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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

2017 Hugo Ballot - Best Novel

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.  


Novel tends to be the category everyone thinks of when talking about the Hugos. And everyone and their sister has tried to figure out what the nominees say about the state of the genre or fandom, including me. Can anyone tell me what the hell was going on in 1969 when The Goblin Reservation was nominated? This year, I'd read 4 of the finalists before the ballot was announced, and already owned copies of the other two. Below are this year's finalists, listed in the order they appeared on the official announcement, with my notes on each.


All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books) - This book and I were not made for each other. My review is here. While it was certainly not my thing, I'm not at all surprised to see it on the ballot.


A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US) - This was on my nominating ballot. I loved it. It's a sequel to another book I loved, but doesn't strictly require that book. Though I do recommend both.  They are just such wonderfully warm books.


Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus) - I read the first few chapters, having finished the first book, but never started the second. It seems to continue both the strengths and weaknesses of that first book. So, interesting in terms of ideas, but in this year, not nearly good enough to be in contention for the top spot.


Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books) - I hadn't read this before nominations closed, but I had the audiobook. It is fucking amazing. I am wild about this book. Wise and action packed with a concept that I really dig. 


The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books) - This was also on my nomination ballot. A great sequel that succeeds in adding depth and breadth to every aspect of the first book. Here is my review.


Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books) - I tried to read this last summer and it didn't work out. I've read some criticism since then that leads me to believe I would not have come round to liking it if I'd kept reading.


This is going to be a tough call. Ninefox Gambit, The Obelisk Gate, and A Closed and Common Orbit are all books I love dearly. And all are doing very different things. I'm still high on Ninefox's ride, so it's at the top. But I can't not feel all warm and fuzzy when I think about Chambers' book, so it's at the top. And Obelisk Gate was so good I considered bidding hundreds of dollars to get an early copy of the sequel, obviously it's at the top. Gah. The rest I can easily sort, or just not include, but these three are all top notch.