Sun
Sep 11 2011 10:08am

Hugo Nominees: 2000

2000 Hugo Awards trophyThe 2000 Hugo Awards were presented in Chicon 2000, in Chicago — and next year’s Worldcon will be in Chicago again. Maybe a good time to buy a membership!

The Best Novel Hugo went to Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky (post), a space opera about interstellar slower than light civilization, awesome aliens, and a future with finite technological advances. It’s an excellently written book doing exactly what I always want science fiction to do, and it’s an excellent Hugo winner. It’s in print, another volume in the series is coming out next month, and it’s in the library (the Grande Bibliotheque upholding our library standard as usual) in English and French.

There are four other nominees and I’ve read three of them.

The one I haven’t read is Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio. I haven’t read it because it was a near future technothriller about “something sleeping in our genes waking up,” which just never seemed appealing enough to pick up. I’d have read it if I’d been voting, but I wasn’t and I didn’t. It’s in print and in the library in English and French.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign (post) is another volume in the Vorkosigan series, it’s a science fiction romantic comedy, it’s very enjoyable but it doesn’t stand alone very well and it isn’t really breaking new ground. However, seeing this nominated shows that the image of nominating fans as stuck-in-the-mud older geeky males had pretty much evaporated by the end of the twentieth century. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English and French. (And the French title is Ekaterin.)

Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (post) an absolutely brilliant generational novel about cryptography and society and the possibility of keeping secrets. People argued that it wasn’t SF, but it does contain the philosphers’ stone, which makes it fantasy. I really love it and I think it’s an excellent nominee, the kind of quirky unusual thing I like to see on these lists. It’s in print and in the library in English and French — in three volumes.

I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because it was nominated. It’s a boarding school story which brilliantly replaces the class snobbery books like this had in my childhood with snobbery over magical talent. I thought it was pretty good, and I went back and read the first two books afterwards. I may finish the series one of these days, or maybe not. The phenomenon of the worldwide passion these books inspire leaves me completely baffled. It’s in print and in the library in English, French, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, and in braille in English and French, making it the best library represented Hugo nominee of all time.

So, two women and three men, four Americans and one Brit, one fantasy children’s book about wizard school, one space opera, one near future technothriller, one generational novel about cryptography and a planetary SF romance. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award went to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents, which wasn’t Hugo eligible in 2000. None of their other nominees are Hugo eligible either!

The World Fantasy Award was given to Martin Scott’s Thraxas. Other nominees were: Gardens of the Moon, Steven Erikson, The Rainy Season, James P. Blaylock, A Red Heart of Memories, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Tamsin, Peter S. Beagle, A Witness to Life, Terence M. Green.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Deepness, with Darwin’s Radio second, Norman Spinrad’s Greenhouse Summer third, and Jack Williamson’s The Silicon Dagger and Peter Watts’s Starfish receiving honourable mentions.

Starfish would have been an interesting Hugo nominee, but it was an early work — and an early sign of an emerging major talent.

The Philip K. Dick Award was won by Stephen Baxter’s Vacuum Diagrams with a special citation for Jamil Nasir’s Tower of Dreams. Other nominees were Code of Conduct, Kristine Smith, Typhon’s Children, Tony Anzetti, When We Were Real, William Barton.

The Tiptree Award was given to by Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Conquerer’s Child.

The Locus SF Award was won by Cryptonomicon. Other nominees not yet mentioned were Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card, Forever Free, Joe Haldeman, Precursor, C. J. Cherryh, (post) On Blue’s Waters, Gene Wolfe, The Naked God, Peter F. Hamilton, Teranesia, Greg Egan, The Cassini Division, Ken MacLeod, The Martian Race, Gregory Benford, Waiting, Frank M. Robinson, Time: Manifold 1 (US edition Manifold: Time), Stephen Baxter, All Tomorrow’s Parties, William Gibson, Bios, Robert Charles Wilson, The Far Shore of Time, Frederik Pohl, Finity, John Barnes,  Ancients of Days, Paul J. McAuley, Souls in the Great Machine, Sean McMullen, Singer from the Sea, Sheri S. Tepper, The Extremes, Christopher Priest.

I love Precursor but nobody’s going to nominate book 4 in a series that starts out rockily. The Cassini Division would have been a terrific nominee if it had been eligible — staggered US/UK publication probably means it wasn’t.

The Locus Fantasy Award was won by the Harry Potter. Other nominees not yet mentioned: The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett, Fortress of Owls, C. J. Cherryh,  Dark Cities Underground, Lisa Goldstein, The Eternal Footman, James Morrow, Enchantment, Orson Scott Card, Mr. X, Peter Straub, A Calculus of Angels, J. Gregory Keyes, The Marriage of Sticks, Jonathan Carroll, Dragonshadow, Barbara Hambly, Black Light, Elizabeth Hand, The Stars Compel, Michaela Roessner, The Sub, Thomas M. Disch, Saint Fire, Tanith Lee, The Wild Swans, Peg Kerr, Sea Dragon Heir, Storm Constantine, Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Tamsin, and the only nominee not yet mentioned was Yves Meynard’s wonderful The Book of Knights.

Is there anything all these awards missed?

There’s Lawrence Watt Evans’s Dragon Weather, a surprisingly original fantasy take on the Count of Monte Cristo, with dragons, Pat Cadigan’s Promised Land, Kage Baker’s Sky Coyote, Walter Jon Williams’s The Rift, Madeleine Robins’s The Stone War, and Amy Thompson’s Through Alien Eyes.

But on the whole, I think this was a year where the nominees did a pretty good job. I’m not excited about Harry Potter, but goodness knows a lot of people are. Really, this is the first year in a long time where there isn’t anything that strikes me as clamouring to be on the shortlist.

Other Categories

NOVELLA

  • “The Winds of Marble Arch,” Connie Willis (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “The Astronaut from Wyoming,” Adam-Troy Castro & Jerry Oltion (Analog Jul/Aug 1999)
  • “Forty, Counting Down,” Harry Turtledove (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Hunting the Snark,” Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Son Observe the Time,” Kage Baker (Asimov’s May 1999)

I’d have put the Turtledove first, one of his best stories. And that’s one of Baker’s best as well. By the way, watch this space for an interesting thing I’m hoping to do with some of these Hugo nominated novellas starting in a month or so.

NOVELETTE

  • “1016 to 1,” James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Jun 1999)
  • “Border Guards,” Greg Egan (Interzone #148 Oct 1999)
  • “The Chop Girl,” Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Fossil Games,” Tom Purdom (Asimov’s Feb 1999)
  • “The Secret History of the Ornithopter,” Jan Lars Jensen (F&SF Jun 1999)
  • “Stellar Harvest,” Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s Apr 1999)

And novelette was having a great year, too.

SHORT STORY

  • “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur,” Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Jul 1999)
  • “Ancient Engines,” Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 1999)
  • “Hothouse Flowers,” Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “macs,” Terry Bisson (F&SF Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “Sarajevo,” Nick DiChario (F&SF Mar 1999)

In fact all of the short categories were in very good form as they closed out the century.

RELATED BOOK

  • Science Fiction of the 20th Century, Frank M. Robinson (Collectors Press)
  • Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide, Karen Cooper & Bruce Schneier (Rune Press)
  • The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen (Ebury Press)
  • Spectrum 6: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)

I’m really glad I didn’t have to vote on this. I have no idea how you can compare things this different to rate them. It’s an excellent restaurant guide, I’ve used it, and The Science of Discworld is entertaining and informative. How is the Sandman volume non-fiction? Oh well.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION

  • Galaxy Quest (DreamWorks SKG; Directed by Dean Parisot; Screenplay by David Howard & Robert Gordon; Story by David Howard)
  • Being John Malkovich (Single Cell Pictures/Gramercy Pictures/Propaganda Films; Directed by Spike Jonze; Written by Charlie Kaufman)
  • The Iron Giant (Warner Bros. Animation; Directed by Brad Bird; Screenplay by Brad Bird & Tim McCanlies, from a book by Ted Hughes)
  • The Matrix (Village Roadshow Productions/Groucho II Film Partnership/Silver Pictures; Written and Directed by Andy & Larry Wachowski)
  • The Sixth Sense (Spyglass Entertainment/Hollywood Pictures; Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan)

I love Galaxy Quest. Indeed I’ve seen the first three of these nominees, and for once that’s three films that actually deserve to be on a Hugo ballot. I’m prepared to take the other two on truat and say that here we have five films that are all Hugo worthy and which it might be hard to choose between. If only that were the case every year! On the whole, I still think Dramatic Presentation delenda est....

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

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

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

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

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, Kent Brewster

FANZINE

  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • Challenger, Guy H. Lillian III
  • Mimosa, Nicki & Richard Lynch
  • Plokta, Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott

FAN WRITER

  • Dave Langford
  • Bob Devney
  • Mike Glyer
  • Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Steven H Silver

FAN ARTIST

  • Joe Mayhew
  • Freddie Baer
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Taral Wayne

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (Not a Hugo)

  • Cory Doctorow
  • Thomas Harlan
  • Ellen Klages
  • Kristine Smith
  • Shane Tourtellotte

Well, an excellent winner. Cory won on short work, his first novel didn’t come out until 2003. He has gone on from strength to strength, including a Hugo nomination in 2009 for Little Brother. He’s clearly a major writer and it’s nice to see him getting the recognition right at the beginning of his career.

Thomas Harlan was nominated on the strength of his first novel, Shadows of Ararat. and he has gone on to publish another novel almost every year since. A good solid Campbell choice.

Ellen Klages had only published short work at the time of her nomination. She has gone on to write some wonderful YA novels and more amazing adult SF and fantasy at short lengths. She’s amazing.

Kristine Smith was clearly nominated on the strength of her well received first novel, Code of Conduct. She won the Campbell Award in 2001. She has published four more novels since.

I wasn’t familiar with Shane Tourtellotte. He seems to have been nominated on the basis of short work in Analog, and he has gone on since to write more short fiction mostly in Analog.

Who else might they have nominated? It’s hard to know who’s eligible, but China Mieville? Peter Watts? Juliet McKenna? Justina Robson? Steven Erickson? They all had first novels out that year. Campbell eligibility is weird, but all of these people were new writers in 2000 and have gone on to become major writers.

This is the last year I’m looking at, but there will be a final post in this series next week summing up the experience, what I have learned from it, and whether and how often I think the Hugo nominees are doing a good job of finding the five best books of the year.


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.

61 comments
James Davis Nicoll
1. James Davis Nicoll
This is the last year I’m looking at [...]

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
James Davis Nicoll
2. James Davis Nicoll
Darwin's Radio combines wacky science with unlabelled part one of twoism. Like most moderates, I believe readers have the right to encircle the home of the editor who chooses not to put clear warning on the covers of half-books to shout angry slogans (songs and interpretive dance also OK). As I recall this was the beginning of a long stretch of futuristic thillers for Bear, although he's recently begun writing more mainstream SF again; the latest book I saw by him was a bit like Dust meets The Dark Beyond the Stars (and a whole lot like SPI's The Wreck of the BSM Pandora); it stands as a tribute to the importance of properly documenting projects.

A Civil Campaign (post)[...] doesn’t stand alone very well and it isn’t really breaking new ground.

I actually got someone hooked on Bujold with it, for what that's worth.

When We Were Real, William Barton

A furry romance in a crapsack setting, one with a high Gini Coefficient and a less tolerant view of the lower orders by the rich than was seen during, oh, the Colorado Coal Strike.
Despite that, oddly upbeat for a Barton.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
I have to say I'm going to miss this series. Between this and the alphabetical suggestion series before it, your posts have been one of the reasons to bother turning on the computer on Sunday.

The only nominated novel I've read is the Potter. I'm a Harry Potter fan, but I really don't think it belongs here. All the books are fun and enjoyable, but not really award worthy. The other four nominees are all from authors I've never been able to warm to, although everybody else seems to really like them. Vinge and Bear I understand why I don't like them. It's the post-human/Singularity thing; turns me off more than cyberpunk does to Jo. The other two, I have no explanation.

The novellas are all very good. I would be torn between the Turtledove and the Resnick. I might lean toward the Resnick, because the Turtledove is semi-experimental and really only half of the tale.

The novelettes are also all good. Still, I think the winner is indicative of the aging of SF fandom. I was only a few months old during the Cuban Missile Crisis and my only real connection to it comes from growing up in the final stages of the Cold War. Do readers who are more than a few years younger than I am really connect with this story?

The Dramatic Presentation list is very good and I would probably have voted for Galaxy Quest. It's not only science fiction, it's also about science fiction. The Matrix is, alas, now tainted by the sequels, but even so has certain McGuffin problems (apparently caused by studio execs who didn't understand the difference between processing power and a power source).

I'm glad Jo noted that the Campbell has odd eligibility requirements. I would have said that Doctorow wasn't eligible. He'd had several stories published before "Craphound" (which was much later than I would have thought) and even had one mentioned by Gardner in a Year's Best, but apparently they were only semi-pro publications and so don't count.
James Davis Nicoll
4. James Davis Nicoll
Darwin's Radio combines wacky science

Wacky biology, though, and biological sf is that kid who shows up at school with unexplained bruises and broken bones. Makes an interesting paired reading piece to Egan's Teranesia, also featuring non-concensus models of biology.

As I recall that was back when Egan would turn up to discuss his work on rec.arts.sf.written; there was an energetic exchange of opinions about this particular book. I don't recall if it the last book before his hiatus from writing SF (he spent a considerable amount of time in the aughts on good works aimed at making Australia less unpleasant).
James Davis Nicoll
5. Raskolnikov
A Deepness Upon the Sky: strong work, quite polished and with interesting ideas on community, plot and disruptive technologies, plus a strong setting. Weakened by overly one-note super-evil villains, and a few late plot twists that aren't anchored quite enough. Probably Vinge's best novel, far from the best work of the year, but not a bad Hugo winner.

Darwin's Radio: decent for what it is, and has some interesting reflections on the politics of fright. Overly science heavy, though, without enough of an ending SFnal kick to carry things over, and features too many of Bear's usual character quirks. Also noticeable as the start of his turn towards near-future thrillers, and the swift decline of his writing capability (not entirely linked together, his recent attempt at ambitious far-future SF---City at the End of Time--was a disaster).

Cryptonomicon: Easily Stephenson's best, managing a wider cast effectively, and making his anti-narrative, geeked up enthusiasm to share information work in his favor more effectively than elsewhere in his career. Worthy nominee, and I might be tempted to give it the edge over Deepness.

A Civil Campaign: fluffy and insubstantial. Relies on strong reader investment with the characters and setting, and costs on both accounts, going with very, very low key political stakes and only slightly higher romantic ones. Probably the second-worst Vorkosgian book and not in the end very compelling, didn't deserve the nomination.

Prisoner of Azkaban: Weak worldbuilding, shallow characters, trite blurge of sentiment in lieu of significant thematic resonance. Fast paced and with a decent ability to pull along attention, and for that reason a lot better than any of the subsequent Harry Potter novels.

Greenhouse Summer: Sprinrad tackles environmental collapse/dystopia, and almost manages a truly great novel. The premise manages to be unique, there's a lot of energy, and all kinds of fascinating details slot into place to make the world feel substantial, an environmental calamity story told with awareness of those who are in fact profiting from the event, and how they present themselves. Unfortunately it weakens significantly across the second half, with Sprinrad not bringing anything like the same complexity of analysis to gender and sexuality as he does to race. The end result falls into very good, not quite classic stature.

Starfish: sadly, abot as close to having a real story as Watts would ever get, and it catches him early enough in his career that he hasn't quite become an ultra-grimdark parody of himself. Still, Starfish isn't a good story, taking far too long to setup the main situation, and at the ending pulling the rug out from everything, rendering most past events meaningless and introducing a far more cliched Virus Eats the World scenario. The book has many neat ideas and pieces of technology, and the middle section where they're immersed in the underwater environment are decently strong, but things don't ultimately come together. He gets worse from that point.

Vacuum Diagrams: brilliant, matches Baxter's full strengths in scale, strangeness and bleak neo-Stapledon outlook. It's first rate science fiction, one of the best pieces of worldbuilding and extrapolation that the genre offers, and perhpas Baxter's high point. Manifold Time is great as well, although with a more clunky character focus and a few non-trivial conceptual flaws with the main premise.

Teranesia: Small scale Egan, oddly detailed and character-centric. Has the requisite Very Weird Hard SF idea, but only near the end, and played more for horror than anything. There's a lot of interesting discussion of evolution in particular here, and a respect for the methods of scientific inquiry that's to be conmended. The book suffers somewhat from an unclear focus and sense of aimlessness, plus lots of gratuitous and over-the-top potshots against academic post-modernism.

Fortress of Owls: One of Cherryh's weaker books, a bit of a placeholder in a relatively derivative and underwhelming series, and padded to boot. Does have an interesting take on magic and understanding of how tangled political intrigue can get, but on the whole better off skipping it unless one is a diehard completionist.
James Davis Nicoll
6. James Davis Nicoll
Still, I think the winner is indicative of the aging of SF fandom.

Hugo fandom, anyway. It struck me a couple of weeks ago that SF books are easy enough to sell to kids as long as you're careful to market them as anything that avoids getting them stuck on the SF shelf in a book store.
James Davis Nicoll
7. CarlosSkullsplitter
And a positive blip upward after a decade-long downward trend. One outsider, one installment, and three in the Campbellian tradition, two of which are actually good. More to the point, there are few other possible candidates from the pool, so it appears the process worked.

I have extraliterary problems with A Deepness in the Sky. Once again, Campbellian SF has been used as a vector for some pretty crackpot ideas that people unaccountably take seriously: the dangers of total law enforcement and the dangers of just-in-time inventory. It wouldn't bother me so much if they weren't obviously written to be spoon-fed to reader, or if the readers so fed were distracted by something shinier later. But I still see people discuss these things twelve years later as if they were more pressing problems than, say, cancer.

It's also interesting how Deepness prefigures Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, though of course Vinge is on the fringe right, while Klein is on the fringe left. The mustache twirling villains don't help (a perennial weakness in Vinge).

Props to Vinge as a wordsmith, though. Deepness has some of the best prose of his career, and of course the ability to convince is one of the tools in the kit.

Cryptonomicon has crackpot ideas too, but Stephenson has a sense of humor about it. It's quirky, but mainstream readers will see a lot of Thomas Pynchon in Cryptonomicon. And it's Stephenson at the height of his powers knowing he's at the height of his powers: e.g., the Cap'n Crunch scene is just that sort of virtuoso stunt such writers pull, in a book filled with them. A careful read will also show that Stephenson already had much of the mythology of the Baroque Cycle already in place (not merely the philosopher's stone).

Meynard was briefly mentioned last year, but this would be a good place to expand on him. He was one of the inspirations for Wolfe's The Knight, an interesting case of a very good book quickly inspiring another very good book. Was it originally published in French and then translated, or was it written in English?

Personal favorites this year: Kage Baker's Sky Coyote, which almost has to be a response to Le Guin's stodgy use of Native California themes, but it's also a caper novel, and that is amazing. Baker researched some very obscure areas of early California history for the setting -- if I had to guess, that she found through an interest in the life of John Peabody Harrington, but she was a polymath, so who knows.

And Jonze/Kaufman's Being John Malkovich -- my mind wants to connect it to Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, but with, er, Catherine Keener. I would love to see how the script developed over time.
James Davis Nicoll
8. Kevin Standlee
The Sandman graphic novel was in Related Book because of the insistance that "if it's full of pictures, then it's an Art Book." This was yet one more brick in the wall that led up to the adoption of Best Graphic Story a few years later so that graphic novels would have a category of their own. Now the question is whether the category will survive, as it will have to be re-ratified by next year's WSFS Business Meeting in Chicago. If it fails of ratification, then graphic novels will be kicked back into Best Related Work.
James Davis Nicoll
9. James Davis Nicoll
Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon

What were you thinking, Locus readers?

Rhapsody is the sort of Pure Wonderful wrapped around a core of To Know Her is to Love Her with a Tiny Perfect Hat of Tragedy on top that would give a Jacqueline Carey protagonist pause. And the books she was in were long and as I recall generally book fragments. And there were apostrophes.
James Davis Nicoll
10. Tom Scudder
Darwin's Radio was terrible. I got pissed off at the switching-viewpoints-with-each-chapter, read to the end of one viewpoint, and never went back to the other one.
James Davis Nicoll
11. seth e.
I'm also sad that this blog series is ending, it's been very fun and informative. I'm excited that there's some kind of novella series in the works, though. And if, tor.com, if it were hypothetically to coincide with some kind of digital re-publishing synergy whereby OOP novellas were made electronically available at reasonable prices, well, that would be awesome. Short works are even harder to find than OOP novels.

Cryptonomicon is great, and the last Stephenson I read all the way through. His unlikely strengths are still strengths (making extra-narrative infodumps fun), whereas by the Baroque Cycle, it seemed to me they'd turned into the usual weaknesses. Long disquisitions on, say, the underpinnings of international capitalism are dull even when you deliver them archly. Sometimes even more so; every once in a while I wanted to track Stephenson down and say, look, just tell me what you want me to know. But that didn't happen here.

I wasn't hugely surprised that J.K. Rowling's amiable synthesis of every single British children's-lit genre was a success, but I am baffled at the enormous devotion it's generated over, what, fourteen years or something. I guess it had to be recognized by any self-respecting awards organization at some point, but as a book itself it's just pretty good.

And I guess that's the last comment I have on the Hugos.
john mullen
12. johntheirishmongol
I hate to say this, but I am an older guy and I loved A Civil Campaign. I thought it was funny, and romantic, and managed that with still keeping Miles himself.

I don't get the obsession over Harry Potter either, but if it gets kids to read, I am all for it. I thought they were fairly pedestrian and gimmicky.

Of the films, I am surprised that Galaxy Quest won, but I am all in favor of it. I was surprised that no sequel was ever made. It was such a great riff off of Star Trek without talking down to the fans. If I had predicted, I would have thought Matrix would have won, simply for the groundbreaking FX, but glad it didn't.

The others were all good films, although I am not a fan of Malkovich so I wasn't that fond of it.

I think this is a good stopping point, although I will miss the commentary.
lake sidey
13. lakesidey
All good things etc etc. But damn, I'm going to miss this re-read; I've added at least half a dozen novels to my (already overlong) to-read list. Bless you, Jo, you've enriched my life a wee bit!

About the nominees - Azkaban is my favourite in the Potter series, so am not too unhappy it got nominated. However, I would gladly have exchanged it for, say, Ender's Shadow (the literary conceit of a parallel novel through different eyes is surprisingly well pulled off; inspite of the deux ex machina/coincidences which litter the story, it was still a great read.). The Fifth Elephant, also, was a lovely read (though as the nth book in a series, not really nominatable I suppose).

But I have absolutely no objections to the eventual winner; I loved Deepness to bits inspite of the sundry minor flaws pointed out by those above (As Kvothe might have put it: ...to love a thing despite. To know the flaws and love them too....) and I am eagerly awaiting Vinge's next. Going to be a long month waiting...but then we fans of RJ and GRRM have learnt patience!

(Oh, and the Matrix is probably worth a watch. At least the first movie.)

~lakesidey
David Levinson
14. DemetriosX
@12
A Galaxy Quest sequel could have been fun, but I'm not sure what they could have done for a story. Obviously their new TV show was the result of government influence to guarantee their silence while they began the process of reverse engineering the ship.

From the business side of things, this was probably Tim Allen's last successful film. He quickly turned into box office poison. Alan Rickman got involved in a little fantasy project that took up the next decade of his life. Tony Shaloub went off to make OCD funny. And Sam Rockwell slowly turned into a name. It would have been tough to get them all back for another go.
Michal Jakuszewski
15. Lfex
Two very good nominees here. A Deepness in the Sky is certainly a worthy winner, but I would give first place to Cryptonomicon which was probably unjustly dismissed by some voters for not being SF/F. Admittedly I also realized it is only after reread. A Civil Campaign and Darwin's Radio were decent nominees, IMHO, even if not groundbreaking. Truly, Bear novel has a wacky bilogy, but is hardly first such case. I also don't understand attraction of Harry Potter. OK, it is entertaining light read (at least the first three volumes), but award level? No way. Well, at least it didn't win. This embarrassment was saved for the next year. (And it still wasn't the worst Hugo winner of the decade, since Hominids were worse).

As for other novels I agree Starfish should be there, but Watts wasn't as yet noticed by the wider public. The same probably goes for Gardens of the Moon. Erikson still hasn't reached his full power in this first novel, but it still would be a worthy nominee. I wouldn't mind if Tamsin or Teranesia were nominated, even if they certainly aren't the best novels of their respective authors. I think On Blue's Waters by Gene Wolfe should be eligible as well. If so, it would be a good nominee.

Once again, I read most short fiction nominees and I agree all ballots were quite strong. I am quite happy with Turtledove and Swanwick wins, but I would probably go with Egan in novelette category.
Jo Walton
16. bluejo
Yves Meynard has story ideas that are in one language or the other. A Book of Knights was an idea in English, and so is the SF trilogy that has been bought by David Hartwell and will be out from Tor sometime soon. His intervening long form ideas have been in French, some of them winning awards.

(He's local, and he's a friend, he's fluently bilingual, and I asked him about this ages ago.)
James Davis Nicoll
17. Madame Hardy
If Cryptonomicon isn't science fiction, nothing is science fiction. It's a book about how a particular science, cryptography, inflects our lives. It is, IMHO, close to unreadable by somebody who isn't interested in, say, two bicycle cogwheels being relatively prime.
Neville Park
18. nevillepark
Very sad to see the end of this series—and just as I was "around" for it, so to speak! (Read when they came out: the Harry Potter, and…does "A Niche", the short story that eventually became Starfish, count? And, once again, read many of the winners/nominees in the next few years.)

I'll be looking forward to your next posts whatever the subject, though.

Kvetching: I profoundly dislike both Cryptonomicon (everything that's wrong with straight white male geek culture, come at me bro) and Ender's Shadow (cringeworthy reconning to start off the inferior series of Ender's Game sequels) but damned if they weren't fast, compelling reads. On Blue's Waters was the book that turned me off Wolfe for…well, I still haven't gone back. Oh, well.
James Davis Nicoll
19. James Davis Nicoll
On Blue's Waters was the book that turned me off Wolfe for…well, I still haven't gone back. Oh, well.

Oh, you have to read his An Evil Guest. I read it and I don't see why you get to not-suffer.

This is a reasonably even-handed review of it:

http://www.strangehorizons.com/reviews/2008/10/an_evil_guest_b.shtml
James Davis Nicoll
20. Raskolnikov
Cory Doctrow for the Campbell Award for New Writer, eh? Have to say it seems like the Hugo voters screwed up again. People mentioned in this thread and some others how Stephenson can get rather caught up in his own nerdish enthusiasm to the expense of story--I'd say Cryptonomicon is where that best works for him, but it sometimes falls flat (cough, Baroque Cycle). Doctrow though has the same lack of narrative grace and eagerness to translate his own personal enthusiasm and interest into prose, with far less humor or style. And with only really having one main idea instread of Stephenson's overflow, talking about the moral superioirity of libertarian geeks in all cases. I'm reacting most heavily against Little Brother at this point, which isn't altogether fair to hold the voters of 2000 against, but I haven't seen anything by Doctorw that didn't come across as an over excited teenager eager to drive a single point in again and again. It's exactly that type of self-congratulatory in-crowd writing that's most poisonous for quality SF in recent times, and I'd regard Doctorw as right up with Sawyer, Resnick and Willis as deeply undeserving Hugo nominees/winners. Doctorw's stuff doesn't even try to be challenging, and Little Brother ended up being shrill to the point of being a self-parody.
James Davis Nicoll
21. CarlosSkullsplitter
5: Sprinrad not bringing anything like the same complexity of analysis to gender and sexuality as he does to race.

... tastes differ, but had I said that, I would have meant a book that should have been shipped directly from the publisher to the toilet paper factory. Spinrad has never been a subtle or complex writer about anything political. He's been engaged with politics, which is a different thing. His depiction of race is, frankly, cringeworthy. (On this first Sunday of the NFL season, let me remind you of Spinrad's "The National Pastime", with its charmingly divided teams: the Hog Choppers, the Black Panthers, the Gay Bladers, the Psychedelic Stompers, the Golden Supermen, and the Caballeros. All of whom are described with Spinrad's typical understatement and subtlety.)

16: I look forward to his next book!
Soon Lee
22. SoonLee
"By the way, watch this space for an interesting thing I’m hoping to do with some of these Hugo nominated novellas starting in a month or so."

!!!
M F
23. Madeline
Pleased to see people calling Vinge out on his Pure Evil villians. When I see that the opposition is painted as Pure Evil, I have to look askance at the protagonists: how bad are they that the author has to dig up this to make them look ok? The answer is usually, "Screw everyone in this book." I'm particularly annoyed when authors have the villian casually rape a woman to show how Evil they are, since it's so trivializing and cliche. Deepness was the book that ruined almost all Vinge for me... Once the scales fell from my eyes I saw he had Kick-the-dog villians and Idiot Plots in almost all of his books.

But of course Deepness was a major work in the genre and the Hugos are all about major works.

Dragon Weather and Sky Coyote both sound interesting and I hadn't heard of them before, so yay!

J.K. Rowling's stuff did an unusual thing: it created a world with enough holes that people could imagine other stories, but enough structure that they had something to build from. Her callbacks to older tropes helped that worldbuilding, sure, but it's still pretty rare for series to have that precise oxygen to fuel mixture... And then the spark of popular interest hit it, and voila, an enduring source of entertainment.

I'm looking forward to the wrap-up post, since this has been a consistently valuable set of posts with great comments.
James Davis Nicoll
24. Raskolnikov
#21: Carlos:
Oh, I'd never accuse Spinrad of being subtle, and he certainly hammers his point in. Yet I'd say that points like Bug Jack Baron do get the extent of racism and engage with it as a structure more than the overwhelming majority of science fiction writers. I suppose I'm crediting Spinrad with a somewhat greater perception of such issues combined with his relatively crude pattern of emphasis on it. Part of why I find most of his stuff good but not great, and thought at first Greenhouse Summer might have more going on structurally, before being left somewhat disapointed.
James Davis Nicoll
25. f_lupercus
I'm also sad that this blog series is ending, it's been very fun and informative.
Informative indeed. Here I learned that Schismatrix is not cyberpunk and that William Gibson wrote just one cyberpunk novel. Let's see what happen twenty years from now. Maybe then cyberpunk will be the logical conclusion to the wave that began with steampunk.

Anyway, Jo: great series. I'm looking forward to your musings on novellas.
Rich Horton
26. ecbatan
Well, I thought this year was a pretty strong year for the Hugos. Yes, A Deepness in the Sky has overly evull villains (though better motivated and more interesting than say, Elizabeth Moon's usual bunch), and perhaps some of his hobbyhorses are overexpressed (like the concern about just-in-time inventory) but those seem minor in the face of the good things about the book, including, as Carlos notes, some quite striking prose. To me it was clearly the best SF book of the year. That said, I'd have had little problem with Cryptonomicon winning, as that too was quite wonderful, for the reasons noted already. (And, yes, I gave up on the Baroque Cycle after one volume.)

Prisoner of Azkaban was the best Harry Potter novel, which means it was fast moving and very involving and quite fun, but not a Hugo winner.

Darwin's Radio was an interesting mess. A Civil Campaign is quite fun if somewhat minor -- but still full and accomplished, considerably better than the two Miles novels that have followed it, in neither of which did Bujold really seem interested.

At the time, besides Deepness and Cryptonomicon, my Hugo nominees were William Sanders' Billy Badass and the Rose of Turkestan; Wolfe's On Blue's Waters (which is a very good book, but not really Wolfe at his best); and Ken MacLeod's The Sky Road, which hadn't been published in the US yet, but which was surely a worthy nominee.

A few more novels worth a mention:

Pat Murphy's There and Back Again -- a retelling of The Hobbit as a Space Opera. Featherlight, I suppose, and maybe a bit twee, but I liked it plenty.

Don Webb's Essential Saltes -- only borderline SF, published as a mystery, but very good, rather strange. (An earlier related novel, The Double, is also very good.)

And Lawrence Watt-Evans' Dragon Weather, a very good start to a trilogy that ended decently enough but not as good as the opening.

I have to say that while I enjoyed Sky Coyote, in the end I thought it kind of a minor work.

And on the bad side, 1999 saw two of the worst novels in the genre I've ever had to read. One was Australian fantasy writer Traci Harding's The Alchemist's Key, which is grotesquely horrid quasi-romantic fantasy, not just a bad silly plot but some of the worst prose of all time. I reviewed this for an American academic journal on Australian literature, before I realized I could say no to reading bad books ... anyway they never asked me for anything else. (I suspect I managed to confirm some academic prejudices about the quality of the genre ... an example of us being judged at our worst.)

Also, this was the year of Larry Niven's Rainbow Mars, his worst novel (which takes some doing). This was when it was confirmed to me that he really can't write any more -- and he used to be good! By write I mean write prose that makes sense at the sentence and paragraph level, by the way -- I'm not asking for elegance or poetry, just coherence.

--
Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
27. Petar Belic
Despite some of the flaws in villains etc, Deepness in the Sky was a marvellous book, and fully deserving of its win. For me the standouts of that particular novel were Pham's discussions with the Philosopher Magnate about the nature of long lives, in an exotic setting, with the payoff a technology that fascinates me, because I'm currently a (very small) part of a team working on a project that uses an 'early version' of it! Another moment; walking through the frozen Spider city, looking for a children's illustrated reader. Pham's reminiscences were the strong points for me; they seemed to be a book within a book. It was a tour-de-force from a writer and futurist on the top of his game and I really enjoy revisiting it every few years.

Thanks Jo, for the wonderful series.
James Davis Nicoll
28. William Hyde
A good winner, though one I have somehow not felt the urge to read again.

"Darwin's Radio" is the first book by Bear that I actively disliked. Not for it's silly science - as a long-time SF reader I can believe in almost anything for the purposes of enjoying a book - but I found none of the characters at all interesting, and the style clunky. I'm reading "City at the End of Time" at the moment and enjoying it, though it seems a bit disjointed.

Thanks for the mention of "Sky Coyote". I meant to pick that up years ago but somehow utterly forgot it.

"Dragon Weather" and its sequels were good, light, read-on-the-train books. I like LWE's books in general, and his persona on rasfw is a definite postive to the group, but there's a key plot point in this book that I can't ignore as easily as I can ignore the science in "Darwin's Radio". Even fantasies can disrupt my WSOD, when it comes to something humans do.

I liked the "Paris as New Orleans" aspect of Greenhouse summer. The climate/cultural connection is something that is not generally explored in books involving future climate change. The rest of the book has faded from memory, though, which is not a good sign.

William Hyde
Rich Horton
29. ecbatan
As for short fiction, I thought this one of the best years ever in SF. That said, I wasn't too happy with most of the Hugo nomination list, nor with the winners.

In novella, "The Winds of Marble Arch" is OK but nothing special. And Resnick's "Hunting the Snark" is not just a twice-told tale, it's a four hundred and seventy-two times told tale -- and nothing in this story is new enough to make it stand out.

Here's my list (from back then) of the best novellas:
"Dapple", by Eleanor Arnason
"The Actors", by Eleanor Arnason
"Orphans of the Helix", by Dan Simmons
"Once Upon a Matter Crushed", by Wil McCarthy
"Twenty-One, Counting Up", by Harry Turtledove
"Argonautica", by Walter Jon Williams
"Forty, Counting Down", by Harry Turtledove
"Son Observe the Time", by Kage Baker
"The Wedding Album", by David Marusek
"Old Music and the Slave Women", by Ursula K. Le Guin
"The Gateway of Eternity", by Brian M. Stableford
"Fortitude", by Andy Duncan
"Epiphany", by Connie Willis
"The Astronaut from Wyoming", by Jerry Oltion and Adam-Troy Castro

That's in more or less my order of preference. My clear favorites were the two Arnason novellas -- the best two Hwarhath stories of all, in my opinion. You'll note I mildy preferred Turtledove's "Twenty-One, Counting Up" to the Hugo nominee, "Forty, Counting Down". But really I consider them as parts of the same story.

(I met Kage Baker once. She said "You don't like my stuff." I was astonished -- then and now. I looked back at everything I wrote about her (to that point) and all I could find that was even remotely less than complimentary was the above listing of "Son Observe the Time" as one of the best novellas of the year, but not quite above my nomination cutoff list, and also an SF Site review of Sky Coyote, which was positive but not gushing. On the other hand once I got a very nice note from Jonathan Carroll after an on-balance negative review of one of his novels. What that says I don't know -- some writers are really sensitive, I guess.)

My contemporary list of best novelets:

"Stellar Harvest", by Eleanor Arnason

"Attack of the Ignoroids", by Wayne Wightman
"Where Does the Town Go at Night", by Tanith Lee
"At Reparata", by Jeffrey Ford
"Chanoyu", by Esther Friesner
"Fossil Games", by Tom Purdom
"Strongbow", by R. Garcia y Robertson
"Border Guards", by Greg Egan
"Naming the Dead", by Paul J. McAuley
"Recalled to Home", by Michael Armstrong
"The Giftie", by James Gunn
"The Fourth Branch", by Kage Baker
"Soldier's Home", by William Barton
"Scarlet and Gold", by Tanith Lee
"The Secret Exhibition", by Brian Stableford
"The Secret History of the Ornithopter", by Jen Lars Jensen

I separate "Stellar Harvest" from the pack because I thought it by a wide margin the best novelette of the year, and indeed one of the best novelettes of the 1990s. I still think that -- it's a great story.

I really like James Patrick Kelly but "10**16 to 1" failed to convince me -- after all, on the evidence in front of me the odds of the title are grossly wrong. Still, a well done story.

The five best short stories of the year, which was in my opinion a great year for short stories, were:

"Suicide Coast", by M. John Harrison
"Jennifer, Just Before Midnight", by William Sanders
"Sailing the Painted Ocean", by Denise Lee
"Lifework", by Mary Soon Lee
"Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz", by David Marusek

"Suicide Coast" is a masterwork. Clearly the best story of 1999, and, as with "Stellar Harvest", one of the great stories of recent times.

William Sanders was in his most productive period (in the field). Mary Soon Lee was a fairly new writer, who did a passel of intriguing short stories (almost all short -- I think her longest was a short novelette) and who has since fallen mostly silent, pretty much coinciding with the birth of her first child -- I hope she finds the time to write more when her children are old enough. Marusek's "Yurek Rutz ..." is a delight.

And finally, I seemed to be the only person who notice Denise Lee's "Sailing the Painted Ocean", but I thought it remarkable. (It's one of those stories that I wish I could anthologize, to bring it to more people's notice.) (I should note that it did appear in Datlow and Windling's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror.)

A few more strong stories -- "Human Bay", by Robert Reed; "Her", by Stephen Woodworth; "Grandma's Bubble and the Speaking Clock", by Alexander Glass (who Gardner mentioned last week); and "Everywhere", by Geoff Ryman.

On the Hugo nomination list, my preference was for "macs", by Terry Bisson, another story I really liked. Both Swanwick stories are good (and note that he had 5 nominees in two years, winning both times!) -- if truth be told, I preferred "Ancient Engines". I didn't much care for either the Resnick or Di Chario.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
30. ecbatan
Now to the Campbell Award, where at last I have a means of determining who was really eligible. This is thanks to James Van Pelt's web page that listed eligible writers at the time (as a nomination aide). (The page was taken over by Writertopia in 2005.)

Authors whose first eligible works appeared in 1998 included Doctorow, Tourtellotte, and Klages from the shortlist, and most notably Devon Monk besides them. Monk did some neat short work that I remember really liking back then, and then popped up a few years later with some apparently fairly successful urban fantasies. Also: Scott Nicholson, Delia Marshall Turner, Kathy Oltion, Christopher Rowe. (Rowe hadn't yet done his best stuff -- a couple of years later he put out some truly remarkable short work.)

Eligible from 1999, besides Harlan and Smith, were Peter Watts (!), Paolo Bacigalupi, Lyda Morehouse, Douglas Lain, Yoon Ha Lee, and Rajnar Vajra (among others, of course).

That's a pretty impressive list, I think. The actually Campbell nomination list was pretty strong, though in retrospect Watts would have been a great addition, and the likes of Yoon Ha Lee, Christopher Rowe, and Paolo Bacigalupi have done enough since then to make them obviously great choices -- but I'm not sure they'd done enough by then to merit inclusion.

--
Rich Horton
Rich Horton
31. ecbatan
Finally -- thanks again to Jo for this wonderful series. Very rewarding throughout.

I certainly would have fun continuing (and there are upcoming stories I'd really like to pimp, such as "New Light on the Drake Equation") -- but Jo's reasons for stopping seem very sound. Aside from her upcoming appearances on nomination lists, it's fair to say that these series work better with the chance to reflect on the choices after a good interval of time.

--
Rich Horton
James Davis Nicoll
32. Gardner Dozois
I think A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY deserved its Hugo; yes, there are problems with it, but no novel is perfect, and there were probably fewer problems with it than there were with most of the other novels in the running. I actually liked DARWIN'S RADIO quite a bit, although it was disappointing that it turned out to be only the first half of a two-part novel, especially as the second half wasn't as good; the biology might not be as "wacky" as you think, either--I was surprised to find out a couple of years later that the Russian village that brews phages actually exists, and is much as described in the book, with similar results claimed for its brews. SKY COYOTE may not have been Kage's best book, but it was good enough to be a contender, I think, as were VACUUM DIAGRAMS, TERANESIA, ANCIENT OF DAYS, and THE SKY ROAD. I seem to have a blind spot for Stephenson, although it was certainly one of the most talked-about books of the year. Although I was a big "New Sun" fan, I never warmed to the "Long Sun" books somehow, and in fact was cold to most of Gene's novel output for the next few years--I don't think he really hit his stride again until books like PIRATE FREEDOM and his most recent SOLDIER IN THE MIST book.

Never read THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, but I thought the movie was the strongest of the Potter movies, by a good margin; perhaps that reflects the strength of the book. With Rowling, it shouldn't be ignored that the movies, which had started by then, helped create a feedback loop with the books, one boosting the other's popularity. I don't think she would have reached quite that level of success without that feedback loop in play. (A similar loop seems to be being set up right now between Martin's novels and GAME OF THRONES.)

Short fiction was stronger than the novels overall, which has often been true.

In novella, of the stuff on the ballot, I much prefered Kage Baker's "Son Observe the Time," one of her single best stories. Of the stuff that didn't make the ballot, I too am very fond of Eleanor Arnason's "Dapple," which some readers complained was "slow-moving," but which I found profound and emotionally affecting, and which I would agree is one of the best, perhaps the best, of her "Hwarhath" stories. David Marusek's "The Wedding Album" is also very fine, and it would be a hard decision for me to make between any of the three. I might have considered using Le Guin's "Old Music and the Slave Women" or Simmons's "Orphans of the Helix" in the Best, but all the stories from that book were encumbered for a couple of years. Andy Duncan's "The Excecutioner's Guild" is near mainstream, but exquisitely written. I'll allow myself the indulgence of mentioning my own "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows," perhaps my best story, which would lose a Nebula by a small margin the following year to Walter Jon Williams's "The Green Leopard Plague"

Also lots of strong novelettes. Interesting that Rich selects Arnason's "Stellar Harvest"--I liked it too, I bought it--for the year's best, when I remember one reviewer going on at great length about how awful it was; proving once again that one man's meat is another man's poison. I really liked "10tothe16th to One," but Tom Purdom's "Fossil Games" was also very strong, one of his best stories, as was Egan's "Border Guards" and Robert Reed's "Winemaster." Richard Wadholm really looked at this point like he was going to be one of the hot new writers in the genre, and his "Green Tea" was terrific--he disappeared not too long thereafter, a pity. Karl Schroeder's "The Dragon of Pripyat" was also very strong, and is a prequel to his story in the current ECLIPSE FOUR. Alastair Reynold's "Galactic North" was also good, as was Walter Jon Williams's brutal "Daddy's World."

Short story was a bit weaker overall, although I liked both of the Swanwick stories, and also liked Stephen Baxter's "People Come From Earth," Geoff Ryman's "Everywhere," and one of Chris Lawson's first stories, still one of the best bioscience stories, "Written in Blood." "Suicide Coast" is also very fine.

Of historic interest is one of Kij Johnson's early appearances.

For the third year in a row, all three of the short fiction winners were from ASIMOV'S, as were four out of five of the novellas, four out of six of the novelettes, and three out of five of the short stories. This may be the high point of my success as ASIMOV'S editor. Within a few years, I'd be gone. Funny how things work out.

GALAXY QUEST is my favorite of the films, and a deserving winner, mostly because its satire of SF fans was an AFFECTIONATE satire; if it had been mean-spirited satire, it wouldn't have worked. I don't think a sequel would have worked at all, and I'm glad they never did one. Of the rest, THE IRON GIANT, written and directed by Brad Bird, who would later do, THE INCREDIBLES, is a sleeper, actually a pretty good little movie, and THE SIXTH SENSE is a good horror movie the first time you see it, although I haven't liked anything that he's done since. I'm glad THE MATRIX didn't win, for all its splashy Special Effects.

Cory has been uneven, some of his subsequent stuff good and some mediocre, but I'm not displeased that he won the Campbell--although if Kage Baker had still been eligable (not sure if she was or not), I'd have given it to her.
Andrew Love
33. Andy Love
James

Wacky biology, though, and biological sf is that kid who shows up at school with unexplained bruises and broken bones. Makes an interesting paired reading piece to Egan's Teranesia, also featuring non-concensus models of biology.


The difference between DR and Teranesia though is the Bear invents a process that is supposedly going on all the time, in some superset of species including humans (you'd think we'd have noticed, say, lemurs or chimps going through a Darwin's Radio event sometime in the last millennium), while Egan doesn't suppose that we've gotten everything drastically wrong - he just introduces a new factor and lets evolution (souped-up by the new factor to an extreme degree, to be sure) take its course.
@17

If Cryptonomicon isn't science fiction, nothing is science fiction. It's a book about how a particular science, cryptography, inflects our lives. It is, IMHO, close to unreadable by somebody who isn't interested in, say, two bicycle cogwheels being relatively prime.


Yeah - I've always said that Cryptonomicon describes WWII as a problem in information theory, which sounds SF to me.
Rich Horton
34. ecbatan
I'm glad Gardner mentioned Richard Wadholm -- "Green Tea" was good, but he had two or three further stories in coming years that were just outstanding -- then, as Gardner says, he pretty much stopped. (As far as I know.)

I don't think I saw "The Dragon of Pripyat" in 1999 -- perhaps in Gardner's Best the next year -- it is indeed excellent. So too is "Written in Blood". And I should have mentioned "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows", which is first rate, indeed one of Gardner's best stories.
Christopher Johnstone
35. CPJ
I'm sorry to see this series end. Will keep an eye out for any rounding up posts and thoughts.

Jo, on a tangential note (posted here because I'm actively avoiding the spoilery Patrick Routhfuss threads), I have picked up and am now enthralled by The Name of the Wind on the principal that 'If Jo Walton is critiqing a book chapter by chapter, it must be damned good...'

It is.

Chris
Sherri Nichols
36. snichols
I know it's not cool to like Harry Potter, but I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and Prisoner of Azkaban is probably the best of the series. Cryptonomicon is definitely my favorite Stephenson, and the book that got me back into reading SF after a time away from the genre. I gave up on the Baroque Cycle in the first book; too many graphic descriptions of vivisection for my taste. Starfish, like all Peter Watts books, give me the creeps; it doesn't keep me away, it just means that I don't read him often.

The only Doctorow I've read is Little Brother, which is a fine rant, but didn't make me want to rush out and read more of his work.

I enjoyed Galaxy Quest, but have a soft spot in my heart for The Iron Giant. The Matrix was ruined for me by the sequels.
James Davis Nicoll
37. seth e.
f_lupercus @ 25:
There's no such thing as cyberpunk, and Gibson wrote three cyberpunk novels. Both of these things are true!

nevillepark @ 18: Cryptonomicon (everything that's wrong with straight white male geek culture, come at me bro)
My memory of Cryptonomicon is that it's self-aware enough to work as both an evocation of, and a satire of, that mindset. That may be wish fulfillment on my part, though.
James Davis Nicoll
38. CarlosSkullsplitter
26: regarding Vinge, well, Gernsback didn't live in vain. People are still using SF to educate themselves about the world. It's more than just entertainment or literary artifice, for good and for ill.

I am glad there is no great racist Campbellian science fiction novel.
Rob Munnelly
39. RobMRobM
Jo - thanks for this very enjoyable series. Appreciate both your thoughtful contributions and the awesome lineup of commenters. Bravo!

I'll echo the view the Azkaban was the best of the Potter novels and I'm glad to see it nominated. The first two had clever world building interesting ideas but were almost painful to read. Azkaban showed a sharp increase in quality in terms of writing, plotting, and substantially more grown up themes that carried through the rest of the series.

I'm very fond of A Civil Campaign and was glad it was nominated. It was written as a farce and echoes Feydeau in how Bujold architecurally inter-twines the dozens of significant plot threads (plans for the royal wedding; Miles' stealth courting; Ivan's prank on Miles; Ivan's interesting efforts to re-connect with Lady Donna; political doings with Rene and Dono; the butterbugs fiasco; Kareen's family objections to Mark; Cordelia's go-between efforts; etc). Beautifully crafted piece of work, just below Mirror Dance and Memory. But, as Jo has said in other posts, it gains much of its power from "spearpoints" built over the course of earlier books and wrenching when plunged in.

Strangely enough, I have seen - and really liked- all five Dramatic Presentations. I actually would have voted for the Iron Giant, which is just about perfect, but I can't complain about the others.

Rob
Bob Blough
40. Bob
I go back to my trusty Locus Ballot and see that On Blue's Waters got myvote for best SF novel. I agree with Gardner that I was disenchanted with Wolfe through the Long Sun quartet but my thinking is that he hit his stride again with this series. I loved all three.

Of the nominated novels, I really liked the Vinge, hated the Stephenson (as I have continued to hate every novel he has written since this one - and yes I keep trying them - although I only got through Book one of the trilogy. Other people really love his writing so I keep hoping there will be something...), and enjoyed the other three as enoyable reads.

The novellas were better than the novels but I only agree with one of the nominees this year. I picked"Old Music and the Slave Woman" by LeGuin in a dead heat with "The Wedding Album" by Marusek, "The Executioner's Guild" by Duncan, the two excellent Hwarhath novellas by the underrated Arnason and "Son Observe the Time". Any of them could have won and I would have been ecstatic. Great year for novellas.
My novelette choice for number 1 was "Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Gardner. I can't tell if it is his best but I consider it among his top handful. I also like "Daddy's World" by Walter Jon Williams and "The Chop Girl" by Ian M. MacLeod as well as "Darkrose and Diamond" by LeGuin.
I really enjoyed both the Swanwick's and think the best one of them won , "macs" by Bisson, "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson, "Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz" by Murusek and "Everywhere" by Ryman were wonderful as well.

Jo, this has been a great series. I am sorry it is ending, but it has been a terrific ride. Thanks.
James Davis Nicoll
41. HelenS
Tamsin may not be Beagle's best novel, but it's the one I find most compelling. Can't count how many times I've reread it.
James Davis Nicoll
42. James Davis Nicoll
Vinge's Era of Failed Dreams is a nice example of how no matter how advanced civilizations get, someone will bitch that they should have been more advanced.

(Seen also in Vinge's - not Vernor - View from Height and ims Eyes of Amber where in one the Earth has a crewed infrastellar mission and in the other advanced landers on Titan while people moan about lack of funding for space)
James Davis Nicoll
43. Matt McIrvin
I think I may be the only person ever to bounce off of Cryptonomicon but subsequently find the Baroque Cycle immensely entertaining. I think I had a personal problem with Cryptonomicon's "present-day" segments: they were just too close to reading about work, which I was not in the mood to do at that time. Kind of like the way I had to stop reading Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe for a while because the protagonist's recent life experiences were startlingly similar to stuff that had just happened to me, and they had him on the verge of giving himself a lobotomy with a pencil up his nose.
James Davis Nicoll
44. Matt McIrvin
Come to think of it, I recall one problem I had with Cryptonomicon was that I was reading it just in the wake of the 2000 dot-com crash, and its depiction of krazy Internet go-go capitalism already seemed painfully out of date because of that. Of course there have been a couple of smaller eruptions of this stuff since then.
Claire de Trafford
45. ClairedeT
I haven't commented before as I seem to have read embarassingly few of these novels (and mostly skewed towards the fantasy end of the spectrum), but I've enjoyed reading the posts and the comments so many thanks.

And on the bad side, 1999 saw two of the worst novels in the genre I've ever had to read. One was Australian fantasy writer Traci Harding's The Alchemist's Key, which is grotesquely horrid quasi-romantic fantasy, not just a bad silly plot but some of the worst prose of all time.
This made me laugh - I got some of her books out of the library recently and was totally mesmerised by the pseudo new-age science babble. With much skimming and skipping I made it to the end of the trilogy and apparently it's ok - our inner chakras get aligned by our next incarnation universe selves so we can proceed on our spiritual evolution towards peace and enlightenment. Seriously!
Marcus W
46. toryx
I'm just going to be echoing other commentors but what the hey --

Great series. I'm sorry to see it coming to an end for this has not only been one of the most interesting series of posts, it also has brought some fantastic commentary. I'll especially miss the comments from industry folks like Gardner and Rich.

So to begin: I haven't read A Deepness in the Sky yet but I just won a copy of the novel so I'll be able to get to it soon. One of my favorite things about this series is the way it's enhanced my reading list, even though I now have enough new books added to that list that I'm afraid I'll never get to finishing them all.

I read Darwin's Radio right after its publication and I rather liked it but never had any desire to read the second half of it. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to that.

Like a number of others, I think that Prisoners of Azkaban was the best of the Harry Potter novels. I don't think it deserved its place beside so many superior novels, however, especially given those that didn't get nominated at all. Like, for instance --

Through Alien Eyes is one of my favorite alien centric novels of all time. I might be in the minority on this but I really wish it'd gotten a nomination.

I sure hope that one day I'll have time to go searching high and low for a lot of these winning and nominated novellas. I'm pretty sure I've read "The Winds of Marble Arch," and I'm sure I'll be able to find Baker's "Son Observe the Time" but there are so many others out there that I really want to read.
On that note, I'm really excited about whatever Jo's planning for Hugo nominated novellas.

Galaxy Quest really is quite a good film with a fantastic cast. I didn't like it so much the first time I saw it, but once I had a chance to watch it again with captions my appreciation increased tremendously.

Like many others, The Matrix was largely ruined for me by the sequels. I try to pretend that it was actually a stand alone and that the following films were fan efforts that I never bothered to see but some things you just can't forget no matter how much you want to.

Finally, all this talk of Kage Bear makes me sad. I really miss her.
James Davis Nicoll
47. Jeff R.
As I mentioned last week, the Novellas in _Far Horizons_ managed to pull in three of the top five spots on the Locus list while being completely overlooked by Hugo. I'm not sure that I'd have favored any of them over the Willis or Turtledove, but some would probably have made my five-list.

I'm forever a Cryptonomicon partisan, here. _Deepness_ was a fine book, but I don't expect to ever reread it, whereas I'll probably be back to Crypto every five or six years forever. (I'll likely reread Potter again too, but not as often and not in any way Askaban-specific.) It may hold the record for fastest 'obsolescence' in a sci-fi novel, with both the Dot-Com crash and 9/11 almost immediately intervening to make the 'present' parts stop being about the present but rather the immediate past, but unlike other books with Cold Wars in Space or Japan Ecodominance forever and the like, it was truly limited to the present when written and thus could transition into being about the past rather than a wonky alternative future. If that makes any sense at all.
James Davis Nicoll
48. Dis
Jo, this was truly an outstanding series, thank you!
James Davis Nicoll
49. Gardner Dozois
As I said before, all the stories in FAR HORIZONS were encumbered for a couple of years after the initial appearance, so none of the Best of the Year editors could reprint any of them, which may have hurt their chances with the Hugo.
James Davis Nicoll
50. CarlosSkullsplitter
I'm going to miss this series. Thanks to our host for the fascinating discussion (and for putting up with my bloviating down here in the comments, which I have no doubt she often found exasperating).
Neville Park
51. nevillepark
Oh, you have to read his An Evil Guest. I read it and I don't see why you get to not-suffer.



NOPE.

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Oh, wait. Upon reading the review I realized I'd confused it with There Are Doors, which AFAIK is Wolfe deliberately engaging with gender politics, and which (therefore) you couldn't pay me to read. Well, this one doesn't sound terribly good either.

In conclusion: NOPE.
Jonas
52. jonasc
Sad to see this series come to an end. I loved reading the comments, and have added a lot of books to my 'to-read' list.

The biggest impact this series has made on me, though, is the realization that I've been missing a LOT of great short fiction. I've started combing bookstores for various anthologies and collections now to start filling that void... And I look forward to whatever it is you have planned for involving the hugo novellas.
Soon Lee
53. SoonLee
Gardner @49: You have mentioned elsewhere before about the danger of using year's best anthologies as a benchmark for the state of the art because in a given year, some outstanding stories might not be anthologised due to difficulty getting reprint rights. That's where a series like this one (thanks Jo!) can help uncover overlooked gems.

Were the "Far Horizons" novellas that hamstrung by not being reprinted?

I note that there are work-arounds & the net is a big part of it these days. A current example would be Alastair Reynolds' "Troika" which was first published by SFBC: not being USian, I had to buy a second-hand copy of the book to get it. It didn't make it into YBSF28, but there was enough online buzz (editor Jonathan Strahan was passionate about it) that it got enough nominations to get into the final ballot.
James Davis Nicoll
54. Gardner Dozois
Most of the Year's Best SF editors would have used "Troika" if it had been available--I know I would have--but the rights were encumbered. Chapbook novellas published by Subterranean Press and others often have rights encumbered too, even if they first appeared elsewhere; that's why I couldn't use Charles Stross's "Missle Gap" in my Best, even though I'd published it first myself in my ONE MILLION A.D. One year, all the Best SF editors (I know because we talked about it) wanted to use John Crowley's story "Gone," but the agent refused to allow us, because the publisher wanted an "unpublished" story in Crowley's short story collection (even though the story had already appeared in F&SF). Another year, Geoff Ryman's agent wouldn't let me use his "The Unconquered Country." It happens. Those are the realities of the business.
Rich Horton
55. ecbatan
Indeed. (I wasn't going to use "Troika" myself, but I'd have used "Missile Gap" for sure (and "Gone" had I been doing anthologies back then), and several other stories I have wanted to use have been contractually unavailable.)

--
Rich
James Davis Nicoll
56. midas68
You stated for Vinge's Winning Novel "It’s an excellently written book doing exactly what I always want science fiction to do, and it’s an excellent Hugo winner"

Yet you trashed the previous year's winner Hyperion by Simmons which is considered my many critics to be one of the Landmarks of SF for its Excellent writing.

Do people really know what their paid to know.
(Don't Answer, I already know the answer to that)
Jo Walton
57. bluejo
Midas68: Hyperion wasn't the previous year's winner, it won in 1990. Also, if you look at my 1990 post, you'll see that I love it. HTH.
Pamela Adams
58. Pam Adams
Ooh, novellas. [does happy dance] Vernor Vinge is one of those authors that I never read. I just got one of the Stubby giveaways of Fire in the Sky, so that will change soon. (Of course, Steven Brust was another never-got-around-to, and your posts just made me pick up The Phoenix Guards, which is definitely happy dance territory!)
Cathy Mullican
59. nolly
This was my first Worldcon -- and my third con ever, following a mid-size regional and a small local. Coincidentally?, it's also the first year I've read all the nominated novels, though I don't think I'd read any of them at the time. I'm pretty sure I didn't vote; I may have joined too late to do so.

I didn't care for Darwin's Radio, in the end -- someone does something toward the end that drives plot, but seemed terribly out of character to me.

I think I read the Vinge (and its predecessor) after it won. I enjoyed them, but should re-read before the third comes out.

I didn't start reading the Miles books until 2009; I concur with your take -- it's an excellent Miles book, one of the best in the series IMO, but not a good Hugo winner. Same reason I didn't rank Cryoburn highly this year, even though it was my second-most-enjoyed read of the nominees.

I definitely enjoyed Cryptonomicon, but I think it was the last Stephenson I've read so far. It was the beginning of his slide into books that are just too big for me to find manageable. I'm getting into ebooks more, and maybe I'll go back to him.

I thought the first three HP books were the most enjoyable of the series, but I have a soft spot for boarding school books; that feel faded somewhat as the series went on.

Of the other novels mentioned, I've read the Butler, both Cards, and the Pratchett. I haven't kept up with Card's work the past several years, but he was the first genre author I met -- he spoke at my HS graduation -- and the things he had written at the time mostly worked for me in my late teens and into my twenties.
James Davis Nicoll
60. Alan Heuer
I voted back in 2000, and my vote went like this:

Best Novel
1. A Civil Campaign Lois McMaster Bujold
2. Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson
3. Darwin's Radio Greg Bear
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban J.K. Rowling
5. A Deepness in the Sky Vernor Vinge

Best Novella
1. "Forty, Counting Down" Harry Turtledove
2. "The Winds of Marble Arch" Connie Willis
3. "The Astronaut from Wyoming" Adam-Troy Castro & Jerry Oltion
4. "Son Observe the Time" Kage Baker
5. "Hunting the Snark" Mike Resnick

Best Novelette
1. "Border Guards" Greg Egan
2. "The Chop Girl" Ian R. MacLeod
3. "10 to the 16th to 1" James Patrick Kelly
4. "The Secret History of the Ornithopter" Jan Lars Jensen
5. "Fossil Games" Tom Purdom
6. "Stellar Harvest" Eleanor Arnason

Best Short Story
1. "Sarajevo" Nick DiChario
2. "Hothouse Flowers" Mike Resnick
3. "Ancient Engines" Michael Swanwick
4. "Scherzo with Tyrannosaur" Michael Swanwick
5. "macs" Terry Bisson
James Davis Nicoll
61. filkferengi
Fantastic series, Jo; thanks for writing it!

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