Don’t sleep on the Hugo Awards

OK, they're not the Pulitzer Prize, but they're a great indicator of what's hot among genre fiction readers

Topics: Hugo Awards, science fiction, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Michael Chabon, ,

Don't sleep on the Hugo Awards (Credit: AP/Charles Sykes)

The World Science Fiction Convention convened yesterday in Chicago. Unlike San Diego’s Comic-Con, Worldcon hasn’t gone Hollywood just yet — you’re more likely to share an elevator with astronaut Story Musgrave than Seth MacFarlane. The big autograph sessions are with authors like John “Redshirts” Scalzi, and panels cover topics like “Anarchism in Fantasy and Science Fiction” and “Are You a Dickhead?” (a retrospective of author Philip K. Dick’s work, of course).

Sunday evening, Scalzi will host the annual Hugo Awards, the event that makes Worldcon important to people who don’t know urban fantasy from Urban Outfitters. Hugos cover a lot of science fiction, horror and fantasy ground (categories include film, podcasts and illustration, among others), but the novel and novella nominees are of particular interest to anyone who loves literature.

Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society — 5,000 of them, give or take — so its process is even more open and unpredictable than, say, that of the Pulitzer fiction prize, whose jury managed to surprise everyone with last year’s shut-out. The awards are also a great indicator of what’s popular among a significant sample of voracious genre fiction readers, whose lists don’t always overlap with those of book critics — even now, when the old genre vs. literary fiction divide has been mostly conquered.

Genre-hopper China Miéville, whose short-listed novel “Embassytown” stands a decent chance of winning, gave an intriguing keynote at the Edinburgh World Writers’ conference last week on the future of the novel:

“I really, really don’t want to talk about genre, because I always really want to, and nerd-whines are boring. But a detente between litfic and its others is real. It’s a cliché to point out that generic tropes are infecting the mainstream, with a piling-up of various apocalypses by those guilty of literature.”



When the Coen brothers finally get around to filming Michael Chabon’s best-selling “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union,” it’ll bear the Hugo Award Winner badge (and the Nebula and Locus, too). Last year I managed to finish only two of those three unrequited Pulitzer finalists; David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” continues to stare reproachfully from my shelf because I was too busy devouring George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series after Season 1 of “Game of Thrones” ended to even pick it up.

Martin’s “A Dance With Dragons” is up for the  Hugo this year — no surprise if you’re paying attention. But back in 2006, when his “A Feast for Crows” got the nod as well, that wouldn’t have been mainstream news.

Mira Grant’s “Deadline” is also on the short list. She’s not the household name Martin is — yet — but “Deadline” is the second in her “Newsflesh” trilogy about zombie conspiracy-busting bloggers, a premise that could not be better suited for prime time and its own promotional panel at Comic-Con: “Gawker” In the Time of “The Walking Dead?”

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>