Hugo award for best novel (2015)

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The Hugo Awards are given every year to the best science fiction or fantasy works of the previous year. If you are a sci-fi and fantasy fan, you may want to read some of the writings that are nominated this year (2015) for best novel. Here is the complete list of finalists along with my reviews.

         

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (2014)
The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go , to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn’s sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized, or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. The second installment of the Imperial Radch series touches and develops many of the themes of the first. Particular focus is given to the ills of imperialism and how its promise of equality is hollow because some citizens are more equals than others.
My vote: ★★★★
Buy: [Amazon]

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (2014)
I was quite excited to read a book of China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin. I was even more excited to read it translated by a Hugo/Nebula winner author, Ken Liu.
The book starts during China’s Cultural Revolution, and today’s China. The sci-fi component of the plot emerges quite slowly, the first part of the book focuses on the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, and the terrifying experience of Ye Wenjie through it. That was, to me, the most interesting and powerful part of the entire book. After reading it my expectations were so high, that the rest of the book (while still good) was a little bit disappointing.
As the book progresses, it switches to full sci-fi mode and moves away from historical towards purely fictional. It is an interesting story, that deals with the effects on human and alien societies after their first contact.
My vote: ★★★★
Buy: [Amazon]

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (2014)
Maia is the latest and least of the child of the elf emperor, born from a marriage with a repudiated goblin princess. Raised in something close to exile by a cruel guardian, he suddenly find himself the new Emperor after the assassination of his father and older brothers.
While the book is a little bit hard to follow at first because of the number of characters (game of thrones has a forth of the characters in 50x more pages), their very complex and hard to remember name, and the complexity of their relationships and of the world politics, it grew on me thanks to the extreme likability of the main character.
The book contains relatively little action, almost everything happens in few rooms of the imperial palace, and the plot has very little surprises to offer (the guys that appear to be the bad guys turn out to be the bad guy, the guys that look like the good guys are the good guys). Despite that, the book is quite a pleasure to read thanks to the adroit characterization of the main character, that while insecure and humble, he is the embodiment of virtue and impossible to dislike.
My vote: ★★★★
Buy: [Amazon]

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (2014)
This book was in the puppy slate (learn more here).

While the book is entertaining I was a little disappointed by it. Probably my expectations were set too high (The Dark Between the Stars is one of the finalist for the 2015 Hugo awards), but there is nothing to set this book apart from millions of other sci-fi books. This book is the sequel of the The Saga of Seven Suns. I have not read that trilogy, and I was left with the impression I would have enjoyed this book more if I had.
My vote: ★★★

Buy: [Amazon]

Skin Game by Jim Butcher (2014)
This book was in the puppy slate (learn more here).

The Dresden File is a quite successful young adult urban fantasy series. Skin Game is the 15th and latest installment of the series. I never read any of them, hence I decided to read Storm Front (the first one to be published) instead. The first half of it has a relatively thin plot with a lot of sexual references to keep young readers interested. It gets better towards the end, but while enjoyable, it does not have something to set it apart from the millions of ya pulp novels.
My vote: ★★★

Buy: [Amazon]

Related links

  • Official Hugo Awards Site [thehugoawards.org]
  • 2015 Nominations [thehugoawards.org]
  • Ancillary Sword review [npr.org]
  • Three-body Problem review [npr.org]
  • Goblin Emperor review [io9.com]
  • Skin Game review [tor.com]
  • The dark between the stars review [kirkusreviews.com]
  • Puppygate as seen by Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by Old Man’s War’s John Scalzi [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by Star Trek screenplay writer David Gerrold [facebook.com]
  • Puppygate as seen by Doomsday Book’s Connie Willis [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by The Marry Sue [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by The Slate [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by The Atlantic [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by The Guardian [link]
  • Puppygate as seen by Cheryl’s Mewsings [beware colorful imagery]
  • Puppygate as seen by The Wall Street Journal [link]

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