04 November 2010

The Hugo Awards Showcase 2010

  • Author: edited by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Title: The Hugo Awards Showcase 2010 Volume
  • Publisher: Prime Books 2010
  • ISBN: 978 1607012252
I love a good short story anthology. And when you get a good one, it can be excellent fun. But every now and then you get a collection that is so good, it leaves you feeling sick at the thought of returning the book to the library and NOT having it on hand just to touch if I want too. This years Hugo short story collection is one of those books, which actually makes sense, if you think about it.

The Hugo Awards are the annual fan nominated and voted awards that are run as part of Worldcon. Editor Kowal has gathered up a large chunk of the stories in the shorter categories into a book that is evidence to my mind that 2009 was one of the best years in SF history for the quality and quantity of writing by such a vast range of cultures and backgrounds. SF as I see it is hitting new highs, such that the visions these writers are conceiving and putting to paper in such volume that it can be overwhelming for an obsessive collector of "I've Read That" points. (On a side note, I wish there was a social networking site that could track my reading achievements and give me something to aim for, sometimes. It'd be nice to have some goals set for me, help me get a little direction in my consumption of fiction, but I don't think there is one. Maybe I should write one...)

Anywhen, when a planet load of geeks has already sifted through the chaff and picked out the quality product for you, it's a bit of a no-brainer that the stories would be outstandingly fucking awesome. I know that sword and girdle types sometimes get their pointy eared influence into these kind of things, but the Hugos seem to capture the best of fantasy as well, the stuff that is truly weird and visionary and creative, without any orcs or Ragnoth's or fucking whatever. The fantasy that twist the real world a little or alot and drags you into an INTERESTING dream world only to conk you in the head with a OMFGHammer.

OHHH, the power just went funny in the library!! It's rather thundery today.

Now, none of that is to say that this is the perfect book. There were a couple of stories in it that I didn't even bother to read until the end. I just don't like steampunk. Sorry, but I think it's trite, and a little bit offensive. There, I said it, I feel better.

The hits, however, were without doubt some of the BEST STORIES I HAVE EVER READ!! Yes, I do say that alot, recently. It's because every time someone puts out a new book, it's better than anything I ever read before. Better written, better packaged, just plain better.

With the exception of Frederik Pohl, I don't think there has ever been an SF writer as good as some of the people writing right now, and there are a whole lot of them. People like Ian McDonald, Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Bear, Robert Reed (all represented in this book) as well as Paul McAuley, Paulo Bacigalupi, Neal Asher, and even some old hacks like David Brin, who has gone from being to my mind fairly average in quality, to being quite fucking good these days, actually.

Not forgetting either people like John Joseph Adams, Johnathan Strahan, Lou Anders & the most wonderful fiction editing woman ever to edit a book, Ellen Datlow (who took my moderate liking of creepy stories and fed it on the history and present of "genre fiction: misc & other" seasoned with "genre fiction: horror/horrific" until it was so fat, I need to lay down all the time and read just to get my breath back) who are editing together books so full of near perfect fiction it's almost obscene that people buy these books and then THROW THEM AWAY! sick fucking bastards....

I think at this point I should probably point out that the contents of the book are:
  • Pride And Promethius by John Kessel: (Best Novellette Nominee) Which I didn't read til the end, because it was steampunk and I didn't like it but the mashup premise is interesting-ish if you like that kind of thing. It's a bit hipster for my taste.
  • 26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss by Kij Johnson: (Best Short Story Nominee) Oh My Sweet Succulent Jesus, Kij Johnson is getting far to good at making me incredibly emotional. Brilliant work by someone who, if she gets much better, is going to have to be locked in a vault. My pick for Best Short Story Winner, but it didn't win. Which is sad.
  • The Erdmann Nexus by Nancy Kress: (Best Novella Winner) Haha! Old people singularity!! Great great story, you absolutely must read this one.
  • From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled by Michael Swanwick: (Best Short Story Nominee) typically weird brilliant fantasy from a true master. Probably the worst story in the book, too.
  • Shoggoths In Bloom by Elizabeth Bear: (Best Novelette Winner) Politics and Lovecraft = really nicely done New England 1930's story with such a bitter sweet ending I nearly cried. Fantastic.
  • Truth by Robert Reed: (Best Novella Nominee) This story is the one I want tattoo'd on my body. Such a complete brain snapping super story, it shouldn't be legal for consumption. I read this story 5 times in a row just trying to get my head around it.
  • The Ray-Gun: A Love Story by James Alan Gardner: (Best Novelette Nominee) Such a lovely story. I was gonna write something clever about rayguns but it would spoil the story for you, so I didn't. My pick for Best Novelette Winner, for what it's worth.
  • Evil Robot Monkey by Mary Robinette Kowal: (Best Short Story Nominee) People make me want to throw poo too.
  • The Tear by Ian McDonald: (Best Novella Nominee) Space Opera at it's most perfect. Ian McDonald SHOULD have won best novella, although the winner was also beautifully written and fully deserving of the award.