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Hugo Recommendations - Best Novel

The first of March already... damn, where does the time go?

Only thirty-one days till the third season debut of GAME OF THRONES on HBO.

And only TEN days till Hugo nominations close! So let me make a few more recommendations for your consideration, boys and gals. Resuming with "the Big One," the Hugo for Best Novel.

I cannot claim any great breath of knowledge of this year's top contenders. While I read constantly and voraciously, my bookshelves contain all sorts of things, not just the current year's SF and fantasy. Looking back, now that Hugo time is at hand, I find I read a lot of history and historical fiction last year, some non-fiction, a number of mysteries, and a bunch of older books, published in 2011 or 2010 or 1999 or 1953 or whenever. None of which are eligible for Hugos. I have also dipped into (but not always finished) a bunch of bound gallerys and ARCs of as-yet-unpublished novels that may be eligible for awards next year, but not this year.

Which is not to say that I did not read anything in the field this year. I did, and some of what I read I liked a lot.

Last year I recommended the first book of James S.A. Corey's Expanse series, LEVIATHAN WAKES... and a lot of people agreed, since LEVIATHAN was nominated for a Hugo (to the evident annoyance of one prominent writer who was not) and actually finished third in the final voting, two places ahead of my own A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, which fact Ty does not hesitate to bring to my attention on a regular basis. (("James S.A. Corey," of course, is actually the pseudonym of my assistant Ty Franck writing in collaboration with my friend Daniel Abraham).

Well, in 2012 the second volume of the Expanse series, CALIBAN'S WAR, was published. And far from being a victim of sophomore slump, that bastard Jimmy Corey seems to have done it again. CALIBAN'S WAR is even better than LEVIATHAN WAKES. It's old-fashioned space opera, the kind of SF that I cut my teeth on, a real page-turner set in a vividly imagined solar system, squarely in the tradition of Heinlein and Asimov and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (lacking only Pinto Vortando), superlatively written. Books like this were what made me an SF fan to begin with. CALIBAN'S WAR was the best pure SF I read in 2012, and I will be nominating it for the Hugo.


I read more fantasy than SF last year. Understandably, as the publishers send me just about every epic fantasy they are putting out for blurbs. This is a golden age for fantasy, and there's some great work being done. 2012 was no exception. I enjoyed Saladin Ahmed's THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, an old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery adventure with an Arabian Knights flavor, rather than the usual "medieval Europe" setting. There was a new Joe Abercrombie as well, and though I didn't feel RED COUNTRY quite measured up to last year's THE HEROES, Abercrombie is always worth reading. No new Rothfuss last year, though, and nothing by Scott Lynch... or that Martin guy, for that matter.

My favorite fantasy from 2012, all in all, was the second volume of Daniel Abraham's Dragon's Path series, this one entitled THE KING'S BLOOD. Like Jimmy Corey, Abraham just keeps getting better and better. It has been said, and truly, that Dragon's Path is perhaps not so innovative as Daniel's first fantasy series, the Long Price Quartet... but innovation is not the only value worth consideration while weighing a work of art. The world of Dragon's Path is considerably larger, older, and more colorful than that of Long Price, the characters are just as well drawn, the prose as rich and evocative, the plotting full of devious and delightful twists and turns. Abraham belongs in the first rank of today's fantastists, I think, right up there with Abercrombie, Lynch, Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, and the like. And THE KING'S BLOOD deserves a Hugo nomination.


Those are my favorite SF and fantasy novels from last year. What were yours?


Mar. 1st, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC)
I discovered Bernard Cornwell novels thank to you... can you tell me about others historic novels writers you really like?
Mar. 1st, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
Maurice Druon. I am going to do a post about THE ACCURSED KINGS soon. HarperCollins Voyager has just started reissuing this classic French series in English.
Mar. 1st, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
Cecilia Holland writes some pretty good historical fiction.

Also good is Robert Low's Oathsworn series, starting with The Whale Road.
Mark Cooper
Mar. 1st, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
I just won a copy of The Iron King on Library Thing Early Reviewers, so I'm looking forward to that.
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
I second the Druon books, they superbly depicts the era, and since it is a historical novel you can never know if your favourite character sees the next day.

The Robert Merle Fortune De France series is also highly recommended.
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
For the people who understand French, the French public television did a TV series adaptation in 2005 that is well worth watching.
Arthur De Per Schlom
Mar. 1st, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
Martin reading and recommending Druon's Les Rois maudits... I just fainted in joy.

Yeah ! Those are marevelous piece of work. One of the best unknown in the English world books of Historical Fantasy.

"Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation!"
Chris Upton
Mar. 1st, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
ext- Plenty of good Historical writers. If you want something easy to get into then Steven Presfield and Simon Scarrow are fun.
Then there's Ross Leckie (Hannibal,Scipio) Robert Nye(Falstaff,Gille De Rais) and of course Hilary Mantell if you haven't already overdosed on Tudor shenanigans.
Mar. 1st, 2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
Me also! I got my girlfriend reading a trilogy of books...known as the Warlord Chronicles, Cornwell's Arthur trilogy. I have them too, in addition to all his Saxon Stories novels. I discovered him thanks to the interview between George and Bernard not too long ago.
Mar. 2nd, 2013 11:44 am (UTC)
Re: Recommendations
I've discovered a handful of very good authors based off GRRM's recommendations, and one guy who he likes that I discovered through a New York Times article (where the likes of Michael Chabon gushed about him).

Historical fiction authors: Nigel Tranter ("Macbeth the King"), Thomas B. Costain ("The Last Plantagenets"), Sharon Key Penman ("When Christ and His Saints Slept"), Cecelia Holland ("The Kings in Winter").

Other authors GRRM has recommended and that I liked (various genres): Daniel Abraham, James SA Corey, Howard Waldrop, Gene Wolfe, Harry Harrison, Roger Zelazny, Paula Volsky, Dennis Lehane, James Tiptree Jr, George MacDonald Fraser ("Flashman"), and Robin Hobb.

The guy mentioned in the NYT - and probably one of the more difficult authors to get into, albeit a very good one - is Jack Vance. In fantasy, try "Lyonesse" or "Tales of the Dying Earth", and for science-fiction try "The Demon Princes" or "Emphyrio".

Hope that helped.

Edited at 2013-03-02 12:45 pm (UTC)


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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