For more than 65 years, fans have been gathering at Worldcon and selecting what they think is the best science fiction or fantasy work of the year. Unlike other award programmes–like the Nebula awards, which are chosen by writers, or awards chosen by professional panels–the Hugo Awards are chosen precisely by fans, members of the World Science Fiction Convention. As such, the Hugos can sway with the cultural moment, and in recent years has been subject to some controversy.
The proof of the sauce is in the tasting, however, and the Hugo Awards have tagged some of the most important books of the last century, including Frank Herbert’s Dune, James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Ringworld by Larry Niven, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Ursula Vernon’s Digger, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman and American Gods, Nnedi Okorafor’s gorgeous novella Binti–which I recently reviewed–and a stunning triple win for N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy.
The Hugo Award #1 choice is not always the book that resonates in the future, and sometimes books take a while to get into the hearts of readers. But the Hugo Awards have a way of highlighting authors like J.K. Rowling, Samuel R. Delany, George R.R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr., Philip K. Dick, Octavia A. Butler, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Charles Stross, Robert J. Sawyer, Nalo Hopkinson, Isaac Asimov, David Brin, Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, John Crowley, Arthur C. Clarke, Jerry Pournelle, and Roger Zelazny.
This year, the convention is online due to COVID-19, and the list of nominees is tempting for readers. In the novel category, it is an all-woman cast, I believe, which is a comment all on its own.
Some of us teacherly-readerly folk at Signum University thought it would be fun and perhaps even useful to get together to discuss the best novel list.
- The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan) – reviewed by Trevor Brierly
- Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing) – reviewed by Kris Swank
- The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK) – reviewed by Sparrow Alden
- A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK) – reviewed by Gabriel Schenk
- Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing) – reviewed by Kat Sas
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK) – reviewed by Brenton Dickieson
Each reviewer will take five minutes to introduce their novel and talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it. We will then open up for a wider discussion, taking questions and comments from the audience. In Battle of the Books style, the audience will then vote on which novel they most want to read, and which they think should win the prestigious Best Novel Hugo Award. The actual winner will be announced at CoNZealand, shortly after our event!
Want to follow what’s new and exciting in the world of science-fiction and fantasy? Need help deciding what to read next? Planning to move to a different planet and would like to read stories set on other planets to help you prepare? Then join us at 7pm Eastern on July 31st for our non-affiliated Hugo Awards evening, when a panel of Science-fiction and Fantasy readers will each talk about one of the shortlisted titles in the Best Novel category of the 2020 Hugo Awards!
Hope to see you there!
Time and Date: July 31, 2020 – 7:00-8:00 pm EDT. To Sign Up click here.