Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable

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.

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.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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12 Responses to Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable

  1. Allyson says:

    My online book club read the “Ten Thousand Doors of January.” Eager to hear what you thought of it.


  2. L.A. Smith says:

    Cool! Great idea! I’ve been really wanting to read Ten Thousand Doors of January, but had forgotten about it until I saw it listed on the Goodreads 100 Best Fantasy Books list. Will have a look at all the reviews of the nominees. It’s always great to discover new faves.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    “Want to follow what’s new and exciting in the world of science-fiction and fantasy? Need help deciding what to read next?” Uh oh… The tortoise-like adventures of the slow reader… I’m still mostly trying to catch up with the 1930s-60s… (Caught up with Vonnegut’s ‘Harrison Bergeron’ yesterday – at least it did not take me till 2081 when the story’s set… though my age then would be like something exciting in the world of science-fiction!)

    In any case, good wishes for enjoyable discussions and prognostications!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I read this to my family while we were camping and we had a good laugh. Read on!


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Just finished and thoroughly enjoyed John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes (1953), which made me think of both Williams’s Many Dimensions (1931) and Karel Čapek’s Válka s mloky [War with the Newts/Salamanders] (1936) by way of comparison and contrast – and realize more deeply how little I’ve read to give me a real sense of conventions, topoi, etc. (!)


  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Also made me think, by way of comparison and contrast, of Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes’s Encounter with Tiber (1996) – well worth a slow reader’s time to get through its 560 pages, and, at only 24 years old, probably my most recent science fiction ‘read’…


    • I am curious about that! I tend to read more mythic or fantastic SF–or apocalyptic–rather than “pure” SciFi, but I am curious.


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        It is fascinating – apocalyptic in a very surprising way; imagining a character in some ways now being realized by Elon Musk; and, I think, maybe playing in a way unlike Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters with Biblical history – among many other things. I’m not widely enough read in any kind of SF to have sources of intelligent comparison, but I was impressed and delighted.

        Liked by 1 person

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