The Hugo Awards 2016: Winners

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Last night the winner of the 2016 Hugo Awards have been announced. In an year marred by puppyness and controversy, quite astonishingly, the winners line-up is extremely good. BRRG is very happy to see that our favorites ones grabbed the coveted rocket!
In this blog post we list the winners, along with our reviews and reactions to their victory.

  

Hugo Award for Best Novel: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Our review: This is the best story I have read in years. It is very rare to find a book that have it all: exquisite writing, moving, intriguing, and enticing story, memorable characters, astounding and original world building. The Fifth Season is at the same time impossible to put down, and deep. It is the kind of book it will stay with you and make you think.
The book has three subplots adroitly waved together. The first is the story of Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. The second is the story of Damaya, a young girl that is discovered to be a powerful orogenes, and as such kept in a barn as a beast by her parents, to soon be given away. The third is the story of Damaya, growing locked up and used as a de-humanized weapon by the fulcrum.
This is an ambitious trilogy, that while set in a world so different from ours, it succeed like no other to explore issues like slavery, oppression, discrimination, and taboos.
A strongly recommended read.
Hugo worthy? YES! It is the most amazing book I have read in a long long while. This is by far the best (and Ancillary Mercy is an amazing book to compete with).
Our recation to Jemisin’s victory: we are thrilled! This was our #1 choice across every Hugo category. Jemisin’s victory is a proof that despite the puppy work, the Hugo awards are not dead, but thriving!
Buy: [Amazon]

Hugo Award for Best Novella: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor)
Our review: A little masterpiece, with an unusual, distinctive voice, that sets it apart. I strongly recommend this blogpost by Emily Asher-Perrin (it contains spoilers, so wait until you are done reading it), that very eloquently explains why this book is so special.
This is the story of Binti, the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
Hugo worthy? Yes! It is one of the best and most original story we have read in a while. It does not come as a a surprise that it managed to make it to the finalist even if it was not on a slate. This was one of our nominations.
Our recation to Okorafor’s victory: again, we are thrilled, and again Binti was our #1 choice in this category.
Buy: [Amazon]

Hugo Award for Best Novelette:Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
Our review: Despite being a finalist because of its inclusion in a slate, the work is not only enjoyable, but also novel and interesting. I found quite interesting to read a book written by a Chinese author, to see the (current and future) world through the eyes of a different culture. The population and economic growth of modern China, its economic inequalities, and its technological and engineering marvels are central to Folding Beijing.
In a claustrophobic overpopulated future, Beijing is rebuild to be three cities at once, each folding into each other, so that only one at a time is up and awake on the surface, while the other two are folded and sleeping. Time is divided across each section according to the “rank” of its inhabitants, so that the best gets to enjoy 12 hours of sun, while the poorest gets just a glimps of dawn.
A dystopian vision of our future, with a very thin and feeble ray of hope mixed in.
Hugo worthy? Yes.
Our reaction to JingFang’s victory: Despite this being our #2 choice, we liked the story, and we are very pleased of this victory.
Buy: [free on-line] or [Amazon]

Hugo Award for Best Short Story: Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer (ClarkesWorld)
Our review: I am very partial to this story because it main fictional character, an AI, was born in the datacenters of the company I work for. It is a fun, light read, where the artificial self-conscious being end up behaving like a corky, cat-loving, nosy human.
Hugo worthy? Maybe yes, but it is far weaker than many other short stories that did not make it to the finalist list.
Our reaction to Kritzer’s victory: thanks to the puppies, this was one of the weakest category, with nothing that really stood out. This said “cat picture please” was our #1 pick in this category.
Buy: [Amazon]

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