Back to the Hugos! 2006.

It’s Hugo NIGHT! No Award will win! SJW works that aren’t that revolutionary will win! Puppet-slated works that were actually popular between both factions will win! And people won’t talk about it in any honest way until the historical narrative shows up far down the road! If they talk about these books at all! Because old is bad and these nominees will soon be old!

But the historical narrative of the 2016 Hugos isn’t here yet. So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 2006

2006. Well, you know what happened. It was practically yesterday. But before this election. And Brexit. And the selfie-stick. So it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Meanwhile, at another L.A. Con (IV), Connie Willis hosted the Hugo Awards, just like she did in ’96.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 10.14.09 PM

The Winner: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson, followed by LEARNING THE WORLD by Ken MacLeod, A FEAST FOR CROWS by George R. R. Martin, OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, and ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross.

My suspended in a space-and-time bubble ballot:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 10.14.26 PM

Eh, meh.

Links to my reviews:

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson – An unexplained space bubble encapsulates the earth and the claustrophobic entrapment reveals a story that’s more inter- and intrapersonal than extra-terrestrial. There is something about the premise that begs for teasing, but Spin reflects a rare moment of growth in post-1980 US-based commercial genre. Wilson forces Hard SF to look inward and, although not completely successful in its effort to break away from contrivance, it’s too bad it didn’t inspire a domino effect for more deeper-thinking sci-fi.

Learning the World by Ken MacLeod – I’ve been told that MacLeod’s bibliography offers some sharp-witted socio-politics, but Learning the World doesn’t manage to transcend its inside-joke premise about Alien Space Bats. It’s a humorous idea, but the human drama is meager, the bat drama is dim, and the take-away experience is that of having read a book about alien space bats.

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin – For GoT fans, this might be a great book. As a stand-alone novel, it offers a variety of characters in a variety of circumstances who demonstrate a variety of flavors of ambition. With a television series well-known for its violence against women, this particular installment will surprise newcomers by being made of primarily (solo) female-centered threads. While not rampantly violent against its SFCs and lower classes (and which measuring cup should I use for too much?), the story takes an opposite, yet just as bothersome, tact: misogynistic remarks are voiced loudly and regularly to rile up the indignant juices of readers for the sole purpose of provoked engagement. It rings false.

Accelerando by Charles Stross – This Strossian universe bursts with post-singularity tech, post-capitalist consumption, and post-human identity, but he can’t bring himself to sacrifice any of it for deeper investigation of a few ideas or even the inner worlds of his standard prosaic dude, nagging women, and spunky teen characters. Readers seeking only cool ideas and a shady robot cat won’t mind.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi –  Except it’s actually “Genetically-Engineered Old Man Who Moves, Talks, and Thinks No Differently From a Thirty-Something’s War.”


That’s it for this year’s Back to the Hugos! Next week: The 2016 Clarkes!



16 thoughts on “Back to the Hugos! 2006.

  1. Old Man’s War is one of the few books I’ve read since I started blogging that I just couldn’t work up enough commentary to review. It’s pretty much just Starship Troopers if you replace the fascism with bad old-people jokes and swearing. I would call it a very average read, fun and a bit exciting but not a book that made me really think, or one that stuck in memory.

    A Feast for Crows was the book that got me to stop caring about GoT. I liked the first three for a number of reasons — multiple protags, political intrigue, inverting some of the Old and Busted Fantasy Tropes(TM) and reading more like “historical fiction with dragons,” killing off primary characters/the plot twists, etc. But this one I found just bloated and dull, adding more subplots to an already sprawling series of metaplots, when I was hoping to see some of them start to wrap up. Originally Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons were supposed to be the same book but had to be split into two volumes based on PoV characters, which I think was indicative… And the show’s misogyny hasn’t helped any, or gotten better, even though I find watching it more palatable than slogging through another 700-page tome.


    • It seems that something called “Old Man’s War” should be about an actual elderly man and his internal as well as external battles. This could have been something unique, since ageism is pretty much everywhere in SF, but Scalzi doesn’t have the chops to put himself in a vulnerable place to write from. Nor does he care.

      GoT- can’t say any of it– the show or thr books– have ever appealed to me. The first in the series was probably one of my first glimmers of realization that maybe SF isn’t for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JJ says:

        It’s fair to say that, of all the SF I’ve read over the last few years — and it’s not loads, I’ll admit — Old Man’s War was the one that seemed to have the largest gap between potential and relisation. Such a waste.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scalzi: Pretty much it. It’s mindless entertainment, but it sells well, so :shrug: And I don’t know if I made the comment on your review or not, but I agree about the ageism as a lost element; the characters didn’t really feel elderly, they felt like mirrors of the intended audience.

        GoT is also the series that burnt me out on bloated modern fantasy megaseries; it’s a step above Jordan and (shudder) Goodkind, but that’s not really saying much. Considering fantasy is the genre of limitless possibilities and imagination, I’m continually underwhelmed by how formulaic, repetitive, and misogynistic it is.

        I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given I also find fantasy very regressive: “Let’s look backward and idealize a time when your gender and/or social class are stark definitions of your limited role in life. Also, plague and rape!”


        • Scalzi: it feels to me less like mirrors of the intended audience and more like a mirror of the author himself. Which is fine, but misleading title, man.

          Agreed about the bloated fantasy stuff. Even when done well and progressive, I feel like I’m still treading the same old forest path. Even when there’s not a path!

          Welcome back to the comment-sphere, btw. Can we expect a blog post soon?

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Seems you thought even the best is the worst then.Was science fiction already dying by then,or did the best books nominated for the Nebulas?


    • I think SF was dying after 1980 but 2006 doesn’t look that attractive across the board. Geoff Ryman’s Air is the only one I see on the Nebula list that’s already on my must read list. Oh, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which I have and might read soon. Even the British Award lists look bland that year.


      • I thought as much….*alas*.I’ve read Geoff Ryman’s “Air”.I’m not sure if the actual conceit was that exciting,but it might have been quite good,if it didn’t suffer from “it went on too long syndrome”.If you “must read” it,be warned.Still,your tastes and attitudes are significantly different to mine.


        • People whose tastes mesh with mine have said good things about it. I think KSR mentioned it as one of his favorites and he tends to favor the same stuff I favor.


          • I think sometimes we mesh,while other times our tastes seem insoluble.Strange?

            I just thought it was rather bland,and it rambled.I suppose I like science/speculative fiction that’s complex,intellectually exciting and iconoclastic,but not too demanding in scope,but there are very rare exceptions.

            Good luck.


  3. antyphayes says:

    I’ve only read the Scalzi which is pretty strange for me as I read very little sf or any other fiction published after around 1980. I agree wholeheartedly with the Admiral’s assessment. Maybe there is something there in the whole Old Persons schtick that goes nowhere really. An old idea disguised as something new behind and old face rejuvenated. Phew, I really just wrote that. I also agree that something is dying from around 1980 and it’s not just sf!

    Liked by 2 people

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