Every year, I get very excited when the Hugo award nominations roll around. What will people think are the best novels1 this year!? Will I have read them? What additional books do I get to consume!??!?!?
And every year, books get nominated which are book number three or four in a series. I’m super excited to find that there is something new for me to read that other people love, and then I get depressed because I have to read two or three books before I can read the nominated work. No matter how good a series or author is, if you slam three of their books in a row, you’re going to be a little sick of it by the time you get to the book you’re supposed to be evaluating.
This year, four of the five nominated novels are sequels. Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, is a sequel that I’ve already read the first book to, so I’m off the hook there, but The Dark Between the Stars (Kevin Anderson), is the first book in a trilogy that’s set on to of a SEVEN-book older series. And Skin Game by Jim Butcher is book number fifteen in the Dresden Files (thank god, I’ve read it already). Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos is a pedestrian book two in its series. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is the only standalone book in the nomination slate.
In my mind, you can’t read the book without reading it’s predecessors. You just can’t. Without that background knowledge you’re not going to truly grok the world. Some authors are good at bringing in people in the middle of a series, but others are not, and it’s dangerous to assume that they’ll all be able to do that well. By that assumption, you would have to read twenty-two books to be properly up to speed on this year’s voting.
That’s just not going to happen.
As it is, I’ll probably read the Kevin Anderson book cold, but I’ll read the first book in the Marko Kloos series and I’m already up to date on the Dresden Files novels (Fun books! Not worthy of the Hugo, is my opinion.).
- I mostly read novels. I don’t do short stories and rarely novellas, etc. [↩]