Sun
Sep 4 2011 10:30am

Hugo Nominees: 1999

The 1999 Hugo Awards were presented at Aussiecon Three, in Melbourne, Australia. The best novel winner was Connie Willis’s time travel romp To Say Nothing of the Dog (post) a book I like a great deal and an excellent winner. Willis is a master of the screwball comedy, and here she’s working with wonderful material like Victorian England, cats and dogs living together, jumble sales, and the significance of art and love on history. It’s in print, and it’s in the library (the Grande Bibliotheque as usual) in English and French.

There were four other nominees, and I’ve only read two of them.

I haven’t read Mary Doria Russell’s Children of God because I hated The Sparrow, to which it is a direct sequel. I should have no opinion on whether it was a good Hugo nominee, as I haven’t read it, but one spoiler I heard for it made me feel really glad it didn’t win. It’s theological SF. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English and French.

I haven’t read Robert J. Sawyer’s Factoring Humanity because I wasn’t very excited by The Terminal Experiment. (I’d have read it if I’d been going to vote in 1999, which is not true of the Russell.) It appears to be a near future technothriller about SETI. It’s in print and in the library in English and French.

Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia is not the book I was looking for. It has an absolutely fantastic premise — in 1910, Europe suddenly disappears and is replaced by a weird jungle continent, and the rest of the world goes on, baffled. It’s beautifully written, as is the case for all Wilson. But where he goes with Darwinia struck me as much less interesting than a straightforward exploration of the premise would have been. My reaction to Darwinia was to immediately seek out all Wilson’s previous novels and to buy all his subsequent books on sight, but I’ve not read it again. The very fact of its Hugo nomination means that for lots of other people it was the book they were looking for, so I think on balance it was a good nominee. It’s well written and thought provoking SF in any case. It’s in print and it’s in the library in English and French.

Bruce Sterling’s Distraction is another excellent nominee. It’s a brilliant near-future political thriller, funny, clever and fast moving, one of Sterling’s best. I’d have voted for it above the Willis. But it’s a book that’s all about American politics. I wonder if it would have done better at a US Worldcon? It’s in print and in the library in English only.

So, three men and two women, three Americans and two Canadians, all SF: one time travel, one theological space opera, one near future technothriller, one near future political SF novel and something that looks like an alternate history that turns out to be much weirder. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award was won by last year’s Hugo winner, Haldeman’s The Forever Peace. Other eligible nominees were Martha Wells’s Death of a Necromancer and Jack McDevitt’s Moonfall.

The World Fantasy Award was won by The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich. Other nominees were The Martyring, Thomas Sullivan, Mockingbird, Sean Stewart (post) which would have been an excellent Hugo nominee, Sailing to Sarantium, Guy Gavriel Kay (post) and Someplace to Be Flying, Charles de Lint.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to George Zebrowski’s Brute Orbits, with Poul Anderson’s Starfarers second, and Distraction third.

The Philip K. Dick Award was given to by Geoff Ryman’s 253 (post). The special citation was Paul di Filippo’s Lost Pages. Other nominees were Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, Paul J. McAuley’s The Invisible Country, and Steve Aylett’s Slaughtermatic. The Dick Award never fails to turn up interesting things from where nobody else is paying attention.

The Locus SF award was won by the Willis. Other nominees not previously mentioned: The Alien Years, Robert Silverberg, The Golden Globe, John Varley, Cosm, Gregory Benford, Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler, Ports of Call, Jack Vance, Dinosaur Summer, Greg Bear, Six Moon Dance, Sheri S. Tepper, Maximum Light, Nancy Kress, Moonseed, Stephen Baxter, Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold (post), Mission Child, Maureen F. McHugh (post), Vast, Linda Nagata, Child of the River, Paul J. McAuley, Deepdrive, Alexander Jablokov, Girl in Landscape, Jonathan Lethem, Otherland: River of Blue Fire, Tad Williams, Earth Made of Glass, John Barnes, The Children Star, Joan Slonczewski, Bloom, Wil McCarthy, Noir, K. W. Jeter, Prisoner of Conscience, Susan R. Matthews, Kirinya, Ian McDonald, The Cassini Division, Ken MacLeod, The Shapes of Their Hearts, Melissa Scott.

Some really good books — I think Mission Child would have been a great Hugo nominee, and so would Parable of the Talents or The Cassini Division. Any one of these three in place of the Russell would make me feel much happier about this slate.

The Locus Fantasy Award was won by A Clash of Kings, which wasn’t Hugo eligible because it was published the year before. Other nominees not previously mentioned were: Stardust, Neil Gaiman (post), Heartfire, Orson Scott Card, Fortress of Eagles, C. J. Cherryh, Newton’s Cannon, J. Gregory Keyes, Song for the Basilisk, Patricia A. McKillip, Dragon’s Winter, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Prince of Dogs, Kate Elliott, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Diana Wynne Jones, The One-Armed Queen, Jane Yolen, Changer, Jane Lindskold, Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, Pamela Dean, The Gilded Chain, Dave Duncan, The Innamorati, Midori Snyder, Bhagavati, Kara Dalkey, The Book of Knights, Yves Meynard, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (US title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), J. K. Rowling (Bloomsbury; Scholastic/Levine 1998).

It’s funny to see the first Harry Potter book way down there at the end of the list!

The Mythopoeic Award was given to Stardust. Other nominees not yet mentioned were The High House, James Stoddard, The History of Our World Beyond the Wave, R. E. Klein.

With all these awards was there anything that hasn’t been mentioned yet? Every week I think there can’t possibly be, and every week it turns out to be worth dredging through the ISFDB’s unintuitive interface and making my eyes cross. This week there’s Julie Czernada’s terrific alien shapeshifter novel Beholder’s Eye, James Alan Gardner’s Committment Hour (post) and China Mieville’s King Rat.

While this year’s nominees are not my five favourite books of the year, nor the five books I’d have nominated for a Hugo, they are a pretty good representation of where the field was and what people were excited about in 1999. There are good books that didn’t make it, but there are always good books that don’t make it — there’s nothing that really fills me with horror at the injustice of it being skipped over. So a pretty good year on the whole, even if I do wish Children of God wasn’t up there.

Other Categories.

NOVELLA

  • “Oceanic”, Greg Egan (Asimov’s Aug 1998)
  • “Aurora in Four Voices”, Catherine Asaro (Analog Dec 1998)
  • “Get Me to the Church on Time”, Terry Bisson (Asimov’s May 1998)
  • “Story of Your Life”, Ted Chiang (Starlight 2)
  • “The Summer Isles”, Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1998)

That’s a very odd result. Two of the best novellas of all time — the Chiang and the MacLeod, beaten by what I think of as one of Egan’s lesser works — and I’m a big Egan fan. Maybe it was the home advantage, and goodness knows Egan’s award status has suffered enough for him being Australian, it deserves to work for him for once.

NOVELETTE

  • “Taklamakan”, Bruce Sterling (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1998)
  • “Divided by Infinity”, Robert Charles Wilson (Starlight 2)
  • “Echea”, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov’s Jul 1998)
  • “The Planck Dive”, Greg Egan (Asimov’s Feb 1998)
  • “Steamship Soldier on the Information Front”, Nancy Kress (future histories 1997; Asimov’s Apr 1998)
  • “Time Gypsy”, Ellen Klages (Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction)
  • “Zwarte Piet’s Tale”, Allen Steele (Analog Dec 1998)

Great novelettes this year. All memorable and absolutely first class. I’d have found that a very difficult vote.

SHORT STORY

  • “The Very Pulse of the Machine”, Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 1998)
  • “Cosmic Corkscrew”, Michael A. Burstein (Analog Jun 1998)
  • “Maneki Neko”, Bruce Sterling (F&SF May 1998)
  • “Radiant Doors”, Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Sep 1998)
  • “Whiptail”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1998)
  • “Wild Minds”, Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s May 1998)

And finally a well deserved win for Swanwick, after a whole lot of nominations. But “Maneki Neko” is my favourite thing Sterling has ever written.

RELATED BOOK

  • The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World, Thomas M. Disch (The Free Press)
  • The Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, Howard DeVore (Advent:Publishers)
  • Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years, Everett F. Bleiler (Kent State University Press)
  • Spectrum 5: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)
  • The Work of Jack Williamson: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide, Richard A. Hauptmann (NESFA Press)

It really is very hard to rank things so different from each other.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • The Truman Show (Paramount)
  • Babylon 5: “Sleeping in Light” (Warner Bros.)
  • Dark City (New Line Cinema)
  • Pleasantville (New Line Cinema)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount)

Okay, colour me amazed, the Dramatic Presentation was won by a film that is SF and which I genuinely like, and even own on DVD. Go, Dramatic Presentation! Earn your keep for once! But it doesn’t have the cool “Hugo winner” logo on the DVD box, oddly enough.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

  • Gardner Dozois
  • Scott Edelman
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Gordon Van Gelder

They were absolutely right to separate out long form and short form editors, because when I saw this I immediately thought “Right, Patrick is there because Starlight 2 was so great,” even though he was also eligible for all the novel editing he did that year. Starlight 2 was an amazing anthology though. And Gardner was continuing to do a great job with Asimov’s, which was also doing well in the awards.

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

  • Bob Eggleton
  • Jim Burns
  • Donato Giancola
  • Don Maitz
  • Nick Stathopoulos
  • Michael Whelan

SEMIPROZINE

  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Interzone, David Pringle
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, Kathryn Cramer, Ariel Haméon, David G. Hartwell & Kevin J. Maroney
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew I. Porter
  • Speculations, Denise Lee

FANZINE

  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Mimosa, Richard & Nicki Lynch
  • Plokta, Alison Scott & Steve Davies
  • Tangent, David Truesdale
  • Thyme, Alan Stewart

FAN WRITER

  • Dave Langford
  • Bob Devney
  • Mike Glyer
  • Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Maureen Kincaid Speller

FAN ARTIST

  • Ian Gunn
  • Freddie Baer
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Joe Mayhew
  • D. West

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD (Not a Hugo)

  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Kage Baker
  • Julie E. Czerneda
  • Susan R. Matthews
  • James Van Pelt

Great Campbell year. Nalo Hopkinson’s first novel Brown Girl in the Ring was a much talked about first novel, and her second novel, Midnight Robber, would be a Hugo nominee in 2001. Since then she has gone on to be a successful and respected writer of SF and fantasy with additional mainstream credibility — a terrific winner.

Kage Baker was another writer with a very successful first novel, In the Garden of Iden. She went on to have a successful career, with many books and award nominations before her untimely death last year.

Julie E. Czerneda might be even more successful if she were easier to spell! I love her work — she writes in my favourite aliens and spaceships subgenre. She had two novels out at the time of nomination, beginning two of her series. She has published a book almost every year since then. I should write more about her.

I talked about Susan R. Matthews last week.

James Van Pelt was nominated on the strength of his short work, and he has continued to produce excellent short work in the decade since. A very good nominee. I often think it would be better to replace the Campbell with a straight up “best first novel” Hugo, but then people like Burstein and Van Pelt wouldn’t be honoured, and they’re worth honouring. Much of the finest and most innovative work in SF has always been at shorter lengths.

Other people they could have considered — well, J.K. Rowling, obviously, maybe David B. Coe, maybe Anne Bishop, maybe Carolyn Ives Gilman. But I think the five we have are really a very good set with the benefit of this much hindsight.


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.

89 comments
David Levinson
1. DemetriosX
Not a whole lot here that really interested me at the time or even now. Darwinia especially turned me off from the reviews. It takes a lot to get me to accept an alien spacebats McGuffin and this never sounded like it would come even close to that. McAuley's The Invisible Country was just a collection of short fiction from a single universe, all of which IIRC had already seen publication.

The Truman Show is a very good winner, even with Jim Carrey. I think I mentioned earlier that, while I can't stand his comedy, I quite like him when he's being serious. The rest of the list is pretty good, with Insurrection probably the weakest entry.

For the first time in around a decade, there were finally some new names in the Professional Artist category. The wonderful Donato Giancola makes his first appearance. He has since picked up 3 Hugos and a ton of Chesleys. The other newcomer is Nick Stathopoulos. He seems to be Australian, so the location probably helped get him the nomination. I find it interesting that there was such a long drought for new artists. In the period since, there have been 5 or 6 new names come up over the years and there was rarely a time before the 90s that there wasn't somebody who hadn't been nominated previously.

This is also the first time in a while that I recognize several of the Campbell nominees. I could have sworn Kage Baker had been around longer, but ISFDB says the first company story was 1997. She certainly turned out a lot of work in just a dozen years.
James Davis Nicoll
2. James Davis Nicoll
The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to George Zebrowski’s Brute Orbits,

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? From an old review because lazy:

The excessive numbers of prisoners society has is dealt with by packing the prisoners onto asteroid colonies and then pitching them into orbits which will not return to Earth for the length of the prison term. Some whacky fellow notices that the difference between the delta vees for a 5 year orbit and for a 50 year orbit is small so many, perhaps all, of the prisons are sent off on longer term orbits than they were supposed to be. Most of the prisoners die horribly, as the communities react to their circumstances with varying degrees of dignity.

This was fairly loathsome, and one has to wonder why in a
culture capable of building and then lobbing gigaton objects into moderately long term solar orbits nobody ever built a rocket run-about to go check up on the prisons, especially once the orbits were obvious (Which should have been in the first few weeks). It also misses the point of the current prison built-up in the US: money to small communities, plus if memory serves while the prisoners can not vote in many states, they do count towards allocation of representatives, providing a useful inflation of local numbers in a way which won't change the voting patterns.


I read one Zebrowski I liked (Stranger Suns, which reminded me of Norton's Galactic Derelict) and that led me into a tragic pattern of reading more Zebrowski. Finally I encountered the above book and Cave of Stars (This was not as good as (Baxter's) Titan nor as even handed in its protrayal of religious people as, oh, Harry Harrison's "The Streets of Ashkelon".) and I have not bought a Zebrowski since. Note that even after Titan and Silverhair I kept reading Baxter.


with Poul Anderson’s Starfarers second,

This is a reworking of his Kith setting, where NAFAL starflight gives rise to a culture of interstellar traders who get to fast forward through history. Half the book is showing us the next 5000 years (I think), using elements of his Kith stories and other material, and the other half is an expedition to a nearby on a galactic scale alien culture.

The history begins, as I recall, with the collapse of the US into a more authoritarian form from which I believe we are told it never recovers. Good old Poul: good thing there are not and have never been examples of nations drifting into authoritarianism and back out again (mind you, most of the other authors on this list are not much more optimistic).


and Distraction third.

Uh, I think I bought this and never read it.


Geoff Ryman’s 253

Despite him inflicting the Mundane SF movement on the world, I regret losing my copy of this.


The Golden Globe, John Varley

The most recent readable book from Varley, set in Eight Worlds version two. After this it's mostly crappy Heinlein pastiches (and a mammoth novel, never a good sign in an SF writer).


Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler

Butler was not as optimistic as Poul Anderson and for her, this was kind of downbeat. I seem to recall response to it was either very favourable or very unfavourable, without much in between.




Dinosaur Summer, Greg Bear

Sequel to Doyle's Lost World. Not bad as such but an example of the nostaglia and belatedness that infests modern SF.


Moonseed, Stephen Baxter

Disaster novel. One of his "well, six billion people may have died but it was worth it for this keen space program we got out of it," books.


Vast, Linda Nagata

The fourth and final book in the series that began with Tech-Heaven. Sublight travel, long durations, people who would regret not making better back-ups of themselves if the ability to see what they forgot to backup wasn't one of the things they left out. She had a couple more books after this and then nothing for a long time due to life. She's got at least one recent new books but sadly it's fantasy (the next step will no doubt be mystery).


Child of the River, Paul J. McAuley

Own the series, never finished it. Far future hijinks on an artificial world. Since I never finished it, I have no idea if it went anywhere.


Deepdrive, Alexander Jablokov

Aliens of various interesting sorts have colonized the solar system. The aliens have FTL. The humans want it.


Earth Made of Glass, John Barnes

Who could have predicted sending a knucklehead from a backward culture to try to help mediate conflict between two mutually hostile cultures might not end in happiness and songbirds? If I have not confused the books in this series, this is the one that reads like it was written by someone whose marriage was disintegrating.


Bloom, Wil McCarthy

An amusing little hard SF novel; the inner solar system has been overrun and converted by a hegemonizing swarm, nature not understood. The few humans who survive do so because they live in regions too cold for mycora. Except now the mycora seems to be adapting.


Prisoner of Conscience, Susan R. Matthews

This is the series about the torturer who feels awful, just awful, about the fact that he really enjoys torturing and raping people as part of his job.


Kirinya, Ian McDonald

Africa invaded by a tranformative alien (could be a life form, could be technology, could be both)? Generally his stuff is worth reading.


The Cassini Division, Ken MacLeod

The nice thing about MacLeod in this period is that you know eventually there will be a nice mass murder and this does not fail in this regard. It's about a paranoid fanatic, told from her point of view.
Neville Park
3. nevillepark
Wow, this was a good year!

Read as it came out: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone, possibly Stardust. Many of these I read about four or five years later, when I moved from a small town to Toronto for university and had access to a much better library system (and bookstores!).

Brown Girl in the Ring (or, as I like to call it, Rob Ford's Toronto) is kind of first-novelly but I loved Hopkinson's almost postapocalyptic East End.

To Say Nothing of the Dog *does* "spoil" Gaudy Night, but it's such a good book that you can read it over and over even knowing how it turns out, so. I don't regret reading TSNotD first—though it "depends" on both GN & Three Men in a Boat it actually requires less…pre-knowledge? than either, due to being contemporary.
James Davis Nicoll
4. James Davis Nicoll
Komorr can be seen as part one of the two part novel that ties up all the important threads in Miles Vorkosigan's life; to put it more universal terms, Komarr and A Civil Campaign are to this setting what A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows were to the Dominic Flandry books, the last books there needed to be, despite which there were more. The Miles books that follow A Civil Campaign are pretty inconsequential (aside from one event tucked into the back of the most recent one; if that had been what the book was about, I'd have a different opinion).

In Anderson's case, I think he thought where he left Flandry was too grim in A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows even for Anderson, thus A Stone in Heaven.

Bujold reuses the method she used in Komarr to eliminate an inconvenient romantic rival in one of the Sharing Knife books. It's not prudent to be involved with someone the protagonist or their friends and family are interested in....


Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia is not the book I was looking for.

For a lot of people, the revelation of what is really going on was immediately followed by the thunk of the book rebounding off a wall.
James Davis Nicoll
5. seth e.
The story goes that someone asked Peter Weir how he managed to get a kind of restrained performance out of Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, and Weir said, "I just let him run around for the first ten or twenty takes, and then he gets tired and I start getting what I want."

James Nicoll @4: For a lot of people, the revelation of what is really going on was immediately followed by the thunk of the book rebounding off a wall.

I have to admit, I contributed to The Thunk Heard Round the World. It had been a funnish book up to that point, too.
James Davis Nicoll
6. CarlosSkullsplitter
I don't understand the Willis. Or, rather, I'm afraid I do understand the Willis. It's a time travel screwball comedy. I get that. Is it the funniest thing I have read? Hoo boy. I think I can safely say it's not in the top thousand, and I mean that quite literally. Is it the best time travel story I have read? It's not in the top twenty-five. It's probably not in the top hundred. Is it well-executed? Well, it's not as sloppy as Timeout/Offside. So why did it win? My guess is, it plays a lot with fan favorites Jerome K. Jerome -- made popular among fandom by Heinlein's mention in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel -- and Dorothy Sayers , and Willis has beaucoup fan cachet, even in Australia.

Russell, Sawyer, Wilson -- woo something incredibly strange happened how does it affect the Boomers? thunk -- well, there's Sterling's Distraction. Let's see: Varley, Butler, MacLeod, maybe the Gaiman or possibly the Stewart I could all see becoming nominees. At the same time, the Baker and the Meynard were I think all more *interesting* than any of the nominees, including the Sterling. I enjoyed the Hopkinson, but it was high end urban fantasy, which was getting worn out as a subgenre even then.

On the other hand, the short fiction nominees keep rolling along. I am a dissenter on Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" -- I think it's merely very good. "Maneki Neko" might just be reprinted a hundred years from now, not necessarily because of its quality (though it's also quite charming), but because of the idea it instantiates.

It's amusing how Rowling was nearly completely missed. The most influential genre writer of the third millennium, and she barely shows up on the genre radar at first. (I heard about her via the trans-Atlantic yuppie mom network, right at the beginning. I am going to guess there's not a whole lot of overlap.) Of course she's derivative and formulaic. But then, so is Willis.

It's a little like the way hard SF has fixated on Kipling while downplaying Stevenson and Conrad.

Or whatever.
James Davis Nicoll
7. ClintACK
Wow -- really says something about the respect YA got back then that the first Harry Potter book is just an afterthought, and wasn't nominated for *anything*.
James Davis Nicoll
8. James Davis Nicoll
I am apparently too lazy to go check but it seems to me this was around the time Tor had its Jupiter line, aimed at younger readers. The ones I read (mainly the Sheffield ones, although I think I picked them all up) were very formulaic: the setting was a standard Earth Sucks Because the Stupid Masses are Stupid/Space is Neato setting and the plots of the ones I read all involved a teen in an unfamiliar situation who faces two challenges, one of which they deal with themselves and the other of which is solved for them (I think the protagonists were always males, too). They read like some geezer's idea of what a young adult novel should be like .

Still, better than James Blish's foray into that sub-genre...

The later Tor Teen series offered a much more interesting range of works.

1: Have I mentioned my belief that if you're over fifty you should resist with all your ability any temptation to do a Heinlein pastiche? I'd say "over fifty and male" except I cannot off-hand think of any women doing this.
James Davis Nicoll
9. liontime
That's a really long list of potential winners. Not being a big novel reader, it amazes me that I've actually read three of them;one actually on the hugo list. That one would be Darwinia. I remember kind of liking it. But it just seemed in the end to lack sufficient imagination to go where it might have been a really great novel.
I've also read Stardust. I quite liked it but it isn't really Hugo worthy.
Third,just recently read is A Clash of Kings. Although it is fantasy, it is by far the best of the three I've read, so currently it would have my vote.
I own many of the others, so it looks like somewhere down the line I've got interesting reading waiting for me.
I like this series of articles and think you should carry on till at least 2010.
James Davis Nicoll
10. James Davis Nicoll
Although it is fantasy, it is by far the best of the three I've read,

I am frowning at you here. There's an implied contradiction there between something being good and being fantasy; I'd argue that even though I personally strongly prefer SF to fantasy, there's nothing about fantasy as such that precludes it from being good.

currently (A Clash of Kings) would have my vote.

Like most moderates, I prefer to judge A Game of Thrones as one long novel and I will assess it once it's done. The alternative involves a lot of reviews of the form "this book has no conclusion," "this book seems to assume I am familiar with the previous 3000 pages not included in this volume" and "this seems to be a collection of anecdotes from the middle of a much larger work."
James Davis Nicoll
11. Doug M.
I love Distraction; it's a fun near-future romp with an engaging protagonist, and I like the subplot of two difficult people struggling to find love.

That said, it's also the first of his works to start veering into self-parody. He mostly keeps it on the good side of the line, but there are moments.

Didn't find the Willis particularly funny at all. Also, the protagonists are annoyingly dim.

I think there are several good reasons Conrad has never translated well into SF. Right off the bat, there's the Fantasies of Political Agency aspect. Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, the Secret Agent, Nostromo: Conrad is about how you don't get political agency, or if you do, you'll wish you hadn't. Then there's What These People Need Is A Honky, which has been hardwired in since the days of Edgar Rice Burroughs; Conrad's take is usually The Last Thing These People Need Is A Honky, which doesn't exactly blend.

Stevenson, hum. Good question.


Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
12. Rob T.
In connection with the first "Harry Potter" novel grazing the bottom of the Locus fantasy poll, it's worth noting that they have a separate category for first novels. The Locus first novel winner for 1999 was Brown Girl in the Ring; 2nd through 4th were Halfway Human (Carolyn Ives Gilman), In the Garden of Iden and then Harry Potter.
James Davis Nicoll
13. James Davis Nicoll
Conrad's take is usually The Last Thing These People Need Is A Honky, which doesn't exactly blend.

The Athsheans didn't seem to benefit any more from their dealings with the Terrans than the Conglolese did from their dealings with the Belgians . Although Le Guin is too nice, I think, to give a proper of view of colonialism from the point of view of the colonized; even The World for World is Forest is pretty neat and clean compared to the historical record (Barton's When Heaven Fell might do, though).

Stevenson, hum. Good question.

Funny, I have a dim memory of something recent that was RLS-esque. Can't hang a title on it....

1: Prepares a link to a table from Angus Maddison'sThe World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, in case anyone wants to talk about how wonderful being run by the British was for India.
James Davis Nicoll
14. seth e.
I actually enjoyed To Say Nothing Of The Dog, or at least I read it several times while listing its various weaknesses to myself as I went along. Aside from the flaws already mentioned, all of Willis’ historian characters seem to have access to the same compendium of wacky historical trivia as Willis herself, but none of them show any sign of ever having finished an entire book. Certainly not a book of history. The clash between her two Oxford dons and their competing models of history was just embarrassing. And yet it was easy to fall under Willis’ breezy spell.

Doug M. @11 - I think your thoughts about Conrad are dead on. As for Stevenson, his iconic stories are stranger, more interesting, and more morally ambiguous than their usual portrayals in other media. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in particular is almost always misrepresented--it’s not about dualism in human nature, Dr. Jekyll is already a debauched, self-serving hypocrite before his experiments.

So, while Stevenson’s adventure stories are hugely fun just as storytelling, they’re not nearly as triumphalist as they first appear. I don’t know if that’s made them less appealing as models.
Sherri Nichols
15. snichols
Unlike last year's list, I've read a surprising number from this year's list, though most of them much later than '99. I loved To Say Nothing of the Dog; yeah, Willis has her historical problems, but she can tell a story. I re-read this recently, and enjoyed it just as much.

I'm surprised to see Children of God as a nominee. I'm sure in the minority in liking The Sparrow, but I didn't like Children of God, and thought it was much the weaker book of the two.

Those are the two nominess I read contemporaneously. I also read the Harry Potter book, because I suppose I would be considered in the "yuppie mom" category.

I read Darwinia when I was consuming Wilson after reading Spin. He seems to have that effect. Sawyer had the opposite effect: I read one of his books, and I refuse to read another. Anyway, Darwinia was good until the thunk point. And the thunk point wasn't bad enough to stop me in continuing to plow through all of Wilson.

I once again lament the lack of appreciation for Octavia Butler; Parable of the Talents was definitely worthy of a nomination.
James Davis Nicoll
16. James Davis Nicoll
I once again lament the lack of appreciation for Octavia Butler

At least she made it into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
James Davis Nicoll
17. CarlosSkullsplitter
15: I was thinking about Brooklyn yuppie moms bringing totebags of copies of Hewlett Packard and the Philosopher's Stone back from trips to London. This had to have been fall 1997. I've heard bits and pieces of what happened next from people who worked at Scholastic, part of its corporate lore now.
Michal Jakuszewski
18. Lfex
Once again, a mixed ballot. IMHO. I liked To Say Nothing of the Dog and I am OK with it winning the award, even if my vote for the best novel would clearly go to A Clash of Kings, assuming it was eligible. As for the rest of the ballot, I rather liked Children of God (I am apparently in the minority here), though from my point of view Russell suffers from the same reason Willis does - they both read like science fiction for the people who don't read science fiction.

I was not so irritated as many others by the Darwinia plot twist, but I certainly see where people who hated it come from. Not so great nominee, IMHO, but still acceptable. I didn't read Factoring Humanity because it was Sawyer, and couldn't stand Distraction which seemed to presuppose knowledge of American politics and interest in it which I lack, not being American.

What else should be there? Except for A Clash of Kings and To Say Nothing of the Dog I would probably nominate The Cassini Divison (still my favorite Ken MacLeod novel), The Parable of the Talents and perhaps Starfarers or Sailing to Sarantium, though in this duology second volume was way more impressive. I also liked Mockingbird, but it was only marginally genre. IMHO.

At least a year I read almost all short fiction nominees! I agree "The Story of Your Life" should have won, it being one of the best novellas ever etc, but OTOH Egan story was also quite good, and it is his only Hugo win, IIRC, so I don't begrudge him that. Other short fiction ballots also were very strong. I wouild probably go with Egan and Sterling, but the winners aren't half bad.
Rich Horton
19. ecbatan
I remember people complaining about the plot twist in Darwinia -- like Lfex I can see where they are coming from, but while the book it seemed to be at first would have been mighty interesting, so too, to me, was the book it really was. It's the first Wilson I read at novel length, and it made me a Wilson reader for good.

I also thought Distraction very good. I quite enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog. (So sue me!) Mockingbird was good if perhaps it Tried Too Hard. Child of the River is the start of a very fine quartet of novels, quite explicitly Wolfean to me. I enjoyed Deepdrive as well.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in an English edition, having heard the buzz, before the US edition came out. One reason it may have got slightly less notice in the Locus list is that the US edition was several months later than the English edition.

While I probably voted for Darwinia or Distraction for the Hugo, the novel that I really was excited about, that hasn't seemed to remain much in view, was Carolyn Ives Gilman's Halfway Human. Not a perfect novel by any means -- definitely a first novel -- but quite intriguing.

Kipling was simply a better writer than Stevenson or Conrad, at least at short lengths, though the great later Kipling is not the one SF writers tend to emulate. In saying so, I make no comment on his politics, mind you, simply the quality of the stories. And I think SF has had plenty of examples of writers emulating both Stevenson and Conrad -- certainly the rough equivalent of "journey up the river to the heart of darkness" has been done on plenty an alien planet. I'd agree that those stories may seem -- are -- less obviously part of the Campbellian uber-narrative, but they still exist.

(Even a story like Martin's "And Seven Times Never Kill Man", despite the Kipling-derived title, is rather explicitly anti-colonialist. Of course, Kipling was more subtle about all that than his detractors seem to credit, or for that matter than some of his emulators seem to realize. (Though I wouldn't deny that on balance he was in favor of the broad outlines of the colonial project, and that while fairly sensitive to local cultures and rights -- or at least more sensitive than most of his more Blimpish fellows, he still had a decidedly paternalist and Western view, and he missed things.))

--
Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
20. William Hyde
As I read the Willis, my feeling was that there was a funny novella in there somewhere. I slogged through ot the end, chuckling once in a while. It was the last Willis I've been able to finish, despite two determined attempts at "Passages". On reading a book of her short stories about 1986 I felt sure that I had discovered an author I'd be reading for the rest of my life. Alas.

I'm a fan of unreliable narrators, and "The Cassini Division" would probably have gained my vote. Though I've reread "The Golden Globe" more often despite the Heinlein wankery. That these two books were not nominated, but the Sawyer was, makes me very sad. I have not read the other nominees.

Poul Anderson cites Conrad now and again. Perhaps "The Enemy Stars", though fronted with a quote from Kipling and even originally titled therefrom, is in a sense telling of the end of Kipling's world. It might be said to start with Kipling, end with Conrad, though the ending is optimistic for the human race as a whole.

The first page of the first Harry Potter did not convince me to read the second page.

I'd like to thank Jo for this series. I've been following it from the start, though not commenting. It's been most enjoyable, and it has reminded me how much I've been neglecting the shorter fiction.

William Hyde
Rich Horton
21. ecbatan
To me, "Story of Your Life" is clearly one of the great SF novellas of all time. (We'll just miss covering another one a couple of years later -- Ian MacLeod's 2001 masterwork "New Light on the Drake Equation".) I thought it the clear deserving winner then, and I still think so. It did end up with a Nebula, didn't it?

"The Summer Isles" is also very good. "Oceanic" I found interesting, but unsuccessful -- too much strawman-bashing. (I said so on rec.arts.sf.written, and Egan responded, disputing my view -- he made some good points, but I still think it less than his best. It was his time, though -- he probably should have had two or three by that time, and if it took a bit of home cooking to get him one, well, I'm not complaining too loudly. Anyway, "Aurora in Four Voices" finished second, in a very close race -- which would have been a very disappointing result.)

Other novellas I enjoyed:
"A Princess of Helium", by R. Garcia y Robertson
"Sea Change, with Monsters", by Paul McAuley
"Family", by Geoff Ryman
"Mother Death", by Robert Reed

In novelette my favorite of the nominees was "Taklamakan", one of my favorite Bruce Sterling stories. As Jo says, the rest of the list is very good too -- "Echea" is one of the best of Rusch's stories, the Wilson, Egan, and Kress stories were very strong too.

But there were some other excellent novelettes:
"Auschwitz and the Rectification of History", by Eliot Fintushel (my second favorite story by this weird writer -- my favorite is the tragically neglected "Milo and Sylvie" (2000))
"Home Time", by Ian R. MacLeod
"Minutes of the Last Meeting", by Stepan Chapman (another very weird story, about an alternate Russian Revolution)
"Approaching Perimelasma", by Geoffrey Landis (like Egan's "Planck Dive", this is about diving into (or very near) a black hole)
"Animae Celestes", by Gregory Feeley
"Rules of Engagement", by Michael F. Flynn
"A Dance to Strange Musics", by Gregory Benford
"Mrs. Mabb", Susanna Clarke (I hope we see more from her sometime soon.) (She was eligible for the Campbell in 1997 and 1998, by the way.)

In short story, I was glad to see Swanwick win, but "Radiant Doors" was the best of those three stories, and "The Very Pulse of the Machine" worst.

Burstein's "The Cosmic Corkscrew" is awful, and noticing how bad it is and how silly its nomination was changed my perception of him as a writer -- to some extent perhaps unfairly. I agree that "Maneki Neko" is first rate -- so too is "Whiptail".

Some excellent work that wasn't nominated:
"The Mars Convention", Timons Esaias
"Instructions", Roz Kaveney
"Access Fantasy", Jonathan Lethem
"Artifacts", Jerry Oltion
"The Dream of Nations", Wil McCarthy
"Outsider's Chance", Geoffrey A. Landis
"Dante Dreams", Stephen Baxter
"First Fire", Terry Bisson
"Jack Neck and the Worrybird", Paul di Filippo
"Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation", Raphael Carter
"Monogamy", William Eakin

I'd like to particularly mention the Timons Esaias story -- he seems to have disappeared after a couple years of promising work, and "The Mars Convention" in particular I thought wonderful, but nobody else noticed it. Raphael Carter's story won the Tiptree, and it's quite excellent. And William Eakin is mostly known for some weird Southern Gothicish sort of stuff set in "Redgunk, Mississippi" -- "Monogamy" is quite different, and very good.

--
Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
22. CarlosSkullsplitter
19: I'd say that David Drake's best work (which is very good indeed) has been influenced by late Kipling. Also Wolfe, but less successfully.

The implied question I had was more about the formation of a non-genre fan canon. Kipling but not Stevenson; Jerome K. Jerome but not Professor Irwin Corey (and why not? Heinlein gives him an even better rave in Friday); Dorothy Sayers and not (waves hands) Ivy Compton-Burnett. I don't think quality is the operative issue here.

The Willis I will grant has a light heart. It's not unfunny in the sense of OH HERE IS A JOKE LET ME EXPLAIN IT TO YOU SIGNED F. FEGHOOT. But it's like the yearly rom-com with the big names that just doesn't fire at the box office. Oh I bet she falls into the Trevi fountain! Oh I bet he apologizes to her in the Hamptons! Oh it's the cute doggie that's really going to get them back together! Is that a cameo? It is! And aren't their accents wonderful? I hear she had a coach to get it right.
Rich Horton
23. ecbatan
In novel, I should also have mentioned The Cassini Division, which was excellent -- MacLeod (Ken, though the comment applies to Ian too) has really been a very consistent writer, always intriguing. I just read The Restoration Game (2010) and it's another fine outing.
Rich Horton
24. ecbatan
Carlos -- Ivy Compton-Burnett, eh? What a strange knotty writer she is. The question "Why not her instead of Sayers?" almost answers itself -- Sayers is simply more comfortable to read, "easier". No, quality isn't the operative issue, but in that case why would one expect it to be?

(For me, I'm happy I can have both. And even happier I can have both Stevenson and Kipling.)
Soon Lee
25. SoonLee
nevillepark @3:
I read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" not having read "Gaudy Night" (still haven't) or "Three Men in a Boat" and enjoyed it very much. So I'm at least one example of not requiring pre-knowledge to enjoy it.

The stupid behaviour of the protagonists in TSNotD was mostly explainable by timelag & over-work/fatigue. In "Blackout"/"All Clear", character stupidity was harder to accept. The other big problem was the lack of mobile phone technology which I could overlook in TSNotD but in B/AC crossed the suspension of disbelief threshold. It's a problem using the same future setting if the stories are written quite a few yers apart. Steven R. Boyett's "Elegy Beach"(2009) which is a sequel to "Ariel"(1983) uses a retcon to get around it; I'm not sure that works either.

I don't have any big problems with the novels except the Sawyer which still baffles me. The novella & novelettes are especially strong.
Rich Horton
26. ecbatan
Carlos -- which work would you call Drake's best? I read the early stuff (the first Hammer's Slammers stories in Galaxy as they came out, other stuff at that time) and little since then except the Aubrey/Maturin knockoff series (Leary/Mundy), which is fun (if by now altogether too repetitive and predictable) but not something I'd call either "very good indeed" or "influenced by late Kipling".
James Davis Nicoll
27. Doug M.
"Kipling was simply a better writer than Stevenson or Conrad,"

...I'd agree that Kipling is easier to read. In fact, I think that answers much of Carlos' question. The non-genre canon is slanted towards stuff that goes down easy and doesn't trouble. Comfort reads, if you like. (I like Conrad a lot, but no, he's not a comfort read.)

Also, competence porn. Also-also, the Authorial Voice of Authority -- the two tend to go together, of course.

And then of course there's the reverse snobbery thing. Kipling Tells Great Stories! So let those nasty literary types sneer and pout -- we know what the Good Stuff is! Whereas Lord Jim is the book the professor assigned you in that one class. Nothing happened in the first ten pages and there weren't enough paragraph breaks and who is this Marlowe guy? TL, DR.


Doug M.
Rich Horton
28. ecbatan
Doug, you're writing like so many people do, assuming no one has read any Kipling but the Indian stories. But I'm quite sincere when I say that Kipling is a better writer than Conrad, and not because he's easy to read. I will say that comparisons are complicated in that Conrad was a novelist and Kipling a short story writer (in essence, in both cases, of course). When I said better writer I meant in the pure literary sense, not the "thumpin' good story" sense.

Is "Mary Postgate" comfort reading? "Mrs. Bathurst"? "Dayspring Mishandled"?

Literary types stopped sneering and pouting at Kipling some while ago -- objections to him these days are largely based (and fairly enough in many ways) on politics.

When I was in High School I loved Heart of Darkness (still do, really) and ignored Kipling.

I do think (as I suggested with the Compton-Burnett/Sayers comparison) that comfort reading, easiness to read, does contribute to wide popularity, and some of what Carlos wonders about in formation of the non-genre canon is doubtless related to that. But I fail to see that as surprising.
James Davis Nicoll
29. seth e.
Doug M. and ecbatan - Which Kipling has been read, and which has been influential, are two different things. I haven't canvassed a lot of Kipling-influenced genre stuff, but I see a lot more Indian-stories-like adventures than stories influenced by, say, "The Gardener." And though reverse snobbery is old news now, it did help Kipling out in the days when genre was still looking around for models. Orwell's essay on him did a lot to make Kipling okay to take seriously.

Stevenson is at least as easy to read as Kipling--so much so that he was written off for generations as a children's writer. That might be part of the problem there; reverse snobbery didn't really help Stevenson's reputation out much.
James Davis Nicoll
30. Raskolnikov
I read To Say Nothing of the Dog in the context of reading Hugo-winners, after having rather unpleasant encounters with her other stuff. "To Say Nothing" was more palpable, because it was aiming at a light-hearted adventure instead of Serious Lessons on History. The poor history, contrived conflict and overly cutsey pattern of communication (and non-communication) isn't as annoying. It's still a very weak novel, mediocre at best, in no way deserving nomination to a major award, much less the win.

Distraction should have taken this from nominees, extremely clever in world-building and in putting the plot. Of all the fiction of American division/collapse/decline, it seems one of the best as it imagines what might come next and how different personalities and faction would react to this.
James Davis Nicoll
31. Petar Belic
"There's an implied contradiction there between something being good and being fantasy;"
Every 6 months or so, I force myself to read the current 'popular' fantasy, just to see the state of play. Statistics tell me that the contradiction mentioned above bears out, at least in my experience.

As for the Hugos this year, there is no greater sin than being boring. And this year was a good year... for that. I remember eagerly picking up Distration (new Sterling!) and having my expectations demolished, page by page. As others here have mentioned, if you're not a USA political junkie, much less live in another country, there's a lot here that simply fails to engage. My only memories of the novel now are of political types in a bus, driving around and looking for infrastructure managers to turn up and bully. I can't even remember if I finished it...
Sherri Nichols
32. snichols
18: Perhaps you could explain a bit more what you mean by "science fiction for people who don't read science fiction." I've seen that phrase used before, and I'm not quite sure what people mean by it.
James Davis Nicoll
33. Gardner Dozois
As is often the case, most of the novels I might have wanted to vote for did not even make the ballot: McHugh's MISSON CHILD, McDonald's KIRINYA, Macleod's THE CASSINI DIVISON, McAuley's CHILD OF THE RIVER, Silverberg's THE ALIEN YEARS, Ryman's 253 (although you have to stretch a bit to call it SF or fantasy; fascinating book, though).

The Sterling was not as strong as either the earlier HEAVY WEATHER or the later HOLY FIRE, and Vance's PORTS OF CALL, although still readable, is nowhere near as strong as his earlier NIGHT LAMP.

Short fiction was very strong this year, though, especially novella and novelette. Unlike others here, I really like Egan's "Oceanic," and was not at all displeased to see it win; in fact, I think it's one of his two or three best stories, adding a human element and local color reminescent of late Le Guin to his sometimes chilly and abstract idea content. "The Summer Isles" is perhaps one of my favorites among stories that I published, and was the only form the story was available in for several more years, as I boiled it down to novella length from a novel MacLeod had already written and was unable to sell, and wouldn't be able to sell for a few more years. Also wonderful is Ian McDonald's "The Days of Solomon Gursky," which takes us to the very end of the universe and back around again (you can't hardly get more wide-screen than that!), and Tony Daniel's "Grist" is also jammed with wild new ideas. McAuley's "Sea Change, with Monsters," is also excellent, one of the best of the Quiet War stories. And yes, Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" is very, very strong as well, one of the most memorable novellas of the decade.

Looking back, this must have been one of the strongest years for novella ever. You were spoiled for choice.

Novelette was also strong. I voted for "Taklamakan" at the time, one of Sterling's strongest later stories (better than last year's "Bicycle Repairman," which it's related to), but also excellent were Robert Charles Wilson's "Divided By Infinity," Geoffrey A. Landis's "Approaching Perimelasma," Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Echea," Greg Egan's "The Planck Dive," Cherry Wilder's "The Dancing Floor," and William Barton's very depressing "Down in the Dark." Jim Grimsley, who seems subsequently to have been driven from the field by reactionaries upset with him being openly gay, had a strong story, "Free In Asveroth." Michael Swanwick did a strong posthumous collaboration with Avram Davidson, "Vergil Magus: King Without Country," and a collaboration with me, "Ancestral Voices." Gregory Frost published "How Meersh the Bedeviler Lost His Toes," probably one of the few stories ever to feature a talking penis as a character.

In short story, Michael Swanwick had a really strong year, really his breakout year, publishing "The Very Pulse of the Machine," "Wild Minds," and "Radiant Doors," all three of which he placed on the Hugo ballot in the same category (the only time that's ever happened, I think). Also first-rate were Robert Reed's "Whiptail," Stephen Baxter's "Dante Dreams," Geoff Ryman's "Family," and Bruce Sterling's "Maneki Neko." Also good were Rob Chilson's "This Side of Independence," which showed up in a couple of the year's Bests, and William Browing Spencer's very Zelazny-like "The Halfway House at the Heart of Darkness."

Of historical interest is (as far as I know), Liz Williams's first sale, "Voivodoi"; Dominic Green and Alexander Glass were making their first sales to INTERZONE (Glass would later disappear, but Green still turns up from time to time, with an issue of INTERZONE devoted to his stuff appearing a couple of years back), and Charles Stross was inching closer to the kind of wotk that would make his reputation with stories like "Toast: A Con Report."

For the second year in a row, all three short fiction winners were from ASIMOV'S.

I had real problems with a lot of the conclusions in THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE ON, so whatever I voted for there, it wasn't that.

THE TRUMAN SHOW is a good movie, one of the best Philip K. Dick movies ever even though it wasn't taken from a Phil Dick story, and certainly much stronger than the rest of the stuff on the ballot.

Nalo Hopkinson makes a perfectly acceptable Campbell winner, as would have James Van Pelt and several of the others, but I must admit that I wanted to see Kage Baker, who was pouring out a remarkable amount of first-rate work at that point, to win. In my opinion, she was perhaps the best natural storyteller to enter the field since Poul Anderson.
James Davis Nicoll
34. Raskolnikov
I don't consider "Oceanic" minor Egan either. Make no mistake, "Stories of Your Life" should have won the award, but Egan does a lot of complicated things effectively with this story. It's a nice piece of world-building, a more complex understanding of religion than usually features (including among much of Egan's other work) and has a lot of great satire with and through transhumanism.

For The Truman Show, very good movie. I saw it again not long ago, and thought it held up quite well. I'd say it's very close to being an adaptation of Dick--the plot and much of the feel is very close to Time out of Joint, just change the era a little and make it done for military security rather than mass entertainment and you're there.
Rich Horton
35. ecbatan
Again Gardner reminds me of some outstanding work I should have mentioned. For example, "This Side of Independence" is a really fine story by a Missouri writer, Rob Chilson (and the Indepedence of the title is indeed Independence, MO) -- Chilson isn't terribly prolific, but his occasional stories are pretty good.

Gardner's collaboration with Swanwick, "Ancestral Voices" is also strong work, and also a story I can list on my (now somewhat dormant) compilation of pieces with titles taken from "Kubla Khan".

I really liked "Grist", by Tony Daniel -- a very weird, indeed entirely implausible, central idea, but neatly executed. (He too seems to have left the field, apparently after failing to sell the third novel in his trilogy that began with Metaplanetary.)

Alexander Glass was an exciting writer for the few years he stayed in the field -- I have no idea what he is up to now.

Anyway, a reminder that there is no substitute for scouring the ISFDB's list of stories each year ... I've been lazily using my contemporary compilations of my favorites, and I can be counted on to have missed some stories, or to have reevaluated some in the years since then.

--
Rich Horton
Emmet O'Brien
36. EmmetAOBrien
sethe@5:The story goes that someone asked Peter Weir how he managed to get a kind of restrained performance out of Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, and Weir said, "I just let him run around for the first ten or twenty takes, and then he gets tired and I start getting what I want."


Watching the DVD extras on The Truman Show left me with the strong impression that there was a quiet conspiracy among pretty much everyone working on that film to wrangle Jim Carrey in such a way as to get the best performance out of him, with Kate Winslet taking the brunt of it, of which Carrey was still blissfully unaware as of the time of recording of said extras.

It's tempting to think of Weir's ability to get a restrained and powerful performance out of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society has helpful experience in this direction, too.
Soon Lee
37. SoonLee
Rich @35:

Tony Daniel is back with "Guardian of Night" due out February 2012 (and I'm still bitter at the lack of conclusion to the Metaplanetary trilogy).
James Davis Nicoll
38. Gardner Dozois
No doubt that the failure to sell the third volume in the METAPLANETARY trilogy seriously derailed Tony Daniel's career, but he hasn't entirely disappeared. He had a strong story in my anthology with Jonathan Strahan, THE NEW SPACE OPERA, a few years back, and I've heard rumors that he may have a new novel coming out. I always liked him best at shorter lengths anyway, and closing doors in the trade novel field wouldn't keep him from selling short stuff to genre markets, so let's hope he gets back to writing more short fiction again--a good way to slowly rebuild your career after a failure in the novel market, as Eleanor Arnason has demonstrated. (Plus, if it already exists, he could now bring the third METAPLANETARY volume out as an ebook.)

As far as Conrad is concerned, HEART OF DARKNESS has clearly been a major influence on a lot of subsequent SF and fantasy--clearly one of the strongest influences on Lucius Shepard, for instance. Kipling has probably had more influence overall, though. We did a panel on Kipling's influence at Readercon this year, which may be available on YouTube.
James Davis Nicoll
39. Gardner Dozois
There was also a story clearly heavily influenced by Conrad just last year, David Moles's "Seven Cities of Gold."
James Davis Nicoll
40. CarlosSkullsplitter
24: I chose Compton-Burnett because I recently discovered that they're comfort reading for the director John Waters, and her life largely overlaps with Sayers. Waters has assembled his own personal canon over the years, and explains why in various writings. Needless to say, it's not much like the fannish canon, which has very particular tastes in comfort.

26: His best work is in the Hammer's Slammers stories, as he honed them to tell the stories that made emotional sense (I suppose) to himself. I should but I don't recall the individual story names. (I think of them as "The Belisarius One," "The Filipino One," "The Red Harvest One," "The One with Hector and Achilles," and so on.) They're dark and violent, sure. But there are deep movements at unexpected places that, if they were simply carnography, should not be there. And they feel to me like late Kipling.

If Drake had done that on his own... but I know he's a deep Kipling reader; he co-edited two anthologies of stories with Kipling themes, and has written an appreciation on his website.

(Kipling's politics rarely made a story stupid, the way fiction with a ideological axe to grind so often does. But for many wannabe followers of Kipling, axe-grinding is the point of the exercise. Paging Andrei Zhdanov.)
James Davis Nicoll
41. Gardner Dozois
I should also have mentioned Cory Doctorow's first sale, "Craphound." For a while there, he wanted to start a literary Movement that would call themselves "Craphounds," but it never caught on.
James Davis Nicoll
42. hestiashearthfire
I'm guessing that Russell's nom for Children of God was a make-up for having pretty much missed The Sparrow, which was marketed as more of a mainstream novel. I'm conflicted about The Sparrow; it has some really engaging storytelling, but it is so manipulative. (And it shares a trope with Ender's Game that I particularly dislike.) I didn't like Children of God at all, didn't think it worked on any level.

Sorcerer's Stone has the bumpiest prose of the series, and it was marketed as a children's book (which it is.) The books got older and somewhat better-written as they went along. And I say this as a huge HP fan.

Carlos, before I got to your comment, I was just thinking that Rowling and Willis are quite a bit alike: neither is much of prose stylist, which bothers some people more than others. They both take well-worn ideas and invigorate them with narrative drive and wit. But, as with most comedy, it's subjective; what one person loves can really irritate another. I think Willis's short stories are quite a bit better than her novels; I wonder if Rowling wouldn't be a wonderful short story writer.

And count me in with the many others who read a Sawyer and never felt a need to pick up another, but read Darwinia and became a Wilson fan for life, in spite of the (very mildly) disappointing plot twist.
James Davis Nicoll
43. CarlosSkullsplitter
33: I wanted to see Kage Baker, who was pouring out a remarkable amount of first-rate work at that point, to win. In my opinion, she was perhaps the best natural storyteller to enter the field since Poul Anderson.

Better. Anderson had a large number of fallback devices -- almost tics, really -- that he used to keep a story moving, present from the beginning of his career to its end. I once documented them. They're maddeningly obtrusive once you know what they are.

But Baker, wow. You could see a few things that hadn't quite been smoothed over from her juvenilia, and her last books feel, well, as though she wanted to get the story out more than she wanted to polish the chrome. But there's two feet on the shelf of... not comfort reading -- when did a book become a tranquilizer or, more benignly, a mother bringing soup to a sick child? -- but pleasure reading (you can put the lurid analogy of your choice here).

Baker was influenced by Stevenson, incidentally. There's even a Company story about him.
Rich Horton
44. ecbatan
Gardner -- yes, Shepard is one of the first writers I thought of as influenced by Conrad. He's probably rewritten Heart of Darkness ten times! (Unless he's rewriting Apocalypse Now!)

Soon Lee -- good to hear Daniel will be back. And I do remember his story in Gardner and Jonathan's book a couple years back -- pretty solid work.
James Davis Nicoll
45. James Davis Nicoll
if you're not a USA political junkie, much less live in another country, there's a lot here that simply fails to engage.

If there's one thing SF teaches us, it's that everything has happened before (generally somewhere with a Rome in it) before so a passing interest in history can replace knowledge of current affairs. The American President is selected by electors, not unlike the Holy Roman Emperor and now that we know the right model, everything else right out logically: for example, the various controversies following Obama's election must be very like the Investiture Controversy, which would make Rush Limbaugh the analog of Pope Gregory VII. Easy Peasy.
James Davis Nicoll
46. James Davis Nicoll
I had real problems with a lot of the conclusions in THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE ON,

What about assertions like "nobody reads Frankenstein for fun"?
James Davis Nicoll
47. Doug M.
If the question is "what gets in the non-genre canon", then I think we can agree that large chunks of Kipling are well out. I think The Light That Failed is a really interesting work on multiple levels. But I don't think it's a book many fannish admirers of Kipling will return to again and again, any more than fans of Doyle will continue past Holmes and Professor Challenger to the historical novels, the exploits of Brigadier Gerard, or the fairy book.

Reverse snobbery: it doesn't matter whether it's true. I've read that defense pretty much verbatim by three different SF writers, including two Hugo winners and at least one guy who really should have known better.

Sure, easiness/comfort makes something more likely to be adopted. But (1) it's not like Conrad is *that* difficult, and (2) even if we narrow it down to "stuff that's easy to read", that still doesn't explain why Kipling and not, say, Dickens.

Political criticism: having had the weird experience of rereading a pile of Kipling in a dingy hotel room in Lubumbashi, DRC (the former Belgian Congo), I'm sympathetic to this. But I suspect that Kipling's politics -- in the very broadest sense; the political and ethical sensibility that suffused his worldview -- are a big part of his appeal to fans.

Kipling, Conrad, who is better: I'd be interested to hear why you think so, but OTOH I'm not sure this is the venue. Digressions are fun, but we're already pretty far OT...


Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
48. ofostlic
The thing I most disliked about Children of God (from a sizeable list), was all the tidying-up. It seems that all the 'shit happens' from the first book had to become carefully applied fertiliser instead.

James Davis Nicoll: (on Earth Made of Glass) If I have not confused the books in this series, this is the one that reads like it was written by someone whose marriage was disintegrating.
As the author explains in the postscript to a later book, lots of people thought that. In fact his marriage wasn't disintegrating when he wrote it, but it was when the book was published.
James Davis Nicoll
49. James Davis Nicoll
As the author explains in the postscript to a later book, lots of people
thought that. In fact his marriage wasn't disintegrating when he wrote
it, but it was when the book was published.

Speaking as someone who has done the whole marriage, inevitable divorce thing, I suspect there are cases where a participant in a marriage completely fails to notice the fine cracks spreading across the
Banqiao Reservoir Dam of their marriage and speaking purely hypothetically such cracks could include having written a book that
reads like it was written by someone whose marriage was disintegrating.
Steve Allan
50. Lastyear
Emmett-I think you are confusing The Truman Show with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Kate Winslett was in thje later not the former.
Michal Jakuszewski
51. Lfex
32;

Well, to use rule of thumb, both Willis and Russell were among the books I gave to read to my wife with some success (she will devour chicklit and urban fantasy, but usually despises more "nerdy" books I prefer).

Generally, both these novels don't make much use of genre tropes and don't seem to be in dialog with the genre as such. It doesn't have to be a bad thing, but, as I mentioned, I tend to prefer books remaining closer to the genre core.
James Davis Nicoll
52. James Davis Nicoll
Poul Anderson’s Starfarers second,

This is a reworking of his Kith setting, where NAFAL starflight gives rise to a culture of interstellar traders who get to fast forward through history. Half the book is showing us the next 5000 years (I think), using elements of his Kith stories and other material, and the other half is an expedition to a nearby on a galactic scale alien culture.


There's an interesting bit involving the aliens, who for cosmological reasons have given up on the NAFAL drive and have resigned themselves to remaining in their home system. The explorers encounter them while they are preparing their stellar system for long term occupation, which among other things involves restarting plate tectonics on a dead world. Presumably when their star goes off the main sequence, they plan to move them; that can be done using a planetoid, a gas giant and patience. Lots and lots of patience.
Andrew Love
53. Andy Love
Speaking as someone who has done the whole marriage, inevitable divorce thing, I suspect there are cases where a participant in a marriage completely fails to notice the fine cracks spreading across the Banqiao Reservoir Dam of their marriage and speaking purely hypothetically such cracks could include having written a book that reads like it was written by someone whose marriage was disintegrating.


Particularly a book in which the reader has figured out that the wife is having an affair long (very long) before the main character does (Still liked the book though).
James Davis Nicoll
54. James Davis Nicoll
As I recall the series, this is the same character who was astounded to learn that women do not automatically want to have sex with him just because he wants to have sex with them and in fact a lot of the women he had sex with on the assumption that all women he wants to have sex with want to have sex with him may not have been willing participants. So perhaps not the sharpest pencil in the box and he seems to come from an entire planet of dull pencils.
James Goetsch
55. Jedikalos
I'm glad I read your columns. After reading the column, I downloaded Darwinia to my Nook and read it last night. And I did not throw it at the wall but simply enjoyed it. And now (through the comments section) I know why I have never had closure on Metaplanetary and Superluminal (I really loved the characters in those books!). Does anyone know if Mr. Daniels has plans to release the conclusion to the trilogy as an ebook? I would certainly buy it.
Andrew Love
56. Andy Love
As I recall the series, this is the same character who was astounded to learn that ... a lot of the women he
had sex with on the assumption that all women he wants to have sex with want to have sex with him may not have been willing participants.

I think you're thinking of the main character's belated recognition that his old friend from home was not a wild-and-crazy guy with an admirable zest for life, but was in fact a violent rapist; he comes to this realization as he mansplains to a female acquaintance how seriously he takes the subject of rape.




Sherri Nichols
57. snichols
51: I thought that's probably what you meant. I agree it doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it does tend to come across as rather dismissive, as a 'I don't like this so it doesn't belong in my clubhouse' kind of statement. I find it kind of annoying that lack of proper nerdiness seems to be bigger sin to the genre than say, badly drawn characters.
James Davis Nicoll
58. CarlosSkullsplitter
51, 57: I would deeply disagree with the idea that To Say Nothing About the Dog doesn't engage with science fiction culture. It engages wholeheartedly with non-genre books that science fiction fans particularly like. Jo Walton has posted her appreciation of Sayers and Gaudy Night here on Tor.com, and Willis got her love of Three Men in a Boat from its mention in a Heinlein juvenile. You're not seeing similar books about, I don't know, Fer-de-Lance and Innocents Abroad, though they have just as much (or more) mainstream appeal, and could easily have fit Willis's formula.
Rich Horton
59. ecbatan
I dare say that's true, Carlos, but whatever faults TSNATD may have, they don't derive from its engagement with Gaudy Night and Three Men in a Boat -- at least, not in any way that similar faults would have been found if she had chosen Fer-de-Lance and Innocents Abroad as her models.

That is, I don't see why the apparent annoyance with the love Willis has for Sayers and Jerome.

For myself, I went through a Sayers phase, when I read all the Lord Peter Wimsey books, with enjoyment; and likewise a Stout phase, when I read, not likely all, but dozens, of the Nero Wolfe books, with enjoyment. Certainly Fer-de-Lance is one of those I read. Anyway Stout certainly has been a strong influence on at least one SF writer -- surely you've noticed how Randall Garrett puns on names from Stout's books in his Lord Darcy series?

As an aside, is your explication of P. Anderson's plotting tics posted somewhere?

--
Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
60. CarlosSkullsplitter
59: I'm mainly annoyed with the narrowness of fannish taste again. I don't think Dog would be improved (or made worse) had it used Nero Wolfe and Mark Twain. Willis's comedy is best at short lengths, and Dog is just too long and too hackneyed for my taste. But I think it gained additional fan appeal because it used Sayers and Jerome, which helped it to win the award.

(Imagine if you had a time machine and went back to the 1969 Hugo awards, and brought copies of Dog. Just so the sexism of the era doesn't skew the results of the thought experiment, let's say this is a special edition as by Conrad Willis. What reactions do you think you would get? We will assume Harlan Ellison is too busy to read it.)

I'm glad that Willis has books that she likes in her life. I am weirded out how they tend to be the same books everyone else likes in a slice of the fannish demographic. You know how some people can't stand "cozy" mysteries? I find myself bothered by cozy genres.

(Rex Stout also influenced Glen Cook, in those fantasy mysteries which always have a metal in their title.)

Regarding Anderson, I once wrote up some of my thoughts in a blog post at Doug M.'s place under the title "The PA system is broken". It's easy enough to find, but looking at it, I see it's mainly word and sentence tics.

Plot tics is another post, and I am happily no longer blogging. But offhand. romantic infelicities -- Doug M. will chime in about adultery -- the ideological other, the conflict between different stock temperaments, the deliberate tragedy, the impersonal abstraction as villain, etc. Also all there from the beginning to the end. As far as I can tell, Anderson had a limited range of plot devices that made emotional sense to him.
James Davis Nicoll
61. Gardner Dozois
I find it dubious that mention of Sayers and Jerome helped Willis to win a Hugo Award for the book. I also find it dubious that "everybody else" in fandom likes the same books, especially enough that referencing them would be enough to sway them to vote for TSNATD. There are probably mystery writers better known to fandom than Sayers, and Jerome is actually a rather obscure writer--I wouldn't be surpised if the majority of fans only know the name, if indeed they know it at all, from the mention in HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL. I doubt that all that many have actually read THREE MEN IN A BOAT. TSNATD may or may not have deserved the Hugo, but it didn't win it--and I don't believe was even helped to win it to any major degree--because of these references.
john mullen
62. johntheirishmongol
Again, I don't have anything to say about the novels.

In the movies, while Truman Show was smart and imaginative, Pleasantville was also equally as good and had more heart. I thought the other nominees were ok, but those were easily the two best. Funny, though, you almost never see the Truman Show on tv repeats but Pleasantville is on fairly regularly.
James Davis Nicoll
63. James Davis Nicoll
Doug M. will chime in about adultery

And snub noses.
James Davis Nicoll
64. Doug M.
with a spray of freckles across them, yes. Sigh.

Also, dark women as villains, antagonists or distractions for the (male) protagonist. Sometimes literally dark -- see, say, A Midsummer's Tempest -- sometimes just dark-hearted.

But Anderson's love interests? They tended to converge on a particular physical type: slender, vibrant girls with fair skin, light hair (typically light brown or blonde, occasionally red, never black), and tip-turned noses with a spray of freckles across them. (Other sorts do turn up, yes. But this one turns up again and again and again, without relent, for almost fifty years.) The snub-nosed girls may or may not be competent in certain areas. In the later books, they are even occasionally allowed to kick some ass. Nonetheless, they usually have a refreshing, youthful naivete about them. If Anderson describes her smell -- which is a thing he liked to do -- adjectives like "clean", "sweet" and "fresh" will be used.

Adultery... I've gone on about this before, yeah? It's a major subplot in roughly every other book over a period of 30 years or so and a fair number of shorter works as well. It always involves the (male, married) protagonist. There's an unhappy marriage -- there are a lot of those in Anderson, most from the POV of the male. There are narrative attempts, variously convincing, to be somewhat sympathetic to the wife. (The marriage was political or a youthful mistake, it's not her fault her looks didn't last, etc.) The male usually feels bad about the adultuerous episode, and it doesn't usually lead to a new long-term relationship. (There are some exceptions to that one, like Orion Shall Rise.) And the adulterous love interest is usually that same daffadowndilly fair-skinned fair-haired slender girl with the tip-turned nose. There are a few cases of reversal, where the adultery is against the daffadowndilly girl; in such cases, the adulterous love object is likely to be either dark in some way, or plump. (Plumpness in an Anderson female always indicates some character weakness, like silliness or treachery, unless the woman is middle-aged or older.) In those cases the whole thing is a terrible misstep. But in any case, the daffadowndilly girl is always utterly adorable.

There is one interesting exception, in which the fair-haired, light-skinned daffadowndilly girl with the spray of freckles across her pretty nose is the utterly selfish villain who betrays everyone and destroys everything, and then gets turned into a horrible undead monster. However, this is in the King of Ys series. The King of Ys series was co-written with Mrs. Anderson. I note in passing that this is also the series where the married male protagonist is rendered magically impotent if he attempts adultery.


Doug M.
James Davis Nicoll
65. Doug M.
Okay, the link to Carlos' post is here:

http://hdtd.typepad.com/hdtd/2005/03/the-pa-system-is-broken.html



Doug M.
Rich Horton
66. ecbatan
I agree with Gardner that citing Jerome K. Jerome as a major interest of fandom seems offbase -- yes, Heinlein mentioned him, but that mention zipped right past me, and I knew essentially nothing of him until reading To Say Nothing of the Dog.

I admit, I read Three Men in a Boat shortly after that.

Sayers is a more widely fashionable writer to fans, but, as noted -- Stout at least has some following. Certainly Chandler too. For that matter, one of the very best stories of 2011 is Brad Denton's "The Adakian Eagle", forthcoming in Gardner's anthology (coedited with GRR Martin) Down These Strange Streets, and it's about Dashiell Hammett.
James Davis Nicoll
67. CarlosSkullsplitter
66: I remember reading so many interminable discussions about Sayers among fans that it really astonishes me that someone could deny it. There are virtually no comparable discussions about Stout, or Chandler, or for that matter Joseph Conrad: those are authors individual science fiction writers admire and emulate, but with no larger appeal within the subculture. They're not part of the "conversation", to use Jo's term.

(My own take is that the authors selected for use in the "conversation" are there to define a sociological in-group and out-group. Like record store clerks and Yo La Tengo -- sorry, like the characters in Hornby's High Fidelity use certain films and albums.)

And as I said, "a slice of the fannish demographic". Is that enough to swing elections? Almost certainly. These aren't high turnout affairs. Unless you want to argue that Hominids represents an accurate consensus view of the science fiction readership in 2003. Maybe it does!

I've never met anyone who has read Three Men in a Boat who hadn't been intrigued by Heinlein's description first (though that might not have been the immediate catalyst). I see it occasionally mentioned in PBS/Britophile puff pieces, so maybe it's being read by people who collect Princess Diana memorabilia too.

It's a little beyond the scope of Jo's retrospective, but I'll note Bujold has used Sayers as well.
James Davis Nicoll
68. Gardner Dozois
I must admit that I first read THREE MEN IN A BOAT because of the reference in HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, but I still think that he's a largely obscure author these days, even among SF fans, especially American SF fans.

Impossible to say, of course, what all fandom/prodom knows and likes, but my feeling is that if you could somehow take a survey where SF people voted for their favorite mystery writer, Sayers would not be at the top of the list. It may be that Sayers fans are more "vocal" about their addiction, particularly online; perhaps she appeals particularly to a segment of fanzine fans and bloggers, who then write articles about her, which may skew the perception of how obsessed with her fandom is as a whole. I'd be willing to bet that many if not most fans have never even read her. I still find it dubious that Willis's book won because because it references Sayer and Jerome, or even that the election was influenced to a significant degree by that factor. It may not appeal to you, but I think people voted for it because they liked it, and I don't think they liked it because it referenced their favorite authors.
Rob Munnelly
69. RobMRobM
As I think I've said in earlier posts, while TSNOTD taken by itself is enjoyable, I read real problems with it as a follow up to Doomsday Book. Doomsday is all about the inherent dangers of time travel and how it cannot be undertaken cavalierly, and then you have TSNOTD with its core plot point sending an exhausted, unprepared student back in time to find a ridiculous sculpture. The combination was a big problem.

Rob
Emmet O'Brien
70. EmmetAOBrien
lastyear@50: You are of course right. I plead insufficient caffeine.
Soon Lee
71. SoonLee
Jedikalos @55:

Hope springs eternal. This from an Internet Archive capture of his old site (http://www.tonydaniel.com) which now points to his Facebook page:

Superluminal also ends with something of a cliff-hanger. Will there be a final book in the series?Eos decided not to make an offer on the third book in the series. My sales were decent, but underwhelming. This is, as you might suppose, a large professional disappointment for me. I pushed hard for a final book. There are various alternatives to finishing the series, but all involve my not being able to feed my family – I’m not twenty and living on air and gumption any more. It is even more distressing for me to leave the loyal readers of the first two books without the whizz-bang, no-holds-barred finale I had planned. Some day. At the moment, I hope to at least hint at the ending I had in mind by writing a few short stories set in the Metaplanetary milieu. I hope this is, at least, some consolation to readers who feel let down by my not being able to complete the tale.



James Davis Nicoll
72. Gardner Dozois
That reads to me as if the last book in the METAPLANETARY trilogy hasn't yet actually been written. Which is too bad, as it would be a lot more likely to show up as an ebook if he had a completed manuscript sitting around the house than if he had to sit down and write it from scratch without an advance to make that financially possible. If this is so, my guess is that you'll never see that third volume.
Jo Walton
73. bluejo
I loathe Three Men In A Boat and only read the Willis when I was informed that it wasn't a requirement. And I hadn't read Sayers when I first read it and was grumpy about having GN spoiled.

Sure I tried Jerome because of Heinlein. I also looked at Rodin because of Heinlein and listened to Holst because of Mary Renault, and the Beatles because of Le Guin, didn't listen to Bach for ages because of Dodie Smith, and read Kipling because of E. Nesbit. Yes, I was born completely ignorant and entirely without culture. I don't even feel defensive about it. People mostly are.
James Davis Nicoll
74. Jeff R.
I liked TSNotD just fine, but very little of that enjoyment was particularly due to the SFnal elements of the story. (In re-reading _Blackout/Allclear_ I'm coming to realize that the specific nature of Willis' time travel, under pretty much all of the theories proposed so far in the books, utterly denies human free will and agency. It says a lot about Willis's talents as a writer that she can write books about philosophical zombies and still have it be interesting.] I believe I thought _The Golden Globe_ was robbed at the time, and would still take it over the field.

Speaking of Roberies: not a single Novella out of _Legends_ got nominated?!? "The Hedge Knight" certainly belonged in contention, and cases could be made at least for the Pratchett and the Jordan as well. and Silverberg deserved an Editor nod as well there...
Rich Horton
75. ecbatan
"The Hedge Knight" was third in the Locus voting, and Le Guin's "Dragonfly" was second. Both also got World Fantasy Award nominations.

(It would be my view that those were clearly the two best stories in the book, but then I've never been a Jordan reader.)

As for Sayers and fandom's attraction to her ... well, I'll agree to mostly disagree. I mean, unquestionably she is a popular mystery writer among SF fans, and certainly two very prominent writers (Willis and Bujold) made their love for her very clear -- and at about the same time ... but it doesn't seem unusual or wrong to me. I like Sayers plenty -- I read her early, and not because of any SF prompting but because I was reading mysteries, and had read Christie and wanted more ...

It may be that SF readers, often (though not always by any means) isolated from the "mainstream" currents, and often (though not always by any means) hostile to the "literarily approved" set of writers, tend to discover new writers disproportionately because of "in-SF recommendations", or something.

But I don't know. I know I've always read books by writers whom writers I admire like, but aren't most writers like that? And not just in SF -- I read Anthony Powell because of Kingsley Amis (to be fair, Amis has a connection to SF, but I read him first because Lucky Jim was a set text in HS English), and that thread led me as well to, oh, Penelope Fitzgerald, and somehow also to Robertson Davies (I think, unless he came from a different direction) ... and to Elizabeth Taylor. And so on.
James Davis Nicoll
76. Jeff R.
And next year Far Horizons gets shut out of the Novella and Editor categories while taking home three of the top five Locus Award slots...what was it that Hugo Voters (relative to Locus Voters) had against those books, anyhow?
Clark Myers
77. ClarkEMyers
David Drake on Kipling and as an aside perhaps on once fannish favorites of "the first forty years" depending on how one takes modern now a term of art and not an adjective - have fannish favorites changed with the genre?

For the first forty years of its existence, modern SF was a short story genre. As a result, it’s only to be expected that a short story writer as good as Kipling would be very influential in the field.


James Davis Nicoll
78. Gardner Dozois
They didn't read them. They weren't the traditional sources of material. Just as, until only a few years ago, when this started to turn, they didn't read the electronic online-only markets either.
Clark Myers
79. ClarkEMyers
There is an argument that modern fandom owes its existence to the original Star Trek. For the first time it was possible to be fannish without actually you know having to read (hat tip AJ).

Then again with the sole exception of Three Men in a Boat there really is (IMHO) no reason to read Jerome K. Jerome - Dover did a comprehensive reprint of what in retrospect was likely mining public domain works by recognizable names to make the writings available - hardly surprising that Three Men in a Boat was a high point but again IMHO none of the balance even comes close. I do wonder though that someone might like TSNotD and not Three Men in a Boat.

Sayers can be associated with the Niven/Pournelle's Inferno series.

I'd have expected Doyle's The White Company to have as much fannish (SCAdian overlap lacking?) appeal as Holmes but maybe it's a Jeremy Brett issue? Dickson never did the first part of the Childe Cycle with similar material - perhaps wisely seeing from Lucas the advantage of starting in medias res and never looking back :).
James Davis Nicoll
80. Jeff R.
Really? I thought that the Jordan novella pretty much made Legends the best-selling anthology to hit the markets in, basically, forever (with the second Dunk&Egg doing the same for the sequel). I mean, it got an audiobook release, which implies some really strong sales at that time, right? Far Horizons didn't do as well, but still...
David Levinson
81. DemetriosX
Sayers can be associated with the Niven/Pournelle's Inferno series.


You would think that, but it's not really true. I had the two of them tell me at a signing 20 years ago that they had never read her work on Dante. In fact, they gave me the impression that everything they knew about it came from reading Chiardi's translation specifically as research for the book.

As for Holmes beating out Challenger or other Doyle work, I'd say a large part of that is the fact that Holmes simply swamps everything else in every segment. Also, IIRC, some early fans/writers were also involved with the Baker Street Irregulars (I want to say at least de Camp and Dickson as well as a few others) and so Holmes has a very long legacy in SF fandom.
Clark Myers
82. ClarkEMyers
Tony Boucher (White) for one was deeply involved in everything Holmes and made money for much it and there's also Solar Pons.

The Sayers translation is poetic, and her notes are extensive. I recommend it.


Dr. Pournelle
Rich Horton
83. ecbatan
Nitpicking -- the translation is by John Ciardi. That was my translation -- the American translation, in my opinion.

Sayers, oddly, did not know Italian. Or so I understand. Though her translation is at least somewhat well regarded.

Ciardi of course has an SF connection -- not only was he a friend of Isaac Asimov's, not only did he have a poem in F&SF, he also had two short stories in F&SF, pretty decent stuff, under the name "John Anthony".

(And for what it's worth I just finished reading a Ciardi poetry collection, The Little That is All.)
James Davis Nicoll
84. Gardner Dozois
I remember reading my first Ciardi poem in a Judith Merril Best of the Year anthology, depressingly many years ago.
James Goetsch
85. Jedikalos
Dorothy Sayers certainly knew medieval Italian (which is the language of Dante). She studied modern language and medieval studies at Oxford, taking a "first with honors" (but was unable to recieve the degree at the time because such degrees were not given to women!). Umberto Eco praises her translation because it is one of the few that seeks to preserve the traditional Italian rhyme scheme.
Rich Horton
86. ecbatan
I expressed myself poorly -- Sayers didn't know Italian until she learned it, at approximately 50 years old, with the intention of reading Dante in the original. This is pretty remarkable in many ways.

Her language at Oxford was French, I believe.

Ciardi purposely used a modified terza rima scheme -- aba cdc instead of aba bcb -- because English is so much less rich in rhyme than Italian -- and I thought his choice made sense.
James Davis Nicoll
87. CarlosSkullsplitter
75: didn't see this was still going!

I don't see it as a major wrong, but I do see it as narrowing and exclusionary, and it can be used to pander to an audience, which can skew award results, especially in low turnout, self-selected voting affairs like the Hugos.

73: Jo, I didn't mean to put you on the defensive. I apologize.
James Davis Nicoll
88. Alan Heuer
Here is how I voted in 1999:

Best Novel
1. Distraction Bruce Sterling
2. Children of God Mary Doria Russell
3. To Say Nothing of the Dog Connie Willis
4. Darwinia Robert Charles Wilson
5. Factoring Humanity Robert J. Saywer

Best Novella
1. "Story of Your Life" Ted Chiang
2. "Oceanic" Greg Egan
3. "The Summer Isles" Ian R. MacLeod
4. "Get Me to the Church on Time" Terry Bisson
5. "Aurora in Four Voices" Catherine Asaro

Best Novelette
1. "Divided by Infinity" Robert Charles Wilson
2. "Echea" Kristine Kathryn Rusch
3. "Steamship Soldier on the Information Front" Nancy Kress
4. "Taklamakan" Bruce Sterling
5. "The Planck Dive" Greg Egan
6. "Time Gypsy" Ellen Klages
7. "Zwarte Piet's Tale" Allen Steele

Best Short Story
1. "Wild Minds" Michael Swanwick
2. "Maneki Neko" Bruce Sterling
3. "Whiptail" Robert Reed
4. "The Very Pulse of the Machine" Michael Swanwick
5. "Radiant Doors" Michael Swanwick
6. "Cosmic Corkscrew" Michael A. Burstein
James Davis Nicoll
90. Denny Lien
Re:
"I've never met anyone who has read Three Men in a Boat who hadn't been intrigued by Heinlein's description first (though that might not have been the immediate catalyst)."

Over here. Waves hand.

I discovered Jerome K. Jerome in grad school (even though he Wasn't In My Period) and read not only TMiaB but ten or so other books by him when I should have been reading minor Elizabethan dramatists.

This was certainly not due to any memory of Heinlein having recommended him, since I'd read HAVE SPACESUIT a dozen years earlier and had absolutely no memory of Heinlein having made mention of Jerome.

On the Willis book, I was pretty much meh. Enjoyed it well enough but probably would not have voted for it if I had been voting for the Hugos. Though the real Hugo injustice for me that year was Disch winning the Nonficton Book Hugo over Bleiler's massive and fascinating SCIENCE FICTION: THE GERNSBACK YEARS.

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