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Sunday, March 1st, 2009

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Hugo Reading List! How Many Have You Read?
In the interests of completeness, I here post the Hugo-award winning novels. For those of you who don't know, the Nebula is picked by writers and editors in SWFA, and the Hugos is picked by readers, by popular vote. Myself, I think the idea of selecting the best book of a year while in that year is a dubious business at best: if it were up to me, a book would get its awards five or ten years after it was written, so that the real influence of the work could be seen in context. But, of course, these awards are a 'trade-show' practice, meant to commend public attention to works currently being sold. From a merchant's point of view, there is no reason to give retroactive awards to past greats.

I have underlined the one's I've read, and offered one-line wisecracks, excuse me, I means one-line book reviews pregnant with insight, where appropriate. 

Hugo Reading list:

2008 The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon—Who? Is this worth reading?
2007 Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge—Never read this one. I've read and liked Vinge ('Fire Upon the Deep' and 'Deepness in the Sky')
2006 Spin, Robert Charles Wilson —on my list of books to read.
2005 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke —Meh. I read 200 pages, and could not see what they hype was about. 
2004 Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold —Never read it.
2003 Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer—Didn't sound like a book I'd be interested in. 
2002 American Gods, Neil Gaiman —My wife read it.
2001 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling —Read it, loved it, count me as a Potterite. Tell the Sorting Cap to put me in Revenclaw.
2000 A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge — Read it, loved it.
1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis —I should read more Connie Willis
1998 Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman — Good book, stupid peacenik ending. War are caused by fear, greed, and honor, not by lack of sympathy.
1997 Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson — Nope.
1996 The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson — Read it, loved it, was unimpressed by the weak ending.
1995 Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold —Never heard of it.
1994 Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson — Quit reading about halfway through.
1993 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis — Heard it was depressing. Never read it. 
(tie) A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge — Read it, loved it.
1992 Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold —Never heard of it.
1991 The Vor Game, Lois McMaster Bujold—Never heard of it.
1990 Hyperion, Dan Simmons —Read it, loved it, erected a pagan shrine to Dan Simmons, sacrificed a cow.
1989 Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh — I've read one or two things by Cherryh, but not this.
1988 The Uplift War, David Brin — I've read a number of things by Brin, but not this. Mean to get around to it.
1987 Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card —Read it, loved it.
1986 Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card —Read it, liked it. The short story was better.
1985 Neuromancer, William Gibson —Read it, was amazed by the imagination, wished there had been a plot, characters, etc.
1984 Startide Rising, David Brin —Don't remember if I finished it. Sundiver  was better.
1983 Foundation's Edge, Isaac Asimov — Ugh. Second Foundation was the last book in the trilogy. This was like Highlander II.
1982 Downbelow Station, C. J. Cherryh — Didn’t read it.
1981 The Snow Queen, Joan D. Vinge — Didn't read it. Vinge's masterpiece. I have actually seen this Hugo, when I visited Joan house. (My wife used to babysit her kids, back in the day).
1980 The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke — Read part of it, was really unimpressed.
Against the Fall of Night was better.
1979 Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre — Read it, thought it was OK, but it does not match other works on this list.
1978 Gateway, Frederik Pohl — Never liked Pohl's writing.
1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm — Always told myself one day I'd read this.
1976 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman —Not bad, but the peacenik bong vapors are a little thick.
1975 The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin — excellent, one you accept the anarchist premise, accept the idea of the state replacing the family, and the commune raising kids, etc.
1974 Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke — excellent. His masterpiece
1973 The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov — Not Asimov's best.
1972 To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jos‚ Farmer— Never read it. 
1971 Ringworld, Larry Niven — Excellent. Niven's masterpiece.
1970 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin — Excellent. Le Guin's masterpiece.
1969 Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner— Excellent, if comical to modern eyes (when we are worrying about underpopulation, overpopulation seems almost charming a thing to fret over). Brunner's masterpiece. 
1968 Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny — Excellent, Zelazny's best work, usually forgotten in comparison with his Amber books, which , sorry to say, actually are less well written than this.
1967 The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein — Maybe Heinlein's best work.
1966 "...And Call Me Conrad" (This Immortal), Roger Zelazny —The one Zelazny book I could never finish, no matter how often I try. And I have read 'To Die On Italbar' which shows you how much Zelazny I read.
(tie) Dune, Frank Herbert — Herbert's masterpiece, all the most astonishing when you consider how little else of his work is memorable.
1965 The Wanderer, Fritz Leiber — Not Leiber's best.
1964 "Here Gather the Stars" (Way Station), Clifford D. Simak —Simak's masterpiece.
1963 The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick —Not to my taste. I cannot even recall if I ever read it.
1962 Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein —Hippie crap. Nonetheless, the book for which Heinlein will be remembered. I read it more than once.
1961 A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. —Everyone says this is great, but I barely remember it.
1960 Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein —Still by favorite Heinlein.
1959 A Case of Conscience, James Blish —Its was OK, but not great, if I am thinking of the right book.
1958 The Big Time, Fritz Leiber —Pretty good.
1956 Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein —Mediocre Heinlein, which means, better than what most anyone else can write.
1955 They'd Rather Be Right (The Forever Machine), Mark Clifton & Frank Riley —Never heard of the book or the authors.
1953 The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester  —One of Bester's two perfect novels. The other is Tiger, Tiger (Stars My Destination).

Now, it could just be that my tastes are stuck in 1953, but to me the number of works I list as masterpieces of craft, I notice, are denser on the older parts of the list.

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