HUGO THREAD….Last week I finished reading all the nominees for this year’s Hugo Award for best novel. Not quite all, actually ? I’m not planning to read A Feast for Crows since it’s long, not available in paperback, part 4 of 7, and not really my thing anyway ? but I’ve read the other four and I figure that’s good enough for now. So here’s how I’d rank them:

  1. Accelerando, by Charles Stross

  2. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

  3. Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson

  4. Learning the World, by Ken MacLeod

There’s a pretty clear dividing line here: I liked the first two and didn’t like the last two. Spin was readable, but the characters and situations were cardboard thin and the payoff at the end wasn’t especially memorable. Learning the World was a slog: generation ship meets First Contact with nothing interesting or surprising during the entire 300 pages. It’s the only one of the four I’d flatly not recommend.

Of the top two, I’d say that maybe I respected Accelerando more than I liked it and liked Old Man’s War more than I respected it. Old Man’s War was a fun romp, breezily written and great for an airplane ride, but in the end it was just a little too insubstantial ? for a Hugo, anyway. Plus, for my taste, it left a few too many big questions completely unanswered, and not in a good way.

Accelerando wasn’t quite as accessible as Old Man’s War, but it was a helluva lot of fun, with great characters, wonderful use of language, and an intricate, entertaining plot. And the real hero turns out to be a cat! What more can you ask for?

I’m sure lots of my readers have read all the Hugo nominees too. So what did you think?