Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hugo nominations are open —

You may know that Hugo nominations are now open! The nomination window closes March 31st.

You’re eligible to nominate if you were a member of last year’s convention (Sasquan), if you are a member of this year’s convention (MidAmeriCon II), or are a member of next year’s convention (Worldcon 75). You can, of course, join this year’s Worldcon in Kansas City whenever you like, and if you join before the end of March, you’re eligible to nominate. Whoops, Linda S reminds me that this is not true! You had to be a member before the end of January in order to nominate. Too bad!

But you can still join this year, of course, and thus you’d be eligible to nominate next year. For example, you could then nominate MY books, if you happened to want to…

There is an incredibly handy spreadsheet here, listing eligible works. One hundred eighty novels have been added to that spreadsheet so far, including the three novels which I have tentatively pegged for nominations.

Thirty-five novellas, forty-seven novelettes, and a hundred fifty-six short stories are also listed on that spreadsheet.

There is zero chance I will read everything listed, obviously. I mean, that’s not even vaguely possible, even if I did nothing but read and play with puppies for the next two months. I already know more or less which novels I would like to read. But I will probably read *some* of the shorter works off those lists.

Martha Wells has a couple of recommendations so far at her livejournal. She says: I’m not sure what all I’m nominating yet, though two will definitely be for The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson and short story “The Demon of Russet Street” by Jessica Reisman (which is online here: http://www.3lobedmag.com/issue27/3lbe27_story5.html )

I notice that neither of these works is yet on the spreadsheet nomination lists. The chances I’ll read them is very good, so I guess I’ll figure out how to add stuff to the spreadsheet if necessary. I noticed The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is $2.99 for the ebook on Amazon, so I already picked up a copy.

NOTICE TO PUBLISHERS: LOOK HOW EASY THAT SALE WAS AT THAT PRICE.

Ahem. Moving on.

1. The works I am seriously considering nominating so far

a) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

b) The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

c) Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

d) “Penric’s Demon”, the novella by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s not just that I don’t read many novellas — I really liked this one!

e) UPDATE: Okay, you were all right, I really loved Bone Gap! I still have to mull it over, but maybe I will wind up nominating it. Really nicely put together.

2. The three four novels I would most like to read before the end of the nomination period:

a) Bone Gap by Ruby. So many of the book bloggers I particularly follow loved this book. It took me a while to get a copy (because of the price, yes), but I do have it on my Kindle now and I started it last night.

b) Walk on Earth a Stranger by Carson, which ditto, except I don’t actually have a copy, so we’ll just see how much I really want to read it. I have a sample, at least.

c) Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard by Schoen, which came out at the tag end of 2015, so I don’t know what kind of chance it has of being noticed by enough people. Amazon describes it this way:

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity’s genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.

The thing with the uplifted species sounds fantastic. The thing with the drug sounds ridiculous, but the book is getting good reviews and I’m hoping it seems less silly when you’re actually reading the story. The price for the ebook is $12.99, which also sounds fairly ridiculous when I have never read anything by Schoen before and have no idea what he’s like as a writer. I have a sample on my Kindle and I suppose I will read that and then consider just how much I want to go on with it.

d) Update: I just realized that Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear belongs in this category. I actually have it in my possession right now, so I expect I will read it next.

3. The three novels I would most like to read but am scared of:

a) The Fifth Season by Jemisin. It just sounds so utterly grim and tragic! Like so:

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

I just don’t quite know if I can stand to even start this book.

b) The House of Shattered Wings by de Bodard. It sounds like it is probably at the edge of too gritty for me — or beyond the edge. Like so:

Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

Also, stories involving angels are often kind of a turn-off for me. Not always. But I’m wary of the fallen angel trope.

c) The Grace of Kings by Liu.

I hear there are a zillion pov characters and a huuuuge sweeping epic plot, and frankly I am not all that wild about such books. Also, Ken Liu has tended to fall into a documentary nonfiction style in his other work, and I’m wary that this book might read like a history textbook. Also, Three-Body Problem had imo utterly wooden characters and boring writing, and since Liu was the translator, I don’t know how much of that perception might be due to his work rather than the author’s. Soooo . . . not sure I’m ready to invest much time in this.

4. The long list of novels I would really like to take a look at between now and the close of the nomination period:

Six of Crows by Burdugo. I was not super-crazy about Shadow and Bone, so her 2015 title is not really that high on my must-read list.

Scorpion Rules by Bow. I liked Plain Kate, but not as much as a lot of people did, so ditto for this title.

The Sorcerer and the Crown. I KNOW, ALL RIGHT? I know you all loved this book! I read the sample and frankly did not find the beginning all that catchy or compelling. But yes, all your up-votes for this book means I would like to go on with it and see if it grows on me.

Silver on the Road by Gilman. The description just sounds intriguing and promising.

The Lie Tree by Hardinge. After reading other books by

The Invisible Library by Cogman. I’ve heard good things about this.

Court of Fives by Elliot. It sounds a touch cliched. It really does. Yet if Kate Elliot wrote it, surely it is an interesting take on the standard kid-enters-important-competition subgenre?

Archivist Wasp by Kornher-Stace. I know almost nothing about this book, but I’ve heard it mentioned in glowing terms.

Persona by Valentine. I’ve heard good things about earlier titles by Valentine, which makes me interested in this one, but I haven’t read any of her work yet.

The Just City by Walton. Honestly I’m not sure it’s my kind of thing. I would expect to engage with it intellectually, but probably not emotionally. I’m unlikely to nominate a book I appreciate mainly or entirely on an intellectual level. But . . . who knows?

Aaaand …

The Pyramids of London by Höst. I was totally not going to read this until the series was complete. But I’m uncomfortable with that plan considering this book is eligible. I think it would be truly excellent if something by Höst got nominated.

Though I don’t think the chances are at all good that could happen. I suspect that in order to have a chance, a book must have gotten quite a lot of attention already, as reflected by the number of Goodreads reviews and so on. That most likely is going to kill the chances for BARSK, too, simply because a book that came out at the end of December seems unlikely to be competitive compared with a book that’s had nearly a full year to gather momentum.

I’m more likely to nominate works that I love that I also think have a chance of getting through the nomination process. So . . . we’ll see.

Comments about the above titles (or other titles) are welcome! Especially the three I’m scared of. If you’ve read them, what did you think?

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4 Comments Hugo nominations are open —

  1. Linda S

    and if you join before the end of March, you’re eligible to nominate.

    Actually, it looks like the deadline for eligibility to nominate was January 31. Of course, this only applies to the nominations, not the actual vote. There’s still plenty of time for anyone interested to join MidAmericon and participate in the Hugo voting!

    Since coming up with a reasonable nomination list is important to me, I’ve been looking at recommendation lists to get a sense of what I should try. Unfortunately, quite a few of the books getting a lot of buzz sound way too dark for me: the Jemisin and de Bodard you mentioned, The Traitor Baru Cormorant (despite the awesome title), Mirror Empire, and so on. I’ll give them a try if they’re nominated, but I’m not going to read them on my own. I did try Grace of Kings, but I’m afraid I kind of bounced off it. If you read it and like it, let me know.

    I read quite a few books I liked this year, but I haven’t come across anything that’s an obvious slam dunk for me the way Ancillary Justice was two years ago. I have a list of about 8 novels I’m considering at the moment, but I’m still not sure which ones I’ll actually nominate.

  2. Macsbrains

    I also liked but didn’t love Plain Kate, but I just read Scorpion Rules by Bow 2 weeks ago and liked it quite a bit. The premise was intriguing and Bow did try to examine it in a different way than expected. I don’t think some of the world building would hold up if you poked at it too hard, but I was content not to poke it too hard as I was reading, which was a positive sign that she had my attention. The characters had quiet resilience that was very attractive. Maybe push that one up the list to read when you’re in the mood for YA.

    I immediately followed up Scorpion Rules with her older novel Sorrow’s Knot which is a Native American flavored fantasy with a unique magic system an emphasis on storytelling and the importance of stories (this always gets me). It’s tragic, but not bleak, and I thought it was great. I’d recommend that too.

  3. Kristina

    I didn’t connect with The Sorcerer and the Crown the way other readers did. It’s not that I regret the time I spent reading it – it was a perfectly pleasant way to fill a snowbound weekend – but I found the secondary characters more appealing than either of the protagonists, who to me didn’t seem to develop through the course of the book. (Their circumstances changed, but I don’t know how much the main characters did.) Because of the book’s message of female empowerment and independence, I also kept hoping that the trope of a marriage at the end would be subverted, but no.

  4. Mike S.

    This year’s Hugos also include the 1941 Retro Hugos, for works published in 1940. Those include

    The Wheels of If – L. Sprague de Camp (seminal alternate history/parallel world story)

    Three stories by Heinlein: Requiem (especially appropriate in the age of Musk and Bezos), , The Roads Must Roll (a trademark Heinlein look at the social and political ramifications of a technology), and If This Goes On– (to which every SFnal revolution-against-repression down to The Hunger Games owes a debt)

    Robbie – Isaac Asimov (first of his robot stories)

    Gray Lensman – E.E. Smith (the prototypical space opera, and still one of the best)

    Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius – Jorge Luis Borges (surreal and difficult to describe, but classic Borges)

    File 770 has links to ebook anthologies of stories and novellas now in the public domain that are eligible for nomination:

    Shorts: http://file770.com/?p=26940

    Novellas/novelettes: http://file770.com/?p=27045

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