Monday, August 1, 2011

Reading for the Hugo Awards 2011 & Diversity In Speculative Fiction—Plus Giveaway

Giveaway Result:

Amanda's post on "How I'm Surviving A Deadline" is now up, which means my giveaway has closed and here's the result:

1 x copy of Charlaine Harris's Dead Reckoning goes to CaseyH.

1 x review copy of Nalini Singh's Archangel's Consort goes to Na.

CaseyH, I already have your address from an earlier giveaway
—but Na, if you email me through my website, contact [at] helenlowe [dot] info with your postal address, I'll get your book in the post as well.

Thanks to everyone for participating in the discussion & congratulations to the draw winners! I'll see you all again next month. :)

Over the past month since I finished the final edit of The Gathering of the Lost, The Wall of Night Book Two, I have been having fun reading the fiction finalists for this year's Hugo Awards. I am eligible to vote as well, which meant the reading wasn't just about what I "read and enjoyed," but also about deciding which of the works really wowed me, both as a good story that swept me along and one that used speculative elements in a compelling and persuasive way—given that the Hugos are awarded for excellence in speculative fiction. And remembering always that the Hugo Award is meant to be for the very best SFF novel (or short story, novelette, or novella) published in the world during the previous year.

As a novelist myself, my focus was very much on the novels as opposed to the shorter works of fiction. Time pressure was also a factor here, as I only had a month to read them all—and seriously, some of those novels were "doorstop" works in terms of size! Officially there are only five finalists in the novel category, but Connie Willis' Blackout and All Clear have been treated as one work for the purposes of the award. Yet whether one counts the list as five or six works I was intrigued by the variety of speculative themes addressed.

NK Jemisin's The One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is set in an alternate world where war in heaven has resulted in the losing gods being bound into servitude in the human realm, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn, another episode in her long-running miles Vorkosigan saga, is classic space opera: action adventure in a far-future space milieu. Mira Grant's Feed addresses the fallout from a zombie apocalypse in a world where live-feed "reality blogging" has become mainstream media, while Connie Willis' Blackout/All Clear explores World War 2 and the Blitz through the lens of time-traveling historians. Ian McDonald's The Dervish House is nanopunk SciFi meets magic-realism in a near-future Istanbul where the city is as much a character as the human protagonists.

I enjoyed all six novels and reading them reminded me of one of the many reasons I love SFF, which is because of its diversity—there are just so many wonderful speculative story ideas out there and a wealth of ways to tell them. Following awards like the Hugos is also a great way of keeping up with some of the genre stories that are making waves each year.

But how about you? What are your favorite subgenres of speculative fiction? And what is your favourite way of checking out new books and new trends in those genres?

And now for the giveaway!

To help the discussion along, I have a copy of Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Reckoning, and a review copy of Nalini Singh's Archangel's Consort to give away.

Just post a comment to enter the draw, which will close when the next Supernatural Underground author posts their blog. I will then draw the two winners via Random Number Integer and post the result here.


Supernatural Underground author Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet and interviewer. Her latest novel, The Heir of Night, the first of THE WALL OF NIGHT quartet, is published in the USA, UK, Australia, NZ, and The Netherlands, and forthcoming in France. The Heir of Night recently won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2011 for Best Novel, and was a Catanetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2010. Helen's first novel, Thornspell, (Knopf, 2008) is also an award-winning novel. Helen blogs every day on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really site and on the first day of every month right here on the Supernatural Underground.


Anonymous said...

My favorite subgenre of speculative ficton? Definitely steampunk! The man-machine conflicts are so relevant to today's tech culture...meh, let's be honest - it's FUN. :)

How do I explore these new books/genres? Since I live in the middle of nowhere, Ontario, it's all about digital content for me. There simply aren't any "real" bookstores that carry the kind of fiction I read. I'm extremely grateful for eBooks!

(PS, if the draw is for US only, no worries, you can leave me out. :) )

Anonymous said...

I've wanted to check out steampunk. I'm hearing so much about it, but haven't jumped into it yet!

I'm headed in that direction, though!

Fun post!


Na said...

I read multiple genres so I'm always curious about trying new ones. Steampunk is new to me but I've seen several recen releases from this genre and I am keen to try it soon.


Casey H said...

To be honest, it really depends on my mood at the moment. But lately I've been reading a lot of steampunk novels.


Helen Lowe said...

BJ, the giveaway is definitely international so your name is in.:)

Steampunk is tremendous fun, isn't it? I have been a fan of GirlGeniusOnline, the steampunk graphic novel series, for quite a few years now and it's good to see the genre coming into the mainstream.

Helen Lowe said...

Lynn Rush, the GirlGeniusOnline series is a good starting point for steampunk, but Cherie Priest's "Boneshaker" features steampunk "and" zombies, and Gail Corriger's "Soulless" series, also very popular, is also considered to have strong steampunk elements. I have just started "Phoenix Rising--a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences" novel, again steampunk, and can tell you that the first chapter was a romp. (That's as far as I've gotten so far.)

Helen Lowe said...

Na, you'll have seen my suggestions for BJ and Lynn Rush but I should probably also have mentioned Cassandra Clare's "A Clockwork Angel"--I felt that was very much in the steampunk milieu.

Helen Lowe said...

Casey, it seems like "steampunk rules" today and I know when I was at Worldcon last year there were almost as many people wearing steampunk goggles and flying jackets as Star Wars costumes, so it certainly has some traction--in part, I think, because it crosses over so well to paranormal elements as well.

Barbara said...

Would love to dabble in Steampunk..always on the lookout for new genres...especially when they are so closely related to the paranormal.


Llehn said...

I"m jumping on the steampunk wagon :D


Helen Lowe said...

Barbara, Llehn: so far this makes the steampunk vote unanimous, he-he! I think the Gail Carriger & Cassandra Clare's "A Clockwork Angel" are the best overlap to paranormal urban I've read so far, but "Phoenix Rising" is looking promising as well.

Andrew said...

Why do I have to just pick one?

I have always liked epic fantasy. But I also have a soft spot for space opera.

There - not everyone has said "steampunk"

Helen Lowe said...

Epic fantasy rules, ok! Although steampunk "is" very cool. And I am open to space opera with a bit of rambunction to it ... :)

June said...

So long as it is NOT horror, I am fairly flexible about what I read.
I browse bookshops to find new stuff to read, so a good cover always help. The blurbs on the back of a book are essential. I also read reviews.

Helen Lowe said...

I am not so keen on straightout horror myself, but I enjoy darker fantasy. And I am always drawn to an interesting cover.