Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hugo Awards Late 90's Recap

So here's the slightly delayed 90's recap and we're finally coming to an end.

The 90's were lost thematically, but I did notice that all of the winners were established fan favorites. Lois McMaster Bujold won for another entry into her popular Vorkosigan series which was already an award winning hit. Similarly Kim Stanley Robinson managed another award for the final entry in his Mars trilogy. Neil Stephenson was a hot author coming off of Snow Crash when he wrote The Diamond Age (he wrote another novel under an pseudonym between the two). Connie Willis's time travel stories had a solid following. Joe Haldeman's books had become classics.

The industry's love affair with established works continued but The Diamond Age was the first Hugo winner to not be part of a series since Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise won in 1980. On top of that all of the other books that won were parts of series where another book in that series also won the Hugo award (Haldeman says he intends Forever Peace to be a spiritual successor to The Forever War so I'm taking him at his word on that even though it really does stand alone). Even worse was the fact that three of the books had prequels in the past few years. The popularity contest nature of the Hugos really caught up with it in the late 90's.

It strikes me as a little odd that in the middle of the Internet boom none of the winners really had anything to do with computers. The closest that things come is the networking of human minds in Forever Peace. I suppose that science fiction got that out of its system a decade ago with the cyberpunk movement.

So the current tally for the Hugo award winners is:

Liked: 32
Disliked: 15

I found none of the winners in the late 90's to be great but I enjoyed To Say Nothing About the Dog, appreciated the growing style of Bujold in Mirror Dance, and found the changed world interesting in The Diamond Age. I disliked Forever Peace and completely loathed Blue Mars.

Coming up on Monday is the single most controversial Hugo winner and I serve up sacred cow burgers! It's a period where the Hugo awards hit their nadir before rediscovering themselves. Get ready for a whole lot of griping!