My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1986


I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. Here are the nominees and the winner of the 1986 Hugo Awards. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees.


Footfall by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven- Grade: C-
Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven collaborated on a number of bestselling blockbuster novels for several years. Some were great, others were not-so-great. This one falls towards the “not-so-great” side of the spectrum. The primary flaw in Footfall is with how bloated it is on almost every level: the buildup is too long, there are too many characters (to the point that, as a reader, I never became very invested in any of them), and there is too little going on in extended sequences of exposition of people walking around wondering what to do. It has the intensity of their other collaborations, but it doesn’t maintain it throughout the novel, which lends itself to exposing some of the flaws in the writing style itself. On the plus side, the Fithp, despite having a ludicrous name, are a well thought out alien species with some fascinating details in the background. Footfall ultimately would have been much better as either a series–so that readers could get more invested in the characters and perhaps more of the Fithp background could be explored–or a short story–so that the extraneous details could all be cut out. As it stands it’s a middling novel.

Cuckoo’s Egg by CJ Cherryh- Grade: A-
Cherryh has a knack for making aliens seem quite alien, and for telling the stories from their perspective. Here, we get the story of a protective alien, Duun, caring for a human child named Thorn. Duun is a Shonunin, an apparently warlike species of aliens. But Cherryh uses the perspective of Duun to totally subvert many of the reader’s expectations. We, being humans, have made assumptions about the Shonunin society from the outset, not realizing that Duun’s affiliation with a warrior group may have made them seem more warlike and aggressive than they actually are. As Thorn learns about human language, his own development as a character begins to take over the novel as well. It is in that section that I started to have a few points of wanting to get back to the “main plot” of Duun’s life and how he was impacted by all the events. Cherryh sells it all with a passionate viewpoint from Duun that makes it believable while playing with expectations. It’s quite well done.

The Postman by David Brin- Grade: C-
I couldn’t help but feel a major amount of deja vu with this. It’s got scenes that feel incredibly similar to Chrysalids or Alas, Babylon in different ways. I’m not saying it’s copied–it clearly is not–but it has a sense of familiarity that simply should not exist in a post-apocalyptic novel. Perhaps that’s a mark of how many of these books I’ve read by now, but I think it is at least in part a function of the writing itself. Anyway, The Postman certainly isn’t bad, it just didn’t strike me as particularly excellent, either. The blurbs on the back seemed to focus on how it’s some kind of warning. But a warning of what? And why is it particularly poignant in regards to humanity’s plight? Frankly, compared to some other post-apocalyptic tales, this is rather tame.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Winner, My Winner)- Grade: A
Ender’s Game will always hold a special place in my heart as it was basically the first serious science fiction I ever read. I read it for a book club in high school, and the only sci-fi I’d read before that was a bunch of Star Wars books and then some Timothy Zahn works because I had read all of his Star Wars books and figured I liked them enough to try something else by him. Card’s thoughtful sci-fi absolutely blew me away, and I will never forget the experience of gushing over it with several fellow high schoolers and then, a few years later, meeting Card himself and getting the chance to sit and chat with him for about 15 minutes at a conference. So while I have some decidedly mixed feelings about the man and his legacy (his personal kindness to me–and it was true kindness–seems so at odds with his often hateful writings about politics and policy), I am navigating the space of work vs. creator. Ender’s Game itself is a fantastic study of not just the human psyche but also of military science fiction itself. It’s unexpected, particularly in its massive twist at the end. Or, perhaps it was only unexpected for my teenage self. Nevertheless, I believe the novel stands as a bell ringing warning as well as a surprising call for mercy in a merciless world.

Blood Music by Greg Bear- Grade: B+
Bear does a fantastic job building this one up and setting the stage. The outbreak itself was a bit terrifying and it is all too easy to envision this actually happening. One person’s mistake leads to a complete disaster on the highest scale imaginable. But once Bear went past the setup and the early stages, it got crazy quickly. The story went from a somewhat standard–but well-written–outbreak scenario to something much bigger and stranger. That’s not bad on its own, and that makes it more memorable in many ways, but it moved so quickly from one type of story to another so quickly. It was an interesting, if sometimes rushed, play on the outbreak type theme in science fiction.

1986- There’s a strong ballot here, and quite a bit of catastrophe for humanity. Footfall, The Postman, Blood Music, and Ender’s Game each have humanity at a destructive crossroads. While I didn’t enjoy all of them the same amount, each has some redeeming qualities. Cuckoo’s Egg and Ender’s Game are the more thoughtful reads of the bunch, however. The former gives us alien viewpoint to a high degree while the latter ultimately gives us a deep look at humanity. As I said, while I am navigating the creator-creation distinction regarding Ender’s Game, it’s been incredibly formative to my own sci-fi fandom, and I believe it remains a classic read to this day. Overall, ’86 was a good year for the Hugos. Which would you choose?


My Read-Through of the Hugos– Read more posts in this series and follow me on the journey! Let me know your own thoughts on the books.

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My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1985

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. Here are the nominees and the winner of the 1985 Hugo Awards. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees.


The Peace War by Vernor Vinge- Grade: B-
Vernor Vinge has huge ideas, and that is fully on display here. A hard sci-fi combination with dystopia and superweapon (almost a play on “Red Scare” type vintage sci-fi) fears comes together into this story of humanity imploding and coming out of the rubble. I have such mixed feelings after having read it. The first 100 pages or so are an amalgam of confusing data, breathtakingly cool ideas, and characters being thrown around in ways that are difficult to follow alongside everything else going on. As a reader, you’re very much just plopped in the middle of this story without much ground to figure out what’s going on. Why does the Peace Authority go full on totalitarian so quickly? What motivates the central players here? Why does the dude who created the superweapon manage to escape? In the midst of all this we have, as I said, some hard sci-fi ideas like quantum decay, parallel universes, and the like being thrown together in what is a stunning but confusing mess of a novel. I alternately was enthralled and confused by this. I think I liked it?

Neuromancer by William Gibson (Winner)- Grade: B-
I have a lengthy relationship with Neuromancer. I first bought it as a teenager and tried to read it and was completely confused. I’d only really read Star Wars novels for sci-fi before this point, and the complexity of this cyberpunk world was beyond me. I tried again later, and then again when a friend at work recommended it. I finally got through it then. I’ve since read it in total 4 times, with numerous false starts. I still don’t think I understand the book, and at this point, I’m becoming more willing to blame Gibson than myself for it. Although Gibson writes an in introduction to one of the versions I read that he was not out to try to predict the future, this novel seems almost prophetic in some ways as Gibson coined a number of terms and used ideas that have since become reality. The dialogue-to-action ratio is off. The world and characters feel somewhat empty and lifeless. There’s a great hook at the beginning, but we then spend an enormous amount of time just following one guy around as he follows a hacking job down a rabbit hole. Though there are characters with all kinds of cool backgrounds, they never seem much more than cutouts put there to help the plot along. There is very little characterization, and as a reader, that’s something I look forward to most. The thematic details are, I am okay admitting at this point, totally lost on me. I often feel I don’t get this novel, but I can admire what’s going on from a distance. There’s no denying that Neuromancer is one of the best examples of Cyberpunk, but that’s more for its ideas than for its excellence of plot or character development. People looking for big ideas in their sci-fi will love this. I’m still trying to decide.

Emergence by David R. Palmer (My Winner)- Grade: B+
Emergence will be a polarizing book. The novel is told from the viewpoint of a young super-genius who writes in shorthand. That means grammatical rules largely don’t apply. I am usually annoyed hugely by that, but Palmer manages to use the backstory of the character and still make it work. And what a character she is! Candidia Maria Smith-Foster–or “Candy”–is 11 years old and at first seems to merely be a precocious character who possibly has a heavy overdose of being too good at everything. But as you read her story, you discover why she is the way she is. The earliest part of the novel–the first 1/4 or so–is the best part by far in my opinion. Here, you spend all your time with Candy and her “twin brother” (a bird, Terry) as you peel away the layers of a disaster and how to survive. Of course, Candy has a huge leg up as she starts off with an almost embarrassingly well-equipped bomb shelter. But again, this is all part of the story and it makes sense. Revealing too much more would give away some of the better parts of the plot, and I have to admit Candy is such a wonderful character that I couldn’t not love the book for that. That said, there are some scenes that grossed me out. (SPOILER: specifically, when she runs into an older boy and they think they may be the only human-ish people left so he tries to convince her, not even a teenager, to have sex or give him some kind of relief. It’s gross and the way he keeps pushing on the topic makes it even worse. This alone, along with another similar scene later in the book, is what leads me to mark it down. I can see the argument for people would really act that way, but it didn’t prevent me from feeling extremely awful about the scenes anyway. /SPOILER.) Aside from those, this is a pretty fantastic post-apocalyptic story that has a heartwarming, almost comfort-food type of feel to it that only a few books can truly grasp.

Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein- Grade: F
Reading this was an absolute chore. If I had to choose a single word to describe this novel, it would be “pretentious.” In the hands of a humbler author, an exploration of the end times going along with corruption of a main character in a fall from grace type narrative could be a wonderful, tongue-in-cheek adventure. Here, it reads as projection. There are so many ideas about Christianity thrown together here in a mishmash of ecumenical soup that it doesn’t even make sense. Is Heinlein trying to offer a critique of Christianity? Is he trying to say there’s something more going on? I doubt it, and if he is, his combination of Roman Catholic ideas, American millenarianism, folklore masquerading as theology, and various other branches of beliefs into one is done with all the deftness of using a dump truck to spread mulch around your flowers. It’s incredibly frustrating to read, and set alongside a central plot that is a yawn-inducing reflection on (surprise, surprise) a man choosing to reason by means of sexual desire instead of any sort of character drive (I’m not surprised–this is Heinlein), it becomes unbearable. It’s not the worst Heinlein book I’ve read, but it’s mighty close.

The Integral Trees by Larry Niven- Grade: C
The Integral Trees is milquetoast to me. It wasn’t offensive or terrible enough to make me downgrade it, but it wasn’t captivating or thought-provoking enough to make me feel anything more than a general sense of… “meh.” The core idea of some trees that can move and have changed how humans evolve and interact once they’ve crash landed on some planet is okay, and may have been more exciting at the time the book came out. But as it stands it just doesn’t really have any single point that makes it worthy of recommendation or any effort to critique it beyond this review. The characters are bland; the societies are bland; the tension is almost nonexistent; and the overarching plot is barely enough to engage with. Even as the characters faced various perils, I just wasn’t engaged. It’s a novel for which the offhanded remark of “fine” seems entirely appropriate.

1985- The nominees here are a banner year for some heavy hitters past and present at this point. We’ve got yet another Heinlein, who continues to show up due to a voracious fan base; Larry Niven, William Gibson, and Vernor Vinge. I don’t think I’d read anything from Palmer before, but found Emergence one of the more unique narrative voices I’ve experienced. I’m sure there are many who would be upset by my picks and grades here, but that’s the joy of diverse opinions, right? If we all liked the same thing, it’d be pretty boring out here.


My Read-Through of the Hugos– Read more posts in this series and follow me on the journey! Let me know your own thoughts on the books.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!


My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1982

I’ve almost completed my read-through of the top science fiction books of all time and was casting about for something else to do. I decided that reading through the list of Hugo award winners and nominees wasn’t a bad way to spend my time. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees. There is a reflection on the year’s nominations at the end.

The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe (My Winner)- Grade: A+
The Claw of the Conciliator is the second book of the tetralogy The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. I first read this series as a teenager in high school and was totally blown away by the scope and language while being baffled by its perplexing narrative style and tantalizing hints at more. After reading the first two, I sought out virtually everything I could find by Wolfe, but lost steam and basically stopped reading them, even selling them off online. Later, I re-read the first book but was not at all in the right mood and ended skimming it, not really taking in the language or details. Finally, I’m re-reading the whole series for my Hugo list and am once again enthralled by this series. It’s sort of impossible to describe exactly how it impacts the reader so strongly. The Claw of the Conciliator is a travelogue through a kind of baroque future filled with terrifying things that, when described by Wolfe as though they are normal, somehow almost become normal for the reader. The parts of the story that make it sci-fi are slim-to-none thus far, with very small shades of science fantasy thrown about. Nevertheless, this is the kind of book that transcends genre/literature and becomes an event. This series ought to be at least tried by every science fiction/fantasy fan once in their lives to see if it is to their taste. I eagerly look forward to the next one.

Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh  (Winner)- Grade: B-
Cherryh creates a fascinating future world that is vast in scope in the introductory sections. Then, she zooms in to a particular crisis set within that vast universe, but goes just a tad too far. Because of this, the vast universe seems to be, in fact, quite tiny and restrictive. Rather than having expansive, endless stories to explore, it feels like there are only a few. Of course, what she delivers is a highly complex political crisis centered around one system, and that is enough to make up for much of the disappointment from the transition of big- to small-scale story.

The Many-Colored Land by Julian May- Grade: C
I wanted so much to love this novel. High recommendations, great reviews, and the like all had me hyped for it. But this is almost 100% a set-up novel. It introduces many characters before it finally ties them all together by throwing them back through a one-way trip to the past. The characters are interesting, but because there are so many, there is little chance to really get into any of them. I wanted to spend more time exploring the world, as well, but ended up stuck trying to sort through so many narrative voices and places that it became difficult to keep up. I read the book after this one, The Golden Torc, and wasn’t struck by it either. It’s an interesting, exciting setting, but overall seems to just be a huge number of characters with little to tie them all together.

Little, Big by John Crowley- Grade: B-
I think this is a book I would absolutely adore if I read it in the right mood. It is definitely one I’m going to go back and revisit when I feel like reading a massive book that moves rather slowly. The premise made me think quite  strongly of Galilee by Clive Barker, which I remember absolutely loving when I was younger. It doesn’t play out in a very similar way at all, but the idea of following a family throughout a series of fantastical events as they discover the layers of universes within and around our own. It’s fascinating, but long, and it moves along at an absolute snail’s pace, plodding through plot twists that hit so gradually they don’t even feel like a twist by the time the events finish. As I said, I hope to revisit this one in the right mood, because I suspect I’d love it more.

Project Pope by Clifford D. Simak- Grade: A
Clifford Simak is one of those authors I think would be very difficult to dislike. His writing style is like someone’s kind old grandpa sat down to describe to them the events of some far future while sitting in front of the fireplace. All of Simak’s major themes come to the forefront in Project Pope, considered by many to be his masterpiece. It has the questions about robots and whether they can have souls found throughout even his earliest work. It asks the big questions about faith and the hereafter. It has some weirdness, but it is so toned down by the pastoral themes that you barely notice it. This is a story about some robots who decide to make the perfect, infallible religion and questions about whether that is possible or could succeed. Seriously. But the robots also farm and grow food for humans, they live fairly normal lives. It leads to more and more questions from the reader about what it means to have a soul, what the relationship between reason and revelation might be, and more. It’s an intensely deep book, but written in a tone that is like a conversation with, as I said, a kindly older man. It’s fantastic and haunting and wonderful and cozy all at once.

1982- A superb year for the Hugos, with each book having something to offer that one could see how it would appear on the list. While The Many-Colored Land was my least favorite, it still had flashes of potential that I could see there. Downbelow Station and Little, Big are frequently mentioned in conversations about the best-of-the-best. Project Pope was an astonishing read, a classic by an acknowledged Grand Master of science fiction that takes readers into a pastoral, wonderful setting to contemplate life. The Claw of the Conciliator is part of one of the greatest masterworks of science fiction ever written, The Book of the New Sun, and deserves to at least be tried by every fan of the genre. Of course, one must start with Shadow of the Torturer (the two books come together in a new edition as “Shadow and Claw”). A banner year for the Hugos and well done to the nominees!

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Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!


My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1981

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. I have included a brief reflection on the year’s Hugos at the end. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees.

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven- Grade: D+
Take the longest, most drawn-out parts of Ringworld, in which the characters are slogging through endless terrain. Now, turn that into an entire book. That’s what it feels like I just read. Yes, I know there was a plot there to try to ratchet up the tension. Something about some aliens trying to find treasure so they can impress other aliens or whatever. But realistically, the plot here absolutely drags. I mean, it’s the sloggiest of slogs. I found myself barely caring about what was happening about halfway through, and then forcing myself towards the end, which manages to be, insultingly, a cliffhanger-ish ending. A cliffhanger! After a book that did almost nothing with its characters for 300 pages! I admit I groaned a bit. Finally, something happened, and it was right as I turned the page to run into the epilogue.

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl- Grade: A-
A small group of humans goes to explore an artifact left by the Heechee, a super-advanced race that mysteriously disappeared. There’s a surprising amount of plot tucked into this book that starts with a kind of razor focus on four main characters and ultimately has galaxy-wide implications. As I read, it seemed there was plenty left unexplained. It’s possible I missed some explanations. I just thought that more questions were opened near the end than were closed. I didn’t realize that this opens up more of a series from Pohl, though, and I’m interested in whether the next few books live up to the first two.

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge (Winner, My Winner)- Grade: A
I had a number of abortive attempts to read this a few years ago and then just gave up. I picked it up for the fourth or fifth time on a vacation for this read-through and it all started to click together. This is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “Snow Queen…” kind of. It doesn’t really strike me as having too many similarities, but my only experience with Anderson’s version is, to be fair, a few cartoon versions somewhere (I think) and the Wiki page. So I basically read this on its own merits, and it stands up very well. The world building here is at a level akin to some of the all time greats. The characters are complex, though a few get lost on tangents here and there along the way. The star is the Snow Queen and Moon, her pseudo-progeny slash rival for power. Political intrigue, questions of connection to a greater universe, and more abound throughout the novel. It’s not an easy read. This is one you’ll need to sit down and pay attention to, which thankfully lent itself to a couple long drives across South Dakota and Wyoming for me (I wasn’t driving, before you get too worried). I think I can now say I understand why this is considered a great by so many, and I may even dive into it again in a year or two because I enjoyed it immensely. It’s dense, though, almost to the point of being unbearably dense.

Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg- Grade: A-
A science fantasy epic follows the story of Valentine, a man who’s memories have been repressed as he finds himself in a major city with a pile of coins but little knowledge of what to do. He becomes a juggler with a traveling party of humans and aliens for lack of anything better to do. As the novel goes on, layers of this fantastical world are peeled away and readers are swept into the adventure of Valentine as he rediscovers himself and his place on Majipoor. I used the terminology “swept” on purpose, because this is a novel that, if you’ll allow it, will take you up and carry you on an adventure across the massive planet. There are parts where the plot could drag, such as the lengthy descriptions of the juggling. However, if one lets oneself truly dive into those parts and see the flow, the rhythm, and the beat for what they’re intended to be, it’s enthralling. A slow burn read that builds on itself over its lengthy stay, I believe readers will largely get out of it the amount of emersion they’re willing to allow.

Wizard by John Varley- Grade: B-
A significant improvement over the first book in nearly every way. Wizard tells the story of the world of Gaea, which is somehow sentient and also personal and… has many other singular qualities. Readers follow the story of a few pilgrims to Gaea, each seeking their own answers, who get drawn into a kind of epic journey trying to figure out and possibly overthrow some of the mechanisms behind Gaea’s workings. Along the way, no small amount of Weird Sci-Fi conventions get thrown into the mix. Whether it’s the pseudo-centaur-like creatures on Gaea engaging in explicitly detailed sex with a human, many, many other sexual comments and scenes, the constantly pseudo-feminist-yet-weirdly-male-gaze-y narrative of a certain character, or any number of other scenes, the reader is treated to a veritable cacophony of strangeness. At times, the feeling of “other” is overwhelming to the point where it becomes almost prosaic to have an actual plot happening. Happens it does, however, and the story itself is fine enough, though I found some if its elements (such as Gaea’s boredom and attempts to cure it) a bit disappointing. Still, this is a singular work that, so far as I am concerned, vastly surpasses the first in the series.


What a weird year. Wizard headlines the weirdness by being among the more strange pieces of science fiction I’ve read–but it remains readable. I had fun reading it as I walked circles around a local pond. Snow Queen is a book that felt a monumental task to finish, and I’m glad I did. I doubt if I’ll ever attempt it again, though, despite it being my pick for a winner. It’s majestic, but overbearing. Silverberg’s entry is somehow a traditional-feeling fantasy novel, something I haven’t really encountered from him (which shows both his range and my need to read more of his works!). I was hoping to find a newfound love of the Ringworld books, as I always hear them raised as longtime favorites. I especially felt this way after having finally “figured out” the first book in some ways. But alas, I found Ringworld Engineers to be boring and mostly pointless. Finally, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon is full of big ideas and cool happenings. While it never reaches the highest of heights, its a supremely worthy read. 1981 is a solid year for the Hugos. It’s not the best, but it certainly isn’t the worst year. It also is one of the few years so far in which my winner was the same as the actual winner. I should keep track of how often this happens.


Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1980

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. I have included a brief reflection on the year’s Hugos at the end. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees.

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (Winner)- Grade: D
The Fountains of Paradise is dull almost beyond words. It’s served with a heaping helping of ‘religious people are stupid’ on top. Hey, maybe you think religious people are stupid, but if you do, can you at least acknowledge that some of them are thoughtful instead of making them all into cardboard caricatures?  There’s a decent premise, I guess. Let’s build an elevator to the stars. Of course, only one place on Earth is suitable for some extremely dense hard sci-fi reason. I love science fiction. And I have enjoyed books by Clarke, but this one was aggravating and boring. That’s an accomplishment.  Clarke has done much better.

Titan by John Varley- Grade: D
Titan is a combination of some hard science fiction themes along with some fantasy elements. It’s a recipe for something that I love, but when you add something awful into the mix, it all goes sideways. Here, that something awful is a heaping dose of misogynist sexual fantasies. The amount of ink spilled upon how women look and just how good they might be because of a shapely thigh or somesuch is just… so over the top. It was distracting all the way through to the extent that it, along with the assumptions about how men and women in general would act, detracted entirely from my enjoyment of the novel. But then I started to notice some of the other issues with it–some big plot holes, somewhat annoying characters, and nonsensical twists. I’ll be reading the next book, entirely because it also got an award nomination, so I’m hoping that I like it more.

Jem by Frederik Pohl- Grade: D
I did not like this book very much. A planet is discovered and humans want to peacefully colonize it as a kind of idyllic vision. Back on Earth, things go south and the new colony turns into a kind of last hope for humanity. On the colony, the alien races there are more (or less, in some ways?) than they appear. Honestly, the last 5% or so of the novel was good–it shows the consequences of even well-intentioned colonialism. Everything else was a slog. The first 80 pages or so seem to be half tribute to Pohl contemporaries, half boring meetings of people talking about or seducing each other as they try to figure out colonizing. The whole thing just ends up feeling extremely boring and even chore-like to read, though the bit of payoff at the end made me less upset about paying the fee to interlibrary loan it. 

On Wings of Song by Thomas Disch- Grade: D+
How do you grade books that clearly demonstrate talent while also being nearly unreadable because they feel caught in the past with ideas that are sometimes cringe and sometimes just silly? I don’t know, but here’s where I settled on this frustrating, strange book. The premise is that the United States has turned, in parts, into ultra-conservative dystopias while at the coasts there exist some kind of hippy-ville that also has its share of problems. Someone has developed a way to have astral projection and trigger spiritual experiences, and Daniel Weinreb, our protagonist, has no small amount of trouble because of this “flying.” Ultimately, the book climaxes in a kind of revelation of the capacity to fully leave the body with the mind even as many conservatives and non-flyers reject the reality. It seems to clearly be a parable of a kind, but one that is so hidden behind layers that it’s difficult as to what Disch is trying to get at. Is he warning of the dangers of ultra-conservativism? Probably? Is it a broadside against religion? Perhaps? Is astral projection via machine a metaphor for drugs? I don’t know? It’s such a strange read set in sometimes strong prose that makes it all the more frustrating. I didn’t like it, but I understand why many might.

Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip (My Winner)- Grade: B
Harpist in the Wind is the third and concluding volume in the Riddle-Master trilogy by McKillip. Like the other books in the series, the focus is pretty narrow, largely following a group of characters on an adventure as they quest to discover the mysteries behind some shape-shifters that have been dogging them, along with the mystery of the Kingdom in which they travel. There are moments of great revelations, especially when the magic is revealed in various parts. There are also moments of tenderness that are surprisingly strong in characterization. I have to express some disappointment, though, in that despite the massive focus on riddles as ways to control and even do battle with others, there is very little by way of actual riddles in the novels themselves.

1980- Uffda. This was a rough year for the Hugos. Several familiar names headline these nominations, but none of them delivered the goods, imo. McKillip’s novel is a worthy choice for a nominee, but would not win a stronger year. The winner chosen at the actual ceremony–Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise–is a tedious slog. The other books don’t fare much better. It’s almost like the voters just nominated favorite authors for the sake of seeing their names yet again on the ballot. One of the worst years, in my opinion. 


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The 2022 Lodestar Award for Best YA Novel (At the Hugos)- Reviews

I am a Hugo voter this year (you can be, too, by paying the fee) and I have set off to try to read everything that was nominated in the awards so that I can more fairly vote for what I believe are the best works of the year. The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book is not technically a Hugo Award, but it is awarded at the same time for the best YA novel of the year in the genres of science fiction or fantasy. I have read all the nominees for this year and given them reviews and scores below. Please let me know what you think, too!

Chaos on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer- Grade: B+
I was blindsided by the first Catnet book, Catfishing on Catnet, which I did not know anything about going in. I read it because it was picked for a group read in the Sci Fi and Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads. It was awesome. A YA adventure that touched on religion, LGBTQ+ questions, online forums, and more. It felt like something I could have lived as a young adult on forums and stuff a decade or so before I read it. The second book picks up where the previous one left off, with the questions of AI and religion looming large. There’s not a lot I can say without spoiling things, but Kritzer once more delivers the goods. It’s a solid read front-to-back and while I didn’t find it quite as transcendently great as the first one, I had a good time reading it.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders- Grade: C
I am not sure what I expected going in to this story. The blurb makes it sound like a kind of weird coming-of-age story and I guess that would be a pretty accurate way to describe it. It’s a fun enough plot, but everything feels sort of light and cheery and… saccharine. Even though the main baddies are pretty bad… it all feels so airy that it’s difficult to take seriously. The ending didn’t really do it for me, either, to the point where I found the whole story forgettable.

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik- Grade: B-
The second book in a magical school series from Novik continues to demonstrate her excellent grasp of writing deep characters. Unfortunately, it also has the main flaw I found from the first book–which is that I don’t find myself really liking any of them. I ultimately found this to be a book I wanted to love more than I did. Credit to Novik for a compelling world, plot, and characters, though.

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko- Grade: A
Jordan Ifueko closes out a duology that features African mythology, religion, magic, and love. Ifueko’s prose is strong, and her narrative voice is utterly compelling. Tarisai is a wonderful protagonist and the challenges she faces as she seeks to find her own space in a world in which everyone is trying to pull her in different directions makes for compulsive reading. Will she be able to bring justice to a world that has so often lacked for it? Read the duology to find out.

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger- Grade: B+
Somehow both haunting and cute, this story of a Lipan Apache girl, Nina, and a (literal) snake-kid, Oli looks like an easy read. Then, you get to some of the content and it’s like hold up, this is going to be a ride. Whether it’s a story about breaking free of one’s made up bonds are living into one’s destiny, Darcie Little Badger delivers strong themes that will leave readers thinking long after finishing the book.

The Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao- Grade: A
I don’t know if there’s anything not to love in this wildly creative, angry book. It’s in-your-face attack on misogyny and other ills could be incredibly off-putting if it wasn’t balanced with an excellent plot, strong main character, and intriguing world. There are alien threats, mechs, attacks on cultural norms, and other great scenes in abundance here. Somehow the churning broth of this concoction all comes together and works and it does it so well. My only complaint here is that while the mechs are super cool, I wanted them to be even more fully realized and utilized. More mech action, please! Anyway, do yourself a favor and read this one. It’ll punch you in the gut and you’ll like it.

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My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1979

Not the original cover, but the one I read and the one that will forever define the novel to me.

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees. I’ve also dropped a short reflection on the year’s Hugo list at the end. There may be SPOILERS for the books discussed.

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (Winner)- Grade: A+
Just about every aspect of this novel is spectacular.  It had so many things that I love in science fiction. But what truly struck me the most was how very different and unique it was in what issues it addressed. For example, how often do we run into -anything- about men having difficulties with sex in science fiction? Especially when those difficulties are not something like “He’s ugly so he can’t get with a hot woman”? I mean, I was absolutely blown away by the discussion of Gabriel’s difficulty with control, whether it was meant as a possible euphemism for something more explicit or not. Just having that part of the story exist made it wonderfully unique, and, frankly, intimate in a way that I have rarely experienced in a book. As a reader, I hugely appreciated Snake’s handling of the situation as well as the way it all played out.

Then, there’s the story right alongside that with Melissa, which not only addresses another serious issue but also does it in a way that provides a child with genuine agency. After Snake rescues Melissa, they have a rather lengthy conversation about what happens next. And Snake actually listens to the 12-year-old child and grants that this child might have reasons for wanting something. I cannot say how huge that is for me to encounter in science fiction. Children are generally either prodigies with near (or actual) divine powers or essentially props for adults. Here, Melissa is granted space to have agency.

Really, this made me think of the book in strongly feminist terms, which apparently is not unwarranted given McIntyre’s history so far as I can tell on Wiki. It’s not only adult women given autonomy and action in this world. It’s girls whose opinions are valued and who even manage to change the mind of an adult. It’s a beautiful moment in a novel that has them in spades. I haven’t even mentioned McIntyre’s handling of the city and the hints of “offworlders,” or the deft handling of the Dreamsnake problem itself. All of these were things I loved–the limited perspective, the hints of hard sci-fi in my Mad Max-like book, the strong featuring of snakes. The book is a superb work on every level. I adored it.

The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey- Grade: B
McCaffrey’s science fantasy series continues to entertain with the third book, The White Dragon. The central aspect of the world of Pern which McCaffrey created is the threat of Threadfall, some non-sentient creatures that fall at certain intervals from a distant planet. In the first book, Dragonflight, this was made bleakly threatening. The second book kept that threat and the sense of ancient age of the world in which the characters exist. In this third book, The White Dragon, readers get more intimate with the characters. This gives us a better picture of how the world is lived in on a day-to-day basis, but it also takes away some of the density of the world building in the first two books that I enjoyed so much. Here, we have a titular white dragon who would not have lived had he not been saved at hatching. His powers are extraordinary in some ways, but we don’t get a great sense of how this might play out. Eventually, after some threats are met and defeated, the book ends on a hopeful note that leaves it wide open for future development. I liked this one, but not as much as the first two in the series.

Blind Voices by Tom Reamy- Grade: B-
I found this such a surprising novel on just about every level. I have to admit, I did not expect to like it going in. It looked very much unlike anything I would enjoy. The premise seemed outside of anything I like either. The book’s central plot is around a summer in which some children from a village in Kansas discover the delights of a traveling wagon show. But it turns out that the people with their strange features are more than they appear–and certainly more than the deceptions some of the children assume them to be. As the novel wears on, we discover strangeness time and again. There’s a strong sense of the mysterious here, combined with a sense of wonder. Mix in a bit of “coming of age” type plotting, and the novel ends up being a rather unique mix of material. On the negative side, the pace struggles at times and the characterization is fairly thin. That said, this is a fascinating book that is rather shocking to find on the Hugo list at this point in time. It’s so atypical from what has been featured thus far.

The Faded Sun: Kesrith by C.J. Cherryh- Grade: A-
A fully-fleshed out world that shows off the range of Cherryh’s aliens and the depth of her character interactions. Cherryh is an author whose works are so dense that it can become difficult to unpack them from themselves. I have tried time and again to enter into her impenetrable worlds, and this novel finally felt like things began to click. The recovery from a devastating war is intertwined with the social niceties of alien cultures in ways that still feel dense but at least are presented through a narrative perspective that allows some explanation for the reader. Comparisons to Dune feel inevitable here, as the world is a desert planet and one of the main characters is even named Duncan. These comparisons will only find superficial points, though, because Cherryh has made her own endless well of world and character development that has that feel of only barely scratching the surface here. This novel actually took me 3 tries to finally get going, as I struggled keeping track of everything going on. It’s a great story, but only if you’re in the mood for a read that requires quite a bit of effort.

1979- Only 4 nominees this go-round, but it’s an incredible lineup. Dreamsnake can arguably considered among the best-ever science fiction in my opinion. Blind Voices is weird but absolutely deserving. The White Dragon sees McAffrey’s series truly start to sprawl out, and Cherryh finally made sense to me. Truly an excellent year.


Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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“The Quiet Pools” by Michael P. Kube-McDowell- A surprising, forgotten classic

This cover is so very 90s.

The only reason I read The Quiet Pools is because it was a Hugo Award nominee. I love lists, and I’ve been reading through every Hugo nominee and winner. I tried to track down a copy of this book through the library system, after discovering it wasn’t available as an e-book (at least not anywhere I knew to look). The library system, even through interlibrary loan, took a while to track it down. I was surprised at its apparent scarcity, given it was a Hugo nominee and also a fairly recent (1991) novel. Then I read it, and was thrilled. It’s books like The Quiet Pools that make me want to read lists like I do–they help me discover reads that I enjoy immensely that I’d never have encountered otherwise. 

Kube-McDowell has crafted a surprising look at the launch of a generation ship. Many novels set around the same idea focus either on the generation ship’s flight or on the apocalypse that leads to its launch. Here, though, the entire book is around the leadup to the launch of the second generation ship to leave Earth. The first one was met with adulation, but this one is seen by some as stealing the best and brightest from Earth for chasing a forlorn and possibly heretical dream in the stars.

What surprised me most, though, is that the part of the book I was most interested in was following the imagined family dynamics of the future as Kube-McDowell explores the concept of a “Trine” (family group with three adults married) or other groups with more people through the lens, primarily, of the male partner of three. Initially, Christopher comes off as foolish and jealous, but the way the group gets developed is fascinating, as is the look at counseling for Christopher. It’s a familiar idea with new developments , and it gives a strong basis for character development that actually goes somewhere in the midst of this novel with bigger ideas. In a way, the whole book reads like a kind of slice-of-life novel set around a major world event, and the main thrust of the novel–the launch of the generation ship–can almost fade into the background at times as we see not just Christopher but several other characters living their lives. Yes, these lives are centered around the ship in many ways, but they also are lives lived, full of flaws and tragedy and hope and development. 

There are also scenes centered around the selection process for who goes on the ship and who stays. There are some action scenes around terrorist-fueled attempts to stop the launch or disrupt the selection process. There is tragedy and loss, and triumph. It’s all written in a rather quiet way. I saw the reviews on Goodreads/Amazon placing it squarely in the 3/5 camp on average, and that doesn’t surprise me. One almost has to be in the right mood for this book. It’s an exploration of humanity, but not one that is as wide and vaunted as a space opera, nor one as hyper-focused as some hard sci-fi thriller. And it hit me at the right time, in the right way. 

The Quiet Pools holds up well. Kube-McDowell doesn’t try to predict the future, but simply reports a version of it as he imagines it. And it’s believable, almost to the point of being humdrum. It just feels like it could be the near future, especially the near future as viewed from the early 90s, when the novel was written. I’m not saying that it is dated–and it probably is, in some ways–I’m saying that it is the kind of book that gives insight into the view of the world at the time in which it was written. I mean this in a good way. 

The Quiet Pools ought to be considered a classic of science fiction. It’s a subtle story that reflects upon human nature in the midst of greater events. And it deserves a wider readership.


Sci-Fi Hub– Come read many, many more posts about science fiction novels and shows. I look forward to reading with you and discussing more books and shows!

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Vintage Sci-Fi– Click the link and scroll down to read more vintage sci-fi posts! I love hearing about your own responses and favorites!

My Read-Through of the Hugos– Check out all my posts on reading through the Hugo Award winners and nominees. Tons of sci-fi fantasy discussion throughout.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!


My Read-Through of the Hugos: 1978

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and, having read a list of what are alleged to be the top 200 science fiction novels, I decided to next tackle a read-through of all the Hugo Award winners and nominees for best novel. Let me know your thoughts and favorites. I’ve marked the winner as well as my own choice for which novel would win, had I the choice among the nominees. I’ve also dropped a short reflection on the year’s Hugo list at the end.

Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin- Grade: D
Full disclosure: I met George R. R. Martin once and he was a total jerk to teenage me for no reason whatsoever, so I have an intense bias against him.
That said, this book was extremely “meh.” For its time, it feels like there are some fresh ideas or at least presentations. Not having heterosexual monogamy as the absolute and only option wasn’t innovative at this point, but it plays such a major part of the story and characterization here that makes it seem more momentous. The problem is that the story itself is honestly so bland. The plot follows a bunch of characters on Worlorn, a rogue planet that is approaching a heat death (cold death?) as it moves away from the red giant star it’s passing by. Most of the characters also have themes of death surronding them, whether it’s the death of a culture, love, or individual. Everyone and everything is dying. Maybe that’s the main theme. It feels almost like an extended monologue from someone who’s not terribly interested at getting you to engage with the story in any way. Maybe reading this book is another way to push you along the path towards death by using your time in boredom. I don’t know.

Time Storm by Gordon R. Dickson- Grade: D
Another time travel novel, another disappointment. Gordon Dickson’s Time Storm should be an absolutely thrilling journey on a post apocalyptic, time-diluted, insane planet Earth. The cover for my Kindle edition has a huge shark battling some wild reptilian humanoid people things. I wanted a fun jaunt across time and shark battles. I guess I kind of got a shark battle at one point, but even that was written in such a matter-of-fact, ho-hum style that it didn’t engage at all. This journey of a leopard and a young man and woman is surprisingly, well, boring. Add in some tired tropes about women needing protection but also ogling, and you’ve got a recipe for alternating yawns and outrage. Time travel should be fun. It should be amazing. Yet time and again, when I encounter it in fiction, it’s not. Authors very rarely seem to make use of the wild possibilities they have at their fingertips. This is not a very good novel.

Gateway by Frederik Pohl (Winner, My Winner)- Grade: A-
I found this to be a supremely interesting story with a number of intriguing elements. The reports, classifieds, and the like found throughout fleshed out the world. The interplay of the pseudo-archaeology, pseudo-adventure story with a [robot] psychiatrist’s office was amusing, thought not always in a good way. It makes the book feel quite dated at points, with its clear dependence on what was then cutting-edge psychiatry making for some laughable scenes. Ultimately, though, the story is a heart-rending, get-you-in-the-feels tale that has me mourning it days later. Maybe I should read the rest of the series to find out what happens next. Also, that first edition cover is just fabulous. I adore the 50s-70s style spaceship art, and wow do I love that cover.

Lucifer’s Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven- Grade: C-
The premise is pretty neat: scattershot a bunch of characters as they face the possibility of a major asteroid strike, then follow those who survive after the strike. The buildup isn’t bad either. It’s interesting to see how the varied characters who are either ‘in the know’ or not deal with the possibility, whether they immediately start stocking up stores or wait till the last day. But there’s something just ‘off’ about a lot of the novel–and part of it is how it treats women. There’s a very dated view of women, as if they automatically need to be protected when society collapses because they’re helpless. Sure, not all of them are portrayed as helpless, but men take charge anyway. I also thought the creepy storyline with the voyeur man was unnecessary and, again, degraded women by effectively treating women as sex objects exclusively. The other problem is that the last third of the book is kind of ho-hum. It’s like a survival novel but there’s not much in the way of environmental hazards after the initial disaster strikes. I felt there should be a lot more tension and chaos, but there wasn’t. Merely okay.

The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley- Grade: D+
I think this is technically book 11 or 12 in the series, and I’ve read a few others. I admit some of my distaste for the book is in part based upon the awfulness of MZB’s actions towards her own and other children. The book itself is full of tropes, but has some bright spots throughout that make it interesting. I especially enjoyed some of the descriptive language and turns of phrase that had me enjoying some of her other works before. However, this is very firmly in the more traditional fantasy adventure camp and it has all the foibles as such. The conflict is supposed to be this huge, world-wide conflict, but never reads as though it gets much bigger impact than on a few of the main characters. It seems contrived as times, and some of the ways the plot plays out don’t have great resolutions. It’s not great.

1978- Well, at least this year had a clear winner. 1978 wasn’t a great list, to be honest. I found it telling that the Nebula Awards of the same year only share one book with this list, and it’s Gateway. That novel is an achievement, though it shows its age on the corners. I don’t mind reading dated things. If I did, I wouldn’t be going through this list. But each of the other books listed here (and, to an extent, Gateway itself) are dated in the worst ways. Whether its the casual sexism of Lucifer’s Hammer or the inability to break out of trope-y campiness of The Forbidden Tower, these books all feel out of date in ways that take away from the story. Sometimes reading old things can give a sense of recapturing what was lost or at least some kind of strange nostalgia. There’s not much of that there. It’s not the worst year for the Hugos, but certainly one of the weaker years of the decade.


Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

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Nominating for the 2022 Hugo Awards! – A Reader Weighs In

It hasn’t been that long since the 2021 Hugo Award winners were announced, but it’s already nominating season for the 2022 Hugo Awards (and other related awards). I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on works I will be pulling for and think you ought to consider nominating as well! I have some categories I need to fill out, so let me know your recommendations.

Best Novel

Novels are my preferred format, and I read more than 600 books last year. To be fair, a huge majority of those weren’t published in 2021, so that narrowed it down quite a bit. I still can’t get myself down to a top 5, though, and so I’m sharing some of my choices here in the hopes that you’ll weigh in and help me decide which to put on my nominating ballot.

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff- A dark epic fantasy about a world in which vampires have taken over after they used some kind of evil spell to darken the world and give them freedom to conquer. The story follows the narrative of  Gabriel de Leon, a vampire hunter known as a Silversaint. De Leon uses the combination of silver tattoos and vampiric powers to take the battle to the undead as he tells his story to a servant of the Vampire Empire itself. The relentless violence and action in the novel is supplemented by numerous twists and turns that keep readers guessing all the way through. It’s a fabulous read.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir- I always feel a bit nervous diving into a novel that is super hyped. Too often, it sets expectations so high that it gets hard to feel anything but unsatisfied after reading it. Andy Weir’s The Martian was a fun read, though, and I wanted to dive into his latest book. I’m glad I did, because Project Hail Mary lives up to the hype. It’s an inventive hard science fiction story that keeps throwing new wrenches into the works. Weir has a way of creating the atmosophere of “just one more chapter” in every chapter. I hugely enjoyed this book from cover-to-cover.

Catalyst Gate by Megan O’Keefe- The finale to O’Keefe’s “The Protectorate” series is a brick of a book with extensive political (and other) intrigue. This is a space opera/adventure novel that punctuates character moments with intense action scenes. It’s a fine conclusion to a great series.

The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter- I went into this one with no expectations and walked away totally sold on the setting and characters. Speculative fiction being mashed up with mysteries is one of my favorite ways to do things, and The Helm of Midnight has mystery and intrigue in spades.

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky- Tchaikovsky continues his blend of unique aliens, excellent action, big questions, and great characters with this novel, first in a series. It’s an epic space opera that certainly delivers the goods time and again.

Chaos on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer- Kritzer raises questions about religion, who we are, how to perceive reality, and teenage angst in this delightful read that continues the Catnet series. I was shocked beyond all when I fell in love with the first book, and this was among my most anticipated reads this year. It did not disappoint.

To End in Fire by David Weber & Eric Flint- Hey, everyone has favorite series/authors. David Weber is one of mine, and it’s beyond insane to me that he’s never gotten even a nomination for his many wonderful Honor Harrington books, Safehold series, or any of his other great books. This novel continues another side series to the main Honor Harrington series, and I know that it’s so many books in that it’s unlikely to get a nod, but dangit, Weber deserves it and I’m going to keep pulling for him. This book is a satisfying info dump of a novel that helps wrap up a number of loose threads and advance the story, and I love it.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee- The finale of the Green Bone Saga is a massive epic urban fantasy. I cannot emphasize how fantastic this series is, and Lee is just an absolute master of the genre. Magic, double-dealing, mafia-esque crime rings, and more abound.

Short Story

Here’s a category I have some catching up to do on, but I have a bunch of sci-fi magazines from which I can pick my favorites. I do have one work to discuss here, though.

Proof by Induction” by José Pablo Iriarte- this story rocked me when I read it early this year. In this story, Iriarte weaves an absolutely gripping story about the loss of a parent around some technology that allows a kind of continuing relationship with the deceased. I don’t want to spoil too much, and the story is freely available at the link I put there in the title, but this is a fabulous read. I lost my dad in 2020, and this short story helped me work through some of my own lingering issues and brought me to tears more than once. I consider it among the finest reads I encountered all year, and definitely an early choice for my best short story.

Best Related Work

Out of This World: Speculative Fiction in Translation from the Cold War to the New Millennium by Rachel Cordasco- An academic book about, well, what the title says. It’s a fascinating read by a true expert in the field and deserves to be on the ballot.

“The Problem(s) of Susan” by Matt Mikalatos ( What to do with Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia? I love Mikalatos’s approach here, and with the continuing influence of C.S. Lewis and the beautiful prose and thoughtfulness of this essay, I’d love to see it on the Hugo ballot.

“Pro Wrestling is Fake (But You Already Knew That)” by Veda Scott (Uncanny)- I had a brief love affair with pro wrestling, even to the point where a bunch of us in college paid for the Pay-per-view for Wrestlemania. It was a lot of fun seeing the storylines and the humor surrounding the drama on the stage, and this article by Veda Scott was an absolute delight to read.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman- A fascinating biography of the (in)famous Stan Lee that shows his life both good and bad. I highly recommend it to any fans of comics, movies, or even speculative fiction generally. It’s a fabulous biography.

Best Novella/Novelette

Would love some suggestions here, but novella must include Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky because he’s the best.

Lodestar Award

I’m still doing my reading for this, so I’d love some suggestions.

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko- the finale to her duology, this is another fantastic read that combines some unique magical trappings with great character building and epic moments.

Best Series

I think this is one of the most fun categories for which to nominate works. It’s also a great way to see what others are reading and pick up some new series.

The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee- What if The Godfather was about Yakuza-esque criminals and had magic and questions of colonialism? Yes, this series is that and then some.

InCryptid by Seanan McGuire- One of my favorite authors continued perhaps my favorite series of hers here. The InCryptid series features a bunch of awesome use of cryptid-like and fairytale monsters along with some originals, all with sets of rules and a family trying to deal with all the drama. Truly some of the most fun books to read that I know of, and I would love to see it get a nod here.

The Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft- I am finding myself at a loss for words trying to sum up this series. It starts with a man trying to find his wife in the Tower of Babel, only to get sucked into a wonderful adventure that features sardonic humor, a myriad of characters, and so many wonderful locales. It’s a truly amazing experience and this series is fantastic.

The Protecorate by Megan O’Keefe- This series moves from being a rather intimate story about two characters into a massive space opera over the course of three books, and each one has its own unique feel. I hugely enjoyed this series and commend it to you.

Best Fancast

I’m intensely biased here, having appeared twice on the “Hugos There” Podcast, I would love to have it nominated for a Hugo! Please! Also, “Hugo, Girl” is an absolute delight in every episode and ought to be on your nominating ballot.

All Editors/Artist categories, as well as Fan Writer and more

Still doing research and would love recommendations.

Cora Buhlert- she was nominated last year, but definitely deserves to be on the ballot again.