Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hugo Awards 2011 - Novel Nominee - Cryoburn


Nominated for Best Novel:
by Lois McMaster Bujold

Cover Art by David Seeley

Cryoburn is the 15th science fiction novel in the Miles Vorkosigan series. In this novel Miles visits the sparsely populated world of Kibou-daini for a conference. Kibou is dominated by the cryocorps that dominate the political and economic landscape. It is common for people that are chronically ill or reaching the age of body degradation to cryogenically freeze themselves until treatments or cures are devised. There are upwards of a million and a half people on ice in the cryocorp underground vaults.

After escaping an attack, Miles meets young Jin, a runaway that lives on the roof of an abandoned building. Jin keeps Miles alive overnight until the drugs wear off.

A series of events finds Miles fighting off the cryocorps and for the rights of the frozen dead. There are political and ethical questions and daring rescues. Jin and Miles' head strong-arm, Roic are great supporting characters.

Cryoburn is a thrilling SF adventure novel set in an interesting world. I enjoyed it and would be interested in reading other novels by Bujold. I have not read any other books in the Vorkosigan saga, so perhaps that has something to do with my lukewarm reception to the book.

In terms of my Hugo voting, The Dervish House is still my choice.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hugo Awards 2011 - Novel Nominee - The Dervish House

Nominated for Best Novel:
The Dervish House
by Ian McDonald

Art by Stephan Martiniere
The Dervish House is a spectacularly well written novel set in 2027 Istanbul, Turkey. Numerous characters are centered around the ancient Adem Dede Square. The occupants of a old dervish house and the shops on the square are woven into a tale that starts with a bang — a terrorist attack on a train.

Necdet is on the train and sees the woman's head explode. He staggers home, forever changed.

A boy, Can Durukan, hears the explosion and sends his toy remote controlled robot out to see what is going on. He finds or than he bargained for.

An antiquities dealer, Ayse Sarioglu, is on the trail of a fabulous artifact, an object so odd and curious that I had never heard of it before, and now that I have, I'm a little creeped out.

Ayse's husband, Adnan, is a commodities trader with the deal of his life coming up.

The author, Ian MacDonald, has come up with such a new (to me, at least) SF idea for the technological leap in this story, that I will leave it for readers to discover for themselves. It is very cool. The world created in the novel is believable and perhaps inevitable. I was reminded a bit of Paolo Bacigalupi's Windup Girl, due mostly to the unusual and similar setting — old world meets high tech. The cities each have their own unique feel.

While I ended up loving the book, I'll admit had a hard time getting into it. The first hundred pages seemed to take forever to read, with numerous unusual character and place names, some of them similar, to untangle and sort out. There were also pages of history (both regional and personal) to fight through.

The middle hundred pages saw the characters and story taking over and I started to enjoy where MacDonald was going. The boy, Can, is the stand out character for me.

The final hundred pages was a dervish of action, suspense, and a fitting and spectacular conclusion. I highly recommend this book and it is a strong contender for my vote in the Hugos.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Hugo Awards 2011 - Short Story Nominees



I decided to start my Hugo nominee reading with the Short Story category. The four nominated stories vary widely in tone and topic, from the struggles of a species to survive to My Little Pony. All were well written. Here's my picks from last to first…

Ponies - Kij Johnson- My Little Pony and how they lose their wings and their horns. OK - fun idea, but it's My Little Pony. First appearance on You can read it here.

For Want of a Nail - Mary Robinette Kowal - A story on a generation ship about a family's computer that falls in love with a man with dimensia and doesn't want to be deactivated. Interesting. First published in Asimov's Sept 2010. You can read it here.


Amaryllis - Carrie Vaughn - A post-ecopocalypse story about a fishing crew getting a bigger quota and being allowed to have a baby. This was a very nicely told story and came very close to winning me over for the top slot. First appeared in the June 2010 issue of the online magazine, Lightspeed. You can read it here.

The Things - Peter Watts - A unique retelling of the events of the John Carpenter movie, The Thing, told in first person from the perspective of the invader. My #1 pick. I found the storytelling compelling and the alien perspective fascinating. This story came from Clarkesworld in January 2010. You can read it here.

I find it telling that 3 of the four stories first appeared online. That is good news for the short fiction market, and perhaps bad news for the print magazines. In today's hurried, always online times, it is easier and faster to find and read a short story on your phone that to find a print issue of a magazine at a store - A few months ago I went to 3 bookstores and 4 newsstands while trying to find the current issue of Asimov's. If I want to buy your magazine and can't find it anywhere, then you are in trouble.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Hugo Award Nominations and Other Blog News

Now that the 2011 Hugo Award nominations are out, I will be spending my free time evaluating the 81 nominees in 16 catagories. As a supporting member of the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention - Renovation  - I am entitled to vote on this year's awards and to put in nominations for the 2012 Hugo Awards. This is my first time participating in the Hugos and I want to give all the nominees a fair shake.

Given the quantity of reading that will be required for this, I will be delaying Tannhäuser work to read as many of the stories and novels as I can before the July 31st deadline.

The main reason that I decided to shell out the $50 to be a Supporting Member of WorldCon was that I wanted to be involved in the Hugo Awards and not just read about them. On one of the podcasts I listen to - I believe it was Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing (but it might have been Adventures in SciFi Publishing) it was mentioned that if you join WorldCon as a supporting member, you get a nominee packet. Well, this year the packet I received has ebooks of all the fiction nominees and the graphic novels, too. The John W. Campbell Award for best new writer is also given out at Worldcon and novels by those writers are in the packet, too. 

So I now have a lot of reading to do on my new Asus Transformer tablet.
That is a lot of stuff -  worth well over the $50 dollar buy in. It is not to late to get in on this yourself. Visit the Hugo Awards site for all the details.

Maybe I'll go to Texas for the 2013 convention itself...

I will be posting reports on the Nominees as I read them. First up - the Short Story category...

I will also likely be going to San Diego Comic-Con at the end of July and I am going to Gen Con in August. Keep a look out for reports from both conventions.

Hugo from 1996 LA Worldcon


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tannhauser Tuesday - Call for assistance - Yukio from CrossGen comics

For my Eastern Provinces faction I am using the Indy Heroclix figure of Yukio from the CrossGen comics title, The Path. However, I am thus far unable to locate a satisfactory piece of art of this character. If any readers have any ideas...