This post was originally intended to be written just before the Hugo Awards ceremony in Japan; unfortunately I came down with Influenza at the end of August that knocked me out for two weeks, and I’m still not 100%. This also meant that I didn’t get a chance to read any of the the selections in novella and short story categories and I missed one of the “Long Form” selection as well.
Earlier in the year I decided to expand my horizons on Science Fiction. I figured that the Hugo Award would be a good barometer of new and upcoming fiction, so I decided to read and watch all of the things nominated. I started a little bit late, so didn’t quite manage to finish everything I intended. I’m considering expanding this out to other awards next year, although I’m a little bit daunted by the Man Booker Prize.
I’ve ranked them according to my opinion, with a brief blurb about them; the weblinks go on in greater detail. The 2007 Hugo winners in bold.
- Blindsight by Peter Watt
This was by far my favourite out of the five. Charles Stross sums it up far better than I ever could – “Imagine a neurobiology-obsessed version of Greg Egan writing a first contact with aliens story from the point of view of a zombie posthuman crewman aboard a starship captained by a vampire, with not dying as the boobie prize.” This book kept me guessing all the way through. Highly recommended.
- Glasshouse by Charles Stross
A war damaged veteran from a post accelerated society is forced to live in a social experiment replicating life in the 1950s, although the experiment is not quite what is seems. Cool future tech mixed in with commentary on “ancient 20th century” concepts of social roles and identity.
- Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
2 decades into the future, a man wakes up from a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease to find a world full of always-on network augmented reality devices. This book was full of really cool fairly realistic extrapolations on modern technology. Even though I preferred Blindsight, I can see why this book won the Best Novel award.
- His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
What if there were Dragons during the Napoleonic wars? A fun book – I’ve already read the next two in the series – but not as ground breaking in my opinion as the books above.
- Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
I could not get into this book at all – these things happen some time. I didn’t like the style of writing, I found the shift in focus between the present and the past jarring, and the pseudo-quantum physics knowledge of the Dark Ages priest properly broke my suspension of disbelief. Oh, and I was bored, always a terrible crime in any media.
Blindsight, Eifelheim and Rainbows End were all available freely online as e-texts. This I was very grateful for, as publication dates in the UK would have otherwise made reading these books far more difficult than neccessary. There is also a tradition of putting the nominees for the short story categories online, in an attempt to boost their exposure. I did download these in an attempt to read them in a park on a nice sunny day – but being ill robbed me of my ability to read, let alone walk to a park.
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form
- Pan’s Labyrinth
This is a gorgeous film juxtaposing a little girl’s fantastical quest against the horrors of the Spanish civil war. Beautifully crafted by Guillermo del Toro
- Children of Men
A deeply depressing tale about hope in a dystopic near future world that is sterile, shaped by current events of terrorism, Iraq and Abu Ghraib. In any other year this film would have been my favourite.
- A Scanner Darkly
Philip K Dicks slightly psychotic tale of a NARC officer investigating a group of drug users under cover, one of whom just happens to be himself.
- V for Vendetta
I didn’t like this compared to the book, and to be honest I was a little bored by it and forgot to finish it. But, I’ve added to my list of movies to watch again, just
- The Prestige
I missed this at the cinema, bought it on DVD, but caught influenza before I could watch it. On “the List”, where it will probably stay their until I die.
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
- Doctor Who: “The Girl in the Fireplace“
My favourite episode of “Series 2” of the new Dr Who. A love story with a bit of timeline complexity, clockwork robots and a horse. The write also wrote last years winner The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and next years winner Blink.
- Doctor Who: “Army of Ghosts” & “Doomsday”
A decent season finale, without too much of Russell T Davies’s trademarked Deux Ex Machina.
- Stargate SG-1: “200”
A fun episode, sending up all sorts of science fiction shows, Thunderbirds, The Wizard of Oz, and especially Stargate SG1 itself.
- Doctor Who: “School Reunion”
Sarah Jane Smith rejoins the cast for an episode to investigate mysterious happenings at a school. Mickey’s character really starts coming into his own here, and there’s a nicely un-Giles guest spot from Anthony Head.
- Battlestar Galactica: “Downloaded”
All of the revamped BSG is currently on the to be watched queue – I’ve spent most of the year rewatching all of Babylon 5 instead.
I really enjoyed this mass influx of new books, movies and ideas – I’m definitely doing it again next year.