Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.
This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so. Not only that, but if you participate in one year, you still get to nominate the next year. This year, thanks to a rule change, we nominated up to 5 entries, and the final ballot included the top 6.
This year, series is a special award added by Worldcon 75. There is a pending amendment to add a series category, and it should be voted on at this year's Worldcon. Passage would make this a permanent category. This year's Worldcon used the amendment's definition of Series (at least 3 volumes published, at least one volume published during the eligibility period, at least 240,000 words). I'll be as interested in seeing the coverage of the vote at this year's business meeting as in the results of the award.
Below are this year's finalists, listed in the order they appeared on the official announcement, with my notes on each.
The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone (Tor Books) - I've really enjoyed what I've read of this series where contract law meets magic. Including the text based games. Yes, there are games! I've not read all of them, yet, but this is a series I look forward to continuing. The setting is dynamite and the characters are great.
The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK) - I've read all but one of the novels and most of the short fiction and seen every episode of the show. The first two books were great, but then the series started to get weaker. Specifically in terms of gender representation. Book 3 would have been much better if one male POV character had instead been a secondary character and one secondary female character had instead been a POV character. Book 4 only had 1 female POV character and she had a terrible not-romance arch that was resolved by having a man explain her feelings to her. Book 5 I didn't finish because after 2 books in this series driven by finding missing girls and another book throwing in a captured woman subplot I was fucking not fucking reading a book where two women go missing. Book 6 won me back by finally making that woman from book 3 into a POV character and then being the best book in the series. So, while this is the series I've read the largest percentage of, my reactions have not been universally positive.
The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair) - This series has been perpetually on my to-read list because so many people I know love it. I've started the first one and like the hilarious but horrible means by which the protagonist's life was destroyed. So far it is interesting and fun, but isn't catnip to me the way Kitty Norville or White Trash Zombie are. A good fun read. I'll continue the series for sure. The packet includes all 10 books, but I think I will buy them as I read them after this first one.
The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean) - I've avoided this series for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual books. Basically, I encountered this series by way of an argument that goes: women write shit and make the whole UF genre shitty, try these books by a dude if you want to read good UF. Which is a great way to get me to not read a book, tbh. I know that's not really fair and I don't care.
The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK) - I loved the first book, but lost interest after the third. The pacing wasn't working for me. The packet only includes the first book, which I've read.
The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen) - I've read several of these over the years. Fun, funny, and generally good all around. I enjoy them, but they aren't anywhere near my favorite books out there. The packet includes a novella from the late 80's, but no other fiction.
In summary, Expanse and Craft are at the top, probably with The Expanse in position one. I think the rest will be Vorkosigan, followed by October Daye, then Temeraire. And that's all I'm planning to include.