I took the plunge this year and decided to buy a supporting membership to WorldCon so I could vote in the Hugo Awards. What pushed me over the edge? The Best Novel (or Series) nomination for Ancillary Justice and the entire Wheel of Time series. I could not let this opportunity pass me by without making my meager voice heard.
I spent (or wasted, depending on your point of view) over two decades reading (and re-reading) and waiting to read the Wheel of Time series. At one point, upon Robert Jordan’s death, I gave up hope of ever being able to complete the series. I made my peace with that, prayed for his family, and went on with my reading life.
When Brandon Sanderson was chosen to complete the series, I was initially skeptical, but allayed my ‘fears’ by reading everything he’d published before the first collaborative Wheel of Time book was released.
Fast forward to 2013. Several of my GoodReads friends started raving about a debut science fiction novel called Ancillary Justice. I trusted their recommendations and purchased the ebook edition. I read it and added my own ‘Wow!’ to the roar of other reader’s reactions. I loved it. Enough said. If you haven’t read it yet, do so now. I guarantee it will take less time to read than the Wheel of Time series.
When the Hugo Award nominations were released over Easter weekend, I immediately beheld my dilemma. My first reading love is epic fantasy. Any other year, I would have voted for the Wheel of Time without a thought. But I’d read Ancillary Justice, and I felt strongly that it deserved my support against the probably unrelenting tide of Wheel of Time fans.
I did due diligence and read Warbound (and the two preceding Grimnoir novels. Thanks Baen for including all three novels in the Hugo Voting packet) and Parasite (opting to purchase this ebook when Orbit put it on sale for $1.99 since they only provided 2/3 of the book in the Hugo Voting packet). I skipped Neptune’s Brood as I had no interest in reading the first book of that series and most of my friend’s reviews of either book were not favorable.
As mentioned above, I finished reading the Wheel of Time series in January 2013, a few days after the release of the final volume, A Memory of Light. I ended up re-reading it in May 2013 because one of my book groups had been reading the entire Wheel of Time series (since April 2012) and I listened to the audiobook edition for my second time through. When Tor announced they were including the entire Wheel of Time series as one huge ebook edition for the Hugo Voting packet, I groaned. What chance did something like Ancillary Justice have against that? And Orbit (aka Hatchette) didn’t help their chances any for either of their two nominations (Ancillary Justice and Parasite) by only providing 2/3 of either novel in the voting packet. I understand their reasoning, but I’m not sure it helped. The answer to that question will be revealed during the Hugo Awards Ceremony on the 17th.
So how did I vote? Ancillary Justice got the number one slot and Wheel of Time got number two. Some people will probably criticize me for actually ranking Wheel of Time at all and not inserting “No Award” in the second slot, but I couldn’t go that far. I love the Wheel of Time Series. And I love Ancillary Justice. This is my compromise with my conscience.
The 1939 Retro Hugo Nominations for Best Novel
The voting packet for the Retro Hugos wasn’t released until July 1st. That left me only 30 days to find and read the books not made available.
- Carson of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Argosy, February 1938)
- Galactic Patrol by E. E. Smith (Astounding Stories, February 1938)
- The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)
- Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis (The Bodley Head)
- The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)
The only one not made available in the voting packet was C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. Thankfully, I’d already read it and I had multiple paperback editions in my own library. It’s a short novel and I finished it quite quickly.
I listened to an audiobook edition of T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone. I read a trade paperback edition of Galactic Patrol. Carson of Venus and The Legion of Time I read via ebook and PDF provided in the voting packet.
I had a tough time deciding between Out of the Silent Planet and Galactic Patrol for the number one slot on my ballot. I mulled it over for a few days and ultimately went with Lewis’ work first followed by Smith’s classic space opera. I don’t think I’ll get to watch the award ceremony via live streaming on the 14th, but I’ll be watching social media for the results that day to see how close my votes came to my voting colleagues.
Closing Thoughts on Best Novel Voting
Reading and voting in the 2014 Hugo Best Novel bracket was less stressful than the corresponding one for the 1939 Retro Hugos. I only had two or three novels I needed to read from 2013, yet I had to find or wait anxiously for the 1939 voting packet to read all five novels. July became a blur of reading fiction from 75 years ago. I spent most of May and June reading the 2014 nominations (beyond just the Best Novel category). I’m somewhat relieved that now I can get back to reading novels I’ve put on hold for nearly a quarter of the year. It’s been a challenge and an adventure and I’m looking forward to trying this again next year. But I’m going to be better prepared and I’ll know exactly what I’m getting into.
Next Post: Best Novella for 2014 and 1939