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:

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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.

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Learning the World (2005) by Ken MacLeod

LearningtheWorld1Little Green Men are so Roswell.

Bugs have dominated the sci-fi alien landscape throughout its long history, from Wells’ spindly invaders to Clement’s didactic caterpillars to the Heinlein/Haldeman/Card &Scalzi spectrum of buggers. It’s a natural fit: with those extra articulated legs and absent the puppy dog eyes, bugs really are Earth’s other. With the exception of sci-fi’s obsession with busty cat ladies, mammalian aliens don’t appear as often as bug aliens, for to put fur and whiskers on an alien might run the risk of Disneyfied anthropomorphizing at worse, Petting Zoo People at best, and almost always something dumb and unimaginative, like NivPourn’s stomping elephants; rarely ever Tepper’s eerie horselike foxen.

But while bats get page time in the horror and supernatural romance subgenres, this is the first time I’ve ever encountered actual, literal Alien Space Bats. Continue reading

Off-Roading with A Game of Thrones: A Feast for Crows (2005) by George R. R. Martin

AFeastforCrowsWith the prevalence of book-turned-motion-picture phenomena, it’s often difficult for the casual observer to distinguish between book chatter and screen chatter, especially when a story is portrayed in pop culture dialogue as an amorphous series of iconically conventional moments. With the Game of Thrones series in particular, only the most sub-rock inhabitant will be unaware of its signature moves: the shocking deaths, the shocking rapes, the shocking betrayals, all amid the doom of impending seasonal transition. Continue reading

Accelerando (2005) (Singularity #3) by Charles Stross

Accelerando1Charles Stross is an anomaly, of sorts. His genre style borrows more from American formula than British intuition, yet his stories contain just enough “pints” and jokey references to English socio-geographies to be unmistakably British. Yet his popularity among US sci-fi readers is undeniable, and I’ve gotten the impression, from interviews and his blog, that he purposely designs his books for the American genre market, because that’s where the money is.

So it’s no wonder that Stross is not one of my favorite writers, but it’s also no wonder why he is one of the most popular working SF authors today, and why he remains on solid footing in the American market. He contrives far-future universes populated with super-intelligent aliens, exciting tech advances, and charismatic characters based on familiar molds. Readers who whine about the death of the SF genre at the hands of a literary invasion should be perfectly pleased with Stross’ success. (And if they’re not, then those complaints must derive from other agendas.)
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Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson

Spin(1stEd)In the subgenre of “community trapped—possibly by aliens,” Robert Charles Wilson has at least two entries to his credit that I know of, and his bibliography suggests more. I’ve speculated before that Stephen King’s 2009 TV-deal-bait book Under the Dome might have been inspired by Wilson’s work, perhaps to exercise some leftover ideas from The Stand (1978). It’s not surprising that science fiction authors find this premise attractive with its promise of a literal microcosm, an ideal setting for a large cast full of character tensions ready to boil over.

In Spin (2005), Wilson expands the claustrophobic microcosm idea, cloistering the entire Earth into his fictional bubble, while keeping the cast minimal. Spin is a reread for me, though it was so long ago, all I remember thinking afterwards is that maybe spacey science fiction isn’t all that bad and perhaps I should try reading more. Continue reading

The 2015 Blewgo Awards! It’s not what you think!

Welcome to the 2015 Blewgo Awards! As in, I blew it for not reading these 2014 buzzed-about SF novels sooner. It sounds like it might be a porn award, but it’s not!

The shortlist was determined by me, based on an unscientific selection of novels I neglected during my 2014-novel reading extravaganza but remained implanted in my memory for whatever reason.

The 2015 Blewgo Award ceremony was held on Saturday night, in my kitchen, over a bowl of soup. The guests of honor were a couple of moths bodyslamming the window, and a gecko that wanted to eat those moths. It was an intimate affair.

The winner was determined by a panel of me. Continue reading

The Kappa Child (2001) by Hiromi Goto

TheKappaChildIt hasn’t been since Babel-17 that I clambered onto the couch on a Saturday morning, just to read a few pages, and barely moved until I absolutely had to. Like its name suggests, this is a book that will inhabit you.

It starts with some silliness: A quirky driver in the midst of traffic chaos. Honking horns, clanking shopping carts, CB static; a lotta onomatopoeia. Some over-the-top quirkiness. This protagonist is quirky, the quirky narrative wants us to know.

So I think, aww man, this is going to be too cutesy for me. I don’t think I’m going to like it. Like a briny sea, it’s just too much quirkiness to sink below the surface. Consciousness of the act of reading keeps me afloat.

But then suddenly, I sink. It probably took me about 25 pages.

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