Who Shall It Be? The Hugo Best Novel Nominees of 2013


Today is the final day of voting for the 2013 Hugo Awards. I spent the past month reading all of the nominees for Best Novel (listed above), and here are my brief thoughts:

1. Redshirts by John Scalzi

So silly, but so fun! This is a must read for any Star Trek fan, and includes a total meta twist in the last section of the book.  The first chapter was my favorite part and could stand alone as a great tongue-in-cheek short story.

2. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

This is a beautiful fantasy novel full of magic and Islāmic culture. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that wasn’t full of white people. Ahmed deserves the Hugo just for breaking cultural barriers in fantasy fiction.

3. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

This is your travel guide to space, 300 years into the future. Although the novel is driven quirky, flawed characters, the real meat of this story is KSR’s meticulous descriptions of travel within the solar system. Take a mental journey on his terraformed asteroids.

4. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

My least favorite of the five novels, this book is an obvious placeholder within a (probably) stronger series of novels. The characters are cute, but there isn’t much at stake to make one turn the page, and most revelations are presented through tedious dialogue. There just isn’t much action. Still, it has stirred enough curiosity in me to attempt more of the earlier, and stronger, novels in the series. I’m not giving up on you yet, Ms. McMaster Bujold.

5. Blackout by Mira Grant

Yes, apparently you can do more with zombies! Blackout provides a satisfying ending to a trilogy full of action, conspiracy, and truth-telling. It also adds a twist that I know I saw coming, but I didn’t think the author would have the balls to do.  But, she did it, and surprised the hell out of me. The story was worth that surprise alone. (Full disclosure, I accidentally skipped the second book in trilogy. I kind of wish I hadn’t, but it’s too late, now.)

So, who wins my vote? Honestly, I wouldn’t count any of these novels as favorites of mine, so it’s good I’m not voting. They were all strong 4 star books, with the exception of CVA. I think I would like to see Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon win, just because the world he built felt so unique and refreshing, but I suspect KSR’s 2312 will win. It’s just as deserving, although the underlying mystery and resolution in 2312 were somewhat weak. I also wouldn’t complain if MIra Grant won for Blackout, seeing as she has been nominated for every book in the trilogy and never won, and the stories were certainly unique and captivating.

I guess there just wasn’t a clear winner in my mind this year. We’ll find out next month when the winner is announced.

In the meantime, I’m currently reading the eagerly awaited The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman, a likely Best Novel nominee in 2014.



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