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Reading for Hugos

In my copious spare time (hoo-hah), I am continuing to work my way through the ballot for this years's Hugo Awards.

Just finished THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, by Cixin Liu, originally written in Chinese and translated by Ken Liu. This was the novel that just missed in the original round of nominations, only to secure a place on the ballot when Marko Kloos withdrew. In a half-century of Hugo Awards, there have been very few non-English originals ever nominated, and certainly never one from China, so THREE-BODY is a breakthrough book in that respect, and a sign that "worldcon" is (very slowly) becoming more global.

This is a very unusual book, a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, politics and history, conspiracy theory and cosmology, where kings and emperors from both western and Chinese history mingle in a dreamlike game world, while cops and physicists deal with global conspiracies, murders, and alien invasions in the real world.

It's a worthy nominee.

If you like lots of science in your SF, this is a book for you, especially if you love theoretical physics, astrophysics, and mathemathics. The Chinese background is fascinating, especially the look at the Cultural Revolution and its aftereffects. And the prose is very clean and tight, which is not always the case with translations, which sometimes come across as a bit clunky. Ken Liu did a fine job, in that respect; the writing flows.

The central character at the heart of the novel is a fascinating and complex creation, but she is not the protagonist for most of the book, and the character who does fill that role comes across as very flat, more a viewpoint than a person. One of the secondary players, an abrasive cop, is much more successful; he's a bit of an asshole, but the story really comes to life whenever he's on stage.

All in all, I liked THREE-BODY PROBLEM, but I can't say I loved it. I thought the book started off very strong, but sagged in the middle before picking up speed again toward the end. And the ultimate ending was unsatisfying... mainly because, as I now see, this is just the first of three. I DO want to know what happens next, though. So I will be reading the next.

Now that THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM is on the ballot, I'd say that it is the likely favorite to win (and I am pretty sure it is about to pick up the Nebula as well). It seems to have admirers on both sides of Puppygate, which will stand it in good stead, and it should do very well with hard science fans and the ANALOG readers.

I am not going to reveal which book is going to get my own Hugo vote... only which ones I think are Hugo-worthy, and deserving of a spot above NO AWARD. So far, both THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM and THE GOBLIN EMPEROR rank above the line for me.

The other nominees still await my attention.

Anyone else read the Cixin Liu yet? What did you think of it?

Talking about books, after all, is what these awards are supposed to be about.


Frank Probst
May. 4th, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
Who would get the Hugo?
I can't figure out how the rules work with translated works. Do the original author AND the translator both get Hugos if The Three-Body Problem wins? They're both listed on the nomination at the Hugo Awards website, so I'm assuming Ken Liu would share the award with Cixin Liu, but I don't see anything in the rules about translated works.
May. 4th, 2015 12:52 am (UTC)
Re: Who would get the Hugo?
Interesting question.

I don't know the answer. Not sure a translation has ever won a Hugo.
May. 4th, 2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Who would get the Hugo?
Both Lius have their name on the ballot so they both get an award. Apparently that's what Sasquan decided. I mean I can't imagine someone with their name on the ballot not getting a Hugo if their work wins.
May. 5th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: Who would get the Hugo?
Is that how it works? It's not uncommon for some categories (fanzines, semiprozines or fancasts, for example) to have half-a-dozen or so names attached to a nominee.

I would have assumed that it's one trophy per winner, and they work it amongst themselves as to who actually gets it. Otherwise, the con would end up wasting a lot of money on awards they might not need, since they'd be ordering them long before they knew the winners.
May. 5th, 2015 02:40 am (UTC)
Re: Who would get the Hugo?
Everyone brings home an award in those cases. And I think the Hugo awards are even monographed, someone knows well ahead of time who the winner is.


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

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