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By ucblockhead (Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:12:19 AM EST) Hugo awards, floors, hotels (all tags)
Tomorrow, I move out of the house.

My opinions on the hugo nominees.



The floor guys arrive tomorrow morning and my poor wife has to figure out what to do as a homeless woman with a three year old until the hotel lets her check in. It's times like this I'm thankful that society values engineers over teachers.

The house seems strange. 2/3rds of it is currently mostly empty and it suddenly seems to be cavernous rather than cramped.

It'll be interesting living as on vacation but having to go to work. Breakfast is included, which will be nice.

Now I wish the fucking rain would stop so that they could build the drainage system, pour the driveway, paint the house and build the deck.

Hugos

I've now read all five hugo nominated novels. All are worth reading. There's not a stinker in the bunch. On the other hand, none of the five lit a fire like some past winners did. Anyway, they are, in order of my preference:

Learning the World

First contact novels aren't exactly new, so it's hard to find one that's fresh and this one has some interesting similarities to a prior hugo winner. Both are unusual in they cast advanced humans as the more powerful and planet bound aliens as the weaker. (The cliche is, of course, of powerful and superior aliens appearing in the skys of Earth.) In "Learning the World", humans arrive in a vast generation ship (one generation only) at a world at a technicological level equal to Earth at about the time the first "First Contact" stories were written. Both sides are taken by surprise...the aliens for obvious reasons. The humans because despite millenia of exploration, nothing more advanced than algae had been found before.

At first, it seems that the setup is cliched. The humans are very far advanced and we are told that "war" is a word they barely know. On the other hand, the aliens ("giant space bats"!) appear on the verge of global war. But the book redeems itself by resolving in an unexpected direction.

Spin

Robert Charles Wilson books are unlike any other writers, but much like each other. He starts out with an utterly outlandish premise and then follows a character through the disruptions it causes. Often, it seems like the outlandish premise is secondary to the typical human problems the characters face. The game played here is seeing whether or not Wilson can cobble together an explanation for a premise that seems insane and arbitrary.

In "Spin", the stars disappear. The Earth is placed in a shield that blocks the rest of the universe out in the not-to-distant future by parties unknown. But the book is really concerned with three characters. A wealthy brother and sister and the maid's son that befriends them as children. One night, they watch the stars disappear and the story continues from there as the view character pines for the sister and the brother goes, Ahab like, after the unknown. There's a bit of emo in this book, but it's generally good and in the end, the whole thing does make sense.

Accellerando

Caveat: I did not read the actual novel. Prior to being published as a novel, it was published as nine short stories in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I read eight of these, missing the opening.

This book follows one family through the technology singularity. It starts in the not-to-distant future and ends with...well, maybe I better not say. Safe to say that it involves artificially intelligent financial instruments.

I found the book more interesting in its wit and its setting than in its characters. None of them really grabbed me, probably because just one gets interesting, they are shuffled to the side in favor of another view character. And as someone pointed out in an IRC conversation, the ending pulls the rug out from under much of the plot, and not in a good way. Still, worth reading as an "ideas" book.

Old Man's War

More explicitly looking backward, this is an obviously deliberate homage to Starship Troopers. Homage, of course, not rip-off. This is an original work. The setup is that Earth has turned inward and stagnated. In the meantime, those people who went to the stars colonized and advanced far beyond the earthbound. Space turns out to be a deadly place, and the "Colonial Defense Force" is constantly fighting to protect human space, including an Earth that is largely ignorant of it all. The soldiers far this fight come from an original place. On Earth, people live just a bit longer than the three-score and ten. In return for service, the CDF will give people youth again, but only those who are seventy-five are need apply.

So the setup is essentially fighting codgers, and the author does pretty well with this. Once the action gets going, there is some rousing adventure.

Unfortunately, while the plot is fun and the characters are interesting, there isn't a lot of meat. There's satire, sure, but the deeper questions are only touched on. There's none of the philosophy of the original, nor the pure angst of other responses like The Forever War or Armor. Unlike those other books, "Old Man's War" says little new about war. So it's a rousing adventure, with satire, certainly something that has won a Hugo before, but not, in my opinion, the best of this bunch.

A Feast for Crows

On the one hand, I really like this series and will likely buy the next one the day it is published. On the other hand, I have trouble with giving an award to a middle book in what is really an extended novel. It's like awarding chapter four. Standing alone, there's no beginning, no ending and no real resolution. So how can you call it "best"? In a way, an award is a sort of recommendation. It's the community saying "you should read this". But no one in their right mind would recommend this book to someone who hadn't read the other three.

Even ignoring that, though, I don't think it deserves it in that it's a middle book with all the middle book problems. Worse, for various reasons the author shuffled off half of his characters off the stage for this installment and unfortunately, they are some of the more interesting characters. In the context of the overall story, that may be a good thing. In the context of this book in particular, it's a bad thing.

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Home strife | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
What to do: Library by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:13:56 AM EST
They have entertainment, they have bathrooms. They might have an outdoor grassy area to run around in.

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It's a thought by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:21:28 AM EST
Unfortunately, the FoML likes books. "Likes" as in "likes to run around, grabbing them to make huge piles".
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
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How long are we talking about? by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:22:56 AM EST
I could probably entertain a 3 year old for about 6 hours with a children's museum, if you include lunch in there.

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I dunno by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:25:59 AM EST
Depends on when they let them check in.

I'm taking him to the zoo in Friday if the weather holds. (The weather is part of the problem.)
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What to do: tubeland at McDonalds! by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:25:32 AM EST
Of course, if you're a veg, there's precious little else to do there while 3 year climbs all around the tubes. Chuck E Cheese will do in a pinch, too.

Do you have any children's museum's around? We have Strong Museum which is so well loved by little ones that you have to drag them out crying and screaming.


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Chuckie Cheese by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:02:08 PM EST
Also has the advantage that it serves beer.

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poll by codemonkey uk (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:22:46 AM EST
missing option, i think you know what it is ... i am teh ludite

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.
well by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:28:34 AM EST
You can leave everything unchecked and vote.
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Heh.. by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 08:26:33 AM EST
It'll be interesting living as on vacation but having to go to work

You know, I've pretty much been living that way my entire life.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

The emo in spin by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:26:16 AM EST
is a feature. Most of my favorite science fiction novels are emoish.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
I know by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:34:34 AM EST
It was only a partial criticism in that the OMG I want to fuck her but can't tell her wah wah thing can get annoying. I still liked it and all it's just that seems like people only having one relationship their entire lives seems unrealistic. But yeah, without the human element, the book would have been pointless.
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the premise of Spin sure sounds by 256 (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:41:12 AM EST
an awful lot like the premise of quarantine
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
I wish he were writing new books. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:43:15 AM EST
Wow by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:47:55 AM EST
There's a "maybe not" I could give, but it'd be spoilertastic. A mild spoiler is that in "Spin" it isn't an impenetrable shield. People can leave Earth just fine.
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It's also surprisingly similar by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 10:15:42 AM EST
to the plot of "The Crystal Spheres", a hugo-winning short story by David Brin. (I picked up a david brin short story collection yesterday). ((spoiler in the Crystal Spheres, solar systems are surrounded by protective shields which are only breakable from the inside).
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
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A Feast for Crows by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09:59:21 AM EST
Since 2000, four of the six Hugo winners in the novel category have been arguably more "fantasy" than "sci-fi." That gives Feast good odds.

Maybe by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 10:26:09 AM EST
Fantasy is clearly the hot commodity, but what I think will count against "A Feast For Crows" is that you have to read three 1000 page books before you can even start page one. I suspect it's something many voters won't have read.
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My guess though by ks1178 (4.00 / 1) #17 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:07:16 PM EST
Is that Feast was nominated not some much for it's sake, but more because of the previous books.


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Yeah by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:25:01 PM EST
But I suspect fewer people will decide to read 3000 pages to decide their vote as compared to those willing to read the 250 in "Old Man's War".
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Accelerando by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 12:10:13 PM EST

Charlie Stross has made the novel version of Accelerando available as a free ebook.

Two of the others are also available to Con members.

feast for crows by alprazolam (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 04:03:19 PM EST
a disappointment for sure. no way around that. still, the series will be great (i hope).

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