The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So let’s go Back to the Hugos: 2005!
The member vote for Best Novel:
Susanna Clarke wins! Booyah!
And look. At that. List. It’s so British. It’s so Leftist. I bet when these books get together, all they do is argue about Jeremy Corbyn.
(This WorldCon was held in Glasgow, btw.)
My pretend, retro ballot for Best Novel:
Hugo voters, we almost agree again! That’s twice! In six decades!
Susanna Clarke won my heart long before I had even heard of the Hugo Awards, and, upon reread, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell— despite having a title I can never remember– maintains its status as one of the best novels I have ever read. River of Gods is another of McDonald’s gorgeous feats of culture, technology, and depth, and would have been my top pick, if not for Clarke’s presence on the list. Love him or hate him (or sometimes both), genre readers may have suffered Miéville fatigue by 2005 thanks to overexposure and the endearingly annoying style of SF’s little brother, but I enjoyed the chug-chug meditative nature of Iron Council, and I wish it had been my first Miéville. It kept me soothed during a grim trip to Atlanta and the bumpiest return flight I’ve ever had in my life. As for The Algebraist, I think I need to read a better Banks.
I had an odd, parallel experience with Iron Sunrise, which accompanied me on a long bus ride during which I was assaulted by Hollywood blockbusters in the form of mall security personnel and a J-Lo sex-thriller. (Don’t cheat on your husbands, ladies. You’ll be stalked and assaulted and you’ll find your best friend’s body stuffed in a fridge. Men are scary, so you should behave.) Iron Sunrise (and its predecessor, Singularity Sky) seems to mimic these lame Hollywood cliches with its bumbling male protagonist and its femme fatale heroine who uses sex as a weapon. I wasn’t impressed.
It’s a good thing the Schmuckies keep changing their argument, otherwise they’d have me pretty well defeated right now. But even so, as we have learned, this uber-progressive list is a throwback to the old days of Hugo shortlists. This liberal preference is nothing new. And complaints about a literati invasion aren’t valid when I can’t think of two books that better represent a fun, meaningless space romp than Iron Sunrise and The Algebraist. And finally, the 2005 shortlist, like over 90% of the 66 previous shortlists is completely and utterly white.
As for this year’s shortlist, where a space opera, an alien invasion story*, and a throne inheritance drama will battle one another for the top spot. The only real difference is that a few other bought, but irrelevant titles have crowded the discussion. It should be a bland night for THE BEST SF NOVEL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
Okay, snarkasm done. This week has earned me a few titles:
Well, I’d rather be Ranty and Snarky than Rabid and Sad. Or Pathetic, more like.
But back to 2005, how about a hollah for this non-American, progressive-leaning list! Maybe do that again some day, Hugo voters! Maybe with fewer white people next time!
*A previous version left off the alien invasion story. Let us not forget that it was not on the original list, making the 2015 shortlist even more unbalanced.