In which I give a big fat raspberry to the Hugo novels

It looks like the latest writing frenzy has dried up for the moment, so this is my chance to sort out what I’ve been reading. I have to say, I don’t have a lot of patience for this year’s Hugo-nominated novels. I finally decided that I’ve read about as much of them as I can stand. Which is to say,  I’ve only finished two of them. I’m beginning to think it’s called the Literature of Ideas because I like the idea of science fiction more than I like reading the current literature.

In ascending order of pages read:

Feed, by Mira Grant.

Zombies. Getting poked with a stick. I could see where it was trying to be funny, but it’s still zombies. Fast or slow, I don’t care. Within the first few pages, it failed its saving throw against my prejudices.

Dervish House, by Ian McDonald.

It’s a future where Turkey has just entered the European Union and the usual bits of tech have entered everything. In the first 20 pages, it keeps shifting back and forth from a bombing on a tram to several different new characters, each in their Exotic Location, and back to the news spreading of the bombing. The one thing that caught my interest was the food. I just couldn’t bring myself to get interested.

Blackout, by Connie Willis.
There’s three names in the first sentence, more people introduced by the end of the first page. By the second, I lost count of how many characters had been mentioned. The text is incredibly dialogue heavy. The story keeps jumping back and forth. It’s like it’s designed to drive me up the wall. And yet somehow I managed to read about 80 pages.
I like the idea of watching ordinary heroes, but not enough to read hundreds more pages of hijinks and pratfalls.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemison.

As I said before, it’s full of gods and magic and palace politics. Good stuff.

Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Probably not the best place to enter this series, but enjoyable on its own. I read it in two days. It’s a page turner, all right.  The opening with our hero, Miles Vorkosigan, lost in dark twisty tunnels half out of his mind on drugs pulled me in. There were more than a few conversations alluding to his other adventures, which I suppose I would have enjoyed had I known, but neither added nor took away from the current story.

I had the impression that the headlong adventures that he dashes into would have made more sense in previous books, as  he refers to earlier times in black ops. Most of what makes him fun doesn’t quite fit his new role, unless  “Imperial Auditor” is some kind of ironic euphemism for someone who thinks none of the rules apply to him. Am I right in understanding that he holds this position due to a personal relationship with the Emperor? How is that not fundamentally corrupt?

The people around him revolve between eagerly assisting his escapades and mildly disapproving of kidnapping and burglary, but in the end, everyone just shrugs and says, Oh, that’s just his way.

The book handles economic crimes better than most SF, but it still has corporations resorting to violence way too quickly. I enjoyed the convoluted plot because I could actually follow it. I was amused by the contracts on the frozen being compared to mortgage-backed securities, though I wondered how the living economy could actually sustain keeping up the payments.

All in all, a rather discouraging batch of books, but at least I didn’t have to force myself to open another Robert Sawyer book.



2 thoughts on “In which I give a big fat raspberry to the Hugo novels

  1. Hi Pam, I haven’t finished Cryoburn yet (I’m as slow a reader as I am a writer) but I am enjoying it. The other titles didn’t seem all that interesting to me and after reading your reviews of them, I think I made a good choice starting with the LMB book. Otherwise, I’m still reading the shorter works and frankly, not that impressed with them either. Still reading with only two weeks to go before the votes must be cast… Fran

    1. Nice to know I’m not the only one less than underwhelmed by this year’s crop. So far I’ve most enjoyed one of the graphic novels, but I’ll be posting about that later.

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