Cover image of NK Jemisin’s 2015 Hugo Award winning novel “The Fifth Season
You might be wondering about why I’ve posted the lengthy lists of tabular data below.
Last summer and so on, when I was writing blog posts critical of the Hugo Awards, WorldCon, and a seeming lack of objectivity in how the Hugos are awarded, I learned a lot.
I’m not going to post a bunch of links to past blog missives, but I did learn that the Hugos were never meant to be particularly objective. Various works, including novels, are voted on by people who have paid to be at that year’s convention, people who are, for all appearances, very hard-core Science Fiction and Fantasy fans, and not necessarily the sort of person who might casually pick up a SciFi novel to read here and there (like most of us).
I also noted one of the criticisms leveled against SF author Robert Silverberg in the comments section at File 770 after Silverberg criticized NK Jemisin’s most recent Hugo Award acceptance speech, was that it was said Silverberg hadn’t read a SF novel in the past decade, like that’s a bad thing.
So, in order to be fair in my assessment of more recent SF/F novels and short stories, last month I said I’d make an effort to read works published within the last ten years, which should be anything since 2008/09.
I put a hold on NK Jemisin’s Hugo Award winning novel The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth) (2015) and I’ve just been notified via email that it’s waiting for me at my local public library. I’m going to pick it up over my lunch hour.
To prepare myself for the experience, I decided to catalog, as best as my memory would allow, all of those Hugo Award winning and nominated novels I’ve read. In the list below, novels with an asterisk (*) by their title are winners and all the others were nominated.
In total (again, to the best my memory serves), I’ve read 51 novels which have won or been nominated between 1953 and 1988, or a span of 35 years. I didn’t read them year by year, but in clusters. I did notice that I haven’t read a winning novel more recently than 1988. That’s the year my youngest daughter was born, and perhaps the duties of family and work interrupted somehow. It’s not that I stopped reading books, including SF, but I guess I just wasn’t choosing them based on any award-winning criteria.
Take a look at the tables below, and if you’re a Science Fiction fan, tell me how many of these you’ve read. I remember how much fun they were to read back in the day, but creative works are a product of their time. I haven’t read a novel that’s won a Hugo in the past 30 years. I wonder what differences I will find, both in the nature of SF and culture when I apply myself to NK Jemisin’s book?
When I’m finished, I’ll write a review and let you know.