I understand that the book is a Very Different Thing from the movie, that Paul Verhoeven was in equal parts adapting and satirizing the novel. I’ve paired it up with a recent novel that owes a lot to Starship Troopers: John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

Standard details:

Primary: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (1960)

  • Print: In print.
  • Electronic: Available for Nook and Kindle.
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Lloyd James.
  • Film: Oh lord. I love this movie. I understand it takes a LOT of liberties with the book, and can be seen as a satire of the book rather than an adaptation of it. I’ve seen it several times, which should make reading the book…interesting?

Secondary: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (Military science fiction inspired, in part, by Starship Troopers)

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Now and Then

The Hugo Awards do not honor the best science fiction book published in the previous year. Anyone who is following along on the Great Hugo Read should be disabused of that notion by The Forever Machine. Instead, they honor something much more specific. They honor the book most popular and/or best liked by those attendees of Worldcon who chose to submit a ballot, which itself is drawn from a short list.

It’s a process that’s triple self-selecting.

Selection one: Nominations and votes are open only to those who are members of Worldcon.

Selection two: The short list is drawn only from books nominated by those members who choose to nominate.

Selection three: The award itself goes to the winner of an instant runoff vote conducted by those members who choose to vote in a given category.

None of this is meant to damn the Hugo Awards. It’s only to be realistic that they represent a very specific thing. This is worth keeping in mind for the next few months as the Great Hugo Reads includes a few Retro Hugo Winners. The Retro Hugo Awards represent a slightly different very specific thing: the books that have had the greatest lasting impact among those same self selective voters.

I bring this up for a pair of reasons. First, LonCon 3 has announced they are exercising their rights to offer Retro Hugo Awards, and will be honoring those works of science fiction and fantasy that would have been eligible for awards at the inaugural Worldcon in 1939. More specifically I bring it up because this month the Great Hugo Read looked at two very different books. First, the book that won the Hugo in 1958, and second the book that the British Science Fiction Association retroactively selected as the best book of 1958…fifty years later.

To be blunt, I can understand why Non-Stop was retroactively chosen.

Don’t think for a second I didn’t enjoy The Big Time. It was an interesting novel, especially as it set a very small story in a vast and massive world. It’s very clear that there are massive things afoot just outside the door to the room where the story takes place, a war being fought across all of time as the two sides change and rechange history. However, that’s not the story. The story is a closed room mystery. The broader war is only presented in snippets and monologues.

Oh the monologues.

The major failing of the book comes from the solution to the mystery. In many ways it’s the typical problem of Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes investigates the mystery, and comes up with a solution not based on the facts in evidence, but based on some obscure piece of knowledge he possesses. In this case, the solution to the mystery came about from a piece of technology that isn’t presented until the chapter where it’s revealed to be the solution. It’s a weak solution to the mystery, but the book isn’t about the mystery. It’s about the characters, and it’s about exploring the underlying morality of war.

It was also the first Hugo winner with a female protagonist. I expected that to take rather longer.

Non-Stop feels a little more modern, if that’s the best word to use. There were few points in The Big Time where it didn’t feel like a book written in the 1950s, a bit of a time capsule. Non-Stop felt like the more complete story, where the breadth of the story being told better matched the width of the world around it. That’s not to say it’s a perfect book, just that it’s the book that holds up better 55 years after its publication.

I don’t know how this dynamic will come forward with the Retro Hugo winners. In a way, they’re safe selections from a modern perspective. Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein. These are all three writers who still speak very strongly to a modern audience, and have maintained broad name recognition over the years. This isn’t to say that one, or all three, may not have won if the Hugo Awards were voted on in those years. But it’s no guarantee, either.

With all that said, we’re heading rapidly into October, which features the first of these three Retro winners as the secondary read.

Primary: A Case of Conscience by James Blish (1959)

  • Print: In print, available from Amazon or check your local independent (or at least brick-and-mortar) bookseller.
  • Electronic: Not Available. What the hell, Del Ray Impact?
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Jay Snyder.

Secondary: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Retro Hugo winner awarded 2004 for 1954)

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State of the Writer: September 2013

I’m a few days late, I know. I mentioned a month ago that I didn’t know what would happen to my posting schedule during my unemployment. The answer appears to be that it’s going to go down a little. Since we’re starting on a personal note, the job hunt is going well, but has not yet wrapped up. I’ve had some good interviews, hoping one results in an offer. Be a nice birthday present. Oddly, last time I was unemployed (coming out of college) I also landed a job right around my birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, today is my daughter’s first. It’s an oddly surreal feeling. It feels like it can’t have been that long, also feels like it’s been much longer. My daughter is a time p̴ar̷ad̸òx, apparently. But I still love her. Tonight’s plans involve putting a cupcake in front of her, and seeing what happens.

Alright, writing. I’ve tucked into my new generation ship novel project a little earlier than planned. I’m working my way through a few drafts of the first chapter, looking to get a tone I’m happy with and get some characterization going. After that I’m going to back out again and get some outlining done. Probably going to work similarly to Nickajack with outlining and writing happening at the same time, with the one only a few chapters ahead of the other. Right now the book is just over 1800 words long, but that represents several evenings of toiling on that first chapter to get it as good as I can. It’s not something I’d normally obsess over so much at the start of the book, but I do want to get it at least a little right.

In general I’m trying to find a little time each night to write. And there is a little more time in the evening with a one year old than there was with a six month or nine month old. Some nights will be Nickajack s͙͇͉̅ome nights will be Back Half.

Great Hugo Read: We’re back to the past read, picking up again in 1958 with Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time. It’s the last novel awarded a Hugo without a nomination stage. I’ve paired it up with Brian Aldiss’s novel Non-Stop, which beat The Big Time when, in 2007, the British Science Fiction Association selected their Best Novel of 1958. So it’s one novel that was thought better at the time, and one novel that was thought better with a half century’s hindsight. This is something I’ll end up talking about more in October when the Hugo Read looks at its first Retro Hugo winner.

Buying options for both books:

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

I got a 1972 copy published by Ace, but that was before I realized The Big Time was originally published as Ace Double D-491. I bring this up not because of my love of Ace Doubles, but because it is paired with a collection of Leiber short stories from the same universe as The Big Time.

Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss

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Hugo Lessons

The Hugos are over and awarded, which means LoneStarCon has posted the numbers behind the nominating and voting processes. Looking through them, a few things stand out to me:

1) I don’t get Hugo voters, or they don’t get me

I had my picks in three categories: novel, dramatic long, and dramatic short. My #1 picks in all three of those categories ended up in last place, either fifth or tied for fourth. Further, in both categories where I sorted the entire field, my #5 pick came in second. So clearly my taste in science fiction differs significantly from the broader Hugo electorate.

2) People vote for the movies they’ve seen

Here are the five Hugo nominees for dramatic presentation long form sorted by box office take:

  1. The Avengers
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Hunger Games
  4. Looper
  5. Cabin in the Woods

Here are the results of the voting:

  1. The Avengers
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Hunger Games
  4. Looper
  5. Cabin in the Woods

I’m not surprised that people vote for the movies that they see, but I was a little surprised to see that the two lists matched exactly. I guess I expected that Hugo voters were more likely than the general public to have seen all five.

3) People submitting nominations don’t know what to do with short movies

Chronicle ended up causing some problems with those filling out nominating ballots. The movie is 85 minutes long, thus it is eligible in the Short Form category. However, people think of the categories not as long and short, but movies and everything else. Thus Chronicle ended up on 35 nominating ballots as a long form, 22 short form. Now, add those together (which you can’t do) and it doesn’t even come close to the ballot cutoff, but I think it drives home the need for more clarification in these categories. I understand some attempt was made to change the dramatic presentation categories, but by adding “super short form” for presentations under 15 minutes.

4) It’s VorPAtril, not VORpətril

I’ve been saying it wrong this whole time.

5) Kill your darlings

Alright, look, the dramatic presentations went to Joss Whedon and George RR Martin. I don’t know what other lesson to take away from that other than…kill everyone.

6) I want a ballot

It doesn’t take much to get one. Now that Worldcon 2015 has been awarded to Spokane, I’m going to keep an eye out for when supporting memberships go on sale, which should get me Hugo nominating and voting rights for the next three Worldcons. Including the 1939 Retro Hugos announced for next year.

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Back to the Past

The year: 1958. Sputnik reentered orbit, and the US put up their first satellite. Laika gets sent into orbit to die in the dark of space. NASA is created. It was the early stages of the space race, and a fine time to rejoin the Great Hugo Read already in progress. With the 2013 nominees completed and the awards next weekend, it’s time to look ahead to where we’re looking back to for the rest of the year:

September

Primary Read: The Big Time by Fritz Leiber. This is the first of the Hugo Winners that ended up in another form near and dear to my heart. Yes, in 1961 it was collected and republished as an Ace Double, paired with a collection of Leiber short stories. However, it won the Hugo back in 1958 after its serialization in Galaxy Magazine.

Secondary Read: Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss. I’ll admit, I’ve wanted to read this book for awhile. When I learned that the British Science Fiction Association looked back at 50 years of science fiction and picked Non-Stop over The Big Time, I had my excuse pegged down. It’s a generation ship story, hence my interest, and Aldiss’s first published work.

October

Primary Read: The 1959 Hugo went to James Blish for his novel A Case of Conscience, and is the story of a Jesuit who is trying to reconcile an alien race’s lack of religion with their morality. Three of the last six books for this year have a theme of religion running through them.

  • Print: In print, available from Amazon or check your local independent (or at least brick-and-mortar) bookseller.
  • Electronic: Not Available. What the hell, Del Ray Impact?
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Jay Snyder.

Secondary Read: We’re dipping our toes into the first Retro Hugo winner. Banned Books Week is in late September this year, so we’ll be a little late when getting to Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451.

  • Print: In print. Oh my in print. In print everywhere.
  • Electronic: Bradbury assented to digital publishing shortly before his death, so it’s available on Kindle and Nook.
  • Audio: Available from Audible with your choice of narrators: Stephen Hove, Christopher Hurt, or Bradbury himself.
  • Film: Released in 1966. Which I point out only as an excuse to point it out again with the next book…

November

Primary Read: Starship Troopers was the first Hugo Heinlein won on his way to becoming the most decorated writer in the award’s history. He does have one Retro Hugo that predates Troopers, but that’ll come up in 2014. It’s a book whose reputation precedes it, but that I’ve never actually read.

  • Print: In print.
  • Electronic: Available for Nook and Kindle.
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by Lloyd James.
  • Film: Oh lord. I love this movie. I understand it takes a LOT of liberties with the book, and can be seen as a satire of the book rather than an adaptation of it. I’ve seen it several times, which should make reading the book…interesting?

Secondary Read: John Scalzi started his epic military sci-fi series with Old Man’s War, about soldiers recruited from the elderly of earth given new bodies and sent to fight the most creative array of aliens I can remember reading.

  • Print: In print.
  • Electronic: Available from Nook and Kindle.
  • Audio: Available from Audible, narrated by William Dufris.
  • Film: Likely to get fast tracked if Ender’s Game performs well at the box office.

December

Primary Read: We’re back to themes of religion with Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. I’ve tried for a cohesive theme for December, with this book looking at religion in a post apocalyptic future, and the next looking at a dystopic future caused by religion. I try to be equal opportunity.

Secondary Read: I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into when I thought to put The Handmaid’s Tale in the spot, but the more I learn about the book, the more interested I am to read it. It’s certainly a book that people have Opinions about. The kind of opinions that necessitate capitalization.

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Hypothetical Hugo Ballot, Pt2

Last time out I looked at the dramatic presentation categories. Now that I’ve finished the last of the five novel nominees, I’m ready with the ballot that I would submit. If I could. Which I can’t. Let’s get right to it, then commentary:

  1. BlackoutBlackout
  2. Redshirts
  3. 2312
  4. Throne of the Crescent Moon
  5. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

First there’s a clear division on the ballot between my top two picks and my bottom three picks. Blackout and Redshirts were the two books of the five that I had a difficult time putting down. Redshirts I tore through in three nights, Blackout I read the last 120 pages in a single night. If there’s a better reason of dividing a ballot into halves, I can’t think of it.

Ultimately I went with Blackout for two reasons. One, on its own I felt it was a more compelling and entertaining novel than Redshirts. Two, I feel the entire Newsflesh trilogy deserves some recognition beyond just nominations. While only the last part is being considered this year, I feel it’s appropriate with a self-contained trilogy to consider the work as a whole when deciding whether or not to honor the third part. It’s why Lord of the Rings swept up so many Oscars with Return of the King. Newsflesh did so many things well it’s hard to know where to start. Especially harder since many of the things it did so well are rather massive spoilers to the entire series.

Redshirts ends up second because it was the other book I loved, I just didn’t love it as much as Blackout.

In the lower half of the ballot, I didn’t include a No Award vote. Though I almost did. To be blunt, I’m not sure Captain Vorpatril would have been nominated standing on its own, not part of a long running series from a well respected author. At no point did I dislike the read, but it wasn’t as strong as the other four nominees.

In between Redshirts and Vorpatril is my bias for science fiction over fantasy shining through. It’s my hypothetical ballot, it gets subjected to my biases.

I’d be curious about how anyone else would vote (or, if you’re so bold as to go on record, did vote). Drop me a comment if you’ve read all five. Agree with me completely. Tell me what an idiot I am. I’m interested to see how others would rank this year’s field. And remember that the awards will be presented on September 1, and they’ve promised the stream won’t be killed by a copyright claim this year.

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2312

2312 CoverYou may have noticed a quote from 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson go up on the blog earlier this week. That was a sign that I had finished the book, and was thinking about my responses to it. The quote itself is from near the end, as the book ruminates on the events that transpired over the preceding 500 pages, though divorced from those events I thought it was an interesting passage about the process of writing and creation. Which…is a good summary for the book. It’s about the process of creation, it’s about art, it’s about revolution, and it’s about what all of those things actually mean. It’s a book willing to take it’s longest chapter to follow two characters stuck in nearly endless tunnels as they walk and whistle.

And, in the end, it’s a book I’m still trying to make my mind up about. This review may reflect that. I may even come to a conclusion over the next couple hundred words.

It’s a book of impressive breadth. It travels through a solar system massively transformed over the next three hundred years, as mankind escapes an earth left scarred and flooded by The Dithering (a damning description of the modern era), and terraforms those worlds suitable, turns asteroids into great pleasure cruisers, and saves what they can from their home in hopes of one day helping earth fulfill her promise. If that all sounds very philosophic to you, well, you’re not wrong. The book concerns itself with the smaller revolutions. Though excerpts from history books, we see the Martian revolution, an invisible civil war on Venus, declarations of freedom coming from the moons of the outer solar system. The main character, Swan, has an extended discussion about the very nature of revolution, breaking down to the definition of the word, with her literal minded personal computer.

In the end, it’s a book about a revolution. It’s a book about creating change within a society, and seeing that society coalesce better around a new threat. It’s by no coincidence that this threat comes from coalescence itself, attacks made on the inhabited worlds of the solar system by thousands of tiny rocks flung with precision so that they come together at a decided point of impact at a decided time.

So it’s a book about revolution and coalescence. It’s in some ways an origin story for the Great Human Empire sub genre of science fiction, about how humanity can come together into one cohesive unit strong enough to then push its will beyond the solar system.

I like those kinds of novels, the ones that tell the implied stories that other novels stand on the backs of. The bits that we might be curious about while reading about rip roaring adventures through the outer darkness of the galaxy. But that means that 2312 is the book for sitting down on the beach and getting lost in the story. It’s a novel that requires some work from the reader, coming along on the ride. In this way, it’s a very different book from the first three Hugo nominees, and I suspect a very different book from Blackout. It’s a more cerebral science fiction.

Appealingly so, mind you. There is a place for thoughtfulness within science fiction. It just meant 2312 was a slower read, it took a little more work than the other books to date. It’s a book with a smaller payoff, too. Perhaps that’s not the best combination, and perhaps that why I liked the book a lot, but I just can’t now put it at the front of the pack of the four Hugo nominees I’ve read thus far. It’s a worthy nominee, and I would even say a worthy winner of the Hugo. It’s probably the novel, of the four, that has the highest chance of staying power. If that’s the right metric for deciding the Hugo, then 2312 should probably be the winner.

I suppose that’s what makes the Hugo Award interesting. It brings in a diverse voting population, so it brings in diverse opinions about what metric should be used to decide the award. I’m personally not sure if trying to guess the future is the right way to hand out the Hugo, who’s to say what will become a classic in the end. For that reason, 2312 actually falls to second on my hypothetical ballot-to-date, behind Redshirts, with one book left to read.

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