RogerBW's Blog

Hugo 2017: Novel 09 July 2017

These are my thoughts on the Hugo-nominated novels. If you're planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until you have done so.

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders: by far the most modern-feeling of these books, and a slap in the face to the magical realists who think that making their books hard work to read gives them greater literary value.

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers: my favourite of the two I'd read before nominations were announced; that rare thing for me, a second volume that I liked better than the first. Yeah, it would be nice if the tech made more sense, but not if that means making the writing worse.

Death's End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu: I ploughed through The Three-Body Problem and even enjoyed it before the ending let everything down, but the more I considered reading this, and then that I really ought to read The Dark Forest as well, the more I realised that I didn't want to.

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee: blends modern literary SF with enough of the classic tropes and ideas that it just about has it all. This is a book aimed directly at me even though it's not quite like anything I've read before.

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin: if it hadn't been for the first book I'd have liked this much more (this seems to be a pattern for me). Still pretty good, though.

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer: self-consciously literary and ruined thereby.

Overall: for a change I'd actually read three of the nominees before the list was announced. I was sorry to see Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen didn't make it; to be fair it doesn't really stand alone as well as some of the other books in the series, but I'd have put it at #3 or maybe #2. Obelisk was a disappointment after the hard but worthwhile slog of the first book. I'm very surprised to find myself putting Ninefox over Closed, but there it is: that one really worked for me.

Voting order:

  1. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee
  2. A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers
  3. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
  4. The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

See also:
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
A Closed and Common Orbit, Becky Chambers
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
The Obelisk Gate, N K Jemisin
Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer

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