Reviews of Hugo Nominees

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Hugo Nominees 2001


  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Voyager; Bantam Spectra)
    Reviewed July 2006: Pity the reader of this year's Hugo nominees, who has to read two Book Three's and one Book Four of ongoing series in order to understand the nominated works in context. But it's not so bad really, as Martin's somewhat lamely named "Song of Ice and Fire" series is uneqiuvocally the best fantasy series I've ever read. You can call it fantasy for people that don't like fantasy, more influenced by Robert E. Howard than Tolkien. There are only people in these books, no elves or hobbits or whatnot, and these people mostly are out for themselves. It's impossible to evaluate this book on its own, as it is very much built upon what has come before in the first two books, "A Game of Thrones" and "A Clash of Kings". These first volumes set up the vaguely Anglo-Saxon background that is obviously England but not tied into any known part of English history, centered around King Eddard Stark, one of seven kings who rule various parts of this isolated land that Martin has created. Of more significance to the story than the king himself are his six children, and when various political maneuverings topple the order of things, the children are scattered and become players or pawns in the other rulers' opportunistic machinations, the so-called "game of thrones". By the time Book 3 begins, one of the sons, Robb, is ruling in his father's place, two of his siblings are lost and presumed dead, the oldest, illegitimate brother, Jon Snow, is fighting in the north to keep some spooky creatures at bay, and the older of his sisters is about to be married off to a young king who has a bit of a personality disorder. This is a very long book, there's swearing and sex aplenty, and the body count is extremely high. I think what made this one stand out enough to be nominated is how Martin surprisingly kills off one (or is it two?) of his many viewpoint characters, such that when you read it again there's an even greater sense of dread because you know what's going to happen. If anything it lessens the impact of other equally shocking and maybe even more momentous murders. At the end of the nearly 900 pages, nothing is resolved, everyone is at war with everyone else, somebody who was very definitely dead turns up not so dead, and there is quite apparently no end in sight. Interestingly, Martin's original intent was to skip five years of history between the end of this book and the beginning of the next, but found upon further reflection so many worthwhile stories to tell in the intervening time that he abandoned that plan and instead took five years to get the next one finished. Martin's tv writing skills come in handy here as he handles multiple plot threads simultaneously, the characters are all lifelike and different from one another, and much of the narrative is heavy on dialogue combined with inner monologue in the manner of Frank Herbert. The action moves at a glacial pace, which is why it's taking so long to tell this story, but if you get caught up in it then it doesn't matter because you won't want it to end anyway.
  • Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury; Scholastic/Levine)
  • Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner Aspect)
  • The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod (Orbit 1999;Tor 2000)

  • "A Roll of the Dice" by Catherine Asaro (Analog Jul/Aug 2000)
  • "Oracle" by Greg Egan (Asimov's Jul 2000)
  • "Radiant Green Star" by Lucius Shepard (Asimov's Aug 2000)
  • "Seventy-Two Letters" by Ted Chiang (Vanishing Acts: A Science Fiction Anthology, Tor Jul 2000)
  • "The Retrieval Artist" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Analog Jun 2000)
  • "The Ultimate Earth" by Jack Williamson (Analog Dec 2000)

  • "Agape Among the Robots" by Allen Steele (Analog May 2000; Imagination Fully Dilated, Vol. 2, IFD Publishing May 2000)
  • "Generation Gap" by Stanley Schmidt (Artemis Spring 2000)
  • "Millennium Babies" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's Jan 2000)
  • "On the Orion Line" by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2000)
  • "Redchapel" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's Dec 2000)

  • "Different Kinds of Darkness" by David Langford (F&SF Jan 2000)
  • "Kaddish for the Last Survivor" by Michael A. Burstein (Analog Nov 2000)
  • "Moon Dogs" by Michael Swanwick (Moon Dogs, NESFA Press Feb 2000; Asimov's Mar 2000)
  • "The Elephants on Neptune" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's May 2000)
  • "The Gravity Mine" by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's Apr 2000)

  • Chicken Run
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Frank Herbert's Dune
  • Frequency
  • X-Men