Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nebula Update: The Healer's War, and some Hugo stuff

Last fall, I finished reading The Healer's War, which won the 1989 Nebula for Best Novel. Just now, I started to write a review. Here it is in its entirety:
This book is a cross between a Vietnam War novel and a fantasy. As a Vietnam War novel, I enjoyed it. As a fantasy, well, it was a Vietnam War novel.
Basically, I'm getting sick of Nebula winners (like last year's), where the SF or fantasy element is minimal. I'm happy that this book exists, but I think that having one "magical" element doesn't put a book in the SF/fantasy genre.

So now I've read 39 out of 48 books, leaving 9. (It looks like my running count got messed up somewhere in 2011.)

The 2012 nominees were announced yesterday. Of the six Best Novel nominees, 2312 is the only one I've read. Ordinarily at this point, I would start digging into the other five. This year, however, I'm trying something new -- being a Hugo voter.

I decided in 2004 to read the Nebula winners rather than the Hugos, since I believed the writers would do a better job than the fans selecting good books. Thirty-nine books in, I'm less certain of that, but more importantly, I am a fan, but not an author. So while I will never be part of the Nebula process, the Christmas gift of a supporting membership in Worldcon makes me eligible to nominate and vote for the Hugos. Since I have begun to enjoy reading each year's nominees and picking my favorite more than reading old winners, participating in actual awards voting seemed like fun.

The Hugo voting process is delayed somewhat from the Nebula process, so I considered using the Nebula nominees as a list of books I might consider nominating for Hugos. I decided not to, however, since most years the Hugo nominees are available to voters after the close of the nomination process. Since the two sets of nominees will likely overlap, why pay for a book now that I might be getting free in April? Then I can read the ones in the overlap before picking up the others, hopefully by the time the Nebula nominees are announced in late May.

I will miss out on the chance to nominate Nebula nominees for the Hugos, but I figure those books will be well-known enough not too need the extra boost. I am mostly looking to nominate books by favorite authors. So far, the Hugo-eligible ones from 2012 that I've read are 2312, The Cassandra Project and Crucible of Gold, none of which I think I'll end up nominating. Although I enjoyed all of them, I would hate to think any of them was the best book of 2012. Put another way, I wouldn't want my vote to bump another interesting novel out of the Hugo list, because I want to see what else it out there.

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