I think I'm beginning to understand why Murph had to enrol in that 12 Step Sci Fi Anonymous program. These cats is crazy.
I don't really follow the Hugos, but I do follow the SF blogs which makes it impossible to miss the regular Shock! Horror! Hugo Awards Horrifying Shocker! stories that roll around each year. The last one was only a few weeks ago, when that English TV (or maybe radio) guy Jonathon Ross (I think) was first invited then uninvited to host the awards and Neil Gaiman got very shirty.
Well, what a pity they didn't stick with Ross because he'd a been purrrrfect for this years piss up given the latest Shock! Horror! Update!
The shortlist is in and the shortlist is horrifying because there's some guy on it for Best Novelette who's genuinely horrifying and who asked his horrifying fans and readers to vote for him – Theodore Beale, who writes as Vox Day, and seems to be the kind of guy you punch on the nose as soon as you meet him, just to save time. There's another guy, called Larry Correia, I think, who may be less horrifying and who was shortlisted for best big book, or something, but... well, this is where my professed ignorance of the Hugo Awards lets me down. I don't really know how they work. I'd always assumed they were like 'normal' literary awards, in which publishers nominate their chosen titles and a panel of eminent nobodies gets together over wine and cheese to hand out the gongs.
I've eaten that cheese and necked that wine. I've won some of those gongs and lost out on many, many more. It's all very incestuous but there is something approaching rigour in the process. Maybe not getting there, but at least approaching it.
The Hugos? I'm not sure, and frankly I'm too lazy to even read the wiki page, but it seems you get on the shortlist by being voted there. Possibly by attendees at some big convention. Seriously, feel free to give me the shareware lite version.
This year some writers lobbied their fans for support, both for themselves and for a slate of other writers/books of which they approved. Some of these were shortlisted. As an outsider it seems an unremarkable outcome for a process based on a popular vote, but apparently the SF/fantasy community (the same one which lost its shit over Jonathon Ross) is deeply, deeply unhappy. Either because the books are shit, or, even worse, the peope who wrote them are shit heads. I dunno. Maybe both.
As best I can tell, there is some rigour in the final judging process, and if that's so I guess you'd expect some worthy, but slightly tedious work of art to win out over some stoopid, splodey, but hugely enjoyable abortion of a book. I recognised Ancillary Justice on the shortlist, which I have shortlisted on my iPad for a read later this year. I've been promised it's a space opera. I have high hopes for splodey. It is an uncontroversial choice.
As for all the shock and the horror. Meh. If you open a process to voting you can't complain when people you don't like vote for other people you like even less.
On a cheerier note I just pre-ordered a copy of The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. It's part one of an award-winning trilogy and, according to David Brin, "arguably the best Chinese science fiction novel ever translated into English." I'm unaware of many books in that category, but I do like the idea. As Brin explains it:
The series explores the world of the Trisolarans, a race that is forced to adapt to life in a triple star system, on a planet whose gravity, heat, and orbit are in constant flux. Facing extinction, the Trisolarans plan to evacuate and conquer the nearest habitable planet, and finally intercept a message—from Earth. The Three-Body Problem, due out in October 2014, has been translated into English by award winning writer, Ken Liu.
Special note… TTBP deals very closely with the issue of the Fermi Paradox and whether we should shout "yoo-hoo!" into the cosmos -- a quandary about which I've also written, from time to time.
I've long maintained that the health of an enlightened and progressive society is measured by how vibrant is its science fiction, since that is where true self-critique and appraisal and hope lie. If so, the good news stretches beyond China!