Cover art for Dan Simmons’ novel Hyperion.
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It’s been almost three years since I wrote Hugo Award Winning Novels I Have Read. I authored the blog post mainly in response to the idea that these awards have really changed over the years. At the time, I was reading for review N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season in an attempt to understand how I remembered Hugo award winning novels being so outstanding in “the old days” vs. how I perceived the more modern tomes.
If you click the first link, you’ll see a list of the winning and nominated novels I’d consumed in my youth, their awards issued between 1953 and 1988. I read most of them.
I was posting something similar in a Facebook group earlier today and started wondering if, by now, I’d read any more recent Hugo recipients. I have:
- 1990 Hyperon by Dan Simmons (winner).
- 1993 Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (nominated).
- 2013 Redshirts by John Scalzi (winner).
- 2021 Network Effect by Martha Wells (nominated).
I read and reviewed Hyperion mainly because it was a Hugo winner AND Simmons was being trashed on an online fanzine (which shall not be named) by modern SciFi fans because of his politics. I hear that after all these years, it’s going to become a movie. Simmons is still with us and I wish him success.
Found at io9.gizmodo.com – No image credit available
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Over the past several years, I’ve watched WorldCon repeatedly implode.
Well, not exactly. It imploded in 2018 in a very spectacular way. WorldCon 2019 didn’t exactly implode, but then again, Jeanette Ng’s “acceptance” speech of the John W. Campbell award (now renamed “Astounding”) was her long awaited stab at a long-dead science fiction icon which spawned more of her displeasure at the “stale, pale, male crowd,” as well as a long list of other award renamings. The irony is that Ng also won a “Best Related Work” Hugo for 2020 because she complained about Campbell the year before. A rant wins you a Hugo. Who’d have thought.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, famed writer George R.R. Martin was accused of racism at the totally tanked WorldCon 2020. On top of that, the World Fantasy Con in the same year wrought its own disasters. If you read those blog posts, you’ll see the collection of “usual suspects” who complain about everything and anything that’s even a hair out of place compared to their high and mighty expectations.
Now we come to this, which I found online at Locus Magazine, a small article called Hugo Administration Team Resigns.
In the words of the prophet, WTF?
Image captured on Amazon
This my second and last review of the late Lester Del Rey’s 1980 book The World of Science Fiction, 1926-1976: The History of a Subculture. The first review was more political and cultural. This one is more personal.
First of all, the copy I currently possess is a first edition. Like I said, the first printing of this tome was in 1980, and according to the old fashioned stamps in this library book, it was first acquired by my local library system on January 24, 1980. It’s like holding a piece of history in my hands.
The first 22 chapters are interesting, but also made up of long lists of ancient science fiction stories, their authors, which magazines they appeared in, the editors, and occasionally what was going on in the world around them. A tad dull overall.
© James Pyles – My brother, my parents, and me. I’m the one on the far left. Yes, I used to be thin. The photo was taken about 35 years ago.
Just when I thought I was done with the Hugo Awards and with all this year’s drama and trauma, I ended up reading Looking Forward on Looking Backwards at the Hugo Book Club Blog co-authored by Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne. I don’t know which one of them I talk to on twitter, but they seem like pretty good people.
Anyway, the blog post focused on the Retro Hugos, which are sort of “lifetime achievement awards” for science fiction and fantasy authors who were active before the Hugo awards existed. Being an “older fellow,” I’ve read more than a few in my day, plus a lot of old school Hugo Award Winners. That is, science fiction Hugo winners before the Hugos (in my personal opinion) became less about the quality of a story and more about the “wokeness” of the tale and the writer (both being a necessity these days it seems).
To quote their blog in part:
Image of the cover of Orson Scott Card’s book “How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy”
On the heels of my blog posts Looks Like the 2020 Hugo Awards Once Again Sucked, Loving and Fearing SF/F Fandom, and the currently highly popular Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?, a library book I just finished and am about to return caught my attention.
Written by Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead) the small book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy was my choice to re-read in the hopes of dragging myself out of my current writing slump.
Published in 2001, all of the advice about how to publish, market, and, of course, win awards (Card won two Hugos, a Nebula, a Lotus, and in 1978, the John W. Campbell [now renamed Astounding] Award for Best New Writer) are outdated and useless.
But his lessons on how to write remain pretty much timeless, especially when you are actually learning the craft rather than trying to promote a social position, attitude, or bias (I say that knowing that all stories contain the biases of their authors, but lately, it’s gotten so much more obvious and even blatant).
George R.R. Martin –
Well this explains it. The article George R.R. Martin Accused of Racism, Generally Sucking After Hosting Hugos (also found at Vulture) contains a link to my December 5, 2018 blog post Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?. It’s gotten hundreds of hits in the last day or so, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Interestingly enough, the article I found as a pingback to Updexnews.com used the phrase “racist history” as part of the link when referring to my Silverberg article, and I hadn’t intended to call Silverberg a racist (really, I’m shocked I haven’t gotten even a single piece of hate mail yet).
On this twitter account, I found the following image posted prominently. It was the first indication I had of yet another WorldCon social purging by the righteous (yes, I’m being snarky…I’ll explain below).
Image found at DragonCon.org
I’ve tried to steer this blog away from the more controversial and/or political topics I’ve covered in the past, but then I read Richard Paloinelli’s missive Wikipedia or WikiPravda?. Richard and I share some similar viewpoints, but I lack many of the wounds and scars he’s received in the past, such as those attributed to Mike Glyer at the File 770 science fiction fanzine. I think I was contended with there exactly once. It actually impressed me, since relative to Glyer’s readership, I’m pretty much a nobody.
In the recent past, I’ve heard that Wikipedia, Patreon, and YouTube have been accused of attempting to shut out politically and socially conservative creative voices through censorship and defunding. Since I’m merely a consumer of Wikipedia and YouTube and wouldn’t know what to do with Patreon, I’ve had no personal experience, but on the other hand, I have no trouble believing they are all biased left, either.
Cover image of NK Jemisin’s 2015 Hugo Award winning novel “The Fifth Season
“Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold.”―Entertainment Weekly
“Intricate and extraordinary.”―The New York Times
“[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn’t become apparent till toward the end of the novel. … Jemisin’s work itself is part of a slow but definite change in sci-fi and fantasy.”―Guardian
“Astounding… Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come.”―NPR Books
“Jemisin’s graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world.”―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A must-buy…breaks uncharted ground.”―Library Journal (starred review)
“Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now…. [She] is a master at what she does.”―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
“Wait! What? Sure, it’s an interesting story, but… –Me
I’ve read most Hugo nominated and award-winning novels from 1988 back to 1958, when the Hugos first came into existence, but recently, I decided for the sake of fairness, I should consume more recent popular SF/F novels and stories to see how cultural perception is changing the landscape of speculative fiction. The fact that N.K. Jemisin is a three-time Hugo award winner wasn’t lost on me, particularly after having read her latest
controversial historic Hugo Award acceptance speech.
Fortunately, The Fifth Season (2015), the first book in “The Broken Earth” series, was available through my local public library system. Given its obvious “hype,” I was hoping for something spectacular and afraid that it wouldn’t be.
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.
Photo credit – Knoxville News – Science Fiction convention – place and date unknown
In recent comments on the File 770 SF/F news blog criticizing veteran SF writer Robert Silverberg over comments he made about author NK Jemisin’s Hugo Award acceptance speech last summer, one of the things mentioned is that Silverberg hasn’t read any SF stories written in the past ten years, like that’s a bad thing.
In comments I made on twitter last summer criticizing the objectivity of the Hugo Awards, one person accused me of not being “a fan,” as if being a fan were some sort of exalted and coveted position.
But as I continued to gather information about the Hugos and how one is nominated for an award, I realized that although the pool of voters each year is relatively small (I’d estimate anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand), probably all of them are avid SF/F readers and viewers who consume tons and tons of the latest available works. I guess that’s what my critic meant when she said I wasn’t a fan.
But wait a minute. How much SF/F do I read?