No real surprises for me, except for the “Best Graphic Story” award. Don’t get me wrong, “Time” was fantastic, but I was really expecting Saga to take it. Hard SF in the vein of “Time” is pretty rare, though, and Randal Munroe deserves it for all the amazing work he put into it. (I know I never did the last two reviews for Ancillary Justice and Neptune’s Brood, but they were definitely the strongest single novels up for the awards. Definitely read them both.) Even though part of the reason Ancillary Justice did so well was its gimmick- it was a damn good gimmick, and not one that’s really ever been used much before. Plus, anyone who’s going to rag on gimmicks in SF/Fantasy should maybe be reading something else- find me a gimmickless novel in the genres and I’ll probably fall asleep reading it. Neptune’s Brood has the honor of having the most unique economic system I’ve encountered in hard SF, and is a great book on top of it.
Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy slate largely tanked, which whether you think is a good or bad thing, isn’t unexpected. (No comment from Correia or most of the Sad Puppy authors yet, we’ll leave out what Vox Day said, you can go check it out yourself if you’re interested in some homophobia, sexism, poor sportsmanship, and hate against horror fiction. I really think the whole thing would have gone much, much better if he hadn’t been included. Even Correia’s rather intense confrontational online behavior isn’t that big a deal in comparison, angry people are everywhere on the internet.) Dan Wells, despite being, in my opinion, the best of the Sad Puppy Authors on the ballot (Read his John Cleaver books if you haven’t yet, they’re fantastic. YA supernatural serial killer novels, really awesome), didn’t really stand a chance, there’s always going to be a strong stigma against tie-in fiction. I don’t think he was involved in the Sad Puppy slate beyond being nominated by it, though. (The Butcher of Khardov is part of the Warmachine universe.)
Magical compulsions are bread and butter in fantasy and folklore- the noble hero swearing a binding oath, or bewitched with a slave collar, or given a geas- it happens all the time. It’s honestly a little unusual to see a work of fantasy without anything like it.
It’s also one of the most dangerous plot devices to use without damaging the plausibility and internal consistency of your worldbuilding. Why? Because power seems more power, almost without fail. If a tool of magical compulsion exists, a government, dark lord, powerful wizard, or someone would logically try to use it on as many people as possible, barring constraints. (Plus magical compulsion itself is kinda disgusting.) (more…)
Alright, I figured I’d get the hulking elephant of the Readthrough out of the way first. “But Mountain,” you say “The Hugo nominees were only announced a week and a half ago! How could you have read all of the Wheel of Time?” Thanks for asking, imaginary reader! Well, to answer your question, I actually started rereading the series a few days before the nominees were announced, because I was predicting it would be on the ballot, and even I can only handle one behemoth fantasy novel per day. (It was one of two predictions for the shortlist I got right, the other being Ancillary Justice.)
First Time/Reread: Reread Acquired: Owned
Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice
Charles Stross: Neptune’s Brood
Larry Correia: Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles
Mira Grant: Parasite
Here’s the full list of nominees, and there are also Retro Hugo nominations this year. I’m planning on doing a read-through of all the novel nominations (at least for the regular ones, haven’t decided about the retro hugo nominees. Notable nominees: The ENTIRE Wheel of Time series. All of it. All 12,529 pages of it. …Luckily, I prepared for this eventuality, and have already started rereading it. I’m on book 8 of 15, though I still have to read both WoT short stories as well.