Hugo: Best Novel

Tomorrow is the deadline to vote on the Hugo Awards for this year’s Worldcon. Does this mean anything to YOU? Only if you purchased a membership and are eligible to vote. If you did, hopefully you’re not a big fat procrastinator and have already taken care of this little matter. If not…

You may recall that I’ve set myself a little project, namely to read the novels that have been awarded the Best Novel Hugo and declare whether or not I like them. My track record has only been so-so. This dovetailed nicely with “real life” because when the nominations for the 2009 Hugos were announced I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’d already read three of the five nominated novels: Anathem, Little Brother and Zoe’s Tale. Graveyard Book was already on my list to go read, so I just had to pick up Saturn’s Children. Now I have, and I can give you my ineligible vote:

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Hands down. No question. Best book I’ve read in quite a while, actually. It’s got a spectacular riff off of Hillary Clinton’s book It Takes a Village in the first chapter which cemented my love. This book is everything that Neil Gaiman is capable of.

Anathem, by Neal Stephenson was exactly what we’ve come to expect from him: Huge, full of cool edgy science fiction and tedious amounts of philosophizing. I’ll keep reading him, but it can be a chore.

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow would be my second choice for best novel. It was a great story mixing suspense with action and drama.

Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi was an excellent book but didn’t quite live up to the Scalzi reputation. It suffered from being a rehash of a previous story from a different character’s perspective.

Saturn’s Children, by Charles Stross had (as usual for Stross) excellent scifi elements but (to me) implausible story and political elements.

So, that’s my opinion. Of course, by the very fact that I bother to review these books, it should be assumed that they are worthy. For example, I hesitate to criticize Zoe’s Tale because I know for a fact, from reading his blog, that John Scalzi and others regard this as one of his best works. I respectfully disagree, but then I think my reading tastes don’t much march in line with what people consider “best works.” But then, I’m not really criticizing Zoe’s Tale per se, I’m only saying, “stacked up against the other four Hugo-nominated novels, it does not win.” I’m saying the same thing with four of them.

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