Monday, August 22, 2011

Have a Rocket

This past weekend, the winners of the 2011 Hugo Awards were announced. The Hugos recognize excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and have been around since 1953. The Hugos are particularly interesting because they're awarded on the basis of a popular vote. Anyone who is a member of the World Science Fiction Society can nominate, and the winners are also selected by vote. The final ballot is an excellent indication of what some of the most enthusiastic and respected editors, authors, artists, and fans think is worthy of recognition in the world of speculative fiction.

Enormous congratulations to the 2011 fiction winners:

 BEST NOVEL: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

I can vouch for the addictive nature of these books (a single novel in two volumes). With a deliriously thrilling story set in London during the Blitz and Oxford in 2060, Blackout (book one) and All Clear (book two) show off Willis' smart, compassionate writing; her meticulous historical detail; and her mastery of the cliffhanger. The novel bounces between characters who are connected by story, but separated by time, and Willis manages to balance their story lines so well and pull them so taut that you find yourself caught in a reading frenzy, unable to to resist devouring chapter after chapter. If you enjoy historical mysteries, give these books a try.

 BEST NOVELLA: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang is an extraordinary writer, but if you don't regularly read science fiction, you may not know about him yet. Lucky you! I envy you your introduction. Chiang's work is unique in its cool intelligence, its willingness to tackle difficult or analytical ideas, and its crisp, perfectly set prose.

BEST NOVELETTE: "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele
This was originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, but is currently available to read on the author's website.

BEST SHORT STORY: "For Want of a Nail" by Mary Robinette Kowal
This was originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, but is currently available to read on the author's website.

 BEST GRAPHIC STORY: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse by Phil and Kaja Foglio

With the tagline "Adventure, Romance, MAD SCIENCE," this popular series chronicles the story of the titular Agatha Heterodyne in fantastical alternate history of Europe. This is its third straight year of winning the Best Graphic Story award.

 And a special congratulations to Lev Grossman, the winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Lev is the author of The Magicians and The Magician King, two novels that revel in a fresh and shocking view of what it means to tell a story with magic. Lev will be visiting Kepler's this Wednesday, the 24th, to sign The Magician King. We can't wait!

For a full list of winners and a list of nominated works, please visit the Hugo Award website.

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