Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Hugo Nominees

The Hugo nominees have been announced!

First of all, nothing that I nominated made the finalists. (Although I nominated Game of Thrones in long-form dramatic presentation, and an episode made it through in short-form.) Oh, well.

The category that I am most interested in, Best Novel, had a two-novel overlap with the Nebula nominees: 2312 and Throne of the Crescent Moon.

So what do I read next? Well, my first thought is to pivot from the Hugos to the Nebulas, so that I can read those nominees and make up my own mind before the Nebula winner is announced in mid-May. Because the Hugo nominees are traditionally provided at no additional cost to Hugo voters, that means postponing Throne of the Crescent Moon until the "Hugo packet" becomes available. I am a little bit sad about that, since I picked that book as the Nebula nominee I'd most like to read. Among other things, Saladin Ahmed, the author, is a Michigan alumnus and father of twins -- like me. Also, he is an Arab-American who has written poetry -- like my wife. So I guess I should mostly be glad he got the nomination, but I am looking forward to reading this. (Also, his Twitter avatar is the Rakshasa from the original Monster Manual.)

That leaves Ironskin, The Killing Moon, The Drowning Girl and Glamour in Glass as the other four Nebula nominees. From an Amazon review of Ironskin: "this book is a fey/steampunk retelling of Jane Eyre." My heart sinks every time I see that, so I will probably move that low on the priority list. The Killing Moon looks like a fantasy novel with some war, magic and mysticism. It's promising. The Drowning Girl is described in an Amazon review as "a haunting, dreamlike novel awash in mermaids, werewolves, fairy tales, art and schizophrenia." I would color myself somewhat suspicious, so let's put that in between the other two on the priority list. Finally, Glamour in Glass is the second novel in a series that seems to be described as Jane Austen with magic. I prefer something done as a tribute to a particular author rather than a retelling of a particular story, and I like magic better than "fey/steampunk", so it definitely goes above Ironskin,
and probably The Drowning Girl.

The only problem with Glamour in Glass is that I have a rule not to read series out of sequence. This rule dates back to my childhood days reading The Hardy Boys novels, so it is completely ridiculous, but so ingrained that I find it impossible to break. The previous book in the series is Shades of Milk and Honey, a 2010 Nebula nominee. It was not one of the three nominees I managed to read that year, but I find that somewhat encouraging. Still, I am developing a long list of books to read in the first part of the year (see below).

Assuming I get those four (well, five, with Shades) books read before the Hugo packet comes out, what next? Well, here's where my book series rule (I should develop a catchy name for it) comes into play. One of the Hugo nominees is Blackout, the third book in a zombie trilogy. I don't really like zombie books or movies, but I should give this one a shot, which adds the first two books in the series.

Another nominee is Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, the latest entry in the Vorkosigan Saga. Let's look at how many entries there are...twenty-two? (Spit take.) Well, it's not as bad as all that. The list contains two short stories and four novellas. I don't feel compelled to track those down, and even if I did, they're shorter. So that's...fifteen prequels. But wait! I actually read Falling Free, the first novel (according to the saga's internal chronology) and a previous Nebula winner. It's not tightly related to the rest of the saga, so I could have probably justified skipping it, but now I don't have to. Fourteen! And one novel takes place after Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (the author suggests reading the novels in chronological order rather than publication order), so I'm down to thirteen.

Thankfully, it gets better. Some of the books are collected in "omnibus" editions. Even if that doesn't make the combined books any shorter, 1) it cuts down on the number of books I have to buy, and 2) the original novels couldn't have been that long, if they've been combined with other novels. That gives me:
  1. Cordelia's Honor
  2. Young Miles
  3. Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem
  4. Miles Errant
  5. Memory
  6. Miles in Love
  7. Miles, Mutants and Microbes  

After all that, seven books doesn't seem so bad, does it? The remaining Hugo nominee is Redshirts, so that goes on the list, too.

Summarizing, we have, approximately in order:
  1. The Killing Moon (Nebula nominee)
  2. Shades of Milk and Honey (in series with Nebula nominee)
  3. Glamour in Glass (Nebula nominee)
  4. The Drowning Girl (Nebula nominee)
  5. Ironskin (Nebula nominee)
  6. Cordelia's Honor (in series with Hugo nominee)
  7. Young Miles (in series with Hugo nominee)
  8. Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem (in series with Hugo nominee)
  9. Miles Errant (in series with Hugo nominee)
  10. Memory (in series with Hugo nominee)
  11. Miles in Love (in series with Hugo nominee)
  12. Miles, Mutants and Microbes (in series with Hugo nominee)
  13. Feed (in series with Hugo nominee)
  14. Deadline (in series with Hugo nominee)
  15. Throne of the Crescent Moon (Nebula and Hugo nominee) 
  16. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Hugo nominee) 
  17. Blackout (Hugo nominee)
  18. Redshirts (Hugo nominee)  

So, let's see, 18 books in four months (some of them containing multiple novels), for someone who has been struggling to average two books a month. Let me consider this list an unrealistic goal rather than a "to-do list". Also, time to start reading The Killing Moon! Updates to follow...
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