Alternative Hugo Ballot

by Henry Farrell on April 1, 2013

So the Hugo nominees are “here”: Outside of the novels, the only nominated work I’ve read is Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn’s _Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature_ which I am entirely happy to recommend you go vote for, or, better still, buy. As for the novels, they’re:

* 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
* Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)
* Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
* Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
* Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

I’ve read five of the six (and I got halfway through the first book in the series which Mira Grant’s _Blackout_ ends), and I’ve got a serious case of the mehs. _2312_ is the only one that I would recommend as doing something interesting. The other five seem to me solid, but not wildly exciting. Ahmed’s _Throne of the Crescent Moon_ is a lot of fun – good sword and sorcery from a non-Christian Europe-centric perspective. _Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance_ is perfectly fine, but while it isn’t the worst of Bujold’s books, it’s not close to being the best either. John Scalzi’s _Redshirts_ didn’t grab me, perhaps because I never particularly liked _Star Trek_, and so was underwhelmed by the pathos.

But in the end, the Hugo nominees are no more and no less than a prestigious crowdsourced recommendation list. Which means that if your taste doesn’t gel with that of the Hugos crowd, you shouldn’t get bent out of shape about it, but also you shouldn’t take it as gospel. CT readers are a different crowd than Worldcon attendees/supporters, and I imagine would generate a different list. If people want to namecheck the books they liked in comments, I’ll undertake to write a follow up post next week that tries to pull these recommendations together in a more useful form. I’ve already listed “some of my favorites here”: but take that as a conversation starter, not ender.