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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hugo recommendations: Best Novel

I see people are starting to make their Hugo Award voting recommendations, so I shall begin mine. I'll do individual posts on the major categories, then provide a summary of all of them when I am done. Let's start with the award for best Novel, where I intentionally chose from among the worst Amazon reviews for each book in order to highlight the weaknesses of the various nominees:

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. 286 reviews. 4.3 average rating. The Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke winner, and the prospective first three-award winner in SF history. It must be something truly incredible, right? No, it's just the usual pinkshirts talking up the usual Pink SF/F sewage, albeit with the innovative concept of playing games with pronouns, which was a new and exciting idea back in 1971 when Robert Silverberg did it in his Nebula-winning A Time of Changes. A recent puff piece on Leckie asked the question: Is Ann Leckie the Next Big Thing in Science Fiction? On the evidence of this first novel, the answer is a resounding "no".

Amazon review: Characterization is non-existent: the main character never changes or learns, and the author only pays lip service to the AI going from hundreds of individuals under its control to one. That could be enough for its own story right there, but it's wasted. Instead, we have the main character taking on two different big goals or quests. Her reasons for the first are totally unexplained, and she even asks herself every so often why she's doing it. But there's never an answer or even any exploration of this. She just asks herself a few times and that's it. It has no effect on the story whatsoever.

The second is literally pointless. We know this because she tells us that completion will make zero difference. So why do we care? I suppose it's just as well since there's no real universe to speak of. The culture of her society is vague and bland, and doesn't really do anything new. Oh, their language doesn't have gender-specific pronouns, meaning the main character uses "he" and "she" interchangeably. It's not done as a way to demonstrate how her own language works, either, as she admits that she can't tell people's genders a lot of the time. We're supposed to believe that an AI that is thousands of years old and capable of carrying on hundreds of conversations simultaneously can't figure out whether a person is male or female? Meanwhile a space station's AI at one point is so sensitive she's afraid it will figure out her motivations just from observing her.


The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. 2,358 reviews, 4.2 average rating. I've only read the first five or so books in the series. I'm not reading any more. Other than the length, the one notable thing about the books is that it introduces the most irritating protagonist in the history of epic fantasy, Rand al'Thor. The one way I might be able to force myself to read SFWA Grand Master's epic torture-rape extravaganza, Hogg, is if I did a word replacement in Sigil that substituted "Rand al'Thor" for all the little kiddies that Delany fantasizes about raping, torturing, and killing in various excruciating ways. That's how much I hate the whiny little bastard.

Amazon reviewThe best word to describe his writing is "trite". Everything about the book, aside from the world-building, is trite beyond words; this is juvenile, unimaginative, amateurish writing. In over 30 years of pretty much continuous reading, this is unquestionably the worst-written novel I've ever seen published.

The characters are shallow beyond words; the ridiculous and incredibly irritating Nynaeve (don't ask me how that's supposed to be pronounced), for example, has a permanent scowl on her face, and never varies her tone at all; every sentence that comes out of her is negative, angry, and sour, and she almost never says anything without an exclamation mark at the end. She's as one-dimensional as a character can be, and she ends up being nothing more than a caricature. The rest are almost as bad.


Warbound by Larry Correia. 120 reviews. 4.7 average rating. I very much like The Grimnoir Chronicles and Warbound is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It's more intelligently developed than X-Men, its use of history is more sophisticated than the casual observer will realize, and it incorporates Japanese warrior culture in a manner that is both interesting and respectful. Those who focus obsessively on the functional style of the writing are completely missing both the point as well as a smart action story.

Amazon review: Enjobale read - great end to series. Like the end - surprise for me Wonder what he will do next

Don't look at me. THAT is the only one-star review of the 120 reviews on Amazon. And the two 2-star ratings are similarly complimentary.

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross. 119 reviews. 4.2 average rating. Orbit didn't bother to include the novel in the packet. If the publisher doesn't give a damn, why should anyone else? Charlie lost his fastball a few years ago anyhow. That being said, I would have considered one of his Bob Howard novels, those are still pretty good. Not this one.

Amazon review: I am a longtime and ardent fan of Charles Stross books. I've read nearly every one and I look forward to new ones. I am not, however, a fan of Neptune's Brood. The premise was sound - great potential for some funny bits, a good launching pad for sniping at convention. And all that's in there. But what one has to slog through to get there simply isn't worth it. Mr. Stross, I imagine you have a pretty intelligent audience overall - you don't need to explain, then explain again, then needlessly overexplain yet again throughout the book. We get it. I was determined to finish the book in spite of the feeling that I was wasting my time after just having gotten through a third of it. And I did - to no avail.
 

Bottom line: I recommend each and every one of his books... except this one. 

Parasite by Mira Grant. 179 reviews. 3.7 average rating. Orbit didn't bother to include the novel in the packet. If the publisher doesn't give a damn, why should anyone else?

Amazon review: The concept for the story seemed appealing and I was excited to read it. Unfortunately the writer couldn't manage to move past how the main character felt about the prolific minutiae of her daily life, to actually tell the story. Another thing I found disappointing about this unquestionably boring attempt is, the writer spent the entire length of the story building up to what I'm sure she thought was a profound revelation. Only this revelation was glaringly obvious within the first few paragraphs. This book was not completely devoid of interest and had several fleeting moments of watered down intrigue that kept me soldiering on to the end. The ending "shocker" that was sadly predictable was followed by "to be continued" which to me is a let down squared. Overall this book is like an expensive meal served cold with poor and clumsy service. I will not be reading the next installment in this series as well as anything else written by Mira Grant.

My vote for Best Novel, and my suggestion to others, is Warbound by Larry Correia. My vote will go as follows:
  1. Warbound
  2. No Award
  3. The Wheel of Time
I recommend leaving the three Orbit books off the ballot.

Labels:

74 Comments:

Anonymous Heh July 02, 2014 1:58 PM  

the ridiculous and incredibly irritating Nynaeve (don't ask me how that's supposed to be pronounced), for example, has a permanent scowl on her face, and never varies her tone at all; every sentence that comes out of her is negative, angry, and sour, and she almost never says anything without an exclamation mark at the end.

So, she's a feminist? And an SF author or editor?

Anonymous John VI July 02, 2014 2:08 PM  

I hope you have a screenshot of all of larrys Amazon reviews up to this point. Its almost assured that just posting this review here will cause the rabbit warren to go screaming over to amazon to report on what a horrible book warbound is. Cause all authors must be EQUAL, 1 stars for everyone!!

.

Anonymous EH July 02, 2014 2:21 PM  

One author sadly neglected in prior awards is Jasper Fforde. I don't think he has anything eligible this year, but his books are the funniest since Douglas Adams.

The "Thursday Next" series which begins with The Eyre Affair is the best place to start. From the cover: "Fforde's heroine, Thursday Next, lives in a world where time and reality are endlessly mutable-- someone has ensured that the Crimean War never ended for example--a world policed by men like her disgraced father, whose name has been edited out of existence. She herself polices text--against men
like the Moriarty-like Acheron Styx, whose current scam is to hold the minor characters of Dickens' novels to ransom, entering the manuscript and abducting them for execution and extinction one by one. When that caper goes sour, Styx moves on to the nation's most beloved novel--an oddly truncated version of Jane Eyre--and kidnaps its heroine. The phlegmatic and resourceful Thursday pursues Acheron across the border into a Leninist Wales and further to Mr Rochester's Thornfield Hall, where both books find their climax on the roof amid flames.

Anonymous Fred July 02, 2014 2:26 PM  

How does leaving a book off the ballot affect the voting? If you have a No Award vote, is it worse for a novel to listed last or to not be listed at all?

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 2:31 PM  

The worst thing is to leave it off the ballot. If you do not want a work to win, leave it off the ballot. I expect you'll see a lot of people doing that with my novelette. It's very amusing to read through the various rationalizations for doing what you knew they were going to in the first place.

Jason Sanford's take on Warbound is a classic of the type.

"The final novel on the ballot is Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia, who waged a vote campaign on behalf of himself and others to become a Hugo finalist. I knew very little about Correia and his writing prior to his campaign. Putting aside his in-your-face political screaming and desire to promote one of the worst haters in the SF/F genre, I tried reading Warbound but found it to be simply cranked out and predictable, one of the numerous genre novels which are read for a while then forgotten.

I tried reading it, but I just couldn't. And I love the "predictable" claim. That's a dead giveaway that he didn't read much, if any, of it. If there is one thing that Warbound is not, it is predictable.

Anonymous Daniel July 02, 2014 2:32 PM  

Fred - it is worse to be not listed. You get "counted" or "points" for every placing vote you receive.

Anonymous Alexander July 02, 2014 2:33 PM  

It is worse to not have it listed at all. Remember, any book you list might get your vote, sould the choices above that book be eliminated due to lowest vote total in a given round. Thus, the ballot reads:

- books, in order, that I want to win
- No Award
- books, in order, that I don't think merit an award but for reasons that don't really make sense, I'm still voting for.
- books not listed on my ballot, which can never receive my vote.

It only matters in the sense that you're trying to out-game everyone else. By putting wheel of time on the list under "No Award", what you're in effect doing is saying, "once the books I like are out of the running, I'm going to do my damnedest to keep X and Y from winning the award by throwing my support to Z, even though I openly acknowledge that Z does not merit the award."

In a sane world, this would not be an issue. But the pinks have openly stated their desire to play such games against Vox, Larry, et. al., and so we must do the same.

Blogger Giraffe July 02, 2014 2:39 PM  

I wonder what percentage of the voters are infantile pinkies. A good book should rise to the top if there are enough honest voters.

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 2:47 PM  

Other than the length, the one notable thing about the books is that it introduces the most irritating protagonist in the history of epic fantasy, Rand al'Thor.

Rand isn't the only POV character in WOT. I'm curious, did any of the other characters make any impression on you at all? Like the reviewer, I was far more annoyed by characters like Nynaeve, Faile, and Perrin than by Rand who only struck me as generic.

OpenID malcolmthecynic July 02, 2014 2:50 PM  

One author sadly neglected in prior awards is Jasper Fforde.

The Thursday Next novels feature liberals taking down horrifically caricatured strawman conservative types so Jasper can force his political views down all of our throats. Thursday herself is the typical feminist Strong Female Protagonist, and the story itself is o ludicrously convoluted it stops being clever and just starts being tedious to follow.

MUCH, much better are his Nursery Crime books. They're clever, chock-full of memorable characters, tightly plotted, and just ridiculous enough to be extremely funny without turning into navel-gazing. It's a shame he only wrote two of them (his promised third never materialized). They're supposedly his "lighter fare" novels, but they're far superior to his Thursday Next books.

Fforde can write when he's not engaging in strawman conservative bashing and pretentious "Look at how clever I am!!!!" navel-gazing.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 2:54 PM  

I'm curious, did any of the other characters make any impression on you at all? Like the reviewer, I was far more annoyed by characters like Nynaeve, Faile, and Perrin than by Rand who only struck me as generic.

Generic? What general ever whines and cries about every single warrior woman under his command being killed or wounded? Call him many things, but not generic.

Nynaeve was the only other one I actually hated. I wanted to cut off her braid and stuff it down her throat the next time she pulled it. Astonishingly tedious tripe.

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 2:55 PM  

Putting aside his in-your-face political screaming and desire to promote one of the worst haters in the SF/F genre

"haters"? *snrk*

"You're such a h8r! I'm better than you 'cuz I don't hate anything! Except h8rs. I can hate h8rs and not be a h8r!"

Blogger Jourdan July 02, 2014 2:59 PM  

I'm unclear on why one would vote for Jordan under any circumstances? Not only are his books terrible, just about everything in them is outright stolen: the mages' guards are like the Covenant series' Bloodguards, the hardy, tough and war-like desert people are just like the Fremen, the king without a throne who is a great ranger is...well, I really don't need to say that, do I? It's obvious.

So: trite, unoriginal, boring and largely stolen.

It's more of a con job than a book, really.

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 2:59 PM  

VD - What general ever whines and cries about every single warrior woman under his command being killed or wounded?

I never thought of him as a general, only as a kid who got in way over his head. I thought of him as generic in a coming-of-age story kind of way.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:01 PM  

the king without a throne who is a great ranger is...well, I really don't need to say that, do I? It's obvious.

Drizzt do'Urden?

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 3:04 PM  

Jourdan - the hardy, tough and war-like desert people are just like the Fremen

Aes Sedai = Bene Gesserit
Dragon Reborn = Kwisatz Haderach

Anonymous jack July 02, 2014 3:04 PM  

I think Warbound could win, even if the 'follow the leader left, regardless the books quality, puts out a full court press. If Larry wins with this one this year I will definitely spend the $40 or whatever, next year to give Nemesis the deserved nomination and win.
I almost pulled the trigger this year on getting into the voting block. Kinda wish I had now. Should Correia win or not, you can probably expect some sort of major revision of the rules for voting next year. Something like, we, the SFWA, must 'borrow, the right, from the fandom public, to choose what goes on the ballot regardless what they, the unwashed, think. For their own good, of course. Just wait and see....

Blogger Feather Blade July 02, 2014 3:06 PM  

So, she's a feminist? And an SF author or editor?

She, liek, the youngest wise-woman-in-charge-of-her-village EVAR and it gives her a total inferiority complex.

Also, she's a feminist. Until she meets the right man.

Anonymous aviendha July 02, 2014 3:06 PM  

You got the order wrong!

Warbound
The Wheel of Time
No Award

It amazes me how deep the hatred is for Jordan. I met him a few times and he was quite a gentleman. He had seen real combat, unlike a lot of the fakers. Sure he lost his way after book 4, but he almost recovered. Sanderson's finish was admirable. It's quite easy to speed read through the long paragraphs describing an argument or "brain pulling".

It's hard for me to hear the truth sometimes, but I will always have a fondness in my heart for Wheel of Time. It is fun to be exposed to the works of the 2-3 levels higher skilled and I've had fun reading through the various lists from Vox and the Ilk.

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 3:11 PM  

Re: aviendha,
No need to ask who your favorite character is.

It amazes me how deep the hatred is for Jordan.

This is nothing. You want some hate? Bring up Terry Brooks.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:13 PM  

Should Correia win or not, you can probably expect some sort of major revision of the rules for voting next year.

Not possible. It takes two years to change the Hugo rules. One year to propose, the next to vote. And I tend to doubt they want to give Larry the satisfaction of proving he was right and the award is not merely a popularity contest, but a rigged popularity contest.

Remember, the pinkshirts are not necessarily running the show with WorldCon the way they are with SFWA. Their influence is more diffused as there are more old school SF fans involved, and not all of them are enamored with the idea of science fiction as left wing propaganda. Even if they happen to be left wingers.

Blogger Jourdan July 02, 2014 3:15 PM  

I haven't read any of Drizzt's adventures since the first couple of ones. Does he end up king of Menzoberranazzz.aandf.ad.f.adfaf (sp?)?

In any case, be it Jordan or Salvatore, the he-who-wanders-is-not-lost, all-that-is-gold-does-not-glitter thing needs to be retired. As does time travel. Dammit.

Blogger Jill July 02, 2014 3:18 PM  

It's hard for me to trust 1-star reviews. Most books rate in the 2-4 star range (in my opinion). The writing is adequate in most books, but the overall stories aren't enough to get excited about in either direction. However, that Ancillary Justice book does seem to have an annoying premise. But I doubt I'd be annoyed enough to expend energy even writing a negative review.

Blogger Jourdan July 02, 2014 3:18 PM  

I'm happy to hear that Jordan was a decent man. He was, though, a terrible author. Just awful. Reading VD's wish to cut Nyneave's braid off and stuff it down here throat reminded me of the first time I had that same feeling, right around the 43rd 3-page description of her dress, leading to a braid-tug.

Anonymous Alexander July 02, 2014 3:20 PM  

As we've got a thread sort of on the topic:

I think Opera Vita was the best of the three stories, but part of me wishes that Hoblets had gotten the nomination - if only to watch the twist and turns as the pinks tried to pour vitriol on a work that is a tribute to those (Italians in particular) who protected Jews during the Holocaust.

Vox, an idle question that occurred to me during a second read through ToB: What is the life expectancy of a human-elf hybrid? I ask because I'm curious if they're most likely to die of old age or if the number one cause of death is the occasional genocidal purge against them by the purebloods. It struck me as an interesting idea for a short story in the ToB verse: a society where the inhabitants for all intents and purposes never die except for when they are deliberately targeted for slaughter.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:20 PM  

As does time travel. Dammit.

Read CITY BEYOND TIME. I think you will love it.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:21 PM  

What is the life expectancy of a human-elf hybrid?

It depends. You'll understand why I can't answer that directly after reading Book Two. Not because I won't, but because there are variables involved.

Anonymous TalkWalk July 02, 2014 3:22 PM  

Are the Sanderson WoT books worth reading? I have up on the series about 4 books in, but I would love to get some closure. Am I going to miss anything by skipping to the 12th?

Blogger Jourdan July 02, 2014 3:24 PM  

Ah, right, forgot about City Beyond Time. Okay, I'm concerned about it as a plot device, but I'll give it a go. I do have to admit that as tired as I am with the subject, the Door Into Summer is one of my all-time favorites.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:31 PM  

Okay, I'm concerned about it as a plot device, but I'll give it a go.

Come back to me on it after reading it. I suspect you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Anonymous Alexander July 02, 2014 3:31 PM  

Fair enough. I assume then that that means that there are some percent at the right of the bell curve who could live for centuries. Which means my idea still stands, but only on an individual basis, not an entire culture....

Anonymous Heh July 02, 2014 3:41 PM  

the king without a throne who is a great ranger is...well, I really don't need to say that, do I? It's obvious.

Tom Kratman?

Anonymous aviendha July 02, 2014 3:47 PM  

Sanderson: I think he did a good job tying up loose ends. His agreeing to do the 'unwinnable' job of finishing the series could have killed his career. If you have read his other stuff, I don't think you'd hate his last 3 books of WoT. What I like about Sanderson is that his books are world building exercises; most are good, a few are great. I wasn't a big fan of mistborn, but the rest was fun. Sanderson gives away books, chapters, and his content all the time. One of his books was web released for free. brandonsanderson.com


Terry Brooks. I really, really enjoyed Elfstone. I read it in the 7th grade. It was fantasy with a lot from DnD, but it wasn't until I read his other books that the cheap Tolkien knockoff was rather shabbily apparent. Brooks is a little more like my wife's danielle steel or anthony's xanth; each book is the same thing with new names 1-3 generations in the future. Then he did a "dark tower" and started tying his other series to Shannara. I still love elfstone, but yeah over a beer I can list 1000 things that are cheap. I still buy his shit though, more for the nostalgia than any attempt to admit the writing is good...it's not. I tend to speedread them cover to cover is <2hrs (and Goodkind...who lost his way after the first few). I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

Blogger Brad Andrews July 02, 2014 3:47 PM  

I think you can still register to vote if you wish to do so, though the site is not clear on that.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 3:50 PM  

Then he did a "dark tower" and started tying his other series to Shannara.

Just wait until I start tying Quantum Mortis to Arts of Dark and Light. THAT will be a TOUR DE FORCE!

Anonymous jack July 02, 2014 3:51 PM  

@Jourdan: The Door into Summer. I liked it much, as well. And, there was, 'The End of Eternity' and I'm sorry to say I cannot remember the author. Loved that story, though. Particularly where the reality adjusters kept trying to get into a certain segment of the future. It was blocked.
The concept of a very low probability future that attracted the worried interest of the civilization in those blocked ages, and what they did about it all, was an excellent plot twist

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 3:52 PM  

aviendha - "brain pulling".

This typo would have improved the character of Nynaeve and the books substantially.

Anonymous jack July 02, 2014 3:57 PM  

OK. Should have checked Amazon first. The End of Eternity, by Isaac Asimov. How the heck I could have forgotten him as the author is beyond me.

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 02, 2014 4:00 PM  

Warbound
No Award
The Wheel of Time


Didn't you say that "No Award" should always be the LAST thing on your ballot?

Blogger Cranberry July 02, 2014 4:09 PM  

Nynaeve was such an ass. I hated her, with every braid tug and assertive remark, I wanted to just strangle her. She was mean and pushy and never listened to anyone about anything, and never admitted she was wrong even when it almost killed her (forkroot tea, anyone?).

I read through eight books and remember far too much of it. I was invested and didn't want to give up, but eventually, I had to let it go.

Faile? Bitch. Perrin? Make up your mind already, you indecisive twit. Severed Aes Sedai are best healed by the opposite sex: fucking mind blown, dude. Can't believe he slipped that one in there on me.

All of the characters were flat, very little growth or development, and the plot moved too slowly. Jordan violated several of Vox's rules for writing, but I think his most egregious error was not getting where he wanted to go with any speed. He needed a better editor.

Anonymous Josh July 02, 2014 4:13 PM  

Just wait until I start tying Quantum Mortis to Arts of Dark and Light. THAT will be a TOUR DE FORCE!

So baby and the other ai augments are actually just the uploaded consciousness of elves?

Anonymous Krul July 02, 2014 4:17 PM  

Cranberry - All of the characters were flat

I'd caveat that in a series with so many characters, you're almost bound to like at least one. I rather liked Mat, Thom the gleeman, Moiraine, Gareth Bryne, Davram Bashere, and Lan for instance.

Blogger Matt July 02, 2014 4:18 PM  

I didn't get the love for Ancillary Justice... I thought it was ok. That's it.
I think Mira Grant's Parasite is the best of this years bunch, with Stross and Correia's books an interchangeable 2nd and 3rd. The Wheel of Time is NOT a single book, and shouldn't be on the damn list.

Blogger Cranberry July 02, 2014 4:20 PM  

I'll give you Thom Merrilin, and Loial. I liked them both, but flat is flat. A character can be likeable enough even though they barely develop at all.

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 4:33 PM  

Speaking of reviews that are off, this take on Opera is amusing:

Unfortunately, the story craft is poor. The first few pages are in the point of view of a human character who I don't recall having another speaking line. The elf receives annual visits from a shape-shifting demon trying to lure him away from the monastery, but these visits don't matter to the rest of the story. (The demon doesn't raise the stakes or require someone to make a pivotal choice at the ending). The story closes with a coda set centuries later. The coda might make more sense to readers who are familiar with other stories set in this world, but it just comes out of left field for a reader coming in fresh.

Craft issues aside, what's particularly frustrating is the beginning fires up the reader's curiosity with a number of story questions:
Will the elf uphold his vow to the abbot to refrain from using magic in the monastery?
Will the elf convert to the monotheistic faith?
Will the abbot decide the elf has a soul?


The visits don't matter? Not even the visit in which EVERY SINGLE MONK IN THE MONASTERY is slaughtered? That isn't just a little bit relevant to the poorly crafted story?

Blogger Cranberry July 02, 2014 4:57 PM  

The visits don't matter? Not even the visit in which EVERY SINGLE MONK IN THE MONASTERY is slaughtered? That isn't just a little bit relevant to the poorly crafted story?

But even Bessarius doesn't suspect Mastema will do anything but pester the monks. That is what makes the tragic murder of the monks have that much more impact on Bessarius. No demands or escalation are made to force Bessarius confront the imp or warn the monks, yet Mastema acts in purely evil fashion and strikes without warning.

Uhh, THAT is a critical point in the story. Bessarius earthly hand is never forced by Mastema, yet the imp's attack stirs him to an action that serves a less base and more humane purpose.

Someone is missing something, here.

Blogger Jourdan July 02, 2014 5:02 PM  

That reader simply does not understand the story.

Blogger GK Chesterton July 02, 2014 5:16 PM  

Thanks for these threads, wasn't sure when you were going to post these. I'm doing them in smallest order first. I will _NOT_ be reading WoT for length reasons. So fortunately I only need to read "Ancillary Justice" in the Novel category. I'm hoping this is better than the short stories of which two ("Selkie" and "Dino Lovin'" where not SF/F shorts...).

Blogger slarrow July 02, 2014 5:16 PM  

I said for years that Robert Jordan couldn't close a subplot to save his life. Then he died, and Sanderson had to do it. Seems like that process could have been initiated years earlier to the benefit of all involved.

As for your reviewer, he lists his question and then says, "The story cried out for a potent ending." Well, yeah, it did, and to my mind, a slaughter of monks, a furious denunciation of God yet restraint for the sake of honor and memory, and the emblem of their mutual respect answer those questions as "yes, no, and yes" pretty well. But that's this reader's problem: he thinks the "tense action" is the killing of the monks instead of the castigation of the wooden god, apparently missing that the core of the story was this theological debate which was the element requiring a denouement. Alas. (At least he only gave a lukewarm review of the horrific Lady Astronaut story, though.)

Anonymous jack July 02, 2014 5:39 PM  

Up page it was mentioned that the Grimnoir series ended with Warbound. Why, for magics sake, would it end with Warbound? Did Correia say its over? It's never over until the demon mage coughs its last hiccup. There's lots of room left for more Grimnoir. The protagonists son, for instance, carried into the more modern era; then his son carried into today. Maybe the Grimnoir folk go underground somewhere in the alternate history and encounter the Dept of Homeland Tyranny and MHI joins with them. It ain't over. It better not be!

Anonymous GreyS July 02, 2014 5:58 PM  

(chuckle) As if this is not the most linked-to item among SFWA members today. Most didn't even finish reading it before texting/emailing/tweeting others that this post was up.

Anonymous Doug Wardell July 02, 2014 6:02 PM  

My nomination list will also be Warbound, No Award, WoT. I agree with some of the points about WoT, though I have a soft spot for it as it's what brought me back into fantasy as an adult (I read it during down-time on field exercises in the Army on recommendations of a buddy). However, I am not into the idea of giant, epic series winning "best novel." I think it's better that No Award should win, but I'd still rather see WoT win than the other non-Warbound entries for the same reasons you stated.

Blogger Feather Blade July 02, 2014 6:09 PM  

I haven't read any of Drizzt's adventures since the first couple of ones. Does he end up king of Menzoberranazzz.aandf.ad.f.adfaf (sp?)?

Wouldn't that have been a sight?

Nah, last I read he was sweeping a middle-aged Catti-brie off her feet, having spent some time with a pair of surface eves that convinced him that seeing a human lover die of old age before he even hits his prime wouldn't be totally devastating.

Or something.

Blogger TetanusScrote July 02, 2014 6:15 PM  

Hey Vox will you ever put Throne of Bones out on paperback? I have Kindle but I prefer to read books, especially mighty tomes, the old fashioned way.

Blogger Krul July 02, 2014 6:44 PM  

[Warbound is] more intelligently developed than X-Men

That's what Grimnoir's missing - skin-tight leather jumpsuits!.

Anonymous Drizzt July 02, 2014 7:01 PM  

VDJuly 02, 2014 3:01 PM
the king without a throne who is a great ranger is...well, I really don't need to say that, do I? It's obvious.

Drizzt do'Urden?


Does the mere mention of Drizzt attract your Ilk?

Anonymous Longo July 02, 2014 7:17 PM  

###hat reader simply does not understand the story.###

I was thinking the same thing about Vox and Ancillary Justice. Assuming he read it, I didn't see it show up in his read list

Anonymous VD July 02, 2014 7:34 PM  

I was thinking the same thing about Vox and Ancillary Justice. Assuming he read it, I didn't see it show up in his read list

I only put books that I complete in their entirety in my book list. Orbit chose not to include the entire book in the Hugo voter's packet.

I should be very interested to know what I said about Ancillary Justice that leads you to believe I did not understand the story?

Blogger Eric Wilson July 02, 2014 8:37 PM  

VD,

While I agree that that review is ridiculous, I will agree with his point about the coda meaning a lot more if one has read the rest of the canon. I read Opera after ATOB and SE, which made it much more edifying. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I hadn't known the backstory. I didn't rate it on Amazon, but if I had, I would have given it 5 stars if one had read at least SE, but only 4 stars if one had no previous exposure to Selenoth.

Anonymous ApolloK July 02, 2014 8:40 PM  

I agree, Eric. 5 starts with known backstory, but I would have been a bit overwhelmed (that is, without proper context) if I hadn't previously read ATOB.

Blogger Eric Wilson July 02, 2014 8:59 PM  

ApolloK,

And that's what kind of makes things interesting. I doubt VD wrote Opera with the intent of winning a Hugo, so his audience was more for those who had already read SE and ATOB (if I have my timeline right), but it was nominated anyways. So, likely most of those who read it* in the Hugo packet will not know the rest of the story and it might suffer for that reason. Which is a shame.

*Assuming they are reading it with an open mind. One wonders what percentage of voters actually are.

Blogger Nate July 02, 2014 9:47 PM  

I can't in good conscience vote for Wheel of Time at all. Its horrible. I will not list it on any ballot.

Anonymous Codename:Duchess July 02, 2014 10:44 PM  

I'm sure most of those negative reviews come from people who read Opera Vita Aeterna with an open mind.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 02, 2014 11:31 PM  

That reader simply does not understand the story.

What's the tag line for Alpha Game? "I don't expect you to agree. I don't even expect you to understand..."

Maybe Vox has to include that on the title pages of his books too.

Anonymous Eric Ashley July 02, 2014 11:33 PM  

Brook's best was Sword (because it had a device that forced you to see the absolute truth about yourself), and the Knight stories.

Spoiler.

In the Magic Kingdom book we have a situation with the Paladin, which could be read as faith or commitment. So we have Honesty before God and Faith.

And from the very first, the magic world was said to be the future of our world, probably.

I don't read him anymore, but he's not totally without merit.

Anonymous Ratbast July 02, 2014 11:38 PM  

That article about Leckie is nigh-unreadable, but illuminating. Aside from the usual liberal echo chamber, it lets on these details about her past:

Her parents, both actual scientists and Catholics, discouraged her from watching proto-pink SF series Star Trek and encouraged her to aim apply herself to writing more substantial material.

So today we have Leckie, a "former Catholic" dedicating herself to writing self-serving feminist schlock and positioning herself to take advantage of the free publicity by riding the liberal guilt wave currently ripping through the SFF community right now, probably to get revenge on her parents for not realizing how super-duper-special she was.

OpenID pancakeloach July 02, 2014 11:54 PM  

My major problem (other than Leckie torturing the English language for literally no good reason) with Ancillary Justice is that

SPOILERS

The main character goes from wanting to assassinate the Evil Emperor Palpatine to essentially working for the portion of the Evil Emperor who's only (/sarc) Joseph Stalin-level of evil. The only potential "good guy" protagonist dies tragically in the only interesting part of the novel, aka the backstory part. The main character then commences to hold a Jupiter-sized Idiot Ball for the rest of the plot.

And I actually did read the whole thing, since my local library had a copy readily available. The major feeling I get from that book is that it was written by someone who is most emphatically NOT American in spirit, and not writing for an American audience, either. I think the intended audience must be postmodern Marxist internationalists.

The actual sci-fi idea was good but the execution was terrible. And I'm pretty sure John Wright actually touched on that idea peripherally in the amazing Golden Age trilogy... maybe we can get him to write more of that? *puppy eyes*

Anonymous Ratbast July 02, 2014 11:57 PM  

If that article about Ann Leckiie is to be believed, then the following may be gauged about her life:

She was born to two Catholic parents, who unlike her, were actual scientists with actual literary taste. Possessing actual taste, they discouraged her from watching proto-pink SF series "Star Trek". Like most people who never really forgive their parents for not realizing what special snowflakes their children are, Mrs. Leckie turned against them by abandoning her faith and clinging to fashionable liberal causes to ride a wave a free publicity which paid no small part in helping her promote herself, and her work, which is really only a means to promote herself.

In short, her life is nothing but a cycle of self-serving delusion.

Blogger Markku July 03, 2014 3:17 AM  

Hey Vox will you ever put Throne of Bones out on paperback?

Never on paperback, as that wouldn't make much sense due to its length. As for hardback, it's in the queue, but not in the front of it. Because there is already the Marcher Lord Press edition out. (I'm sure some Ilk would be willing to profiteer...) Most of the potential sales have already been made for ATOB. First we will do books without any hard copy at all.

Blogger Sheep July 03, 2014 6:55 AM  

Robert Jordan. For a guy who's wife was supposedly his "rock" and "inspiration" the guy seemed to hold women in total disdain. How else can you explain his women characters which to an individual all were simpering, indecisive, stupid ninnys? Over and over he continued to push just how worthless they were.

Mat was my favorite character up to the Sanderson books. Sanderson did an excellent job wrapping up the series but I just didn't like how he handled Mat.

Anonymous Guy from Amazon July 03, 2014 6:59 AM  

"I tried reading it, but I just couldn't. And I love the "predictable" claim. That's a dead giveaway that he didn't read much, if any, of it. If there is one thing that Warbound is not, it is predictable."

To be fair, I had to do this to two sci-fi authors I usually really enjoy. Weber had some silly talk fest with Countess Gold Peak that literally skipped from new minor character to new minor character's internal dialog about external conversations about a media meme that the Star Kingdom was rude.

Then David Drake outlined a novel about Washington in Space using magic space bicycles. Set it down 1/3 through never to pick it up again, and I will wait at least a month for honest Amazon reviews of all his new books, both authored and outlined.

Anonymous Longo July 03, 2014 9:20 AM  

Vox, there is actually no indication for me from your comment that you read it, or understood it (or didn't understand it for that matter). The clue for me that you didn't read it or understand it was that you think the pronoun thing was what set the book apart.

Anonymous VD July 03, 2014 11:36 AM  

The clue for me that you didn't read it or understand it was that you think the pronoun thing was what set the book apart.

Fair enough. Except, of course, I obviously don't think the pronoun thing set the book apart. I don't think ANYTHING set the book apart other than the prose, which was admittedly above average. I was simply mocking the many hypsters who are making a meal of the pronouns.

For example, from a 5-star review: I've been reading sci-do for more than fifty years. This takes me back to those good old days when humans had an empire spread across the galaxy. This has all the elements: an evil tyrant, a solitary outsider with a hopeless mission, a recovering substance abuser as sidekick. All feels familiar, but with the quirk that there humans don't have gender distinction in their language. All the characters are referred to as she.

Blogger Duke of Earl July 05, 2014 9:24 PM  

I finished the Monster Hunter Omnibus. Alpha was definitely my favourite story. Harbinger makes a much better protagonist than Pitt who, it has to be said, is as thick as two short planks. Heather was an interesting character too, and I'm sure two years don't matter that much to creatures who age at one tenth the rate of normal people.

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