Jul 17 2011 10:30am

Hugo Nominees: 1992

The 1992 Hugo Awards were presented at Magicon in Orlando, Florida. The best novel award went to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar (post). This was Bujold’s second Hugo win, following the previous year’s The Vor Game (post). Barrayar is about motherhood and reproduction as mediated by technology, society, war, and the tensions between the expectations of a galactic society and a backwater planet. It’s very definitely part of the Vorkosigan saga, and a direct sequel to the first novel, Shards of Honor, but it also stands alone which seems to be a requirement for a Hugo winner in a series. I think it’s an excellent book and well deserving of its Hugo. It’s in print and in the Cardiff library system — for this week, “the library.” (I’m in a different time zone from the Grande Bibliotheque and they won’t let me search. But it’s reasonable to use the library where I am.)

There are five other nominees and I’ve read three of them. Let’s start with the ones I haven’t read.

Anne McCaffrey’s All the Weyrs of Pern is book 11 of the Pern series, and I stopped reading somewhere around book 7 or so because it didn’t seem to be doing anything new. I am therefore not really qualified to say whether this is a worthy nominee, but I’m inclined to think not so much. It’s in print but it’s not in the library.

I haven’t read Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen for the same reason — I didn’t like the previous volume, 1980’s Hugo winner The Snow Queen. Again, I can’t say if it’s a good nominee, but as this is a case of me not being able to read it, in this case it might well be. It’s also in print but it’s not in the library.

Emma Bull’s Bone Dance is a post-apocalyptic fantasy about gender. It’s excellent, thought provoking and unusual, exactly the sort of book that should be on this list. It’s in print but not in the library — and that isn’t surprising as I’m searching a UK library for a book that never had a UK edition.

Michael Swanwick’s Stations of the Tide is another wonderful book that’s hard to describe succinctly. I think “surreal hard SF” is about as close as I can get — it’s kind of cyberpunk and kind of space opera and it’s really all about the people. It begins “The bureaucrat fell from the sky.” I’ve never written about it because it’s one of those books that makes me incoherent. It’s in print, but it’s not in the library.

Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide is one of my least favourite books. It’s the third in the Ender series, and if there’s one thing I really hate it’s a sequel that tramples all over the previous books. If they had partial memory wipe, I’d wipe my memory of having read this. It’s future planetary SF with AI and aliens and idiotic suspension-of-disbelief-destroying invention of FTL. I grind my teeth in its general direction. I’m sorry it was nominated for a Hugo and glad it didn’t win. It’s in print and in the library.

So, two men and four women, all American (one living in Ireland) and all science fiction of various kinds. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award went to Stations of the Tide, and very well deserved. Other eligible nominees were Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Pat Cadigan’s Synners and John Barnes Orbital Resonance (post) all of which would have been excellent Hugo nominees.

The World Fantasy Award was won by Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. Other nominees not previously mentioned were Hunting the Ghost Dancer, A. A. Attanasio, The Little Country, Charles de Lint,  Outside the Dog Museum, Jonathan Carroll and The Paper Grail, James P. Blaylock.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Bradley Denton’s very odd Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede. Other nominees not already mentioned: The Silicon Man, Charles Platt and  A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason.

I like the Arnason a great deal — I like everything she has written. As well as this Campbell nod, it won the Mythopoeic Award and the Tiptree. I think it was one of the most significant and talked about books of the year and it should have been a Hugo nominee.

The Philip K. Dick Award was given to Ian McDonald’s brilliant metafantasy King of Morning, Queen of Day (post) which I wouldn’t exactly call science fiction, but never mind. Other non-overlapping nominees: Bridge of Years, Robert Charles Wilson, The Cipher, Kathe Koja, Mojo and the Pickle Jar, Douglas Bell.

The Tiptree Award for genre fiction that does interesting things with gender began this year, and the first winners were Gwyneth Jones’s White Queen and Arnason’s A Woman of the Iron People. Books not previously mentioned and on the short list were: The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle, He, She and It (aka Body of Glass), Marge Piercy, Moonwise, Greer Ilene Gilman, Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler.

The Locus SF Award went to Barrayar. Nominees not previously mentioned were: Heavy Time, C. J. Cherryh (post), The Dark Beyond the Stars, Frank M. Robinson, Brain Child, George Turner, The Garden of Rama, Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee, Ecce and Old Earth, Jack Vance, Russian Spring, Norman Spinrad, The Trinity Paradox, Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason, Death Qualified: A Mystery of Chaos, Kate Wilhelm, The Illegal Rebirth of Billy the Kid, Rebecca Ore , The Ragged World, Judith Moffett, Carve the Sky, Alexander Jablokov, Eternal Light, Paul J. McAuley.

Some nice things, but nothing that strikes me as better than the nominees we have. Also, was Death Qualified genre? I thought it was a straight mystery.

The Locus Fantasy Award went to Sheri Tepper’s Beauty, a book I disliked when I first read it almost as much as Xenocide, but which has weathered in the memory much better. It’s an odd mix of fantasy and SF. I should read it again, because I have often been reminded of it in the time in between 1992 and now.

Other nominees not previously mentioned: Eight Skilled Gentlemen, Barry Hughart, The Rainbow Abyss, Barbara Hambly, The Hereafter Gang, Neal Barrett, Jr., Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett, Riverrun, S. P. Somtow, Outside the Dog Museum, Jonathan Carroll, King of the Dead, R. A. MacAvoy,  Nothing Sacred, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough , The Sorceress and the Cygnet, Patricia A. McKillip, The Revenge of the Rose, Michael Moorcock, Cloven Hooves, Megan Lindholm, The Magic Spectacles, James P. Blaylock,  The End-of-Everything Man, Tom De Haven, Flying Dutch, Tom Holt,  Elsewhere, Will Shetterly, The White Mists of Power, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Architecture of Desire, Mary Gentle, Illusion, Paula Volsky.

The Mythopoeic Award went, as previously mentioned, to Arnason’s A Woman of the Iron People. The only nominee not previously mentioned was Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (post), one of my favourite books.

The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to Niven, Pournelle and Flynn’s Fallen Angels.

So, was there anything they all missed?

There was Robert Reed’s very strange Down the Bright Way (post), George Alex Effinger’s The Exile Kiss, and Steven Brust’s The Phoenix Guards (post).

So looking at the year as a whole, the nominees are pretty good, but I think the absence of A Woman of the Iron People is regrettable. I’d also have liked to see Orbital Resonance and Synners on the ballot in place of the McCaffrey and the Card. But I do think Barrayar is the kind of book that should be honoured by the Hugo, and the presence of Stations on the Tide and Bone Dance on the ballot is heartening. And looking at these nominees as a whole, they really do give a pretty good picture of where the field was. So a pretty good set of choices overall.

Other Categories


  • “Beggars in Spain”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Apr 1991; Axolotl) 
  • “And Wild for to Hold”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Jul 1991; What Might Have Been? Vol. 3: Alternate Wars) 
  • The Gallery of His Dreams, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Pulphouse/Axolotl; Asimov’s Sep 1991) 
  • Griffin’s Egg, Michael Swanwick (Legend; St. Martin’s)
  • “Jack”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Oct 1991)

If anybody had asked me before I started this series I’d have had no idea that the novella was the Hugo category that I consistently remembered best and which had the best nominees, but year after year there it is. Nancy Kress was having a good year, and that’s a tremendous winner. But the Swanwick and the Willis are also classics. Somebody should do a collection of all the novella nominees ever, or e-books of all of them or something. They’d make a great book-club. (Novella-club?)


  • “Gold”, Isaac Asimov (Analog Sep 1991) 
  • “Dispatches from the Revolution”, Pat Cadigan (Asimov’s Jul 1991) 
  • “Fin de Cyclé”, Howard Waldrop (Night of the Cooters: More Neat Stories 1990; Asimov’s mid-Dec 1991) 
  • “Miracle”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec 1991) 
  • “Understand”, Ted Chiang (Asimov’s Aug 1991)

Time is a strange thing. It’s so odd to see “Understand” and “Gold” on the same ballot when they feel as if they come from different eras.


  • “A Walk in the Sun”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Oct 1991) 
  • “Buffalo”, John Kessel (Fires of the Past: Thirteen Contemporary Fantasies About Hometowns; F&SF Jan 1991) 
  • “Dog’s Life”, Martha Soukup (Amazing Stories Mar 1991) 
  • “In the Late Cretaceous”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s mid-Dec 1991) 
  • “One Perfect Morning, With Jackals”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Mar 1991) * “Press Ann”, Terry Bisson (Asimov’s Aug 1991) 
  • “Winter Solstice”, Mike Resnick (F&SF Oct/Nov 1991)

Pretty good lineup here too. A good year for short fiction.


  • The World of Charles Addams, Charles Addams (Knopf) 
  • The Bakery Men Don’t See Cookbook, Jeanne Gomoll, et al, eds (SF3)
  • Clive Barker’s Shadows in Eden, Stephen Jones, ed. (Underwood-Miller) 
  • The Science Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History: Third Edition, Jack L. Chalker & Mark Owings (Mirage Press)
  • Science-Fiction: The Early Years, Everett F. Bleiler (Kent State University Press)


  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Addams Family
  • Beauty and the Beast (Disney movie)
  • The Rocketeer
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

No Award.


  • Gardner Dozois
  • Ellen Datlow 
  • Edward L. Ferman 
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch 
  • Stanley Schmidt


  • Michael Whelan 
  • Thomas Canty 
  • David A. Cherry
  • Bob Eggleton 
  • Don Maitz


  • Michael Whelan, Cover of The Summer Queen (by Joan D. Vinge; Warner Questar) 
  • Don Maitz, Cover of Heavy Time (by C. J. Cherryh; Warner Questar) 
  • Bob Eggleton, Cover of Lunar Descent (by Allen Steele; Ace)
  • Bob Eggleton, Cover of Asimov’s Jan 1991 (illustrating “Stations of the Tide” by Michael Swanwick) 
  • Thomas Canty, Cover of The White Mists of Power (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch; Roc)

A short lived category, and one completely oriented to US voters — I just realised I’ve not seen most of those covers, even though I have read the books, because the UK editions had different covers.


  • Locus, Charles N. Brown 
  • Interzone, David Pringle 
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer, Robert K. J. Killheffer & Gordon Van Gelder
  • Pulphouse, Dean Wesley Smith 
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew J. Porter

Locus wins again.


  • Mimosa, Dick & Nicki Lynch 
  • File 770, Mike Glyer 
  • FOSFAX, Timothy Lane & Janice Moore
  • Lan’s Lantern, George “Lan” Laskowski 
  • Trapdoor, Robert Lichtman


  • Dave Langford 
  • Avedon Carol 
  • Mike Glyer
  • Andrew Hooper 
  • Evelyn C. Leeper 
  • Harry Warner, Jr.


  • Brad W. Foster 
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Peggy Ranson 
  • Stu Shiffman 
  • Diana Harlan Stein


  • Ted Chiang 
  • Barbara Delaplace 
  • Greer Ilene Gilman 
  • Laura Resnick 
  • Michelle Sagara

Well this is much better than 1991!

Ted Chiang is a brilliant winner, just the kind of person who ought to win. He had published two astonishing novellas, both nominated for awards, and he has gone on to have a strong career publishing some of the best short stories ever written in the genre — including a nominee for this year’s Hugos

Greer Gilman’s Moonwise was a first novel that had made a big impression. She has since won the World Fantasy Award with a short story and the Tiptree with her second novel, Cloud and Ashes. Gilman is one of the genre’s great stylists, and it’s great to see her nominated.

Michella Sagara had also just published a first novel. She was to go on to have a terrific career writing fantasy as Michelle Sagara, Michelle West (her married name) and Michelle Sagara West. She also reviews for F&SF. Great nominee.

Barbara Delaplace had published only short work, and she went on to publish occasional short stories thoughout the nineties and in the last decade. I’m not familiar with her work.

Laura Resnick won in 1993, so let’s leave her for next year.

I’d say these are a good selection of the best new writers of the year, based on subsequent performance.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

Aaron Nowack
1. anowack
As I recall, All The Weyrs Of Pern had the feel of a "wrapping up" book, tying together most of the earlier books and concluding many of the main plot threads. I don't remember if it was ever officially supposed to be the last one, but although McCaffrey went on to write more Pern books, I don't believe there are any set chronologically after All The Weyrs. I remember really liking it as a kid, though I haven't read it in many years.

My totally baseless speculation is that its nomination may have been a nod to the series as a whole, rather than any recognition of this particular book.
James Davis Nicoll
2. James Davis Nicoll
The Dark Beyond the Stars, Frank M. Robinson

Amnesiac wakes up on a generation ship that has spent centuries in an unsuccessful search for extra-terrestrial life. Robinson's first overtly SF novel in years; with his writing partner Thomas Scortia he'd written a number of more mainstream books like The Prometheus Crisis (reactor melt-down hijinks), The Gold Crew (the crew of a boomer goes mad) and The Glass Inferno (one of the books that became The Towering Inferno). He is mentioned in The Band Played On; in the face of the AIDS crisis he suggested the gay community adopt various adaptive behaviors to limit the spread and discovered the unparalleled joys of being a premature voice of reason.

He and Scortia sold the rights to The Gold Crew for a movie that never got made. A TV movie did, and the first Robinson heard about it was IIRC when he caught a showing of it on TV. A court case followed, since the producers of the TV movie felt they should not be constrained by a contract for a theatrical release; Robinson's account of the case is very amusing.

Brain Child, George Turner

This has a similar setting to The Summer and the Sea; despite economic decline and climate change progress marches on and in this case we get to see the results of several approaches to intelligence amplification.

Russian Spring, Norman Spinrad

Heh. One of a number of books that failed to see the coming implosion of the Soviet Union.

The Illegal Rebirth of Billy the Kid, Rebecca Ore

Read it but oddly don't recall it.

Carve the Sky, Alexander Jablokov

A very impressive debut novel about art-related intrigue in a settled solar system a few centuries from now.

Eternal Light, Paul J. McAuley

Direct sequel to Four Hundred Billion Stars, in which we learn why it is the Enemy, an enigmatic race of aliens hiding in the asteroids of an ordinary red dwarf star, fled to the outer part of the galaxy to cower in quiet.

I remember this era as being a really solid, exciting time to read SF.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
I'm in general agreement about the novels, though I would almost certainly have voted for the Swanwick. But there's so much else on the list that either leaves me cold or I really can't stand.

Definitely a worthy winner in the novella category and I think it's worth noting that Kress had two stories on the ballot. That seems to almost always split the vote and lead to someone else getting the win. That speaks volumes about "Beggars".

I think the novelette was more likely a posthumous recognition of a life's work than anything else. Any of the other nominees would have been a better choice. I can't decide if I'd have gone for the Cadigan or the Waldrop.

On the dramatic presentation, I cannot properly assess T2. I'm a native Angeleno and it took me like a third of the film to really recover from the opening scene. But there's only 2 and half real genre films here. The Rocketeer (my half) might have done better several years later when dieselpunk was more in.
James Davis Nicoll
4. manglar
Robert Charles Wilson's "A Bridge of Years" is not a major work, but it bears all of the author's trademarks: great characterization, readibility and an interesting, if not original, presentation of time travel. A good read-

"Eternal Light" is, despite some formal flaws towards the end, McAuley`s best novel, a complex and allusive tale that supports metafictional readings and rewards thorough knowledge of the genre.
Rich Horton
5. ecbatan
In novel, first, Death Qualified is definitely SF. It's also a mystery, and it's the first of a series which is mostly straight mystery. But it's SF, with a strange SFnal ending, and I like it a lot, it's probably my favorite Kate Wilhelm.

The best novel of the year, in my opinion, was Karen Joy Fowler's Sarah Canary. It's genre is ambiguous -- I read it with Clute, as SF, but one could read it as historical fiction. Themes include gender, race, class, and the American West. It's exceptional work. I'd have given it all the awards (Tiptree included, much as I like Eleanor Arnason (though possibly KJF, a founder of the Tiptree Awards if memory serves, disqualified herself) ... but ...

given that it wasn't nominated, of the nominess, I think Barrayar is a solid winner, and Stations of the Tide would have been a good choice too. And I love Bone Dance.

The Summer Queen, by the way, is pretty decent, if overlong. It's not the direct sequel to The Snow Queen -- that was World's End, which I liked but everyone else hated. (There was a fourth pendant, set around the time of The Snow Queen or even before, Tangled Up in Blue, which is not very good.)

Xenocide is indeed awful, but as I will discuss later, it has an excellent part.

Other novels worth mentioning: Paul Park's The Cult of Loving Kindness (the rather different conclusion to his trilogy that began with Sugar Rain); and William Sanders's The Wild Blue and the Grey.

And from outside the genre, two first rate book that are arguably SFnal. Richard Powers's The Gold Bug Variations probably isn't really SF, but it is fiction about science, and it's very very good. And Martin Amis's Time's Arrow is a holocaust novel, but with a fantastical premise (an entity that perceives that it is living backward in the consciousness of a German doctor guilty of crimes at Auschwitz).

Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
6. James Davis Nicoll
The Prometheus Award (Libertarian) went to Niven, Pournelle and Flynn’s Fallen Angels.

This was a brilliant parody of the sort of hack novel that gets its appeal by sucking up shamelessly to SF fans, in particular the right-wing ones. Among other subtle indications that it's all a bucket of tosh, the authors deliberately use the wrong melting point for solid-phase water (they also stock the book with characters based on SF fans but not SF fans from the region where the book is set, thus mocking the lack of research that plagues a lot of this sort of SF).
Rich Horton
7. ecbatan
As Jo notes, a strong list of Hugo nominees. I love "Beggars in Spain", it's a great winner. And the Willis and Swanwick are both very good. The other Kress and the Rusch are decent work.

There are some other good ones, though:

"The Mill", by Paul di Filippo -- the first story I really noticed by him, and excellent excellent work.
"Candle", by Tony Daniel
"Canso de Fis de Jovent", the first segment of John Barnes's novel A Million Open Doors, published separately in Analog -- it stands alone very well, and it's wonderful.

And finally, the good parts of Xenocide, published separately in Analog: "Gloriously Bright". Had Card published this separately (with the ending of the novel, left off this portion for spoiler avoidance), and had he replaced the odious AI Jane with another character (easily done if you don't need the story to link with the Ender stuff), this would have been a classic. (Though people would have complained, with some justice, that the portrait of the central character as from a Chinese colony trades somewhat on stereotypes about Asians.)

In novelette, Asimov's winner is clearly a sentimental award. Chiang probably should have won from this list, though I don't like "Understand" as much as a lot of Chiang.

My preferred alternative is "The Perfect Stranger", a lovely story from Ian R. MacLeod. Other strong novelettes:

"Mairzy Doats", by Paul di Filippo
"Guide Dog", by Mike Conner
"The Happy Man", by Jonathan Lethem
"Black Glass", by Karen Joy Fowler
"Snow on Sugar Mountain", by Elizabeth Hand
"What Continues, What Fails ...", by David Brin

In short story, again an excellent list. A good winner. "Buffalo" is brilliant work. "In the Late Cretaceous" is excellent.
Also good:
"Division by Zero", by Chiang.
"They're Made Out of Meat", by Terry Bisson.
"Fidelity" and "The Infinite Assassin" by Greg Egan.
"The Swordsman Whose Name was not Death", by Ellen Kushner.

Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
8. CarlosSkullsplitter
The Swanwick over the Bujold, easily. Not only is Stations of the Tide a richly evocative science fantasy novel, it's also a massive tribute to the work of Gene Wolfe -- but you don't need to have read a single word of Wolfe to enjoy the Swanwick.

On the other hand, Barrayar works best if you already care about the characters. As a stand-alone novel, it's like stumbling into an individual episode of a very good television miniseries. You can praise the performances, the direction, and the incidental design, but you miss the overall aim, which is to legitimize a section of the Vorkosigan family backstory. Call me a purist, but I don't think that the Best Novel category is very well suited for this sort of novel. Had Barrayar been more of a stretch -- say, had it been written from Vordarian's perspective -- it would be a better fit. As it is, it's an installment.

Have Jablokov or Barrett been discussed in these threads before? Carve the Sky is light art history space opera written with panache and flair. I enjoy Jablokov's Orthodox aesthete future, which includes monasteries in Lake Michigan built after the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod clove to Moscow. There are about fourteen people in the world who get that, and I am happy to be one of them. It's a little like Walter Jon Williams' Drake Maijstral books, but I've always found those a little hollow. Carve the Sky has more soul.

Barrett's The Hereafter Gang is a cheerfully rude comedic afterlife fantasy that surprised the hell out of me after reading some of his earlier books. Through Darkest America is a brutal post-apocalyptic Western -- well, largely Southern in locale, if memory serves, but in which the United States had been depopulated to the point of a Western-like sparseness and desolation -- but The Hereafter Gang makes me want to use words like "Texas-fried" and "gonzo" and "crazy people rambling in buses". If you can interpret this as a recommendation, then this book may be for you.
James Davis Nicoll
9. James Davis Nicoll
“A Walk in the Sun”, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Oct 1991)

I seem to recall this puzzle story prompted energetic discussions on
James Davis Nicoll
10. James Davis Nicoll
light art history space opera

To quote Ron Stoppable, this cannot be a crowded field.
James Davis Nicoll
11. CarlosSkullsplitter
10: it's functionally sort of a subgenre of archaeological SF. There should be more of it -- what is the "sense of wonder" other than a narrow, genre-specific instance of the experience of art? -- except Campbellian SF was explicitly anti-intellectual.
Rich Horton
12. ecbatan
Carve the Sky is fun, if very much a first novel, with both that category's faults and virtues.

(I've been mentioning Jablokov's short fiction here for a bit, and will some more. His novels have been generally quite good, never as good as his best short fiction. He stopped publishing for something like a decade, but has returned in the past few years.)
Michal Jakuszewski
13. Lfex
It wasn't very good year for novels. Not one book was realyl brilliant, IMHO. Barrayar is a decent winner, but I think wold also put Stations of the Tide above it. As for the rest of nominees The Summer Queen was perhaps inferior, but still decent sequel for two previous books (I also liked World's End a lot), and isn't out of place in the ballot. Xenocide marks beginning of Card's decline (I still enjoyed it, but mostly for "Gloriously Bright" sequence). All the Weyrs of Pern was probably the best of late McCaffrey novels, but still not award material, and Bone Dance was clever, but left rather unpleasant taste because of its treatment of main character.

What else should be there? I liked The Dark Beyond the Stars, even if it was rather old fashioned SF, even back then, and would certainly nominate it. Blach Sun Rising, first installment of C. S. Friedman's science fantasy trilogy was also good, and Sheri Tepper's Beauty was very well written, but here we have Tepper already gone deep into her crazy ideological phase. Still, I would probably nominate those three and Sarah Canary as well, if I managed to convince myself it is science fiction novel. (Fowler famously said it is, but it was later on, IIRC)

Novella list was very good, as usual, but I wolud probably put second Kress novella above "Beggars". In novelette I wold go with Chiang (and yes, it is strange to have this and Asimov's story in the same ballot), and in short story with Landis
David Levinson
14. DemetriosX
Also, something we haven't talked about at all during this series except once when the award was insanely heavy, but I think this may he the ugliest Hugo ever. That backdrop is just awful.
James Davis Nicoll
15. CarlosSkullsplitter
Random thought. This is about the time that SF magazine began their rapid decline in subscription numbers and concurrent graying. Pace that person who runs linear regressions on the ages of award winners -- I don't understand the rationale for those tests, but this isn't the time or place for that discussion -- it's a real thing. The average age of current subscribers of Analog and Asimov's is now 59, and the number of subscribers below twenty thousand:

If memory serves, circa 1992, subscription levels were in the six figures and average age in the early 40s (I am not finding a convenient cite online, however).

Over the next several weeks of Jo's entries, I would expect this to start having noticeable effects in the nominations for short fiction. As the audience for any given source of short fiction, whether magazine or theme anthology or website, becomes smaller and more insular, Hugo participants might have a more difficult time to come to informed decisions about nomination and voting.
16. Madeline
The Phoenix Guards is the book I love most dearly of any published this year. I'm not sure if I feel that it was unjustly passed over... Certainly the Hugos don't necessarily feel like the place for brilliant plotted bits of fantastical fiction written while the author was cackling madly at the language he was using. The World Fantasy Awards maybe fell down on the job.

I'm happy to see that Cadigan got nods: her stuff seems like an avatar of the times, and written well besides. I'd agree that Barrayar isn't necessarily the most shining example of Bujold's stuff, but it does shine well beyond most books. Looks like I should read the Swanwick, though.

I'd say if we were going to rant about awards to throw out, I'd throw out semi-prozine. I think it was Nick Mamatas who said, "And the award for best Locus goes to..." Whereas T2 was a great, fun movie that reached millions of people.
James Davis Nicoll
17. Doug M.
Carlos, I am strangely unsurprised to see you plump for the Wolfe homage. Well, it's a fine book.

Barrayar neatly fits into what Bujold herself would later call "fantasies of political agency". It's a very well done FoPA, though.

I would have taken The Addams Family over Terminator 2. I saw them both on first release; T2 was a predictable special-effects fest with a saccharine ending, while TAF held surprisingly close to Addams' original satirically horrible vision. TAF is still a fun movie and well worth watching; I don't think the others have held up as well.

This was a two-book year for Pratchett: the slight and forgettable Eric and the good-to-excellent Witches Abroad. Eric reads like a steamer trunk manuscript from a decade or so back in Pratchett's career, taken out, dusted off, and sent to a publisher suddenly hungry for things Discworld. (I'm sure some Terryphile will be able to say whether that was actually the case.) Witches is better in every respect, and from here on Pratchett would be going from strength to strength.

Going t'other way, Fallen Angels marks Niven's final descent from mediocre through bad to truly dire. It's sad.

Waldrop's "Fin de Cycle" is one of the few stories that deserves the adjective "delightful". It's just pure fun from start to finish. It helps if you're familiar with Belle Epoque France, but it's not at all necessary.

Doug M.
Andrew Love
18. AndyLove
@ James
"the authors deliberately use the wrong melting point for solid-phase water"
That's a little unfair - the character notes that the thermostat is set to 55 degrees (Fahrenheit) and a little later remarks that the water in the basin "wasn't quite frozen" - I read that as an exaggeration indicating that the water was unpleasantly cold, rather than as an assertion that 55 degrees is near the freezing point of water.

On another topic, "They're Made Out of Meat" is the one of the few SF stories I've received as an emailed joke (unattributed, from someone who didn't realize it was not by an anonymous wit).
James Davis Nicoll
19. CarlosSkullsplitter
17: there have been lousy Wolfe homages, you know. Agyar, for instance. Niven admires Wolfe. "Writers need something to read too." But Swanwick had the ambition and the chops. Beautifully done.
René Walling
20. cybernetic_nomad
3. DemetriosX said: "Definitely a worthy winner in the novella category and I think it's worth noting that Kress had two stories on the ballot. That seems to almost always split the vote and lead to someone else getting the win. That speaks volumes about "Beggars".

Actually, because the Hugos use a preferential ballot system works, it's impossible to split the vote. You can read a bit more about the voting system here:
Rich Horton
21. ecbatan
It's true that in principle the preferential ballot should make it impossible to split the vote, and in practice it likely makes split votes less of a problem, but I think that many voters still likely do in essence "split" votes. That is, in a case where three stories are close, say, and two are by the same person, the voter might vote their favorite first, then give the other author a bit of a mental bump and place them ahead of the second story by the author with two in the running.
Rich Horton
22. ecbatan
Oh, and as to the Campbell. I have little to say except that Chiang is an obviously good choice as the winner, and Gilman and Sagara have both (in very different ways) lived up to the promise of their nominations. Resnick's work has mostly been in other genres, which is nothing to be ashamed of -- she's had a solid career too. I've never heard of Delaplace. Likely she did some nice work, but still, how she could have made the ballot ahead of Ian MacLeod (eligible for a second year) is hard to understand.

Rich Horton
Sol Foster
23. colomon
I'm with Madeline here -- The Phoenix Guards is easily my favorite novel of the year. I can understand it not being nominated for a Hugo, but how the heck did the Locus Fantasy Award miss it?
Kristen Templet
24. SF_Fangirl
I'm glad Barrayar won. It's one of my favorite Vorkosigan novels. Honestly I was surprised that The Vor Game won in 1991 because I think its pretty slight. Admittedly it helps if you're invested in the characters, but I think Barrayar is loads better than The Vor Game.

Beggars in Spain was of course amazing. Funnily enough, though, I put off reading it for a long time because the metaphorical title had me thinking it was an entirely different kind of story - some kind of historical fantasy which is not my cup of tea.
James Davis Nicoll
25. Petar Belic
Xenocide made me stop reading Card. I'm glad I did. On the other hand, I never got the plaudits that Stations of the Tide keeps winning, but the passion of its devotees makes me think it might be time for me to re-read it, happy to admit I missed something there..
I enjoyed Beggars in Spain but I find Kress is a journeyman author, who's work is great, but never 'amazing'.
The Difference Engine was a brave piece of work which deserved more recognition and I never fail to let my eyes unfocus and just sit for awhile after that jawdropping last page.
Nice to see the start of Ted Chiang's run here. He's an author that I never regret reading a story from, however I've not come across any of his longer form material as yet...
James Davis Nicoll
26. landondyer
_Xenocide_ is when I stopped reading Card. Fully agree that if there was a selective mind bleach available, I'd use it. To this day, if someone asks if the Ender series is worth reading, I say "Read the first two books. Forget that any others follow or you will be sorry."

I'm an engineer. I admit to a soft spot for E.E. "Doc" Smith's planet bashing, galaxy-incinerating potboilers. I will happily allow the author to have the characters jerry-rig a teleporter from the pile of triodes and coils found discarded in the corner of the dungeon cell. I'm okay with flying lizards and spy rays and narcotics that work regardless of biochemistry. There can be enough energy crammed into a sidearm to level a small city, wormholes can appear in the correct hotel rooms from light-years away, and absolute power won't necessarily absolutely corrupt.

But I know when I'm being messed with. I guess I'm just fickle. :-)
James Davis Nicoll
27. Ghall
I really liked Cloven Hooves, though it was certainly dark.
john mullen
28. johntheirishmongol
It was a good thing LMB was writing at that time, because most of the stuff that came out then wasn't to my taste at all. I loved Barrayar, voted for it, since it was here in Orlando and my drive time was about 30 minutes.

I have to say that this Worldcon was much more crowded than my previous one in LA. And I am pretty sure the event space was much larger. It was fun but I missed the Regency dancing we enjoyed in LA.

By this time I was really really tired of books with messages and viewpoints and was looking for more entertainment in my reading. Literature with a capitol L often bores me to tears. And I am a huge reader. I read for fun and entertainment. I can put up with a few lectures from Heinlein, but write a good yarn while you are at it.

I have to admit, I haven't read most of the nominees. Since I read, still, a minimum of a 4 books a week, it isn't that I quit looking, but either they didn't sound to entertaining to me or I was leery of authors I had never read. The Swanwick book sounds awful, from the discription above, I was done with Joan Vinge some time before, the Emma Bull book sounds boring, I was done with Card before most, and the Pern books had become repititious. I suppose I am done with my rant for now, lol.

BTW, love Pheonix Guards, one of my all time faves. Have to throw some props to fantasy as a genre, which was much more accessable than a lot of scifi.

For movies, I think T2 is a deserving winner. TAF was a really weak retelling of the 60's series, nowhere near as well cast (except for Wednesday) and not as funny. I do think Beauty and the Beast may be the best cartoon musical ever done, but I am not sure it's genre. Rocketeer was kind of fun, except for the storyline, which brought back that stupid rumor about Errol Flynn being a Nazi sympathizer. And there was no Star Trek movie this year. I promise I have blocked it out of my mind.
James Davis Nicoll
29. Scotoma
So what makes Xenocide so bad? I stopped after the second book and always wanted to read on, but never did for no reason I can remember.

Also, Swanwick's Stations of the Tide was brilliant. As was Griffin's Egg, his novella published in the same year and I believe part of the same setting as Stations of the Tide and Vacuum Flowers.

I remember reading Barrayar and liking it, but my memory is hazy on the particulars of the story. That's probably true with all installments in longer series, however good they are on their own, we tend to remember the overall shape of the series more than any single installment (at least that's how it is for me).

Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, read it, hated it, but admit is was mighty ambitious and would have liked to see it succeed
Pat Cadigan’s Synners, read it, thought it was okay, but a far cry from her brilliant stuff, like Mindplayers or Fools
John Barnes, Orbital Resonance, wow, that should have been up for a Hugo, my second favorite by him (first is Kaleidoscope Century, thought I have moments when that order switches)
Norman Spinrad's Russian Spring, read it, liked it, but I'm not sure how it will hold up on a re-reading, in hindsight it seems to operate with an awful lot of cliches
Paul J. McAuley's Eternal Light, I don't remember what compelled me to read this, as I hated both Four Hundred Billion Stars and Secret Harmonies, sadly I don't even remember whether I liked it or not, nor much of what happened, I thought McAuley was a lost cause for me until I got my hands on Red Dust
Paula Volsky' Illusion, I read this when I was still trying to finish every book I started, men, what a dire read, conceptually interesting, execution pretty awful, I read one other book by her, The Wolf of Winter, which was just as bad, so she went into my ignore file

the slight and forgettable Eric

Eric was merely a verhicle for the Josh Kirby art, but then they went and published later, mere text editions, which seemed stupid and pointless to me. That said, even slight Prattchett is fun.
James Davis Nicoll
30. Doug M.
Agyar stands for the proposition that a writer of Eastern European descent can write a book about his Eastern European ancestral homeland that is just as tweely dire as any Celtic equivalent.

Phoenix Guards is a very self-conscious Dumas pastiche. It's fun, and reasonably well done, but slight.

Is Arnason still writing stories about the Hwarhath? Googling, it looks like she did a bunch of them in the 1990s, but nothing new since "The Garden" in 2004.

Jo mentioned the set of books descended from The Female Man, in which it's assumed that men and women are innately antagonistic. You could argue that the Hwarhath books are part of that same family. But they grab the other end of the stick: they depict a society where the two genders are utterly separate without being hostile.

Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
32. Scotoma
Odd, Agyar is one of my favorite Brust books, nether heard anything negative about it until this thread. The Phoenix Guards and it's sequel I rate much higher thought. I mean, a near-perfect fusion of Duma with the Dragarea setting, it doesn't get better than this. Sadly the The Viscount of Adrilankha trilogy was disappointing and not the grand finale I was expecting.
Kate Nepveu
34. katenepveu
_The Phoenix Guards_ is a bit of hard going if you haven't read _Jhereg_ (speaking from experience).

Yes, _Eric_ was originally published as a graphic novel.

And I'm delighted to see that _Bone Dance_ was nominated, as I had the impression that it was an unfairly-less-well-known-work. I haven't re-read it lately (I worry about the treatment of hoodoo), but I think there's much excellent about it even if bits turn out not to have held up for me.
René Walling
35. cybernetic_nomad
25. Petar Belic says:

Nice to see the start of Ted Chiang's run here. He's an author that I never regret reading a story from, however I've not come across any of his longer form material as yet...

That's because there isn't any, he's only published short form form works.
Alain Fournier
36. afournier
I really enjoyed Barrayar and a pretty good winner for best novel. The Miles Vorkosigan series was going from strength to strength.

I really enjoyed The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson. Someone mentioned it was old fashion and it was indeed which is partly the appeal. It was also well written an executed. Robert Charles Wilson had another excellent novel with Bridge of Years. I think that was his fifth excellent novel in a row.

I started Xenocide but gave up on it. I had tried to read the Tales of Alvin Maker prior to that and really had not enjoyed them so for me it was his third or fourth strike. That was my last attempt at reading Card. Today I wouldn’t even consider reading anything he has had a hand in.

I tried reading The Trinity Paradox by Kevin J. Anderson & Doug Beason and never finished it. It never really captured my interest. I have subsequently tried to read Kevin J. Anderson several times as he writes books that I should enjoy but do nothing for me.

Brain Child was not as good as Turner’s prior novel The Sea and Summer but it was excellent nonetheless. He was really on a roll . I wish I could reread his stuff but I lost quite few boxes of books around 2005 and that included all the Turner titles.

A novel that wasn’t mentioned in the comments yet but which I believe to be the best fantasy published that year is Eight Skilled Gentleman by Barry Hughart. I would go far as to say that three Number Ten Ox and Master Li novels is a classic fantasy series.

I also really enjoyed A Women Of The Iron People, Down The Bright Way, Exile’s Kiss, Carve The Sky and Eternal Light. It was a pretty good year for Science Fiction novels.

I remember all the Novella’s and Kress deserved the win. Understand should of won best Novelette hands down. I have read the Asimov but for the life of me I can’t remember the story. For short story I only remember the Resnick and Willis and I am not sure who I would of voted for.
Steve Allan
37. Lastyear
I would have gone with Stations of the Tide. I have just reread it and it holds up very well. Also have found memories of the Frank Robinson. I have never been able to get more than several chapters into a Bujold book. She is one of several writers I just can't get into at all(CJ Cherryh is another).
Marcus W
38. toryx
Somebody should do a collection of all the novella nominees ever, or e-books of all of them or something. They’d make a great book-club. (Novella-club?)

You know, I'd totally sign up for that.

I tried reading Xenocide but had to give it up less than halfway through. That was still fairly early on in my Card readership, actually (Ender's Game and Speaker of the Dead were my first Card books and I read them together in '93) so I didn't stop reading Card until years later but I remember being astonished that the same guy who wrote Ender's Game could write Xenocide.

I read Sarah Canary not long ago and I'm sorry to say I didn't care for it all that much. Beggers in Spain is on my pile of books to read soon and after reading all the praise I'm really excited about experiencing it.

It was right about this time that I was becoming a huge fan of Robert Charles Wilson. A Bridge of Years was great fun for me.
James Davis Nicoll
39. Dr Hoo
Agyar is my favorite Brust book. I've lent it to dozens of persons and all have loved it.
James Davis Nicoll
40. Scotoma
While I loved the original Beggers in Spain novella, I was completely disappointed by the book based on it, and the sequels were even worse. I felt like Kress had lost interest in the middle of the first book and that showed from there on, each sequel weaker than the preceding volume.
Chris Palmer
41. cmpalmer
Excellent summary, as usual.

I don't have much to say about the Hugo nominees (except that I merely disliked Xenocide), but, since it was mentioned for winning the World Fantasy Award, I would like to say how much I love Boy's Life. I just re-read it a week or so ago for the 4th or 5th time.
James Davis Nicoll
42. Jeff R.
Fallen Angels was as late as 1991? I always thought of it as an early/mid eighties book.

As I mentioned last time, this would be Neil Gaiman's second and last year of Campbell eligibility, so, yeah, a big miss.

I actually enjoyed Xenocide, my only complaint being the lack of a proper ending. I wouldn't call it anywhere near Hugo-worthy, but still, enjoyable.

Robert Anton Wilson's _Nature's God_ was this year, which would turn out to be his last novel, and had we known that at the time, it might have been worth a 'lifetime-achievement' type nomination at least. It was, however, one of his weaker books, and given that it itself promised at least one more in the series not seeing that is forgivable...
James Davis Nicoll
43. benjicat
All the Weyrs of Pern is probably my favorite of all the Pern novels. It was a culmination of the series and contained some fantastic and heartbreaking moments. IMHO, it deserves it's place in the nominations.
James Davis Nicoll
44. CarlosSkullsplitter
30: Doug, that description doesn't narrow it down too far, but I think you're thinking of a different book. Agyar is this one:

Marge: Otto, you can't watch TV all day.
Otto: You're right. I should do some reading. You got any "Where's Devera" books?
Marge: No.
Otto: A book from a vampire's point of view?
Marge: No.
Otto: Anything where guys send in naked pictures of chicks?
Marge: Otto, I think you should get a job.

Obviously it speaks to some people. I would guess the difference is element Fan, which I lack. Props where due: Brust is very good at catering to that taste without pandering to it.
James Davis Nicoll
45. Scotoma
You would gues wrong. Just because I like some Brust doesn't mean I like everything he has written (i hate to Reign in Hell and a few of his other books). It's a genuinely good novel, which obviously isn't to your taste.

It is interesting how you manage to belittle others who don't share your taste with a few well-placed words in many of your posts in the Hugo threads. It's an annoying habit.
Jo Walton
46. bluejo
Carlos: I think you might like to look at my Agyar post, linked in the main post above, to see why I really admire it. It's fine for you not to like it. I mean I also say above that I hate Xenocide. But do consider the proposition that other people can like books one hates without that making them stupid.

Landonyer: I am entirely of your way of thinking, and how very well put.
James Davis Nicoll
47. CarlosSkullsplitter
45, 46: I'm not sure how saying that a book obviously works for some people and that I lack that element translates into "the people who like this book are stupid". And yes, Brust writes for the fans. I don't see how this is even a question. My goodness, he even uses the fan wiki to keep track of his plots now.

Scotoma, fans belittle my taste all the time. You can see "John the Irish Mongol" making a sideswipe above, and even Doug M. -- full disclosure, I was Doug's best man; we're old friends -- couldn't resist a jibe. And yet you seem fine with that.

Either it's part of the give and take of conversation, which means you don't have a valid point, or you're complaining because your ox has been gored, which means you don't have a valid point.

Jo, I caught the gimmick pretty much right away, and that Simpsons bit was exactly what came to mind at the time. That's why I posted it. (Books from a vampire's point of view were already a cliche in the early 1990s. The Vampire Lestat came out in 1985 and was a major best-seller.) So did many of Brust's test readers, which he has mentioned.

I read your piece when it was posted, and I re-read it again this morning. I don't think Brust's prose carries the conceit, and I didn't find the Zelazny-esque relationships worth bothering with. I don't think it's particularly different from other vampire novels in what beats it tries to hit (longevity, alienation, sensuality, etc).

You know how sometimes a mainstream writer will come across a lesser work of science fiction and proclaim it a masterpiece for its innovation, and long-time science fiction readers recognize that the work in question is a great example of second- or even third-artist syndrome? That's how I see the response to Agyar. We even know which artists Brust is trying to emulate.
James Davis Nicoll
48. Scotoma
I couldn't find anything in the comments mentioned that comes close to what you're doing, but okay, maybe you feel belittled by something that's not obvious to me.

As for Brust, I'm not really a fan, I liked his early Dragaera novels and some of his stand-alone work, but nothing more. But to a certain dregree I even agree with you, if you've read one Brust, you probably recognize his style in his other books as well, thought in that sense, most writers with a distinct style write for fans, be it Brust or someone else.

What writer did he try to emulate with Agyar, I couldn't find anything on that via google (and the Wolfe comment by Doug didn't really explain which Wolfe he meant)?
James Davis Nicoll
49. CarlosSkullsplitter
48: that's fine. We don't know each other, and we have low opinions of the other's judgment. It's a big world.

The book is Gene Wolfe's Peace, or perhaps more generally Wolfe's experiments with first-person narration.
James Davis Nicoll
50. Doug M.
Carlos is a huge Wolfe fan. I like a lot of Wolfe, I admire some of Wolfe, and he's done stuff that I'm literally in awe of, but I can't really say I'm a fan. (That said, gentle teasing is not a "jibe".)

Stations of the Tide is a very deliberate, very thoughtful Wolfe pastiche. The single biggest inspiration are his book Peace and his "Fifth Head of Cerberus" stories, but there are callouts to all his major works up until then. The writing is very deliberately Wolfean, as are the themes (humans and shapeshifters, for instance, is something Wolfe has returned to again and again) and the use of easter eggs, puzzles, and not-entirely-reliable narratives.

You could write an essay on how the book is "in conversation with" Wolfe, and how it diverges from him. For instance, I tend not to love what Wolfe does with his female characters; there's an undercurrent of sexual antagonism in a lot of his stuff that I find off-putting. Swanwick is clearly aware of this, and uses it, but at the end of the day I think the major female character isn't very Wolfean at all, even though she has the trappings of a typical Wolfean female antagonist. (Put another way, I didn't like her, but her relationship with the male protagonist did not have me saying "oh dear".)

Anyway: what makes Stations really impressive is that it's a very good book in its own right, even if you've never read a single page of Wolfe. You'll miss some stuff, but it's still a perfectly complete story. It's a solid, gripping work about human colonists on an alien world, AI and its risks, power and its costs, mystery, fear, and what it means to be human. It's even set (very loosely) in one of Swanwick's own futures -- IMS he has said that it's a distant sequel to Vacuum Flowers.

That said, because it is Wolfean, it's a book that is somewhat demanding. You have to pay attention, or you're going to be saying "WTF?" a lot. So readers who are reading to escape, to relax or just to be passively entertained are probably not going to like it. (You might find other reasons not to like it, sure. But if you fall into those categories you're almost certainly not going to like it. IME a lot of people who don't like Wolfe are basically complaining that he's Too Hard.)

That said, while I think it's a good and convincing pastiche, if it were a real Wolfe book it would probably only be around the 30th percentile for incomprehensible inaccessibility. It's not /that/ hard a read.

Ox being gored: there is a difference between "this is a kinda stupid book" and "you're kinda stupid for liking it". Also, there needs to be a word for "fanservice ".

It is interesting that Brust has never won any major award, and indeed has only made it to the nomination stage once (1999 Nebula). (Unless you count the Locus as major, in which case he's reached the nomination stage several times, but still hasn't won anything.) Personally I don't have a problem with this, but I gather there are people who think it's either dreadful injustice or remarkable bad luck.

Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
51. Scotoma
Apart from Free Live Free the only other Wolfe novel I read was actually The Fifth Head of Cerberus, which I remember liking to some degree, but the comparison to Stations ofthe Tide goes completely over my head. But it has been more than a decade since I read both and memory is tricky thing. And due to his head-scratching short work I've come to abstain reading Wolfe in recent years completely.
James Davis Nicoll
52. James Davis Nicoll
The Vampire Lestat came out in 1985 and was a major best-seller.

Interview with a Vampire came out in the 1970s and got tv ads in Canada. Well, in Ontario on either Global or CKCO.
James Davis Nicoll
53. James Davis Nicoll
For instance, I tend not to love what Wolfe does with his female characters; there's an undercurrent of sexual antagonism in a lot of his stuff that I find off-putting.

How can you say that about a guy whose An Evil Guest gave us Cassie, who is praised because her lack of cognitive development sometimes allows her to make observations her intellectually superior male companion miss, what with being distracted by the white heat of their racing minds?
Pamela Adams
54. PamAdams
I love these discussions, but I'm seriously going to have to go back and look at each one to pick up the books I missed, think I should try again, or just plain forgot about. Interlibrary loan orders just went in for three books mentioned, and I'm trying to remember which shelf Bone Dance is on. (I wish Emma Bull wrote/published more)

Luckily, I just re-read Orbital Resonance, so finding it's not necessary. Scotoma@29, I admire your ability to count Kaleidoscope Century as a favorite- I've never been able to read it again. (Is there a term for books one admires, but doesn't dare re-read?)

Allow me to second/third/forty-seventh the notion of e-versions of the novella nominees. A re-read discussion of those would be wonderful.
James Davis Nicoll
55. CarlosSkullsplitter
50: as you know Bob, 'fan' in science fiction circles often means 'someone who self-defines as part of a community supposedly based on that interest'. I admire Wolfe's writing. I have no urge to be part of a larger Wolfe-lover's social group (which likely as not wouldn't have anything to do with reading). That whole process seems really bizarre to me. When I say 'fan' here, I mean that subcultural use. And I think Brust has real skill in delighting that subculture, just as there are musicians who specialize in delighting fans of the Grateful Dead.
James Davis Nicoll
56. Gardner Dozois
In novel, for me it's definitely STATIONS OF THE TIDE. Although THE IRON DRAGON'S DAUGHTER is probably his best-known novel, STATIONS is the best of his SF novels, without the fantasy admixture of his later work. A WOMAN OF THE IRON PEOPLE is also pretty damn good, though, and would be my choice if somehow it couldn't be given to the Swanwick. ETERNAL LIGHT also deserved to be on the ballot, and a case could be made for EIGHT SKILLED GENTLEMEN as well, which is now considered to be a classic in some circles. And Barrett's THE HEREAFTER GANG has been referred to as "the great American novel" by, if memory serves, no less an authority than Michael Dirda of The Washington Post.

In novella, "Beggars in Spain" is probably the best-remembered of the lot, although "Griffin's Egg" is also excellent, and the choice between them is a hard one. The other Kress is also first-rate. Greg Benford's "Matter's End" is also interesting. Phil Jennings's "Blossoms" is a peculiar story, but one with some intriguing ideas in it.

There were also a number of strong novelettes this year. I probably would have gone for "Understand" (one of the few stories about super-geniuses where the super-genius is actually CONVINCING as one) over "Gold," but Ian R. MacLeod's "Marnie," Kim Stanley Robinson's "A History of the Twentieth Century, with Illustrations," Alexander Jablokov's "Living Will," and Walter Jon Williams "Prayers on the Wind" are also very strong, as is "Dispatches from the Revolution," Waldrop's "Fin de Cycle," and Brian Aldiss's "FOAM." Lethem's "The Happy Man" is one of the most harrowing stories ever published in ASIMOV'S. "Division By Zero" is at least as strong as "Understand."

The Landis is a pretty strong winner for short story, but I think I might have voted for Paul McAuley's sly little story, "Gene Wars." Greg Egan's "The Moat" and "Fidelity," as is his "Blood Sisters."

Of historical interest is Chris Beckett's first story, "La Macchina."

T2 had much better special effects than the original TERMINATOR, but wasn't a better movie, although it was fast-paced enough. I liked THE ROCKETEER, an effective exercise in comic book nostalgia. The rest of the movies didn't do much for me.

Chiang was certainly a worthy winner, and has proved himself so time and again since, but if he'd been on the final ballot, I'd have given the Campbell to Ian R. MacLeod.
Andrew Love
57. AndyLove
@Gardner: "Lethem's "The Happy Man" is one of the most harrowing stories ever published in ASIMOV'S."

Yeah - I remember exactly where I was when I read it the first time, 20 years ago.
John Adams
58. JohnArkansawyer
Gardner Dozios @ 56:

In novella, "Beggars in Spain" is probably the best-remembered of the lot, although "Griffin's Egg" is also excellent, and the choice between them is a hard one.

Yes. I wasn't reading much current SF then, but I remember "Griffin's Egg" quite well. I read Beggars in Spain some time after it came out as a novel, and never encountered it in short form. I'm assuming it ends as they drive away from the hospital?

Scotoma @ 40:

While I loved the original Beggars in Spain novella, I was completely disappointed by the book based on it, and the sequels were even worse.

I didn't care for the second book, though the third book was an improvement but not as good as the first, but I was impressed all through Beggars in Spain. I suppose I should dig that one out and reread it again to see.

Scotoma @ 29:

John Barnes, Orbital Resonance, wow, that should have been up for a Hugo, my second favorite by him (first is Kaleidoscope Century, thought I have moments when that order switches)

For my favorite of Barnes, I'm torn between Kaleidoscope Century and Earth Made of Glass, but Orbital Resonance was my first of his books, and I still remember how it blew me away, the best non-Heinlein Heinlein juvenile ever.
It wasn't until years later, as I began to ponder the utter unreliability of Barnes' narrators in his greatest books, that I realized Barnes had used exactly the same trick Panshin (I believe) pointed out in "The Green Hills of Earth".
Pam Adams @ 54:

Scotoma@29, I admire your ability to count Kaleidoscope Century as a favorite- I've never been able to read it again. (Is there a term for books one admires, but doesn't dare re-read?)

Because of the harshness of the book, not fear of the return of the son of the bride of the suck fairy, right? There ought to be such a term.
James Davis Nicoll
59. Petar Belic
@ 35. cybernetic_nomad

Thanks for that. I though it might be the case but just because I had not seen it, I didn't want to assume it was correct.
Pseu Donym
60. Scotoma
Oh yeah, Earth Made of Glass is also brilliant, but in an entirely different way than Kaleidoscope Century. I wrote elsewhere on the net:

Where One Million Open Doors was just an excellent, entertaining, smart read, Earth Made of Glass is this bit better that makes it brilliant. One warning up front, Barnes can be a mean bastard and here he is full on in bastard mode. This book is a gut-wrenching, painful yet incredible compelling read. Near the end some parts of it make you feel like walking over broken glass. Part of it is that everyone is trying, and the possibility of success always remains, even if you see Barnes setting everything up for a big fall. The outcome is never clear and the reader always hoping that the worst doesn’t come to pass. And then it gets even worse. At times it’s painful to go on, but hard to put down.

I think part of the greatness of Kaleidoscope Century is the squick moment when you realize that the narrator is a complete monster, but you can't put the book down. But it's never as harrowing as Earth Made of Glass, since his horrible actions have a distancing effect, his victims are not as close as the characters in EMofG and you never get the feeling of impending doom and disaster. That said, if you want to read something plain enjoyable by Barnes, read Gaudeamus. That was a great and weird.
Rich Horton
61. ecbatan
All these Barnes books you mention are really good -- and the comments about Earth Made of Glass and how harrowing it is because it really seems like people are trying to avert disaster and yet, and yet ... spot on -- harrowing too for the portrayal of a failing marriage.

But Barnes's best book, surely, is The Sky So Big and Black!

Rich Horton
John Adams
62. JohnArkansawyer
ecbatan @ 61:

But Barnes's best book, surely, is The Sky So Big and Black!

I've been unable to reread that one, not because it's bad--you may be right about it--but because it's painful to me in a way the others mentioned aren't.
Pamela Adams
63. PamAdams
Gaudeamus definitely hits both 'great' and 'weird.' I got to hear Barnes read from it at a con once. (Denvention?) Lots of fun.

For a 'happy' (for John Barnes level of happy) reread, I like One for the Morning Glory.
James Davis Nicoll
64. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1992:

Best Novel
1. Barrayar Lois McMaster Bujold
2. The Summer Queen Joan D. Vinge
3. Xenocide Orson Scott Card
4. Bone Dance Emma Bull
5. Stations of the Tide Michael Swanwick
6. All the Weyrs of Pern Anne McCaffrey

Best Novella
1. "Beggars in Spain" Nancy Kress
2. "And Wild for to Hold" Nancy Kress
3. "Jack" Connie Willis
4. "The Gallery of His Dreams" Kristine Kathryn Rusch
5. "Griffin's Egg" Michael Swanwick

Best Novelette
1. "Understand" Ted Chiang
2. "Gold" Isaac Asimov
3. "Miracle" Connie Willis
4. "Dispatches from the Revolution" Pat Cadigan
5. "Fin de Cycle" Howard Waldrop

Best Short Story
1. "Buffalo" John Kessel
2. "Winter Solstice" Mike Resnick
3. "A Walk in the Sun" Geoffrey A. Landis
4. "Dog's Life" Martha Soukup
5. "One Perfect Morning, with Jackals" Mike Resnick
6. "Press Ann" Terry Bisson
7. "In the Late Cretaceous" Connie Willis

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment