Friday, January 12, 2007

Hugo Nominations

As any slightly astute reader of this humble web log is aware, I had some issues with this past years Hugo Awards ceremony and winners. But now is the time to work towards something better. Now is the time to reward those truly deserving. Now is the time for the 2007 Hugo Award Nominations.

That all members of LA Con should throw their opinions in the ring ought to go without saying -- but it won't. VOTE! Do not allow travesties to occur on your watch. The nomination papers were sent out recently and all members should have them or will be receiving them shortly.

So now that you've decided you most certainly will nominate your favorite works, I'm certain the inevitable question is dawning upon you. What from the past year is worthy? Did so-and-so come out in 2006? Is that work eligible? Can Terry Goodkind win this and the Pulitzer in the same year? What does my friendly neighborhood blogging moron think?

There's one I can answer for you. Here, for your perusal, are the best SF/F novels released in 2006.

-The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker: Who? Yeah, I hear a lot of you saying that, and it's a bloody shame. Bakker has produced the best fantasy trilogy in decades, and due to being signed by a small publisher that absolutely refuses to print mass-market paperbacks, he has managed to elude the attention and accolades his work screams for. This is the third and final novel in The Prince of Nothing Trilogy, and an absolutely stunning work. Even if this does not force you to nominate the work, I hope it makes you run out and pick up the first in the series, The Darkness That Comes Before, and prepare to have your preconceptions of epic fantasy raped and stomped and likely raped again.

-The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Absolutely haunting. Some novels stay with you, and I have a feeling The Road will always be there, waiting. The farther removed from reading it I am, the more I become convinced of its brilliance. A Canticle For Leibowitz for our generation.

-The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: The first novel I've read since Lamb by Christopher Moore that was literally more fun than sex. Locke Lamora has, with only one novel, made a mark in the hearts of fantasy fans around the world.

-Blindsight by Peter Watts: This is the Hugo Award winner. The other books listed are shining examples of the craft, but this is the hard science fiction that appeals to the Worldcon faithful. And it doesn't hurt that it's absolutely wonderful in its own right. Read it, if you haven't yet, here for free.

-Temeraire or Her Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik: Novik has written an all-ages fantasy novel far superior to a far more popular all-ages series which won the Hugo a few years back. Like McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series which she emulates in many ways, Novik deserves a nomination for this wonderul story, if not the Hugo itself.

-Infoquake by David Louis Edelman: I have this one pegged as the Philip K. Dick Award winner, for best Science Fiction book released as a softcover original, though I do believe it has a shot to win the Hugo. It is the most successful attack on the future of mega-corporations and the inevitable failure of our current economic system thus far written. It's not the perfect novel, but it is more than worthwhile, and is certainly a must-read of 2006.

Honorable Mentions:
The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams
Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
Mappa Mundi by Justina Robson
The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Glasshouse by Charles Stross

I'm not well-read enough on short fiction to offer advice, and so I will not. Vote your heart, and hope for the best.

I would like to add that the category for Dramatic Presentation, short form ought already be decided. A vote for anything but Exodus Part 2 of Battlestar Galactica would be a bloody crime.

So be sure to pick up the books mentioned here that you haven't read as yet. They're all of the highest quality. But don't forget to nominate for the Hugo's, because it's posterity you're a part of. Live up to that responsibility.

And read more.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

"What about the little boy?"

Cormac McCarthy, author of the seminal Western novel Blood Meridian, has produced an achingly haunted view of post-apocalyptic America with The Road. Unlike most in this crowded subgenre of science fiction, however, McCarthy does not tackle the events leading up to the event. He does not call for political change or drub us with a wake up call to some evil occurring in our midst. No, McCarthy instead tells of the pain and hardship that faces the survivors. He tells a story of humanity and it's struggles, of suffering and death and survival. The story of mankind.

The Road tells the story of an unnamed man and his son, known only as the boy. It is the story of the struggle of everyman. The man's struggle to survive and the reality that the only possible way to truly survive is through your children. And, of course, mans indomitable will to allow for that.

The Road is stunning in its stilted and harsh prose, nigh unparalleled in its painting of the bleakest of canvases. This is science fiction to the core, but also undeniably literature. While I appreciate all these things, to be wholly forthcoming, I did not enjoy this book at all.

Yet I was moved. I remain haunted. It was an experience I will never forget.

This book may be overlooked by SF fans because it was released as literature and not as a genre book. This would be a tragedy; both for the book and its success, and for the fans who missed out on this truly memorable experience.


Collector's Notes:

Though many copies were printed of the first edition, a new Cormac McCarthy novel is always an event for collectors. The Road belongs in every science fiction collection. It's very hard to put into context so recent a book, but I believe it stands alongside A Canticle For Liebowitz, Alas, Babylon, and Lucifer's Hammer as the cream of this subgenre.

Firsts of The Road will undoubtedly rise in value, despite the relatively large print run. McCarthy is never a bad investment.