Hugo Nominees

by Henry on April 7, 2012

are here. List of the fiction awards below the fold with brief reactions.


  • Leviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
  • Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)


  • ‘‘The Ice Owl’’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Countdown’’, Mira Grant (Orbit Short Fiction)
  • ‘‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’’, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Kiss Me Twice’’, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s 6/11)
  • ‘‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’’, Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
  • Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)


  • ‘‘Six Months, Three Days’’, Charlie Jane Anders ( 6/8/11)
  • ‘‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’’, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s 7/11)
  • ‘‘What We Found’’, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/11)
  • ‘‘Fields of Gold’’, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • ‘‘Ray of Light’’, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog 12/11)


  • ‘‘Movement’’, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s 3/11)
  • ‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
  • ‘‘The Homecoming’’, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s 4-5/11)
  • ‘‘Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’’, John Scalzi ( 4/1/11)
  • ‘‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’’, E. Lily Yu

I don’t have informed opinions about the shorter fiction, with the exception of “The Ice Owl,” which I read and didn’t much like. I have read (or in the case of the ‘Mira Grant’ book, half-read) all of the novels that were nominated. Leviathan Wakes was, I thought, enormously disappointing. I thought Daniel Abraham’s “Long Price” quartet, was beautifully written (and with the exception of its ending, which was too sentimental) an outstanding study of character (how what might seem like minor flaws in youth can curdle into tragedy in late middle-age). Abraham is one of the co-authors of Leviathan Wakes, but it’s neither beautifully written nor particularly well thought out – stock characters from bad detective noir lurching around a solar system described in mediocre prose. Deadline, I thought was ho-hum zombie fiction, like its predecessor. A Dance with Dragons was very good, but left too many plotlines dangling to be entirely satisfying – I’d have to guess that it’s the likely winner though. Embassytown, unsurprisingly is the stand-out for me – the pacing is not perfect, but it is an extraordinary and innovative novel, which really manages to reinvent science fiction as a literature of ideas. Among Others is a novel that many loved, but I merely quite liked – I preferred Francis Spufford’s The Child That Books Built which covers some of the same territory in a non-fictional format.

Two books that I was surprised not to see on the list. Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief got a lot of attention and buzz. I wasn’t as impressed as many – while the concepts (esp. the privacy system and the infinitely iterated prisoner’s dilemma prison) were fun, the underlying plot-engine was a rather creaky caper story. Its general setting – Solar System Baroque – reminded me a little of David Herter’s Ceres Storm, which sank like a stone when it came out twelve years ago, but was both lovely and impenetrable. Charlie Stross’s Rule 34 also looked like a strong contender to me – and a really nice combination of intelligent sociological speculation and extrapolation and Christopher Brookmyre-style entertainment.

Obviously, others’ mileage may vary – feel free to disagree/agree in comments as you like.



Murc 04.07.12 at 10:30 pm

Leviathan Wakes is weirdly beloved by a lot of people who should really know better. It’s something that should have appeared as a Baen paperback in both construction and general quality. If I’d seen ‘John Ringo’ or ‘David Weber’ on the spine I wouldn’t have been at all shocked.

It’s gonna be either Embassytown or Dance with Dragons. My verdict is Embassytown, because apparently its a rule that if China Mieville has a book out, he wins, but with Game of Thrones (the HBO series) taking Best Long Form to make up for it.


Anderson 04.08.12 at 12:13 am

Novella … novelette … No “novel lite” category?


shah8 04.08.12 at 12:16 am

The other obvious non-mention are the two Kameron Hurley novels God’s War and Infidel.

Although, while I’m not supposed to be surprised at how weak the nominees are, I’m still surprised at seeing just *two* worthy novels out of five. I could put up some paranormal romances, say MK Hobson, that would be quite a bit better than Mira Grant, for example. Or the other two weak nominees.


shah8 04.08.12 at 12:20 am

It should be noted that Karen Lord is listed as a nominee for best new writer, but Redemption In Indigo is somewhere just beneath Among Others in quality, and yet still not nominated.


Henry 04.08.12 at 12:52 am

I also forgot to mention that I was surprised, but not unhappy that Vernor Vinge’s _Children of the Sky_ didn’t make the cut. Seemed to me that it had all of the dubious politics of his earlier work, with none of the redeeming fun ideas or goofiness. Robert Charles Wilson’s _Vortex_ would have been a better nominee than some that made the cut, but is not a patch on _Spin_ (I really want to write up my ‘why _Spin_ is the great classic SF novel of the last 20 years post one of these days). Haven’t read Redemption In Indigo – will give it a try.


Murc 04.08.12 at 12:59 am

Vernor Vinge thinks L. Neill Smith is a writer worthy of regard. This alone should stop anyone from taking him seriously.

I was delayed from reading Vinge by a good ten years because I picked up The Probability Broach out of curiosity when it was re-issued to coincide with the publication of its sequel, and there was a glowing quote by Vinge on it. This experience convinced me that Vinge couldn’t possibly have ever written anything worth reading, a perception that took years of people recommending him to me to change.

The fact that Children of the Sky didn’t make the cut gives me a warm feeling.


thomas 04.08.12 at 1:21 am

I’m also a bit surprised by Leviathan Wakes. It’s not even Abraham’s best eligible work — there’s The Dragon’s Path. On the other hand, if you think of it as a representative of its subgenres there may not be as much competition.


Kieran 04.08.12 at 2:05 am

Novel … Novella … Novelette … Novelish … Noveloid … Novellon … Novello … Novelesque … Noveletto … Novelissimo … Novelongish … Novelour … Noveldemort … Novelaser … Novelcro … Novelocity … Novelveeta … Novelangelist …


Steven desJardins 04.08.12 at 2:37 am

Dances With Dragons is the fifth in a series of very thick novels—there are going to be a lot of voters who haven’t been reading the series and don’t have the patience to make it through all of them. (Probably including me; I read the first couple of books, and I figure if those didn’t excite me enough to make me want to keep going, the continuation isn’t likely to make the top half of my ballot.)


Neil 04.08.12 at 3:08 am

For me Rule 34 had too much info dump exposition passages. Not a patch on the Laundry series. Oh and Charles (I suspect you might read this), next time you have an urge to expound on what philosophers believe (p. 286), you might first try asking one.


mds 04.08.12 at 3:46 am

I’m guessing that “Best Dramatic Presentation – Short” will go to “The Doctor’s Wife,” because Neil Gaiman, Squeee! Though if “The Girl Who Waited” hadn’t had those distracting variable-speed action-movie sequences, there might be more fans willing to go to war against the Gaiman Imperium on its behalf.

Oh, right, actual literature. Um … the only one of the novels I’ve read is Embassytown. In light of Professor Farrell’s remarks, it doesn’t seem that anything else up for best novel is likely to surpass it. Depressingly, the only other thing on the above list that I’ve read is “Six Months, Three Days,” which was decent enough, I suppose, but I would think that Paul Cornell or Geoff Ryman would be able to do better. I really need to take a few months off for reading stuff.


Doctor Memory 04.08.12 at 6:53 am

Henry: I was equally (and equally happily) surprised that Children of the Sky wasn’t nominated, but perhaps there was some residual embarrassment about having handed the 2007 Hugo to “Rainbow’s End”, which was every bit as bad if not worse. Is our fandoms learning?


Kenny Easwaran 04.08.12 at 8:31 am

If I’m reading those names right, that looks like 9 out of 21 are female, which is better than I might have expected!


Henry 04.08.12 at 2:14 pm

I haven’t read the Paul Cornell story, but the other ones I’ve seen from that series have been fun. And yes, Rainbow’s End was cack. If Glenn Reynolds could write science fiction, it’s the novel he would have written.


dsquared 04.08.12 at 2:20 pm

are we intentionally not mentioning Christopher Priest‘s views?


dsquared 04.08.12 at 2:21 pm

Oh, I see – different awards. there are too many of these awards IMO. I’ll get my coat.


patrick 04.08.12 at 5:30 pm

Having just finished Stross’ Rule 34 it causes me to wonder if having to think about the implications of what they’ve just read is not a disqualification in the eyes of many judges.I found the novel, because of the density of ideas and the nature of the prose, a bit of a slog but enjoyable and a worthwhile read.


Mandolin 04.08.12 at 6:11 pm

REDEMPTION IN INDIGO was eligible last year. I’m pretty sure the Rajaniemi was also eligible last year, not this year. (The Nebulas require US-release for award eligibility, but the Hugos don’t as far as I know.)


Doctor Memory 04.08.12 at 8:18 pm

DD@15: different award yes, although lord knows the same critique could be leveled at the Hugos. (cf Henry and me bitching about Vernor Vinge.)

That said, Priest managed to score an early own goal in that essay via completely idiotic complaints about Embassytown, for more on which see the generally indispensable Nick Mamatas.


dsquared 04.08.12 at 8:27 pm

I thought the comments about Embassytown were actually quite perceptive and that the book itself is far and away Mieville’s weakest; it’s got all of his little tics and fixations and nothing like the usual amount of energy and brio to carry you forward fast enough not to notice that once more we’re dealing with “he snifted past the flurglehop where the moopers scringed”, and that you’re never more than five pages away from somebody with a body part missing.


Doctor Memory 04.08.12 at 8:32 pm

I think we are going to have to live with our disagreement here.

…but you’re all too right about the missing body parts.


Doctor Memory 04.08.12 at 8:34 pm

Although wait… if you’re calling Embassytown his weakest, I can only assume that either you never read Kraken or our taste in books is substantially less reconcilable than I might have originally thought. (If the former, I advise keeping it that way: Kraken was the only book of his since King Rat where I felt like the effort to reward ratio was completely indefensible.)


dsquared 04.08.12 at 8:40 pm

I think our taste is very different then because I quite enjoyed Kraken; it was very much a “here’s a list of weird ideas” caper, but it moved along at a fair old lick until the end. The end, unfortunately, came about 100 pages before the book actually ended but there you go.


dsquared 04.08.12 at 8:40 pm

and King Rat was also very good apart from the embarrassing drum ‘n’ bass bits.


Henry 04.08.12 at 10:39 pm

I liked both of them quite a bit, but in different ways. _Kraken_ was definitely a bit baggy, but I thought was well worth it for the headkicks (the unfolding package I just thought was lovely). _Embassytown_ lost tension in the last third, but redeemed it for me in the final couple of chapters. It may be, though, that it’s the kind of book that’ll only appeal to people who reads lots of science fiction, but not only science fiction. Where I think that Priest was dead wrong is that the flurglehop stuff, like it or don’t like it, was a deliberate artistic choice – when you’re writing a book about the way in which similes and invented terms can be open-ended in all sorts of unexpected ways, it’s probably not unexpected that you’ll have all sorts of invented terms in the text. Wish he’d had a starship powered by the fabulous anti-syntax drive though …


DaveL 04.08.12 at 11:09 pm

I haven’t read Embassytown yet (comes out in paperback soon), but I loved Kraken until it sidled over to being a lot of the same songs he sang in Perdido Street Station et al. That is, it started as Lovecraft and whipped its kimono off as New Crobuzon. Yeah, sure, NC is London and vice versa but it just didn’t work for me. If you need further pinpointing, I also thought The City and the City was excellent: was it SF or not?

I found Children of the Sky a disappointment, too. All the boring simplistic politics parts of A Fire Upon the Deep and none of the sensawonder.

Of A Dance With Dragons we shall not speak.

On the shorter side, I rather liked “The Ice Owl” and “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” but it is a thin list.


cheem 04.09.12 at 5:15 am

I’m amused to see that Sclazi parody nominated. A bit appalled, though… I mean, an April’s Fool’s joke nominated for best short story? Was the selection of SF short fiction really that poor? Or is someone trying to make a point about the Hugos?


Merp 04.09.12 at 5:33 am

I looked up Spin on Google books a few hours ago and haven’t been able to look away. Thanks a lot.

Though those few hours passed like minutes.


Miracle Max 04.09.12 at 12:12 pm

Like everything by Miéville except Embassytown. The first 2/3rds is pretty boring (still not quite done). I guess the endless spate of words without definitions is for texture, but you can have too much texture. The description of the physical world is a little too vague for me, and the best I can do to conjure up a picture of the Hosts is Spongebob Squarepants.


Daniel Nexon 04.09.12 at 1:37 pm

Well, I’m glad better minds than mine get annoyed with Vinge’s unsubtle political messaging. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two collectivist baddies in AFuD and DitS. And Spin is teh awesome of the last decade, but not quite as much as Anathem.


Doctor Science 04.09.12 at 1:42 pm

Are people not mentioning Among Others because y’all liked it too much, or hated it too much? I admit I have a strong opinion in favor.


Henry 04.09.12 at 2:08 pm

I think I’d have liked _Among Others_ more if I hadn’t read Francis Spufford’s _The Boy That Books Built_ first. The opening chapters are, I thought, just extraordinary in the way that they start from obsessive reading in f/sf, then peel back the specific personal circumstances that lead to this, and then move back again to examine the cognitive underpinnings. I’ll likely be writing on this in the context of Spufford’s _Red Plenty_ soon.


Jeff R. 04.09.12 at 5:33 pm

The Quantum Thief had a UK publication in 2010 that probably killed its Hugo chances (making it’s eligible year one where nobody in the US [modulo importers] had had a chance to read it.)

I was expecting Ready Player One to make the list (I won’t exactly say it was robbed, since it is deeply flawed, but I expected its basic fun-ness and fan appeal to at least get it to the ballot.), but other than that, no surprises.


Doctor Science 04.09.12 at 5:39 pm

I think I’d have liked Among Others more if I hadn’t read Francis Spufford’s The Boy That Books Built first.

But that’s non-fiction. What does it have to do with whether a particular work of fiction belongs on the Hugo ballot?

Notably, Among Others isn’t on the Clarke ballot because it only just was released in the UK.


Henry 04.09.12 at 5:49 pm

bq. But that’s non-fiction. What does it have to do with whether a particular work of fiction belongs on the Hugo ballot?

Absolutely nothing! But you asked why people weren’t talking about Among Others, so I told you why I had liked it, but not so much as you or lots of other people.


JakeB 04.10.12 at 5:28 am

I myself am pretty cheesed off that T.C. McCarthy’s _Germline_ isn’t on the best novel list, considering that that wretch Martin is. But what else are these lists for but to rouse righteous indignation, anyways . . . .


David Herter 04.10.12 at 8:48 am

Thanks for the mention of Ceres Storm! (especially in connection with such an auspicious book as The Quantum Thief).


Doctor Science 04.10.12 at 3:09 pm

Stimulated by the mentions here and in Priest’s post, I just started reading Rule 34. I found the prose style interesting and even excellent, but I just hit the Great Wall of Infodump that Neil @10 mentions.

I’m sorry, Charles, if you’re reading this, but your editor really fell down on the job — that is one of the worst cases of infodump I’ve *ever* encountered, and I read most of Heinlein’s Bloat Period novels. To wit:

– a long, LONG exposition of dense ideas
– in the midst of a story that has such intense POV focus that it’s 2nd Person (a literary technique that is generally “kids, don’t try this at home” but was working really well up to now)
– coming from a new character we don’t really care about
– as we’re racing toward the climax of the story, with the different PsOV converging toward the Perry Mason resolution (“I propose to connect all this up, Your Honor”)
– delivered as a lecture to two characters we do care about, who are in desperate haste

— > As the kids say, TL;DR. This was a job for the Mighty Editorial Red Pen of Doom, and they really let you down. I’ll pick myself up, skip ahead, and finish the book — but ye gods and goatherds, what a poorly-timed derail.


shah8 04.10.12 at 3:14 pm

Ya know… The Nebulas has a much better shortlist.


Henry 04.10.12 at 3:20 pm

David – take this as warm encouragement to get _Yan Tan Tethera_ formatted for e-reader and available to the reading public (have just seen on your blog that you have put together an extended edition of _Ceres Storm_ , and I’m excited to download and read it).


bianca steele 04.10.12 at 10:06 pm

Not to pile on Stross, but I was already thinking about issuing a mild complaint to whoever on CT recommended Halting State (which I started the other day). I don’t mind infodumps myself so much, but . . . this is a really stupid implementation of a MPG (which I won’t explain about because no one cares). I knew I was going to have a problem with the computer science-y stuff, and I’m not a fan of the mandatory (I guess, haven’t read him) Gibsonesque cyberadjectivery, but the blame-the-PRC plot is cliched and gets close to Michael Crichton territory. It is a reasonably entertaining read, though.


David Herter 04.10.12 at 10:52 pm

Henry — I also uploaded a Ceres-related novella, The Firebirds of Theriak. Thanks for your warm encouragement. YTT is (slowly) getting underway.


Joey 04.11.12 at 1:48 am

I really enjoyed Halting State. I found it to be a lot more accessible than some of his earlier work, and i wasn’t bothered by the chinese baddies. I haven’t ventured into Rule 34 because i’m concerned that i won’t like the theme.


Josh Jasper 04.11.12 at 3:07 am

The wife points out to me that the most interesting award is going to be not a Hugo, but the Campbell award. She points out rightly that Campbell award winners have a strong tendency to be really frigging amazing writers with long interesting careers, and getting a glimpse at the start can be far more rewarding than the popularity contest that is best novel (GRRM has a lotta fans, and this is not his best book, but stands a strong chance of winning.

IMNSHO, Among Others should win. But it might be a bit too high concept to get enough votes.


Daniel Nexon 04.11.12 at 3:10 am

41: I have to disagree about Halting State. One of the best works of near-future political-economic science fiction in years. I like it so much that I assign in in a class.

The “blame the PRC” thing is not at all yellow peril; it builds on current developments with nationalist and quasi-autonomous hackers. There aren’t that many countries with significant capability on this front, and the PRC is ground central. And Stross is very, very clear that everyone (repeat: everyone) is playing this sort of game. What the PRC cell is up to is not different in kind than SPOOKS, or the western intelligence crossed-wire SNAFU that happens with the quantum computer; and part of the point is that no one, ultimately, can be sure of whom they are acting for.


Henry 04.11.12 at 2:39 pm

I don’t assign it, but I do tell students in my cybersecurity class that they should read it, for the reasons that Dan suggests. I don’t hear even a hint of the Michael Crichton ‘evil yellow-skinned people are going to whop your lily-white ass because of their Fu Manchu ruthlessness’ racist-nationalist theme-song. Instead, it’s all about how the Chinese are sort-of-screwed because they have delegated their national offense to hackers with their own motivations and poor social skills, how the UK, for similarly screwed up reasons, is about to do the same thing, and about how the Americans are out of the game because they are still stuck with second-generation broadband fibre. The message is that everyone is screwed. I’m unable to comment on the accuracy of his discussion of MMORPGs, having never played one. I’m looking forward to the third volume in Stross’s series, which he said some while ago was going to be on the international/diplomatic aspects (and hence: likely to be even more relevant to the topics that Dan and I teach on).


Henry 04.11.12 at 2:43 pm

And David – when and where does _The Cold Heavens_ come out? Love the title (one of my favorite Yeats poems – also a title that a cousin of mine stole for his, presumably very different novel).


bianca steele 04.11.12 at 5:19 pm

I’m only halfway through, so we’ll see. The things that grate on me about it seem to be in different areas than the things you like about it, except for cyberspace as metaphor, which in my opinion always seems forced no matter who’s using it (and mostly not a great analogy for what it’s supposed to be). The badness of the implementation (using individuals’ handheld devices to build a distributed database for objects that have no inherent connection to the owners of the devices that store them, and the cleverness of how you can redefine “ownership” as “knowing the password,” usually in certain scenarios where you have to have a certain kind of ownership in order to prevent certain kinds of problems, but here literalized as ownership of an object in a VR) seemed to gesture at a whole raft of bad arguments about peer-to-peer as an inherent security risk.[1] AFAICT the way the Chinese hackers are used gestures similarly at a whole raft of bad arguments about IP theft–as if breaking into a bank, tricking people to hand over knowledge without the slightest cognizance of what they were doing, (instead of working long hours to get things worked through) was the only way China could become knowledgeable.

[1] Don’t let me get started on its applicability to net neutrality.


Doug 04.11.12 at 5:20 pm

Why do commenters here think that Hugo voters will not choose the one novel that is a genuine cultural phenomenon right now?


David Herter 04.11.12 at 10:11 pm

Henry — The Cold Heavens is in draft, and as of yet it doesn’t have a publisher. I’d like to shop it with the major players when it’s ready. Right now, it’s about 280,000 words, yet paradoxically (I think) moves faster than anything I’ve written. It’s the first half of a duology, the second to be titled The Fiery Angels.

Strangely, I titled it The Cold Heavens precisely because I’ve always loved Brian Moore’s Cold Heaven, a book which was the inspiration for my second novel, Evening’s Empire.

Moore has always been one of my top five favorite authors. Is he really your cousin?


Henry 04.11.12 at 10:56 pm

Yes, he was my grandmother’s first cousin – I’ve never been very clear on whether that makes him a first cousin twice removed, a third cousin or what. She knew him growing up – she lived with his family in Belfast while her father was imprisoned by the British during the Irish War of Independence, although she was friendlier with his sisters than with him. I came across this piece by him in the _NYT_, where he mentions having spent summers with her family in Dublin, presumably after the war was over (although she never mentioned this to me when we talked). I never met him myself; he rarely returned to Ireland after he had moved to Canada and the US, and didn’t spend time in Dublin when he did. I look forward very much to reading a Brian Moore influenced planetary romance when it comes out – sounds like a quite wonderful collision of genres and expectations.


Henry 04.11.12 at 11:51 pm

Actually, I must be conflating two different stories of hers, since he would have been an infant during the Tan War – while she spent time with his family then, she must have gotten to know him when he came down to Dublin later.


David Herter 04.12.12 at 12:18 am

Henry — that’s amazing. My first published piece was a letter to the New York Times Book Review soon after his death, trying to say what a great author Moore was. I always looked forward to each book, knowing it would be 1) tautly written, 2) compelling on a deeply emotional level, 3) entirely different from anything he’d written before. I took his prose as the model for what writing should be: word perfect, with every sentence pointing the way for what followed. In his career he wrote brilliant novels of character (The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, The Luck of Ginger Coffey, I am Mary Dunne, The Temptation of Eileen Hughes), historical novels (Black Robe, The Magician’s Wife), a Ballardian fantasy (The Great Victorian Collection), several top-notch political thrillers (Lies of Silence, Color of Blood, No Other Life, The Statement), and even a compelling SF novel (Catholics). And then there was Cold Heaven, a metaphysical thriller that probably ventured too far into Catholic mysticism, but remained an eerily frightening depiction of real people encountering the supernatural. (It was made into a wretched movie).

It’s sad that his literay star has seemed to set. I’d heard that he was working on a novel about Rimbaud when he died. I would have loved to read it.


John Quiggin 04.12.12 at 12:38 am

@Henry – first cousin twice removed

I’ll stand up for Rule 34. I didn’t mind the infodumps, which I thought fitted in with the whole ambience of info overload.

I’ve just started Game of Thrones from the beginning. And talking of infodumps, I started Feast for Crows when it was nominated a few years back, and it had the worst case of Book IV syndrome I’ve ever seen. A hundred pages in, the characters were still doing “As you know, Robb …” recapitulations of the events of previous volumes. Hopefully, it will be easy to slide over this if I get that far on a sequential reading, and hopefully, the latest will be a bit better.


DaveL 04.12.12 at 12:47 am

Hopefully, it will be easy to slide over this if I get that far on a sequential reading, and hopefully, the latest will be a bit better.

The triumph of hope over experience. Still, unless Martin manages to pull a “Lost” on his fans, it’s an impressive monument he’s building.

But I agree with you on Rule 34; old SF fans know how to skip the infodumps when necessary. Non-SF fans may find it hard going.


shah8 04.12.12 at 12:57 am

I don’t know…

I sorta think that infodumps are sort of the purpose of the genres. No one would be speaking Elvish otherwise…


Henry 04.12.12 at 1:23 am

bq. It’s sad that his literay star has seemed to set

I hadn’t thought that many people outside Ireland remembered him (hence my assumption that you’d taken the title from the poem rather than the novel). I taped my grandmother talking about her family memories a couple of years before she died, and have been meaning to digitize it for ages – can’t remember whether she spoke about Brian, but if she did, and if I can find it, I may put the relevant bit up as an MP3 tomorrow or the day after.


ChrisTS 04.12.12 at 1:48 am

I found Embassytown a bit turgid, althought I thought CM redeemed himself with the ending. Interestingly, my philosopher of language partner thought it was CM’s best after The City and The City.


ponce 04.12.12 at 7:34 am

I just finished Children of the Sky. Disappointed it wasn’t the sequel to the one with the space spiders.

All I can say about the nominees is thank god none of Connie Willis’ wretched works were nominated this year.


David Herter 04.12.12 at 8:54 am

Henry — I would love to hear it. But I’m a patient guy.

To entice anyone else into Brian Moore’s novels, here’s a sampling of the blurbs on the paperback of Cold Heaven.

“In Cold Heaven, the world of the supernatural arrives in a burst of brilliant light that dazzles — and awes and frightens — the reader as well as the characters. . . Moore is a masterly writer and is word-perfect. The style is so transparent, so casually brilliant, that the events it narrates seem to be happening in real life, without the intrusion of paper and ink.” — Washington Post Book World.

“Original. . . Startling. . . What begins as an extravagent thriller becomes a metaphysical story of a woman’s struggle to regain control of her life. . . meticulously realistic.” — Newsweek

“A kind of metaphysical chase novel. A bizarre tale told with a convincing directness and with all the intensity and urency of a thriller. Book by book, Brian Moore has been building a body of work that is, in its quietly impressive way, about as good as that of any novelist writing today in English.” — The New Republic


Maria 04.12.12 at 2:40 pm

On Brian Moore; he and his younger brother Sean were billeted down from Belfast to live with Henry’s and my grandmother’s family during the war. That’s when she got to know him.

I never met him either. I was visiting Los Angeles one summer as a student and tried to get to a reading he was giving. But the public transport system was so appalling that I would have had to take the first of 3 return buses back to my accommodation before I even arrived at the event.

He was well shot of Ireland once he left, I think, and only visited Eilis once or twice after he moved to Canada, and then California. But I think relations were very warm indeed.

I did meet his lovely brother, Sean, who taught pathology at McGill University in Montreal. Sadly dead now, also.

Funnily enough, now that I’ve just started writing fiction myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about Brian Moore’s books. I’d like to re-read them now and had wondered if they were still in print. One of the facts about them that sticks in my head is that he turned out a book every two years, pretty much like clockwork. I remember being so impressed at the workmanlike nature of that.

So thank you very much, David, for the encouragement to read Brian Moore again.


OCS 04.12.12 at 3:01 pm

The perfect confluence of events. As a relatively new Kindle owner and long-time (although largely lapsed) science fiction reader, I stumble upon this thread and am directed to Ceres Storm just as it’s reissued for Kindle. After sampling the first five pages I’m eager to read what gives every sign of being an intelligent, well-written piece of SF.


David Herter 04.12.12 at 8:19 pm

OCS — Thanks! Hope you enjoy it.

Maria — Moore gave a reading here in Seattle and I found out too late; I can commiserate. I’m glad I’ve encouraged you to reread him; I’ve encouraged myself, too. Yes, his regularity in publishing was another pleasure in reading him. I would always pick up the season preview edition of Publisher’s Weekly hoping to find another Brian Moore, and every couple of years I’d be rewarded. I’ve mentioned how his books were always wildly different from one another (except for Lies of Silence and Color of Money, which had the same ending). And his books were always of similar length, never bloated.

Let me suggest you read The Temptation of Eileen Hughes, Cold Heaven, Black Robe, The Colour of Blood, Lies of Silence and No Other Life. They were published in that order from 1981 to 1993, and represent an amazing run and variety.


bianca steele 04.12.12 at 8:28 pm

On Halting State: Maybe hit one of those infodumps, which I’m going to put down to being appropriate to the character, actually. I’m going to set the whole novel to (a) pushes a lot of my buttons on things that annoy me of a variety of sorts, and (b) does some things I find interesting in a totally different way than most I’d like to see them done. The number of buttons pushed is fascinating in itself. I’ll read the sequel.

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