The Hugo Awards (named after the famous pulp magazine editor, Hugo Gernsback) were founded in 1953 and have been awarded annually since 1955. The Hugos are voted on by the members of the World Sci-Fi Society (WSFS) and are announced at their annual convention, Worldcon. This year the Worldcon will be in Montreal, Canada, from August 6th to 10th. The nominees for the Hugos have already been announced, and the general reaction has been that the lists are very strong — particularly Best Novel, which sees several very high-profile authors go head-to-head.
This list contains nominated books from both the Best Novel category and from Best Related Book (the non-fiction category). I've also included two novels whose authors are nominees in the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This award is not a Hugo – it is presented by Dell Magazines (publishers of Asimov’s and Analog) – but it is administered by WSFS alongside the Hugos. Being an award for new writers, not all of the nominees will have published novels, but two have and the reason I've included them will soon become obvious.
The nice people at Flashlight Worthy would like you to buy these books from Amazon, and I’d like that too because I love physical books. However, if you are comfortable reading on a screen, you can get many of these books, and a lot more besides, by joining WSFS. In order to make sure that Hugo voters are well-informed, many writers, artists, editors and publishers make digital versions of nominated works available for free to all WSFS members. This year, for just $50, you can get six complete sci-fi novels, three complete non-fiction books, over two dozen short stories and much more. Some of these works are available online to the general public, but others are only available through this offer. You can learn more about how to get a copy of the package at the Hugo Awards’ site.
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean
Neil Gaiman’s novel has already won the Newbery Medal, given by the American Library Association. It tells the story of a young boy whose parents are murdered and who is brought up by the ghosts in a graveyard. You may have seen Neil being interviewed about the book on The Colbert Report. Gaiman won Best Novel in 2002 for American Gods.
by Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow helps run the hugely popular geek blog Boing! Boing! and is a popular writer on topics such as copyright and civil liberties. This novel is set in a near-future San Francisco where a major earthquake is used as an excuse for an anti-terrorism crackdown. The book’s young hero uses his computer skills to fight back against government agents.
by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson is the other past winner on the Best Novel ballot. His The Diamond Age won in 1996. Anathem is a 900 page novel set in a world in which scientists and philosophers hide themselves away from the mundane world in monasteries. The book has a lot to say about the nature of knowledge and scientific inquiry, and even has a few mathematical proofs in the appendices. This book is not available in the Hugo Voters’ Package.
by Charles Stross
Charles Stross has been a regular feature in the Hugo Award nominee lists for several years. This book, which features the adventures of a sexbot long after the human race she was created to serve has died out, is an homage to late-period Robert A. Heinlein novels, inparticular Friday.
by John Scalzi
John Scalzi is another hugely popular author-blogger. Zoe’s Tale is the latest story in his Old Man’s War series. Like the Gaiman and Doctorow books, it is marketed as YA, because the heroine is a 14-year-old girl. The book is actually a re-telling, from Zoe’s point of view, of the events of The Last Colony, which was a Hugo nominee last year.
by Farah Mendlesohn
Farah Mendlesohn is one of the most respected critics in the science fiction field, and the current President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. This book has been hailed as a major breakthrough in our understanding of how fantastic literature works.
by Paul Kincaid
Paul Kincaid is a British fan and critic who for many years was the administrator for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. This book is a collection of his essays. It is published by a British small press and quite hard to come by except through the Hugo Voters’ Package.
edited by Arnie Fenner, Cathy Fenner
The Spectrum Awards are one of the most prestigious sets of awards in the field of science fiction and fantasy art. Each year the award administrators, Cathy and Arnie Fenner, assemble a book from the best entries, and most years that book gets a Hugo nomination. This book is not available in the Hugo Voters’ Package.
edited by Lillian S. Carl
If Hugo Awards are anything to go by Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the most successful SF writers ever. She has four Best Novel trophies, three of them for books featuring the character Miles Vorkosigan. Those are The Vor Game (1991), Barrayar (1992) and Mirror Dance (1995). This book, by Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers, is a guide to the universe of the Vorkosigan stories. This book is not available in the Hugo Voters’ Package.
by David Anthony Durham
Our first novel by a Campbell nominee is the first part of epic fantasy tale. It tells the story of a group of young royal children fighting to survive after their kingdom is conquered by foreign enemies. The author, David Anthony Durham, had a successful career writing historical novels before turning to fantasy.
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About Cheryl Morgan
Cheryl Morgan is a science fiction critic who won a Hugo Award in 2004 for her online review magazine, Emerald City. Cheryl’s current writing can be found at her blog, Cheryl’s Mewsings, and at Science Fiction Awards Watch, which she co-edits with Kevin Standlee. Cheryl is also non-fiction editor of the Hugo-nominated Clarkesworld Magazine. This year Cheryl is a nominee in the Best Fan Writer category, which is for people who actively promote science fiction without getting paid for it – by writing articles like this, for example. Last year the category was won by John Scalzi for this writing on Whatever.
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