The Hugo Award and Science Fiction

I decided to read all the Hugo Award winners for novel before the end of 2014. I kind of stumbled into this project. I’m not what you’d call a huge sci-fi guy (but that is likely to change by the end of the year). I’ve never written fan fiction, I don’t visit fan websites, that whole thing. So why try this? For three reasons: The first is just practical,  once I tried to read all the Pulitzer winners, but that got boring fast. If there is one thing I can say about this project, five and a half novels in already, it isn’t boring. Second, I think the genre of Sci-Fi can really say a lot about the culture at large, and especially where it’s headed. Finally, I think Sci-Fi/Fantasy is one of the final places that Ethics, Philosophy, and Theology can be explored openly.

Before I decided to do this, while reading Hyperion (review coming shortly) by Dan Simmons, I had read five Hugo winners already. Here is a brief recap from memory, I most likely will not be revisiting these:

Dune – Frank Herbert – One of the first books I bought myself, away at summer camp one year in early High School. Herbert was an excellent worldbuilder and I was really drawn into the story. I remember this as a fast paced tale, a quest for water, avoiding sand worms, and a Messiah. I bought every other Dune book by Herbert afterwards but only got through a couple before losing interest.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling – Sure, you might be thinking, what person my age hasn’t read this one. But, you might be surprised, I took some serious flak for loving these books down in the old Bible Belt. I’m thankful my mom was a reading teacher and literacy coach, not much of a book burner. This was my favorite of the series.

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – I loved this book. It was a quick, easy read with a compelling story. I’m excited that I’ll get to read some more of Card at some point. Another book about a Messiah figure, but a much simpler story than Dune with a nice twist ending.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke – I have mixed feelings about this one. I can certainly see why it won the award, and Clarke is a polished and inventive writer…I just didn’t love this one. I had to force myself to finish, and it was long.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman – This is one of my favorite books in recent memory. What a compelling concept, all the pagan gods are still around, still causing mischief today in disguise. Plus, I love Rock City! Excited to get to read The Graveyard Book, it is the only thing Gaiman I didn’t read this past summer as I gorged on his other works.

And that’s it. Since finishing Hyperion in early December I have read Redshirts (the most recent winner), Starship Troopers, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and The Doomsday Book. I am currently reading Among Others. I will have reviews of these coming shortly. On the shelf and upcoming are: The Left Hand of Darkness, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and A Case of Conscience. Wish me luck, feel free to make suggestions and follow along.

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