Tag Archives: Hugo Award

Science Fiction Today – War

War never changes. That’s the opening sentiment to Fallout 4, and it’s maybe an underlying concept in War-based Science Fiction. That we can take the way War functions now, and place it somewhere – somewhen – else.

In other words, War is like the scene in The Avengers, when Nick Fury agrees that War isn’t won by superheroes – it’s won by soldiers. And it’s not like the scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the book, the prologue), when the Prime Minister says they should have no problem with the Death Eaters because they have Magic – and they remind him of the problem, that the enemy does too.

In other words, in Science Fiction, the focus on War tends to still be on the experience of individual soldiers, fighting in scenarios we might recognize or understand of War. In Fantasy, you tend to get whole societies going to War – all the elves, all the dwarves, all the wizards, etc. Because they all have powers, or are just all that badass (they’re elves!). Or else you have peasants and such joining in, rising up, becoming heroes. But not your typical soldiers – they’re in Science Fiction.

I feel like a lot of the fighting over things like Science Fiction and the Hugo awards lately has a lot to do with wanting to continue this War-based, kinda-realistic-but-in-space sort of Science Fiction. That it is what Science Fiction is. That novels like Starship Troopers, while good, somehow defined the genre forever.

Okay, so I’ve defined War in Science Fiction separate from Fantasy, and said a piece about how it has existed in history. So for this Science Fiction Today post, I want to go on to look at how the realistic-War type stories can be important for looking at War in a different way from an actual real War, and then I want to talk about how Science Fiction can also step back from War entirely, look at the idea of War itself and take it apart and define it.

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On Hugos, Puppies, and Remember that blog post I wrote…

If asked, I’ll tend to answer that one of the more important things to me is the idea of science fiction, fantasy, and the related speculative fictions being taken seriously. I think I expressed that best so far in my Realistic vs. Romantic Literature post.

I bring this up because one of the things that I feel like ought to matter for these sorts of literature to be taken seriously would be for their awards, at least, to be solid. For at least the fandom, the people who do care and who do take it seriously, to keep it together.

Which is why I have been so disappointed in the controversy over the Hugo awards. Because I want to see the Hugos taken seriously. Because I often turn to the Hugos to figure out what I should read – and I imagine others do as well. I’ve even thought of recommending the Hugo award winners as a complete set that should be held at the library. I want this to be a list of titles that matter.

For a full rundown on the controversy, I would recommend this Wired article. I read that, and it was pretty darn good. Covered a lot of the history of it, a number of good interviews on both sides. However, one of the saddest things to me was the extent to which even Wired was down on Science Fiction. Calling it a “maligned literary sub-genre” and talking about how the mainstream media barely touched it. Well, I’ll let you read it.

Wired Quote 1 part 1 Wired Quote 1 part 2

To even talk about it that way, for it to be the representation of the genre… sigh.

Meanwhile, Puppygate (ugh, can we stop calling everything -gate?), to a great extent, reminds me of the gaming gate we mentioned recently – and I think the videos we linked there apply really well here too. Even to the point of there being a more mild group that’s being used, and an extreme and strategic group using them. Which worked out kind of like this:

Wired Quote 2

I think it’s pretty awesome how many people turned out, and how many awards were actually not awarded. That there were people who declined their nominations. Because new ideas matter. Because representation matters. And because quality matters. And spiking a ballot – in any direction – doesn’t help with those things. It’s science fiction – a diversity of ideas is kind of the point.

Or, to close out with one more Wired quote:

Wired Quote 3

That would be Martin, George R.R. Who held a losers after party, because he’s that awesome.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Book Review – Among Others by Jo Walton

“I do not miss my toys. I wouldn’t play with them anyway. I am fifteen. I miss my childhood.”

-Jo Walton, Among Others, p.160

So I (finally) finished reading Among Others by Jo Walton. This novel won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the British Fantasy Award. This is what got it on my radar, for sure, and might be where you’ve heard of it. After all, that’s a lot of the big awards, and it’s rare for one book to run away with all of them.

So there must be something for everyone in this book, right? A relatable character, a known world or a well-actualized fictional one. Right? Oh, and it’s about fairies and magic. So the fairies must be well defined, and the magic must have a solid system and explanation.

Or… none of those things.

I don’t know if I can place what makes this story so good. Or why I liked it so very, very much. But I am going to try. So to do that, let me tell you what the book is about. I suppose what follows could be considered spoilers, but only in a basic sense that I tell you about the book, and better yet, let the book tell you about itself.

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