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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: Best Novel

I feel like this is one of those categories where no matter what I do, I'll always miss something.  2013 wasn't a huge reading year for me, and that means there are just too many bloody novels I didn't have time to get to.  Thankfully, I got to read some exceptional books, even if they are only 1% of the things published in sf/f in 2013.

So without further delay, here's what I've chosen:

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
If there's one thing to be said about this book, it's this:  it sure doesn't pull any punches with its central conceit.  Right at the start, an entire people is nearly wiped off the proverbial map, with remnants of the population scrounging to figure out how to survive in a dwindling gene pool.  What follows is a fascinating examination of genetics, cultural clash,  I loved it.  Paul Weimer loved it.  You will, too (or else I'll cry).

Our interview on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
I'm biased.  I know.  But Sister Mine is the kind of urban fantasy that will keep me coming back for more every single time.  Hopkinson's characters are richly developed and beautiful in their eccentricities.  I also loved her attempt to incorporate the orishas of African "myth" into a modern setting, particularly as it assigned semi-divine status to the main character and her sister.

Our interview on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Remember when Zoo City was the coolest thing Lauren Beukes had published?  Then she released The Shining Girls and destroyed our minds forever.  I loved Beukes' use of time travel and the pov of a serial killer to explore mortality and psychosis; attentive readers will discover all kinds of unique connections between the various details, too.  If you haven't read it yet, then you're missing out.

Our interview on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
In my humble opinion, this is the best sf/f book of 2013.  Tidhar's prose style, historical depth, and unique take on "superheroes" or "superpowers" absolutely blew me away when I read it earlier this year.  There's something haunting about this particular work, much like Osama (2011).  If Tidhar keeps it up, I'm going to have to dedicate an entire college-level course to his work...

Our interview on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
I imagine this is the one book everyone expects to make it to the final ballot.  And it deserves to be there, too.  While sf has previously played with gender in ways similar to Leckie's take, there's something refreshing about Ancillary Justice.  Maybe it's the unique take on empire or the protagonist's past as part of a "collective" or simply the immediacy with which Leckie destabilizes the gender paradigms in the first chapter...whatever it is that makes this book so compelling, I loved it.

Our interview on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Now what am I missing?

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