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This Year's Hugo Nominees Chosen 171

wrinkledshirt writes "They've announced this year's nominees for the Hugo Awards. Wonder who the next Asimov, Brin, Gibson or [shudder] Rowling is going to be? Find out at Conjose."
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This Year's Hugo Nominees Chosen

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  • ouch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vlad_the_Inhaler ( 32958 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:23AM (#3378289) Homepage
    This is very worrying - I recognise just two names on those lists. Ursula LeGuin and Vernor Vinge.
    The ones I knew are dying off (Zelazny, Herbert, Asimov, Heinlein . . .)

    • yup, we will miss those guys SF is not what is used to me. I dont think we will ever get the equalt of the Foundation! Peter F Hamilton was prmising, but seems hes slept off after his great Triology. It kinda reminds me of demise of rock, just as rock died a slow death, SF is going the same way, But i just pray, GOD give us Force!
      • Re:ouch (Score:2, Insightful)

        by toopc ( 32927 )
        yup, we will miss those guys SF is not what is used to me. I dont think we will ever get the equalt of the Foundation! Peter F Hamilton was prmising, but seems hes slept off after his great Triology. It kinda reminds me of demise of rock, just as rock died a slow death, SF is going the same way, But i just pray, GOD give us Force!

        Careful, you're dangerously close to sounding like your father. Especially that bit about the music. All you have to do is deride the way kids of today dress and cut their hair and you'll officially qualify for your AARP [aarp.com] membership card.

        Try reading something new with an open mind, you'll find the books are just as good as ever. I for one am glad SF isn't what it used to be. Why would you want the same ideas recycled by a new generation of writers? I have many favorite books from the past, but the very concept of Science Fiction suggests that as time advances, so should the ideas behind the writing. Your favorite writer may no longer be putting out books, but don't confuse that with the idea that there is no longer any good Science Fiction. A good book is still a good book, no generation has a monopoly on them.

        By the way, 20 years from now they'll be some old guy complaining that the current state of Science Fiction is no where near as good as it was back in the good ol' days of 2002.

    • I know what you mean -- I buy most of my SF secondhand anyway, but even the authors I buy new (e.g. Rudy Rucker or Bruce Sterling) got their start in the 1970s or early 1980s. I enjoy reading authors like Kuttner, Bester and LeGuin more than most of the stuff published these days...

      Only 28 and already I'm feeling old. :)

    • "The ones I knew are dying off (Zelazny, Herbert, Asimov, Heinlein . . .)"

      Those are the writers I like as well. But, I hate to break it to you, but they aren't dying off they are dead.

    • This is very worrying - I recognise just two names on those lists.

      Maybe you should try a few new ones...how about Connie Willis (forget Passages though, get Book of the Dead, very good, plus in paperback...used even!). Allen Steele is also quite good, I remember "discovering" him in the mid-90s. I have heard Neil Gaiman is quite good, so that will be the new author I'll be trying next...so maybe someone can recommend one of his books...plus it is likely anyone nominated for a Hugo has produced fine work.

      • by Kerg ( 71582 )
        start with Neverwhere, its nice and dark
        if you like it, read the "American Gods" which was excellent (and quite a bit longer)
    • Yeah, I'm getting on towards geezerhood too. Maybe they'll do a special posthumous award for Damon Knight, author of "To Serve Mankind", among many other accomplishments, who passed away a day or two ago.
  • Put me down for Bujold's latest. Of the others, all I've read was "Cosmonaut Keep", which was good but not up to, say, Stone Canal. Curse of Chalion is actually better than the Vorkosigan books, and muuuuuuch better than "Spirit Ring" (one of the few books where I don't remember if I finished it, don't care, and won't try again).
    • Not to disagree with you, but the Vorkosigan series is more powerful than "Curse of Chalion" just by virtue of its length--it had time for the accretion of character, weight, et cetera. I could extol the virtues of "Memory" for years on end if you let me. Not to mention "Mirror Dance". And "A Civil Campaign" was hilariously brilliant.

      Of course, "Curse of Chalion" was really excellent--but the end of that scene in "Memory" where Miles wrestles with temptation, two falls out of three, consistently leaves me in tears from the sheer breathtaking magnitude of it all. Nothing in Chalion even comes close.

      "The Spirit Ring" really was sub-par, though.

      • I've been brushing up on my spirituality, so the religious overtones in Chalion hit closer to home. Now we can hope that she does a sequel or seven to Chalion so we can properly compare it to the Vorkosigan series. Which, btw, I buy in hardback as they come out, Chalion I read from the library and will pick up in paperback.


        Now to wait until Diplomatic Immunity [baen.com] comes out in May.

        • Re:Curse of Chalion (Score:3, Informative)

          by ckd ( 72611 )
          Now to wait until Diplomatic Immunity comes out in May.

          This is Slashdot! Why are you waiting for the dead tree edition? The no-evil-DMCA-protections WebScription edition [webscription.net] is already fully available (and loaded into my Palm V...).

        • Fair enough. I suppose I spent five years ditching my spirituality in favor of rationality, so it didn't mean as much to me.

          On the other hand, I did suffer a nasty divorce (that's a tautology, I think) a while back, so I have to admit, Komarr and ACC really resonated.

          I've read DI on Baen's website. It's truly awesome. And, yes, even though I paid for the webscription, I'm planning on buying it in hardcover, too. :) What can I say? I'm a Bujold junky.

  • by irony nazi ( 197301 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:24AM (#3378293)
    The Rowling novels are great. I enjoyed escaping away to Hogwarts for the duration that it took for me to read each one. Besides, the Hugo awards have to maintain our British heritage and what better way then to award the Hugo to a British author?

    Anyways, Harry Potter is very entertaining, despite its main-stream nature. One can hardly argue that the books are for childeren due to the use of Magic and Witchcraft. These are clearly meant for adults, although i would let, and I understand why childeren love them so much.

    • I was so busy trying to get first post that I didn't even notice a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode on the list!!

      Screw everything I said about Rowling, GO BUFFY!!

      Sarah Michelle Gellar deserves an emmy or a Hugo, or my hugo... if you know what I mean.

      • I agree. Buffy has probably been the best TV show of recent history. They are entertaining episodes, and if you watch the series in full, they lock tightly together into a plot that is a stellar example of some of the best writing ever.

        That said - up until five months ago, I thought it was a cheesy, stupid Xena/90210 show, while having never really watched it. I despise Xena (love Rami though, go figure). I had friends telling me it was great, and I finally got around to watching it. Seriously - if you like good classic literature, bite the bullet and watch four or five episodes. The dialogue is often up there with Dumas, the plot twists are those of Bradbury... it is really an incredible show.

        That said, it's up against Fellowship and Shrek. Harry Potter was pretty thin on screen (well, so was the book), and Monsters, Inc was fun, but not great. Shrek almost hit Princess' Bride level of simple fairy tale told well - but only almost, in my opinion. Fellowship could lose some points by over-anal Tolkein fans pissed about certain cuts. That would be a shame, imo, as it really is a fantastic movie in it's own right.

        --
        Evan

        • I sometimes wonder will the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences finally recognize Buffy: The Vampire Slayer with multiple nominations? Or is the TV show not to the Emmy voters' taste?

          Methinks at the rate things are going Joss Whedon won't get his Emmy for the work on this show until they give it to him as a Lifetime Achievement Award.
      • Not just any episode, "Once More, With Feeling," the musical episode, which is probably the only musical ever written with an internally logical reason that the character break into song and dance choreographed numbers.

    • "One can hardly argue that the books are for childeren due to the use of Magic and Witchcraft"
      why not? The Hobbit was written for children(child actually ;))
      they are clearly written for children. that doesn't mean adults can't like them. I have read a great deal in my life, and I enjoyed them. Granted I read one a night, but they were still fun.
      Before rowling when was the last time you saw so many kids, so excited about reading? for that alone she deserves a prize.

      the fact that author said the HP books where geared to kids Harry's age should have probably clued you in. ;)
      • The Hobbit was written for Tolkien's three (count 'em, 3) children (sons, to be specific).

        I've only read the first Potter book so far, but my only complaint is that it isn't set in the same "somewhere before WWII" England as Christie, Sayers, Allingham, A.C. Doyle, "Watership Down", and et cetera.

    • "Besides, the Hugo awards have to maintain our British heritage and what better way then to award the Hugo to a British author?"

      Doesn't saying "This British writer wins the Hugo because he is British" inherently indicate "If we actually judged a British author based on his works, he wouldn't win?"

      "One can hardly argue that the books are for childeren due to the use of Magic and Witchcraft."

      Ah, yes. Just as books like The Indian in the Cupboard and the Chronicles of Narnia MUST be for adults, since they contain magic.

    • Sure, the HP books are good, entertaining reads; they are certainly above average in a market filled with dreck.



      But personally, I think that an award like this should given to something truly exceptional -- and that, HP was not (except perhaps in popularity).



      These are clearly meant for adults



      Um.... no. They were completely filled with themes that seem far more aimed at kids than adults.



      Consider: Harry's ignored and oppressed by his parents -- but they're not his real parents; his real parents loved him very much, and gave their all for him. He harbors within him great skills that no one around appreciates, and he basically escapes to a magical castle, where at ever meal he eats plates piled high with his favorite cakes and sweets. He encounters a bully, but manages to show him up. He wins the big match. He wins the respect of all by triumphing over evil -- not so much through hard work or skill, but mainly by hanging on and gritting his teeth (plus a bit of help from those real parents who loved him so dearly -- even though they're dead). etc., etc.



      [Well, OK, I could go for all that too, but I'm kinda down there on the maturity scale...]

      • But personally, I think that an award like this should given to something truly exceptional -- and that, HP was not (except perhaps in popularity).

        The Hugos are a fan-voted award. So they are, in fact, only based on popularity. Always have been, too.

        (The canonical "bad example" is They'd Rather Be Right, generally considered the most forgettable Hugo winning novel.)

    • One can hardly argue that the books are for childeren due to the use of Magic and Witchcraft.

      The next thing you know, someone will be claiming that Halloween is for children. Oh yeah, it is.

      Are you one of those born-again Christian nut cases that claim that these stories teach children satanism [demonbuster.com] and that witchcraft is real? If so, please grow up and join the rest of us in the 21st century. If you actually believe in witchcraft, satan, and all of that other occult stupidity, I pity you.
      • Funny.. The link you gave is rather Hilarious.
        Now my mum and pop taught me to be respectful of other people, even when they are being clearly ridiculous, but some of these fundamentally christian sites are quitre quite funny.

        On this one though, this struck me as neat :
        [quote]
        God has already condemned everything about Harry Potter in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 as follows: "When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

        [/quote]
        Yes, well that's all nice and right up there with the classic 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'..
        However, and here it comes :
        Does not this quote also say that you shall not use an observer of time ? Which I translate in my sick and twisted heathen mind to mean that you may not use a clock.. And per extrapolation, is a computer not based upon (amongst other things) a clock ?.
        So in extrapolation, are not these people who are trying so hard to save me, themselves falling victims to the very things they try so hard to save me from ?
        Whereupon I expect them to promptly disappear in a puff of logical smoke.. no?..
        • Actually it says "...observer of times...", not time, which gets me off the hook for all the instances of my giving the current time during my radio days, but all the newspaper editorial writers and columnists and television pontificators are headed for eternal damnation (which is a shame in the case of Molly Ivans, but perfectly reasonable in the case of Allen Keyes and Bill O'Reilly :-)
    • The Rowling novels are great. I enjoyed escaping away to Hogwarts for the duration that it took for me to read each one. Besides, the Hugo awards have to maintain our British heritage and what better way then to award the Hugo to a British author?

      Make no mistake, although Neil Gaiman wrote American Gods and currently lives in the US, he is most certainly a British author. You can read the slashdot review for his book here [slashdot.org].
    • Your statement that these books are not for children is about as logical as saying 'candy rot's children's teeth out so obviously candy is meant for adults, but I see why children like candy.' Come on here, the cover design is definately not that of a traditional 'adult book cover', is clearly geared towards the younger crowd (colorful, clear illustrations), then there is the merchandising. If this doesn't say the books are for children, I have no idea what does. Harry Potter action figures? Lunchboxes? Boardgame? The list goes on, this franchise is CLEARLY aimed at children. Personally, I don't know too many adults that would buy the Harry Potter dressup set, or the "Harry Potter Quiddich Glow Puzzle". Then if you look at the books themselves, the writing is obviously of a very simple variety which children would have not trouble reading. Finally, forget about the witches and magic, look at the entire social structure that exists in the book, it matches what goes on in a school perfectly, which serves to help the children readers to the characters. Who hasn't met a Malfoy who was a rotten bastard and picked on other kids, etc. This book is carefully tailored to children, and its simple language and ease of accessibility through the writing (which is what separates it from LoTR, which uses more complex writing and is generally much more long winded about everythng). If you think magic appeals only to adults, your crazy. Many of us here at slashdot can attest to spending many hours playing AD&D, both when we were younger & older. end_rant();
      • Although I agree that Rowling is writing for kids and adults, don't let the franchise sway you. A good many books written for adults have become "childrens' classics" over the years.

        After all, how many adults would be caught dead at a Gulliver's Travels movie? The book was certainly written for adults (indeed, at the time I'm not sure that anybody was writing for kids), but it has sort of devolved away from its author's intentions. Dickens thought he was writing searing social criticism (well, OK, he was paying the bills, too), but almost all his stuff is also currently marketed for kids. Same thing with Verne.

        As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to suspect that that books that are too difficult for adults get marketed to kids.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@ya ... .com minus punct> on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:27AM (#3378298) Homepage Journal
    She's a good author. An experience reader can easily see that, hell her coninuing plots are better then any ST episode. I figure
    A)wrinkled shirt never read any and is trying to be cool, or
    B)Did read it, but is in such need of attention that going againse popular things is his equivelant of waving his arms in the air and going "look at me".

    Jusat because you don't like a book, doesn't mean its not a good book, and just because a book is geared to someone young, doesn't mean its not a good book.
    You may not like them, but they are technically sound. by that I mean structure, continuity, plot.

    The Hobbit was written for children.

    • I've read one Rowling book. It was good. I'll even go to say it was very good.

      To say that it was the best sf novel published that year is something quite different.

      Rowling's books, despite being good, are waaaay overrated.
      • Rowling's books, despite being good, are waaaay overrated.

        Rowling's books are, I believe, so popular because they are both accessable and marketed to relative non readers. Books are nifty, and Rowling is a capable writer, and when these people who normally don't read all that much get into them, they think it's the greatest thing ever... and never pick up another book.

        I read four to six novels a week across the board in genres. Maybe my criteria for a "great novel" is higher because of that, but when you're judging works, shouldn't you be intimate with the field? I recognize almost every name on that list - hell, I've sat at a table and eaten with some of them.

        That said, you'll note that Rowling isn't up for *anything*. Only the movie based on one of her works is, and she didn't write the screenplay. Reread the list - her name is nowhere to be found.

        --
        Evan

        • That said, you'll note that Rowling isn't up for *anything*. Only the movie based on one of her works is, and she didn't write the screenplay. Reread the list - her name is nowhere to be found.

          She did, however, win the Hugo last year for one of her Harry Potter books, which is what my criticism was aimed towards (I'm surprised you didn't know this, being familiar with the genre as you seem to be). And there is nothing wrong with being a)accessible, or b) marketed towards relative non-readers. There IS, however, something wrong with giving this kind of novel the premiere literary award of the genre. I'd hate to see the Hugos become depreciated (like the Nebulas) because they're given out to Rowling and Buffy.
          • Yeah - I was just pointing out that she wasn't up this year, so debate about her books deserving to win is pointless - it's the movie that's up. I'm sure you are aware that there was a rather outspoken debate after she won the award. OTOH, it's a fairly open vote (all World Science Fiction Society members can vote). Basically, you buy a ticket to the next Worldcon, and you can vote on works that appeared the previous year (plus a retroactive award for years previous to the Hugo - also known as the "What did Robert Write that Year?" Award). The Campbell and Gandalf award are sponsored by other groups, but use the same basic voting system. Incidently, Worldcon rotates around the planet, but usually in the US, on a "vote for the con to be next year's Worldcon" basis.

            I always see the Hugo nominee list as a "hey, let's see when Worldcon is this year, and how close to Pennsic it is". Since I'm on the west coast for that part of the year, I'll likely go to Worldcon rather than Pennsic this year.

            --
            Evan

            • Right, and I was criticizing the Hugo, not the Hugo 2002. I think they should just drop the dramatic presentation category, as there are never enough candidates to make it an interesting race. And Buffy is just waaay overrated. It's like Babylon 5, people think that because it's above average in relation to other TV shows it's actually better than it really is.

              The Worldcon voting system has worked surprisingly well in the past, while the Nebula (decided by the SFWA) has lost some of it's lustre, so letting all con-goers vote isn't a bad system, but it's flaws do come out some years (like last year).
              • And Buffy is just waaay overrated.

                Wrong person to say that to [google.com]. Actually on the Buffy group we were chatting about the Hugos, and about how comparing a single episode to movies is kinda apples and oranges. Well, I'm moving forward from an idea there, but basically, a series with good story arcs and continuing character development (like Buffy, or you mentioned B5) is a different beast than a two (or even three) hour show.

                Really, there should be a category with Andromeda, Buffy tVS, Enterprise, X-Files, Angel, Mutant X and, ghod help me, Earth Final Conflict, listing each appropriate season. (Not that I do not like all those (especially one towards the end), but they are the genre on TV).

                --
                Evan "I know I missed some - don't flame on just because I forgot some really good show".

          • She won because she was flavour of the month. Awards such as this would be far better if they were judged and awarded five years after the fact; then it might actually be based on the works themselves.
          • There IS, however, something wrong with giving this kind of novel the premiere literary award of the genre. I'd hate to see the Hugos become depreciated (like the Nebulas) because they're given out to Rowling and Buffy.

            There is also something deeply wrong with denying the award to the best novel/show/movie because one thinks it cheapens the Hugo.

            I don't know if she deserved to win last year, but if Buffy won some year I don't think it would cheapen the award (and if so not by nearly as much as denying it merely because "it's TV", or "it has a funny name")...of corse I don't think it deserves to win this year, not because the musical was bad (it was quite good), but because this year something was better (not sure there was anything better the year "Hush" was out...).

            • No, you're wrong. This sort of behavior will cause the Hugo to become just some sort of popularity contest, where anybody is allowed to vote for whatever books they liked.

              Umm....nevermind.
            • There is also something deeply wrong with denying the award to the best novel/show/movie because one thinks it cheapens the Hugo.

              No, you deny the award because they're not the best thing out. "Cheapening the Hugo" is just a side effect.
          • Rowling's books are, I believe, so popular because they are both accessable and marketed to relative non readers. Books are nifty, and Rowling is a capable writer, and when these people who normally don't read all that much get into them, they think it's the greatest thing ever... and never pick up another book.

          There's some of this, I'm sure. Let me give another view. My 10 year old loves Harry Potter. She's just obsessed by all things HP. Now, she was a very active reader before, but Harry Potter has motivated her to pick up a number of similar books. If it hadn't been for Harry Potter, she wouldn't be into Jacques' RedWall or A Series of Unfortunate Events.

          The net effect upon the reading public of Rowling has been very positive, I think. I know of some of my daughter's friends who didn't read before Rowling who are exploring other things now. It's not just the one book kids read and never read again. I'm sure some of that goes on, but to generalize that is way too cynical.

          • The net effect upon the reading public of Rowling has been very positive, I think. I know of some of my daughter's friends who didn't read before Rowling who are exploring other things now. It's not just the one book kids read and never read again.

            Oh, I don't disagree one bit. I'm just saying that ease of access isn't necessarily a quality that promotes a book to the "best of the year" level. As I said, they are good books. I agree that many people read them who don't normally read. However, until recently, I was the host of a SF radio show, and everybody who read Harry Potter talked to me about it - I recommended a few other books, but almost nobody read after they read the series.

            One important difference is that these were adults, from their 20s to their 40s. Children, I think, are much more apt to "discover" something they like. Adults are more likely to try something, and then drop it, going back to their routine. I know two teachers and one librarian who think the books are great to get students to read - similar to the works of Roald Dahl.

            As I say, they are good books that have a great impact on getting people to read. Does that, however, make them great works of literature? I'm hardly a traditional literary snob - there are comics out there that are easily some of the finest crafted stories around. But, in the genre, is Harry Potter the finest work?

            --
            Evan

        • Rowling's books are, I believe, so popular because they are both accessable and marketed to relative non readers

          Rowling's books are mostly popular because they are popular. Just like celebrities are well-known for their well-knownness. It's a positive-feedback phenomenon. It's difficult to predict such phenomena. It usually won't happen unless it's something that people like, but the fact that it's 100 times more popular than some other books doesn't mean that it's 100 times better.
      • It's the wrong award - Rowling is fantasy not sci-fi - where's the science in Harry Potter?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Article 3 - Hugo Awards

          Section 3.1: Introduction. Selection of the Hugo Awards shall be made as provided in this Article.

          Section 3.2: General.

          3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.

    • hell her coninuing plots are better then any ST episode

      <sarcasm>High praise indeed.</sarcasm>
    • Yes, I know, the rules [worldcon.org] specify the field of "science fiction or fantasy." And I have nothing against fantasy; I read a little. But last year's Harry Potter novel didn't belong there. Fantasy is a different genre and has its own awards.

      None of the other 48 award winning novels [worldcon.org] are fantasy. About the closest are the Zelazny winners (Lord of Light, ...And Call Me Conrad) and To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Farmer). Those are clearly science fiction at the core, but with some fantasy-like setting.
      • Fantasy may not win very often, but it does get nominated. With Harry Potter on last year's ballot was George R. R. Martin's Storm of Swords; it would have been the likely victor had Harry Potter failed to capture it.

        And if fantasy and science fiction are really distinct genres, try to define the boundary. Go ahead. I'll warn you that it's a lot harder than it sounds.

    • Nothing is *wrong* with Rowling, per se. I've read and enjoyed all four of the books so far, and I'm anxiously awaiting the fifth. But I was also one of the people who was outraged when she won. Why?

      A quick perusal of the list of winners reveals an easy answer. Sure, the Potter books are good, but mostly because, as you said, they're easily accessable. Keeping the list of past winners in mind, giving her the award because she's "technically sound" is crap. Just because someone can manage to tell a decent story doesn't mean they belong on the same list as the forefathers like Clarke, Niven, Heinlein, Dick, and Asimov, or even with some of the newer authors like Gibson or Vinge.

      Check the list of winners at Amazon.com [amazon.com] and see if it doesn't put her winning in a new light. Personally, this year, I'd like to see Gaiman win, just for overall contribution to the genre.

      And as an aside, yes, The Hobbit was written for children, and the differences between it and the full trilogy, for which Tolkien is better known, are astounding. The full trilogy deals with issues of philosophy and delves far deeper into the ideas of good vs. evil than does The Hobbit.

      Mark
      • Let's keep in mind that Harry Potter joins the company of They'd Rather be Right, Forever Peace, The Vor Game, and Foundation's Edge. I haven't read any of Rowling's books, nor do I really intend to, but it doesn't have to be especially great to look worthy in that company.

        The Hugo ain't the Nobel.

      • I have a shelf full of Heinlein. He had many good ideas. Some of his early fiction, forcibly reduced by editors, is pretty good writing.

        Most of it is utter crap. From "I Will Fear No Evil" onwards, he rejected professional editors and churned out proof after proof of Sturgeon's dictum - 90% of everything is crap.

        So don't get all snippy because someone doesn't compare to Heinlein - to my mind, that's a compliment.
    • ...words like these will make poor old JRR turn in his grave. :)

      He called his books "adult faery tales" and were written for adults. Of course people still call it a "children's classic" and have every right to do so.

      But for me, a book where there was a bloody battle at the end where quite a few of the main characters died is not exactly Cinderalla'ish.
    • Rowling is a fine author, but IMHO overrated. Again IMHO, there are two major "technical" flaws in the Harry Potter book I read (the first one):

      • Flat characters. Each character has a one or two powerful traits which 100% defines them. Harry is the good guy who will always do the good thing. Hermione is the bossy nerd. Etc. They seemed like caricatures.
      • Cliche. Wizards, dragons, magic brooms: every fantasy element Rowling uses was blatantly recycled from some other source. Her plotline follows tried-and-true dramatic conventions to the letter. I'm baffled as to why I've heard her praised as "imaginative."

      Just because it's a "children's book" is no excuse: it's certainly possible to write one and avoid these mistakes (take Lemony Snicket's, for instance).

      That said, in the balance it's a good, gripping novel. But Rowling's genius seems to me a derivative one, of weaving together well-worn elements into an exciting narrative with a vivid, feature-film feel. In my view, the above flaws stop it far short of being the be-all and end-all of children's literature.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can't see CowboyNeal on the list!
  • Douglas Adams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by doubtless ( 267357 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:29AM (#3378303) Homepage
    Anyway we can put him in? Definately one of the best . What an unfortunate departure.. our hearts will always be with Adams.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bravehamster ( 44836 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:40AM (#3378326) Homepage Journal
    BEST NOVEL
    ...
    Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod (Orbit (UK)(2000); Tor)


    Curiously enough, Slashdot is actually mentioned in this book. Has a nice scene with a bunch of old-time linux hacks sitting in a bar talking 'bout the good ol days. If you can handle non-linear storytelling, pop-culture references, and Scottish pessimistic pride in your sci-fi, I highly recommend Ken MacLeod. Plus, the cover art is usually pretty cool.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by charlie ( 1328 ) <charlie&antipope,org> on Saturday April 20, 2002 @04:03AM (#3378435) Homepage Journal
      Spoiler time:


      The bar in question is "The Guildford Arms" in Edinburgh, yours trully features in that sequence under his own name ... and weirdly, I'm on the Hugo list too (under "best novelette").


      The reason for this mess is that the SF writing field in Scotland is very small, and the number of Scottish SF writers who have an interest in weird politics and extropianism [extropy.org] is even smaller.

    • I started reading his books after finding an endorsement by Iain Banks. Ken is definitely a wee bit darker, but his stuff hus got a real bite to it.

      I agree with your summary, but would add that his characters often have extremely interesting politics, varying from Marxism through Libertarianism, however they seem to grow in a very interesting way across the books.

    • Re:Hmm... Cover art (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vandemar ( 82106 )
      Plus, the cover art is usually pretty cool

      One thing that bothers me about science fiction and fantasy books is the cover art. Very often, it is a picture of the main character holding a weapon or something similarly tacky. Covers like these are one of the reasons why many people do not take speculative fiction seriously. They take one look at the cover and go, "Come on, that's supposed to have insight on the human condition? Riiiight."

      For example, Hyperion by Dan Simmons was a fantastic read. John Keats, Chaucer, William Gibson, Philip K. Dick, etc. it's all in there. But what do we get on the cover? A picture of a monster covered with metal spikes.

      There are exceptions, and lately it seems publishers are getting the right idea in this area. Neil Gaiman's American Gods has a wonderful cover, in which you don't actually see any gods. It's just a picture of a dark, lonely road, with lightning in the sky. It conveys the right feeling. Another example is Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon-- all black with a sort of cryptic symbol. Imagine if the publishers decided to put a picture of US marines shooting at enemy planes.
      • Funny you should mention Hyperion because that's what I'm reading at the moment (Fall of Hyperion now, actually). My response to the cover was the same; my roommate gave me the book and I thought, "this is going to be good?" Of course it was and I am very happy I read it.

        <geek tangent>Also the cover for Hyperion is inaccurate anyways - the Shrike has four arms. Why even bother to put it on the cover with only two?</geek>

        As a graphic designer and artist myself I'm really surprised that anyone in my profession would create such poor covers. Where are these self-respecting "artists" creating such trash? I'm betting (hoping) that there is some sort of communication problem between management and the artist and that the person creating the cover hasn't actually read the book.
        • Also the cover for Hyperion is inaccurate anyways - the Shrike has four arms. Why even bother to put it on the cover with only two?

          Keep reading. My paperback copy of The Rise of Endymion, the fourth and last book in the series, features a four-armed Shrike on the cover.

          Not only does it get points for cover accuracy, but it also has the most wrenching and satisfying ending of any book I've read recently.

          I think Endymion was the most entertaining of the four, but the last one gets serious credit for being so... right.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

      by jwit ( 168664 )
      My favorite quote from Cosmonaut Keep (not verbatim as I can't find the book right now):

      [The computer started up], showing the familiar Windows 2045 logo, which soon faded away to leave a demonically grinning penguin and the words 'But seriously...'.
    • There is an interview [zone-sf.com] with Ken held in a pub around the corner from The Guildford Arms - The Cafe Royal, which features in his second published novel, The Stone Canal.

      The Zone website also has a review [zone-sf.com] of Cosmonaut Keep by the same person (me!), who seems to quite like it.

  • One can hardly argue that the books are for childeren due to the use of Magic and Witchcraft.

    Yeah. Kids shouldn't read fantasy books or play fantasy games or watch fantasy movies - ever! Might damage their fragile little minds.

    Instead, every child should go through weekly viewings of Pulp Fiction and Fight Club, and also read the Fight Club novel no less than once a month.
  • None of Asimov, Brin, Gibson or Rowling would make my list of the best 20 or 30 science fiction novelists. Asimov and Gibson are undoubtedly important and influential, and they both produced some really enjoyable and memorable books, but they are also very limited.

    But I should write more science fiction reviews [dannyreviews.com]...

    Danny.

    • Asimov? Limited? You mean then gent who's turned out hundreds of nonfiction works on everything from astronomy to religion? The guy who seemed equally comfortable writing a 3-page short story and a 300 page novel? The fellow who wrote something under just about ever conceivable SF sub-genre you can name?

      Oh, yah, he's limited.

      • Asimove wrote an incredible number of books, but none of them are masterpieces. No one would think about giving him a Nobel Prize on the basis of his science writing, for example, and I don't think any of his novels stand out from the mass enough to warrant literary awards either.

        Danny.

        • I have to agree with this. I've read pretty much all of Asimov's fiction, and at some point during the Foundation series, I realised that he has but ONE basic plot -- and that he evidently thought this was a great joke to pull over on the reader. And his fiction visualizes well enough, but it's just not great writing, either structurally or conceptually.

          In fact, once I started writing and editing, I found Asimov completely unreadable (along with a great many other "Golden Era" writers whom I'd formerly thought were great).

  • Haven't heard any of these except for Vinge (and I haven't read that book) and LeGuinn and I only remember seeing a couple of her books in like middle school...

    I have loved Dr. Vinge's books that I have read, very provacative, he doesn't try to explain his universes, just sets down a series of rules and follows them... That is cool.

    Now I just need to attend one of his classes here in San Diego if he is still teaching
  • by EvilBastard ( 77954 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @03:58AM (#3378427) Homepage
    * New website didn't know about

    * A bunch of writers that other people like that I haven't been exposed to yet

    Time to head down to the speciality SF bookshop tommorow and check them out (Galaxy, in Sydney Aus)

    The biggest problem of Fantasy / Science Fiction at the moment is that people find one writer / style and refuse to read outside it. At it's worst these leads to Bookracks of Star Wars, Star Trek and other licensed works, while new authors cannot get into the 30-foot space that's reserved for "authors that perform"

    Don't complain that you don't know the authors, just think of them as favorite authors you don't know about yet.
    • The biggest problem of Fantasy / Science Fiction at the moment is that people find one writer / style and refuse to read outside it.

      I think a bigger problem is that SF is currently blessed with so few great writers, compared to the giants that came before. I read alot of SF and fantasy and am consistently disappointed because what passes for 'great' nowadays simply isn't up to what 'great' used to mean.

      That doesn't mean that there aren't *any* good writers. But during the '60's and '70's these boys seemed to be popping out of the woodwork, building on an abundance that blossomed in the'50's. Very few people have successfully picked up the torch and run with it since then.

      Max
  • ...Gibson ever won a hugo.
    • Neuromancer won pretty much all of them; Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick award. I vaugely remember hearing that it's the only book to do so, but I could be wrong on that point.
  • I think Gaiman's American Gods [slashdot.org] is the clear winner in the Novel category, although I say this without having read any of the other nominees. But, I feel confident in saying this because it is one of the best books I have read in years.

    Gaiman is one of the world's most artistic storytellers. The way he brings together world religions creates a world of amazing depth. There are extra chapters in this particular book that do nothing to advance the plot line, but everything to increase the depth. It is an intensely satisfying read.

    Gaiman's most successful project to date are the Sandman comics. Reading American Gods, you can tell that he used to work with comics. When Gaiman wrote the Sandman series, he didn't just write the dialogue, he wrote out long descriptions of each frame for the artist. In the same way, Gaiman creates a very visual picture for the reader in every scene. Although American Gods is horror by genre, every scene is beautiful because of Gaiman's description.

    You may also know the book he co-authored with Terry Pratchett - Good Omens.

    • I really liked "Good Omens" and I've enjoyed Gaiman's graphic novel work as well. However, I felt a bit repelled when I learned Gaiman was (or at least had been) a Scientologist. Does anyone know the full story on that? Is he still active in the 'Church?
    • I think Gaiman's American Gods [slashdot.org] is the clear winner in the Novel category, although I say this without having read any of the other nominees. But, I feel confident in saying this because it is one of the best books I have read in years.

      Well then you really can't say its the clear winner now can you? You should read all of them and then make your prediction.

  • I read a fair amount of SF and try to keep up with the latest scribes. I'm pleased to see so many names I recognize, but it was very disappointing to not see certain others, particularly Robert Reed, Lucius Shepard, and William Sanders. Ah well, maybe they'll produce something more worthy this year. The movie selections were just awful, all kids' stuff (but I gotta say I loved Shrek). And yes, I agree with the fellow who suggested that if you think LOTR was high-achievement literature then you need to get out more.
    And when will one of those ceremonies finally give Olaf Stapledon the award he deserves ? I swear, he gets more imagination in three pages than most of our contemporaries get in three volumes.
    Btw, if Greg Bear's stuff gets any worse I'm gonna have to write another letter...
    • I have to agree that Stapledons books do require some kind of recognition. Any writer who can cover over three million years of history in a paragraph deserves. Only then, in detail greater than any contemporary historian could ever dream to bring about this world, explore worlds not even concived of yet in such plausable and brillient style that makes you weep that his ilk no longer walk this earth. Last and First Men is beyond any discription I can give it, only one word. Brilliant.
      • Thank goodness, someone else has read Stapledon ! I've given away many copies of Last & First Men, and everyone who's read it comes back with the same response: "He's awesome !". Yes, he was. IMO, a budding SF writer can pillage a few pages out of Olaf and make himself a career out of the plunder. And I must agree with your assessment: Last & First Men is indeed beyond any description I can give it...
  • So many people who have heard of so few of these authors.

    I have to admit that I'm in the same boat.
    A little surprised that no one here (maybe its the male orientation) seems to have heard of Connie Willis, who is a five time (last I looked) Hugo winner.
    • My mistake. Should have checked my facts before posting. She's won six Hugos and six Nebulas (Nebulae?).
    • Of her awards, I'm afraid that I didn't think the biggest (Doomsday Book) should have been given the nod that year, but then I'm not much of an effete artsy-fartsy critic. :-)
    • Because most of the people here don't read short stories, and they don't read books like the Doomsday Book, they read books like the Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and the wheel of time books by Robert Jordan, and the Song of Fire and Ice books by George R. R. Martin, and the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind. These books are more mainstream, you see. Does the Hugo include fantasy? I can't recall. Well in the sci-fi realm, books like the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, and all those Star Wars and Star Trek books steal the spotlight.



      Anyway, while we're talking about connie willis, can you tell me why "Death on the Nile" one a Hugo for short story? Dreadfully dull story.

  • Amazing to see those "Range" statistics at the end of the press release. This tells the number of votes it took to get on the ballot. In the Short Story category, the nominated story with the least number of votes got 21 votes.

    There are SF writers who absolutely live and die based on whether they get nominated. A Hugo Award can jumpstart an entire career. In short fiction it only takes two dozen people to get you the thumbs-up!

    Of course, all the nominators have to have supporting memberships in ConJose, and those aren't cheap. Still, it seems like any writer who's two steps above sheer penury could buy memberships for a couple dozen friends and relatives -- under a variety of assumed names, of course -- and then get to wear the fancy "Nominee" ribbon on his convention badge.

    Personally, I can think of better ways to spend that kind of money.

    • by Elysdir ( 309348 ) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:00PM (#3379778) Homepage
      It's not just short fiction. Note that it took only 44 votes to get on the ballot in the novel category, and only 486 people nominated novels. Only 626 people cast nominating ballots in any category, and that's an unusually high number of nominators; for the past few years, it's been more like 500 nominators total.

      A supporting membership [conjose.org] in ConJose currently costs $35 (it was cheaper a few months ago), and entitles you to vote on the final Hugo ballot (but you don't get to go to the con). Usually about 2 to 3 times as many people vote on the final ballot as nominate, but that still means only about a thousand people decide which works get Hugos.

      So if anyone here thinks the Hugo ballot doesn't represent what they'd like to see winning awards, consider buying a supporting membership in ConJose and voting in this year's Hugos. Even better, consider buying a supporting membership in next year's WorldCon (TorCon [torcon3.on.ca]), so that you can nominate next year.

      The more people participate in the process, the more accurate the results.
  • I was very happy to see this make the final ballot; much as I like MacLeod and Gaiman, Perdido Street Station is probably the most interesting fantasy novel of the last decade. A dense, detailed, and richly disturbing industrial fantasy who's invention never flags. Well worth seeking out, and it puts the vast majority of Extruded Fantasy Product crap to shame.

    • I'm not really a fantasy fan, but this one was one of the books that I really enojyed last year. High style and one or two interesting characters. I'd disagree with invention, though. There's not a whole lot that's really new here, but a lot of well done systhesis. Which isn't bad. After all, I'd say that Gene Wolfe primarily deals in synthesis, and he's one of my favorites. A caveat, though: this book gets lost and confused at the ending, and basically falls flat. That said, it's an overall enjoyable read, so I'd recommend it.
  • so long as Gaiman and Buffy win
  • One day she'll get the emmy awards she deserves, but for now, a Hugo will do nicely.
  • Snow Crash (Score:2, Funny)

    by alexborges ( 313924 )
    Is the best book in the world..... period. And it never won the Hugo..... Hugo is not to be trusted. Hes a lowsy motherfucker
  • The only nominee I can begin to root for is that musical Buffy episode. And as much as I enjoyed it, it wasn't that good. The story arc that ended last season was much better.

    Anyway, Buffy feels out of place here. I suppose she is, technically, Fantasy. But not the kind you'd expect to find in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction [fsfmag.com]. Which, I am pained to note, doesn't rate a single nomination.

    The Harry Potter books are OK, but I don't quite see the point of the movies. Except to squeeze a little cash from the kiddies.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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