The Hugos are on again, and I’ve managed to read the novels. The range this year is varied, with series science, high action fantasy, and completely original takes on old themes on the nomination list.
First of all, I have to say that I have avoided getting into the problems that the various puppy groups have bought to the Hugos. It’s not a question of do I think they are right or wrong – personally, the points that they bring up about the direction of the genre prove we have a living genre that is always evolving. Instead, I have taken each book on its merits and have been impressed this year with the overall quality of the writing. If this was an award based entirely on writing ability, the decisions for those voting would be difficult given the high level of writing. What I did find was five varied novels, although this year the nominations seemed to lean towards fantasy, with three of the five in that setting. It was the settings that impressed , be it the steampunk of the Cinder Spires, the barren rocks of the Fifth season, or Russian folklore of Uprooted, all three are good fantasy novels, and were reading time well spent. Leaving Ancillery Mercy and Seveneves.
Ancillery Mercy, the closing of a trilogy, continued to an ending that was nice and clean. Seveneves was a wonderful, well-written book, let down by a final act that could have been removed without ruining the novel.
So which is the best? I looked back at the previous winners, and those that I have read. It seemed to me that the Hugo award should go to a novel that was original in content, with well written characters, and taking place in a possible world that made sense within itself and presented the reader with some wonder.
This narrows possibilites down. Uprooted, The Fifth Season and Seveneves seemed to fulfill these criteria the best.
Which makes the final cut difficult. Which one will win? Often, it appears winning the Nebula is pretty good indication of Hugo results, in which case, Uprooted would the be pick.
However, after reading it, my mind keeps coming back to the images that Seveneves put in there. The cramped living quarters so close to the vastness of the universe, as well as the science it explained along the way. This was a novel that extrapolated the current situation, and made it credible. In terms of a science fiction novel, this one fulfills all the needs that we have when we read one.
Which is why my personal feeling is that Seveneves should be the one to win the Hugos this year.