Hugos and Moving On

So the 2013 Hugo Ceremony was held about 10 days ago. I didn’t end up watching as by the time the stream actually started it was quite late for me and, as I believe I mentioned in my last post, I was less excited about this year’s nominees as a whole. There were three awards I truly felt invested in, Best Novel and the two Dramatic Presentation categories. There were other categories with excellent entries, and I cast votes for most of the categories, but I wasn’t waiting with bated breath to find out who won them.

The big winner of the night, Best Novel, was John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It’s no secret to those who have read my introduction, that I’m a big Scalzi fan, but I didn’t love Redshirts as much as some of his other novels and it did not end up my number one choice this year (that went to Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312). That having been said, I was pulling for him to win (yes, I know that’s a bit weird – people are complicated!) and I couldn’t be happier for Mr. Scalzi. He’s said himself that there may be an element of “career award” to his win, and he’s certainly deserving of that! In other words, I ain’t mad at ya, Scalzi!

In the past few years, Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form, has been dominated by Doctor Who. This year’s nominees were three Doctor Who episodes, (“Asylum of the Daleks”, “Angels Take Manhattan”, and “The Snowmen”), a Fringe episode (“Letters of Transit”) and a Game of Thrones (“Blackwater”). You may remember that last year the entire season of Game of Thrones was nominated (and won) the long form drama category and the entire world is obsessed with that show, so it didn’t surprise me at all when George R.R. Martin won for his episode. Did I vote for it? No. (Well yes, but it was a low choice.) I voted for “Asylum of the Daleks” but again I’m perfectly happy for Martin to have taken home the prize. I’ve been A Song of Ice and Fire fan for many, many years and while I don’t love the show as much as the rest of world seems to, I do watch and appreciate the time and effort that go into making it. (Also, I pretty much always prefer the movie that plays in my head as I read to whatever ends up on-screen, regardless of anything else, so I’ve learned I have to take my reactions to adaptations with a grain of salt.)

I was also pleased to have Joss Whedon take home the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form, and in this case I actually voted his work my number one choice! He was actually nominated twice, once with Drew Goddard for Cabin in the Woods (which I am never going to watch and therefore did not include in my ballot because scary) and once as writer and director for Marvel’s The Avengers. I could write an entire post on the awesomeness of The Avengers, every time I watch it I catch something new – an Easter Egg for Marvel geeks, a throwaway joke, an unnamed extra doing something badass – all the things that have always made Joss so great are there with my favorite superhero team.

So, while I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the nominees in general this year, three of my favorite writers took home awards and I’m happy about that.

“Moving On” to the second part of this post, I’ve been desperately trying to make it back through Prelude to Foundation and it’s incredibly slow going. I know all the major plot points from reading it before, but I want to read it again before I post on it so I can pick up all the little bits related to the Robot and Empire series before I post on it. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of other books I want to read – many of them past Hugo nominees – and I’m putting them off because of some arbitrary rule I made up myself about reading the old stuff first. So I’m giving myself permission to change. From now on, I will be reading what I want, when I want and I will post about anything I deem appropriate whether it was nominated for a Hugo or not. The end goal will still be to read all the past Hugo nominees at some point – but there’s plenty of good Sci Fi and Fantasy that was never nominated and I’m not going to continue denying myself those reads for no reason beyond my own stubbornness. The occasional movie, graphic novel, or game might sneak in here on occasion too.

Be ready!

Advertisements
Aside

Well, I’ve just saved my final ballot for the 2013 Hugos. I’m not going to go into my votes just now, I’ll do that after LoneStarCon, but I will say that I was somewhat disappointed after last year. Perhaps it was because the first thing I read last year was Jo Walton’s Among Others, which is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards. The same thing happened with the Novella, Short Story, and Graphic Novel I voted for. This year, nothing left that kind presence behind. I’d finish reading something and move on to the next with no real desire to sit and digest what I’d just read. That’s not to say that this year’s nominees were bad, the stories just didn’t affect me the way some of last year’s did.

At any rate, now that I’ve gotten through the last couple of months, I’ll be back to my retro reads shortly. Stay tuned!

2013 Hugos

Interim Post – Making Lame Excuses

It’s been a long time since I posted, so this is that inevitable post about why I’m not posting. My reasons are twofold:

1. The next book in Asimov’s series, Robots and Empire is NOT available as an ebook. This means that I had to either order it or hunt it down somewhere. I did manage to find it in my library system, and I’m about halfway through now. I also have a harder time reading regular books now. I suppose because it’s not just sitting there on my computer/tablet/smartphone for me to pick up wherever I left off when a have time. Instead, I have to remember to bring the physical book with me to places, which is much harder.

2. I have a job and September is a busy time. By the time I get home from work, I’m not in the mood to do much of anything but veg in front of the television. The thought required to process a book you intend to review is just not there.

So, that’s why there hasn’t been a post in a couple of weeks. I promise I haven’t forgotten you and I am working on it. The book is due back at the library in a week and I’d hate to have to renew it, so a review should be up sometime soon.

 

Oops! Probably Should Have Called that Last Post Something Else!

I truly had every intention of updating my last post first thing Monday morning, but I woke up with a migraine and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to write coherently. The migraine led to a bout of insomnia that night which left me completely out of it yesterday as well. Today though, I feel human enough to pontificate on the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

First of all, as one of the creators of the “livid Twitter messages”, I was happy to see Ustream issue an apology and start working to make sure that what happened won’t happen again. Annoyingly, the feed cut out right as they got to the awards I had actually voted for. (I just didn’t have time to get to the fan created content, I’ll start earlier next year!)

2012 Hugo Award base design by Deb Kosiba

This was the first time I’d watched any part of the Hugos (other than the Dramatic Presentation Short Form-nominated Drink Tank acceptance speech) in addition to being the first time I voted. I have to say, this is my kind of awards show! Despite the fact that most people are dressed up, there’s a wonderfully casual atmosphere that comes from everyone in the room loving the same thing (in this case SF/F) that isn’t there in the more popular Hollywood awards shows. I found myself truly enjoying every acceptance speech, even for those categories I knew nothing about, which is a rarity.

I also loved watching John Scalzi joking around and generally being a giant nerd. Having my favorite author up there facilitating everything, made it that much more awesome!

While the UStream simulcast was up, I was randomly checking in on Twitter, but once that went down I was following the event almost exclusively via Twitter and found that that wasn’t so bad either. I like being able to see real-time reactions from other fans and Neil Gaiman’s tweet shortly after winning was awesome. All-in-all, it was a great experience and assuming Ustream fixes the copyright issue, I’ll happily watch again next year!

For those who haven’t yet seen them, here are the Hugo results, with my thoughts on the winners:

Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton

This was my number one choice. The prose was absolutely beautiful and I found myself engrossed in the story. The sci-fi classics devoured by the main character definitely had a hand in the conception of this blog. I couldn’t have been happier that this amazing novel won.

Best Novella: The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson

Again, this was my number one choice. Like Among Others, it has a somewhat low-fantasy vibe which it combines with sci-fi ideas to create a story that I still think about at random times throughout the day. It touched me in a way I can’t really explain. I was gratified that others might feel the same.

Best Novelette: Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders

I was generally less impressed with the novelettes that were nominated than the previous categories, but this one was a standout, and I voted it my number one choice. The idea was engaging. Somewhat reminiscent of The Time Traveler’s Wife but with its own conceit that was simultaneously thought-provoking and heart-breaking.

Best Short Story: The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

I had a tough time making the call between this and John Scalzi’s The Shadow War of the Night Dragon: Book One: The Dead City. Two VERY different stories, I ended up putting Scalzi’s on top simply because it was such a refreshing break from the other nominees, which made me cry to varying degrees. The Paper Menagerie made me cry the most. In fact, in the course of reading the nominees, I had occasion to read three different stories by Liu and I was impressed by all of them. I fully intend to hunt down more of his work, and was in no way disappointed by his win.

Best Graphic Novel: Digger by Ursula Vernon

I have in-depth reviews of the graphic novel nominees up on my comics site, so I’ll keep this brief. This was, again, my number one choice and I was super happy that this awesome (complete) story won!

Best Related Work: The Encylopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight

I honestly don’t remember how I voted on these. I was under-whelmed by the nominees in general and had a difficult time comparing such disparate formats to each other.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Game of Thrones, Season One

I first read Game of Thrones and its sequels about 10 years ago, so when I found out it was being developed into a series, I was very excited and followed along during production of the pilot. I don’t subscribe to HBO, so I didn’t watch it until it came out on Blu-ray, but I was excited by how many people seemed to truly love it. When I sat down to watch it, therefore, it was with high expectations. Perhaps too high. I just didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the rest of the world seems to. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, but Captain America: The First Avenger got my top vote.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: “The Doctor’s Wife” Doctor Who written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Richard Clark

In voting, this was another toss-up category for me. I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan, and this episode was hands down my favorite of last season. However, I’m also a huge Community fan, and “Remedial Chaos Theory” was the best of their last season. In the end, I put Community in my top slot, as Doctor Who has won something like 6 years in a row and I think Dan Harmon deserves an award for his work. (Season four just won’t be the same without him.)

Best Editor, Short Form: Sheila Williams

This was also a strange category, I especially had trouble comparing the short story collections with the SF/F magazines. Not having read any of those magazines before, I went with my gut reaction and voted for Stanley Schmidt. I liked them all enough to have since subscribed though.

Best Editor, Long Form: Betsy Wolheim

The Hugo Voter’s Packet gives you a list of books the long form editor worked on during the Hugo year and there was no way that I was going to be able to read them all, so I ranked the two who had books I had already read and left the others blank. Betsy Wolheim wasn’t one of the ones I ranked, but that was more that I just hadn’t read any of her authors than saying anything about her work.

That was the last category I voted in, but I’ll include the rest of the winners, just to have a complete list.

Best Professional Artist: John Picacio (I didn’t feel I knew enough about SF/F art to make an informed decision, but his drawing of Bran and the 3-eyed crow is stunning).

Best Semiprozine: Locus

Best Fanzine: SF Signal

Best Fan Writer: Jim C. Hines

Best Fan Artist: Maurine Starkey

Best Fancast: SF Squeecast

John W. Campbell Award: E. Lily Yu

And that’s it. All in all, a great experience. I hope to be able to participate in the nominations this year as well.

Add your thoughts on the awards in the comments!

 

Real Post Coming Tomorrow

Just finished watching/reading the 2012 Hugo Awards from Chicon 7. I imagine much will be said in the coming hours about the Ustream debacle so I’ll try to avoid that. I’m also very tired because it is well past my bedtime, but I wanted to say a quick HELL YEAH to the winners, many of whom were my #1 choices. I’ll write more tomorrow. In the meantime, check my Twitter feed in the sidebar to get some idea of how the night went.

A Fine Kettle of Fish!

I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a mess. You see, when I conceived this project I knew that I’d be likely to find books that are part of a series on the list and that those books may not be the first in said series. This was confirmed almost immediately when the 1946 Retro winner turned out to be “The Mule” which is actually part 2 of Foundation and Empire, which is itself either the 2nd or 4th in the Foundation series, depending on whether you’re looking at things in publication order or chronologically. Obviously I’d need to do some reading before I got around to actually reading “The Mule”.

It just so happened that I’ve had Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation, and Foundation all sitting on my shelves for at least a year. I pulled out Prelude to Foundation and read Asimov’s Forward. In it, I found out that the Foundation series follows the Robot series and the Empire series. In fact, Asimov very helpfully laid out the order he’d prefer they be read in.

  1. The Complete Robot: A collection of stories published between 1940 and 1976.*
  2. The Caves of Steel
  3. The Naked Sun
  4. The Robots of Dawn
  5. Robots of Empire
  6. The Currents of Space
  7. The Stars, Like Dust
  8. Pebble in the Sky
  9. Prelude to Foundation
  10. Foundation*
  11. Foundation and Empire
  12. Second Foundation
  13. Foundation’s Edge
  14. Foundation and Earth

Now I had a bit of a conundrum. I’m the type of person who likes to read things from beginning to front. If I buy a magazine because I’m interested in the cover article, I will still read that magazine cover to cover without skipping around. Did I then need to start with I, Robot? Would starting with Prelude to Foundation suffice? Should I ignore Asimov’s suggestion to read chronologically and instead start with Foundation? After some thought, I decided that the fact that Asimov made a distinction between the three series meant that I wouldn’t be missing anything by jumping straight to the Foundation series. I also decided that I’d respect the author’s suggestion and start with Prelude to Foundation.

I was stupid.

Turns out that, while knowledge of previous series is not necessary for the enjoyment of understanding of Prelude to Foundation, it most certainly would have helped. There’s quite a bit of discussion about pre-Galactic history, myths and legends about robots that quickly become an integral part of the story. At the same time, I had the constant impression of foreshadowing. The idea that those who read the series as they were published would have gotten a bit more out of some of the conversations and snippets from the “Encyclopedia Galactica” was pervasive. By the time I finished reading, I knew that I should have started with I, Robot in order to get the most out of Prelude to Foundation.

To that end, I’m going to wait on publishing my full account/review of Prelude to Foundation until I’ve gotten through the Robot and Empire books. I intend to write a draft that will include my original thoughts on Prelude and then perhaps add to that after reading the books leading up to it. At this point, I’m not sure if this will help or not, but I’m hopeful.

Has anyone out there encountered this problem themselves? Any suggestions on the proper reading order? Help me internet!

*The entire collection is not easily available in eFormat, but I, Robot is, so I’m starting with that. I’ll hunt down the rest on AbeBooks, but I, Robot’s got to be better to get me started than nothing!

**Forward the Foundation had not yet been written or published at the time Asimov wrote this list, but I’ll be reading it before Foundation.

An introduction…

 

A few years ago I wrote the following at a previous blog:

I admit it, I totally judge books by their covers.

While killing time in a Borders in early March, I came across a book with an intriguing cover called Your Hate Mail will be Graded, a collection of entries from the blog “Whatever” written by John Scalzi. I’d never heard of it or him, but the blog had celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008, making it one of the longest running blogs on the interwebs. I ended up buying the book and reading it pretty quickly. 
After I finished reading it, I subscribed to the blog on my Google Reader where I came to discover that Scalzi also authored sci-fi novels. This discovery led me to a new realization, while most anyone who knows me would acknowledge that I have a predilection for Sci-Fi TV and movies, it had been years since I’d read any sci-fi (excepting Michael Crichton and Jules Verne). In fact, I can’t remember having read any since I switched over from Young Adult to adult novels (you know, back before Harry Potter, when adults didn’t read kid’s books). I wondered why this was and decided that it came down to covers. The covers of most Sci-Fi novels look cheap and or cheesy to me, I simply don’t find them appealing. So, I made the decision to pick up some Sci-Fi novels and, of course, I started with Scalzi’s. So far I’ve read 1 1/2 of his 4 book Old Man’s War series, and I love them. Once I finish this series, I’ll be moving on to Ender’s Game, Dune, and Starship Troopers amongst others. I’ve learned an important lesson and made a significant step in my journey of geek-self-acceptance. So, John Scalzi, just in case you have happened to Google yourself and come upon this entry, thank you, you’ve expanded my horizons and added hundreds of books to my “To Be Read” list!

Scalzi did, in fact, have a Google alert and commented on the post almost immediately, which was awesome. Since writing that way back in April 2010, I have indeed read more sci-fi. I also went through a significant reading slump related to depression and while for two years I read almost exclusively sci-fi, I didn’t read much. I finally got things under control last Fall and have been on something of a reading binge in 2012. Mysteries, YA, Classics, I devoured anything I could get my hands on.
I also signed up as a supporting member of Chicon7, this year’s World Science-Fiction Convention. This meant that as soon as the Hugo Voter’s Packet became available I started to gorge myself on SF/F. I had so much fun reading the wide variety of novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories nominated this year, I thought it might be a good idea to go back and read past Hugo nominees and winners. This new project serves two purposes:
1. It gives me a large amount of confirmed good material to continue to develop a knowledge base of authors and sub-genres I enjoy.
2. I like having a goal to work towards.
Then I thought it might be an even better experience if I blogged my progress. I have no idea exactly what format this might take, but I’m hoping to some how provoke discussion with fellow genre fans and get recommendations from those who were smart enough to recognize their predilections earlier in life.
I’ll be starting my reading shortly. I’m working off the list of Hugo nominated novels on Wikipedia for starters. Novels available in eBook format will likely take precedence and I’ll be working my way past to present as much as possible. I hope people will join me on my quest but even if I end up just typing to the ether, I’m excited to get started!