Hugo-Winning Novels == Blah?

To Be Read

I have a theory.

My theory is that I don’t like Hugo winning novels. If you’re not familiar with the Hugos, it’s like the Academy Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy. There’s a whole bunch of categories, but the one that gets the most attention, and that I’m talking about now, is “Best Novel”.

Back to my theory. I have picked up several books simply because they won the Hugo. This was because I was looking for something to read and I figured I might as well go with a book that was recommended through a vote. So far, my track record for actually liking these books is poor. Let’s review.

  1. A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge. Tie in 1993: Couldn’t get more than a third of the way through it. Every time something seemed to be happening…it didn’t. Gave the book away.
  2. Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card. Won in 1987: The book prior to that in the series, Ender’s Game (won in 1986!) was fabulous. Speaker for the Dead was deadly dull. Interesting concept, but I read for fun, not for concepts.
  3. Neuromancer, by William Gibson. Won in 1985. Yes, I know it’s the book that started Cyberpunk. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find it difficult to fathom and somewhat boring.
  4. Downbelow Station, by C. J. Cherryh. Won in 1982. Oh…my…god was I depressed before I put the book down. And I only got about a third of the way in. No thanks.
  5. The Dispossesed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Won in 1975. Booooring. I’m glad I read it, but I’ll never read it again. My sister Cindy will probably send me a mail bomb because of this comment.
  6. Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. Won in 1974. This was more like a space engineering treatise than a good book. I didn’t read the sequels because the first one didn’t capture me.
  7. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. Won in 1962. This was one of those novels that you must read if only to maintain your geek credentials and grok everyone else’s. However, I wasn’t sold on its glorious nature. Would not Buy Again.
  8. A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Won in 1961. I’ve tried, and failed, to read this book 3 times. I may give it one more chance before deep-sixing it.

That is eight books of fifty-five that I didn’t like. What about ones that I did?

  1. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Won in 2002. Fabulous.
  2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling. Won in 2001. This award I find amusing because I believe it was surfing the wave of popularity rather than any real deservedness. Of all the HP books, HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban would be my pick. I still liked Goblet, though.
  3. The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson. Won in 1996. This is one of my favorite books, ever.
  4. Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card. Won in 1986. Also one of my favorite books, ever.
  5. Foundation’s Edge, by Issac Asimov. Won in 1983. This one gets a thumb up (but not two) from me. I’ll still qualify it as a book I liked, though.
  6. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. Won in 1976. Excellent book.
  7. Ringworld, by Larry Niven. Won in 1971. There isn’t much written by Larry Niven that I wouldn’t have buried in my coffin with me.
  8. Dune, by Frank Herbert. Won in 1966. Great great story. I can see the point of view of people who don’t like it, but I think it’s great.
  9. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein. Won in 1960. Another of my favorite novels.

That makes nine novels of fifty-five that I like, and eight that I don’t (I could take this further and also analyze the novels that were nominated, but that’s a bit much, for reasons that will be explained in a moment). You would think that a greater than 50% success rate would make me happy, no?


I demand 100% client satisfaction! And in order to have a good data set before sending in my lawyers, I’ve decided that I need to read the rest of the Hugo-winning novels and see which ones I like. Through the good services of I have acquired several of them, and we’re waiting for them to come to the top of the queue before I start digging in. To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis (1999), Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (2005), and Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer (2003) are the first in line. I also have The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold, which is the first book in a trilogy before Paladin of Souls (2004).

So, I’m going to read the rest of the Hugo list and see what opinions I end up with. I’ll let the interwebs know how it’s coming along.

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3 Responses to Hugo-Winning Novels == Blah?

  1. Pingback: The Evil Eyebrow » Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

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