~Post by Tommy; Original Artwork by Alex Rosental
So last time I posted for Sci Friday, I took a look at five of the ten books that I thought might make the Hugo nomination list for best novel this year. This week I’m going to round out that list with the last five books of my possible nomination list.
First up this week is an author who has several nominations under his belt: John Varley. Varley’s new book Slow Apocalypse almost reads more like a dark and disturbing near future techno thriller than it does a proper science fiction book, but it’s definitely one of my favorites of the year. When mankind’s entire supply of oil is suddenly compromised the world must try to survive without it. What follows is a complex look at what might happen if the apocalypse doesn’t occur in days or even weeks, but in months or years. As its name implies this book can, at times, feel kind of slow. That lack of speed doesn’t take away from the enjoyment you get, however, it adds to it, letting you feel as though your reading experience is a part of mankind’s slow stumble into ruin.
Final Rank: 2 Varley is a great veteran of the genre who has given us a deeply disturbing book that is an utter joy to read and one that will unfortunately have to settle for snagging the runner up crown this year
Following John Varley on our list of authors who have been nominated before is Kim Stanley Robinson and his new book 2312. Set in a future where the entire solar system is colonized, 2312, like many of Robinson’s books, tells the story of a group of people and the problems they have interacting and existing with each other. Telling the story of Swan Hong, an artist and designer of terrariums, allows Robinson to step back and explore some deep moral and philosophical issues. Art, family, and the nature of man come together with Robinson’s unique character-driven style of storytelling to give us one of the best books of 2012.
Final Rank: 3 As I said, Robinson has been on this list before and 2312 is definitely good enough to put him back in the middle of the pack, even if it’s not quite victory worthy.
Next up on the list is another sequel, so sue me it’s apparently the year of awesome sequels, Justin Cronin’s The Twelve. While on the surface The Twelve and its predecessor, The Passage, may seem to be nothing more than yet another set of post apocalyptic vampire novels, but thanks to Cronin’s complexly constructed characters and detailed driven storytelling they become so much more. Continuing, and at the same time regressing time wise, from his first novel, Cronin tells the story of the twelve original vampire lords and how they came to be, before finishing the book by returning to the story of his original protagonists and their never-ending hunt. More than just a worthy sequel to The Passage, The Twelve sets the bar high for the next generation of vampiric horror.
Final Rank: 8 As much as I love The Twelve, dark horror science fiction rarely finds it’s way on to the nomination list and this one unfortunately will prove no exception as it won’t quite make the final top five.
Fourth for today’s portion of the list is a debut contemporary fantasy out of Australia titled The Rook. Written by Daniel O’Malley, The Rook takes some wonderfully trite concepts; amnesiac hero, British paranormal secret service, and myriad literary references; and weaves them together in a fun story that breathes new life into those tired ideas. O’Malley introduces us to Myfanwy Thomas, a heroine who makes me recall some of the best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her super secret paranormal spy organization the Chequy, whose super powered agents are totally not the X-Men, in a fun and fast adventure novel that I hope spawns a series, because I definitely want more.
Final Rank: 10 While debuts are often well received by Hugo voters, contemporary fantasy rarely finds its way to the top of the list so sadly The Rook will not be popping up on the official nomination list no matter how much I want it to.
Last but certainly not least comes what obviously must be my pick for the Hugo Award for Best Novel: David Brin’s new book Existence leaves the far future to instead examine the near future of human existence, a near future that Brin does his best to extrapolate from current society and technology. Like many of Brin’s books, Existence forces readers to think as they read and the question that Existence poses is an interesting one to ponder. When an astronaut collects a crystal that holds the personality of an ancient being, Brin introduces us to the idea that humanity may well be the current front runner among races in the galaxy, but do sentient races always survive? In his usual fashion David Brin has written an understated masterpiece that is a truly amazing complex piece of literature.
Final Rank: 1 Brin is a fantastic writer who has gone back to the well and delivered an absolute gem and I think it will not only get him his first nomination in ten years but also his first win for best novel in twenty five.
There you have it folks, it took two weeks but now you know my thoughts on this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel. This year’s Hugo Awards will be presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio that runs from August 29th to September 2nd. Stop back by next week on Sci Friday as Marie looks at Robert Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land.