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Hugo Award Nominees 2005

The Hugo nominees for 2005 have been announced, and as the BBC reports, the future of science fiction could be presaged by the fact that they are all British. According to the Beeb,

Mr Stross says that what an author writes is a reflection of his society, and currently US genre writers are mirroring the “deep trauma” that 9/11 wrought on America.

“What we write tends to reflect our perceptions of the world around us,” he says, “and if it’s an uncertain world full of shadows it’s no surprise you get wish fulfilment or a bit downbeat.”

So super-hero movies divide the world into black and white moralities and authors try to write alternative histories of key US events, such as the Civil War.

By contrast British genre writers are not looking back, they are eyeing the future with lip-smacking anticipation.

“We’re a bit more upbeat and there’s an openness about there being a future for us,” says Mr Stross.

And they are better getting to grips with the ever-increasing pace of technological change, which makes prediction a trickier job than ever.

The nominees for best novel are,


Iain M Banks – The Algebraist

China Mieville – The Iron Council

Charles Stross – Iron Sunrise

Susanna Clarke – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Ian McDonald – River of Gods

My vote goes for Susanna Clarke.

The screenplay/dramatic presentation nominees are fun:

# Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Focus Features) Story by Charlie Kaufman & Michael Gondry & Pierre Bismuth; Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman; Directed by Michael Gondry.

# Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Warner Brothers) Written by Steve Kloves; Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling; Directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

# The Incredibles (Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation Studios) Written & Directed by Brad Bird

# Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (Paramount Pictures) Written & Directed by Kerry Conran

# Spider-Man 2 (Sony Pictures Entertainment / Columbia Pictures) Screen Story by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Michael Chabon; Screenplay by Alvin Sargent; Based on the comic book by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko; Directed by Sam Raimi

A much tougher choice here – I vote for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

The winners will be announced at Interaction – the WorldCon at Glasgow, UK between 4th and 8th August, 2005 – like right now:)

Some highlights of the Hugo Convention schedule:

  • The Plague After Next: How Are We Going to Die? – Greg Bear, et al
  • Nitro Ice Cream – nitrogen-based ice cream
  • Post Colonialism and Cargo Cults – Harry Turtledove, et al
  • So, Private Spaceflight Is Here
  • The Limits of Open-Source Knowledge
  • The Past, Present and Future of Christian Fantasy
  • Board Games for the 21st Century
  • Privacy or Paranoia?
  • Hans Christian Andersen & the Dark Side of Fairy Tale
  • Asexuality is the New Gay, but Is that Also the Default of Science Fiction?
  • The Pros and Cons of Blogging Science
  • Clones, Children or Countless Lives – Cory Doctorow, et al
  • Belly Dancing: Tribal Fusion Techniques
  • Byzantium at our Borders in the 21st century: the Future of Europe.
  • Harry Potter Has Put Children’s Fantasy Back Fifty Years
  • The Mason-Dixon Line Redrawn: America Divided?
  • Sunday 20.00,Hugo Awards Ceremony

My clones shall report back to you soon.

About aacool

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    FWIW, I have communicated with Mr. Stross before. And, while he is clearly intelligent, I was not impressed by his narrow anti-American world-view.

    YMMV…

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    Thanks for reminding the other SF writers of their insignificance in the literary realm. Present company included. Heh.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    How is it that I can read all these really wonderful SF novels each year and inevitably not one of them gets nominated for a Hugo? The worldview of the Hugos has increasingly become narrow in more than one way. The kinds of novels which get nominated today wouldn’t have made muster with Hugo Gernsback. He’d have rejected most of them as too literary. They’ve narrowly defined SF to rule out some of the best genre-defying novels that used to be considered in the category. And they’ve got this pseudo-intellectual anglophilic thing going.

    That being the case, wasn’t Neil Gaiman’s American Gods eligible for this year’s awards? How that could not have gotten a nomination I can’t imagine, especially with all these brits who got picked. For that matter, no nomination for Greg Keyes The Charnel Prince? What’s up with that – I can’t believe that anti-fantasy elitism is still that strong a factor. And, of course, they nominate the impenetrable Clarke book, while overlooking the similar but enormously more readable Speaks the Night Bird by Robert McCammon.

    Dave

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    The SF world is like a petri dish full of a million cells constantly dividing that most novels (no matter how good they might be) get lost in the shuffle of similar books. It seems to get to the level of the Hugo, you literally have to have everything be a flawless victory in terms of marketing, reviews, and readership.

    Many a fool can dream of the cake that few get the chance to taste.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Thanks for the references, Dave – I’ll be sure to check them out – and tell us more about your interaction with Stross, RJ.

    Neat discussion topics in the Con, though

    Isn’t American Gods pre-2004?

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America” won the Sidewise Awards Long Form at the WorldCon, which was easy, since as it was the only nominee.

  • Kathryn Daugherty

    Ah. Neil Gaiman’s wonderful _American Gods_ won the Hugo for Best Novel in 2002 at ConJose. The Clarke did win this year, but at least _River of Gods_ by Ian MacDonald, a much, much better book, came in second. And Elizabeth Bear won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Try her book _Hammered_ for a much more traditional (but not stodgy) SF story.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I didn’t realize American Gods was that old. I’d have sworn it came out early last year. Was there a limited edition or something that I missed?

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Oh my god, I must have a draft of this paper:

    Asexuality is the New Gay, but Is that Also the Default of Science Fiction?

    That’s hilarious.

    And scifi’s boring and childish, humans.

    That is all.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Babs, SF is all that’s left of literature these days. Embrace it or face illiterate oblivion.

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Dave, it’s true that literature (at least fiction) is dead and that there are really no great writers left. We still cling to a few old literary lions whose best work is far behind them, but for the most part, we’re a post-modern post-print society already.

    But sci fi was never literature to begin with. It’s tripe.

    That is all.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Bob, sci-fi is very asexual – not sure of the gay bit

  • gonzo marx

    hurm..so, Heinlein is not Literature?

    neither were Verne or Wells?

    as for now..Gaiman, and Stephenson don’t do it for you?

    as for past literary lions…part of the wonder of a book is it’s very trancendance of Time

    the Concept that you can pick up Plato and “hear” his Thoughts from a distant Era has always been quite Powerful to me

    but then again, i think that abstract Symbology…words, music , math…are Man’s greatest Inventions, that their being able to pass on Information from past to present and on into the future is a large part of what makes us more than mere animals…

    silly of me, i know

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    We all know Babs is just a snob.

    There’s SF or fantasy literature which just cannot be denied. If he classes Dunsany, Swift, Thomas More, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, William Morris, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, Guy de Maupassant, Tim Powers and Poe as ‘tripe’, then I think that we and any literary critic worth his salt can feel safe in classifying him as too ignorant to take seriously.
    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Swift, Poe and More are not science fiction and you know it.

    Dave, have you read any literary criticism in academic journals the past 50 years? Do you know any professional literary critics? They don’t review or read science fiction. I suppose that makes them ignorant and

    If you classify Doyle, Shelley, and Stoker as scifi because they’ve written about scary, creepy things, go for it, but they’re worlds apart from what science fiction is as a genre now. I would probably say the same about Verne and even Wells, though they did have quite fantastic imaginations. These predecessors to the genre you call scifi today weren’t caught way up in levels of abstraction about techno-futuristic fantasies of aliens and outer space and colonies — they were always writing their work as an allegory for the social values of their time. What you call sci fi today is almost completely unrecognizable in comparison to the examples you’ve drawn from 19th century literature.

    Heinlen is most certainly not literature. No respectable literary critic takes him seriously. He may have been reviewed occasionally, but you’ll never see him taught in a university course, other than in some ridiculous lark elective called “Science Fiction, geek out for your tuition.”

    Gonzo, are you really going to say things like “part of the wonder of a book is it’s very trancendance of Time” (syntax and spelling left intact) and then ramble incoherently about Plato, space and time and think that doesn’t prove my point?

    There’s something odd about the introverted white male mind that makes science fiction so compelling, I think. I guess that’s also why classic rock is so popular. Whether it’s the techno-futuristic fairy tales or the complete separation from the reality of the way actual human beings think and talk, I think science fiction is for people who would rather regress and indulge childish stories that don’t challenge you to re-examine yourself whatsoever.

    The only author either of you have listed that I would classify as sci fi who might be literature is Philip Dick. But he’s borderline. He’s certainly not part of any literary canon and he’s rarely read by academics for study. He does get some favorable reviews and his books make for fantastic movies — his concerns seem somewhat broader in scope than the usual nonsense that is scifi. I haven’t read much of him, but I might concede to you that he’s ONE good writer in the whole lot of hacks.

    We can argue about whether certain authors who wrote well before sci fi existed as a genre were sort of proto-scifi or predecessors to it, but here’s the point. As an entire genre, there is no more worthless collection of illiterate nonsense than in science fiction books today. So-called chick lit might be second, but at least its devotees don’t consider it as anything but fluff to read on a plane or at the beach. Science fiction fans invest a lot more into the genre than the “art” (if you can call it that) merits. I think this point is hard to dispute.

    Sci fi will not be remembered as serious literature nor is it the present or future of literature. It certainly won’t save us from an illiterate culture, since so much of the genre is barely literate. It’ll be remembered as being a slight notch above comic books, less influential culturally and much less relevant commercially. And don’t get me wrong, I love Superman and Batman like any regular Joe. There’s no pretense of meaning there with comics, at least.

    Dave — I’m a snob? You’re the one who wasted his prep school education to consort with rednecks while writing crap like “working people don’t vote, they’re too stupid to vote.”

    That is all.

  • gonzo marx

    ok..Shelly…Frankenstein IS one of the earliest science fiction books…artficial life and all that..brain transplants fer Bog’s sake..

    Twain..ummm..Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court….time travel

    Heinlein…i’ll stack Job:a Comedy of Justice and Stranger in a Strange Land up with any American Literature piece you want…but that is just my personal opinion…oh yes, and Stranger as well as Puppet Masters is taught, PM in one of those sci-fi classes you spoke of..and Stranger in an occasional Am-Lit class

    Verne and Wells defined the genre…

    now..i will readily admit, that there is a ton of dreck and flotsam in the genre…the vast majority even…that doesn’t mean there aren’t any gems to be found

    as for your pointing out my own horde of flaws when it comes to writing…who cares? i have never claimed to be any kind of “writer”…merely a purveyor of “absurd scribblings” in comments here and there

    all about taste, i guess…out of curiosity, what classifies as american literature by your standard?

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Swift, Poe and More are not science fiction and you know it.< <

    I consider science fiction merely a subset of speculative/fantasy literature, and they certainly fall into that category.

    >>Dave, have you read any literary criticism in academic journals the past 50 years?< <

    Yep, in grad school. And I do read the snotty twits in the NY Review of Books and NYT Book Review, which BTW used to have Ted Sturgeon on staff as a SF critic.

    >> Do you know any professional literary critics? They don’t review or read science fiction. I suppose that makes them ignorant and …< <

    the word you're looking for in that truncated sentence is 'bigoted'.

    >>If you classify Doyle, Shelley, and Stoker as scifi because they’ve written about scary, creepy things, go for it, but they’re worlds apart from what science fiction is as a genre now. I would probably say the same about Verne and even Wells, though they did have quite fantastic imaginations. < <

    The quality of Verne and Wells' writing isn't on a par with their imaginations, IMO.

    >>These predecessors to the genre you call scifi today weren’t caught way up in levels of abstraction about techno-futuristic fantasies of aliens and outer space and colonies — they were always writing their work as an allegory for the social values of their time.< <

    Which plenty of current SF writers also do.

    >> What you call sci fi today is almost completely unrecognizable in comparison to the examples you’ve drawn from 19th century literature.< <

    That's really not true at all. It's a broad genre with good and bad material. Read any Dan Simmons or Greg Keyes or Neal Stephenson? I'd put them up against anyone writing more traditional fiction at this time.

    >>Heinlen is most certainly not literature. No respectable literary critic takes him seriously. He may have been reviewed occasionally, but you’ll never see him taught in a university course, other than in some ridiculous lark elective called “Science Fiction, geek out for your tuition.”< <

    Or else in a class on utopianism or Libertarian philosophy. And I have seen him taught in college, btw - whole classes on him. Some people take him very seriously. IMO he's not a great technical writer, but he does have EXACTLY the quality you say sets the speculative writers of the past above modern ones, the element of social criticism.

    >>The only author either of you have listed that I would classify as sci fi who might be literature is Philip Dick. But he’s borderline. < <

    I'm guessing you're not at all familiar with any of the high quality contemporary writers in the genre, which makes your criticism little more than a monumental tribute to your ignorance.

    >>He’s certainly not part of any literary canon and he’s rarely read by academics for study. He does get some favorable reviews and his books make for fantastic movies< <

    Like Running Man and Total Recall?

    >> — his concerns seem somewhat broader in scope than the usual nonsense that is scifi. I haven’t read much of him, but I might concede to you that he’s ONE good writer in the whole lot of hacks.< <

    Are you familiar with the work of Harlan Ellison, John Brunner or J. G. Ballard? They're all science fiction writers who have been taken seriously as literary writers and reviewed in literary journals. IMO they're all better writers than Dick, and Ballard is certainly taken as seriously as any writer of this era.

    On the whole you come off as someone criticisng SF literature who knows little or nothing about it. Not an uncommon phenomenon.

    >>Dave — I’m a snob? You’re the one who wasted his prep school education to consort with rednecks while writing crap like “working people don’t vote, they’re too stupid to vote.”<<

    Pretty sure I never said anything quite like that – sounds like your interpretation of something I said a while back that made a lot more sense. But then everything coming from you seems to be filtered through your own perceptions.

    Perhaps you’d like to share with us what you think of as ‘great’ contemporary literature. I read all sorts of books, so maybe I can make some comparisons to help you out, since I might have the knowledge of other literature which you don’t have of SF.

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Yeah, this conversation isn’t interesting to me.

    I don’t like your tastes. And while there may be a few, very few authors who have crossed over from science fiction with their interests, the genre as a whole is some of the worst writing and thought in any genre of fiction.

    That is all.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    It’s not interesting to you because your opinion is formed in ignorance of the genre. People who hate SF are generally not SF readers. Name 5 SF novels you’ve read in the last 10 years. I rest my case.

    Dave

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Sorry, I’m not geeky enough to spend my time reading that stuff.

    And do you really feel good about choosing the word “bigoted” to describe your oddly anti-intellectual criticism of the NYRB and NYT book reviewers because they won’t read or review science fiction? Have some perspective.

    No one teaches classes in Libertarian philosophy at any reputable university. I don’t know what community college you were affiliated with, but no one’s dedicating a whole course to lame ideas. I have occasionally heard about classes about utopias, but those are mostly those goofy freshman electives where the kids read More and think of their own version of a perfect society. I doubt they waste time reading scifi or that’d be a hell of a way to waste your tuition money learning from a mental infant of an instructor.

    That is all.