Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Nebula Update: All the Birds in the Sky

I finally got around to reading the 2017 Nebula Best Novel winner, All the Birds in the Sky. It was not as good as I would have liked. I can't put my finger on what bothered me the most, but here are a few things. The style was very breezy. The first part felt like a YA novel (not in a good way). I gather that may have been a conscious choice to reflect the characters' ages, but it did not really mature as the book went on; it just added more "mature situations". At one point, an apartment was described as looking like it was from the show Hoarders. That's just not a good description for me. Also, the billionaire bankrolling science that is going to change the planet tires me out by this point. The author may have done some things differently with that, but it's still a warped view of how technological progress happens.

While I read that, the latest award went out to The Calculating Stars. Sadly, it was not the nominee I had already read. It's part of a series with a novella that I "kind of enjoyed." It's not the ringing endorsement I'd like, but I will plunge forward. This still leaves me with 8 books to read:

  1. 1966: Flowers for Algernon (tie)
  2. 1966: Babel-17 (tie)
  3. 1968: Rite of Passage
  4. 1976: Man Plus
  5. 1978: Dreamsnake
  6. 1981: The Claw of the Conciliator
  7. 2018: The Stone Sky 
  8. 2019: The Calculating Stars


wwc said...

Jenny and I read All the Birds in the Sky and had
somewhat similar views to you. We also felt there was a
fair bit of pointless violence.

We have been on a similar quest to you in our attempt to
read Hugo award winners. One older one we found that we
especially liked was Way station.


Jon Grantham said...

I initially started with the Hugos, but switched to the Nebulas on the theory that the writers would do a better job of choosing quality writing than the fans. I don't think that theory has worked out. I think in some cases, popularity with other writers influences the award. Perhaps in this case, the author's long history editing io9 favorably disposed the voters.

Enrique TreviƱo said...

Flowers for Algernon is great and it's also short. Should be easy to get that one off the list.

Jon Grantham said...

That's a good thought. I feel like someone gave me a physical copy of it, but I can't find it. I should probably just download a copy before my next flight.