I am excited to report that the finalists for this year’s Hugo and Retro Hugo Awards have been announced. Yes, I will actually look into the Retro Hugos this year. I think I’ll have time. For a full list of Finalists for 2018, see here (and the 1943 finalists can be found here
I’ll be concentrating on the Novel, Novella, Novelette and Short Story categories once again. For the novel category, there are two books I haven’t read; Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty and The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. Both of these were stories I wanted to read last year, but never got around to. For Six Wakes, this was because the only way to access it was to order the paperback from the USA. I’m not opposed to this, but I was always hoping it would become available on Kindle or Audible. I can’t wait to finally get my hands on it. Somehow.
For the Novellas, we have an almost complete clean-sweep by Tor.com publishing, with Sarah Pinsker’s And Then There Were (N-one) from Uncanny being the only non-Tor entry on the ballot. Most of these novellas I have heard good things about, but haven’t read, so catching up on this category should be good. In particular, I’m looking forward to reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire. This story is the sequel to last year’s winner Every Heart a Doorway, and is another book I’ve neglected for too long.
Next are the novelettes. Quite a mixed bunch here, including Yoon Ha Lee’s Extracurricular Activities, which I nominated. Of course I did; it’s part of the Machineries of Empire series. The only other finalist I’ve read is Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara, which has still stayed with me for quite some time, but was not one of my favourites this year.
I’ve read half the short stories before and am happy to see Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad as a finalist. That was a fun little story that I found myself re-reading again. The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata was also a standout story for me.
With the retro Hugos, there are a few names I recognise and look forward to reading. There are also a few that I’m not looking forward to. Second Stage Lensmen by Doc E.E. Smith is one of the nominees. When I first heard about Smith’s work, it sounded like something I would love. But I started on the Skylark series and was just not impressed. Damsels-in-distress, invincible, perfect heroes, humanoids = good, chlorine aliens = irredeemably evil, and the writing style itself all made me cringe. From what I’ve read of Smith, it was obvious that he was at his prime before the Golden Age that started in the 40s. On the other hand, the Lensmen series played a huge role in shaping science fiction. Lensmen is the epitome of classic space opera, and I know that there is a lot of cool stuff in the series. So I guess the only question is whether or not I need to read the whole series or just Second Stage Lensmen.
I’m excited about these finalists, and it’s good to have such a range of stories to keep me busy for the next couple of months. In the meantime, I do have a couple more reviews to publish, so I’ll try and get them done soon. If you’ve been disappointed by my lack of posts, then don’t worry: I’ll be a lot busier for a while.
2 thoughts on “Hugo 2018 and Retro Hugo 1943 Finalists Announced”
I’d recommend all six Lensmen books but particularly the core four (Galactic Patrol to Children of the Lens). For your purposes, maybe the four will do, though I understand time and interest is a factor. I wish I could find Clute’s introductory essay online but here’s a snippet from the SFE (the original of which has spoilers):
It was not until he began to unveil the architectural structure of his second and definitive Series that Smith was able to demonstrate the thoroughness of his thinking about Space Opera. And it is with the Lensman series… that his name is most strongly and justly associated. In order of internal chronology, the sequence is Triplanetary (January-April 1934 Amazing; rev to fit the series 1948), First Lensman (1950), Galactic Patrol (September 1937-February 1938 Astounding; 1950), Gray Lensman (October 1939-January 1940 Astounding; 1951), Second-Stage Lensmen (November 1941-February 1942 Astounding; 1953) and Children of the Lens (November 1947-February 1948 Astounding; 1954). The Vortex Blaster (stories July 1941-October 1942 var mags; fixup 1960; vt Masters of the Vortex 1968) is also set in the Lensman Universe, probably some time before Children of the Lens, but does not deal with the central progress of the main series, the working out of which was Smith’s most brilliant auctorial coup. As published in book form, the first two novels likewise stand outside the main action; it is the final four that constitute the heart of Smith’s accomplishment. Conceived as one 400,000-word novel… this central Lensman tale is constructed around the gradual revelation, paced by moments that for many readers caught the essence of the Sense of Wonder, of the hierarchical nature of the Universe…
If a propeller-head like me and a lit’ry guy like Clute can find common ground, it’s *got* to be good. 🙂 You’ll find the same problems in it that you had with Skylark (and I share some of them myself to a degree) but the scope and structure should overcome all that, which will be partly (largely) lost if you just dive in in the middle and then leave. And one thing that strikes me about Smith is that, being formed in the US at the turn of the century and writing in the 20s, 30s, 40s, etc., he’s actually quite odd and advanced when it comes to women and some other issues. Completely “incorrect” today, but he had smart women with strengths and powers that went well beyond the standards of the time. I discussed some of this in my comments on Spacehounds of IPC on my blog last year because Nadia, while second-banana to Steve, is a major character and not a proper Victorian lady. 🙂
Thanks for the comment, you’ve alleviated a lot of my concerns and sold me on the core 4 books in the series. I’ve always wondered if I was missing out, having dismissed Smith after reading what is not considered his strongest series. I probably would have been able to overlook a lot of the pulp-era tropes in Skylark the same way I’d overlooked all the big problems in Lovecraft’s work, if I’d been able to fall in love with the world and get hooked on the story. Hopefully I have better luck with Lensman.