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Good Stuff to Read

With Hugo nominations now open, the question arises... what to nominate?

There was a lot of good work done last year.

A great place to start is with the LOCUS Recommended Reading List, which just came out:


I am sure there are some terrific stories and books that did not make the list (there usually are), but still, you can't do better when it comes to a starting place.

And please note, in light of last year's controversies, that this is what a recommended reading list SHOULD look like. Not a slate of five, with the message (spoken or unspoken) "vote for these," but rather a long long list of quality work with the message, "here's some good stuff, things we like, take a look."

(I am, of course, gratified that so many stories from OLD VENUS made the list. LOCUS has always been kind to me. I point this out lest I be accused of bias. So I cannot pretend to be a completely disinterested party, but I do want to be honest and upfront. It should be said as well that, while I often share the enthusiasms of the LOCUS editorial staff and reviewers, and have found them to be on the whole a reliable guide, I do also disagree with their assessments from time to time. We all have our own tastes).

Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone's slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals.

Meanwhile, I will continue making my own recommendations here from time to time, when I have the time and the energy. Both of which I find are in short supply these days.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:31 pm (UTC)
Where to start?
Thank you for sharing this list. I have bookmarked the LOCUS recommendations for future reference. As a neophyte to this game the list seems daunting, where to proceed from here. Any thoughts about how to approach the suggested reading?
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Where to start?
Well, really, any place is as good as another.

Presumably you already know many of the writers on the list. Some may be favorites, others less so. I'd start with the ones you like.

Similarly, you may prefer certain genres... fantasy rather than SF, or vice versa.

You can also do web searches for reviews on certain titles, see if they sound like something that would appeal.

Do look at some of the first novels, though. It's always good to give the new kids on the block a chance.
Gregory Hullender
Feb. 2nd, 2016 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Where to start?
Depending on how fast you read, it would take about 500 hours to read all the novels on the Locus list and about 100 just to read all the short fiction. Lists like this can be helpful when you're trying to decide what to nominate based on the works you have already read, but I think it's pretty useless as far as picking things to read.

Rocket Stack Rank (http://www.rocketstackrank.com/p/2016-hugo.html) only does short fiction, but we managed to read ~560 stories from 2015 and we've ranked them based on how many different reviewers liked them. You can start at the top of the list and scan down, looking for things that sound interesting. (We added a spoiler-free "blurb" for each story to help with this.) There's info on how to buy/borrow digital copies of the print magazines, there are galleries for fan and pro art, and there are tips for the best-editor (short form) category. It doesn't tell you how to nominate, but it collects a whole lot of information in a single place to make nominating easier.

(RSR is a retirement project my husband and I do for the benefit of fans trying to make nominations. It isn't monetized in any way.)
Feb. 2nd, 2016 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Where to start?
That sounds very scientific, no doubt, and I am sure some people will find it a useful tool.

Myself, not so much. What you are measuring there is the number of readers or reviewers who liked a book or story... but my own tastes do not coincide with the majority. I tend to pay more attention to the opinions of specific individual reviewers who I have learned to trust. One reason that Gardner Dozois and I work together so well as anthology editors is that our tastes are very similar; if Gargy likes a story, there's a damned good chance I'll like it too, and vice versa. For movies, I used to put my trust in the late Roger Ebert. With rare exceptions, I almost always agreed with Ebert's opinion on films (Siskel, not so much).

Which is not to say there is not value in what you're doing. The more information, the better.
Gregory Hullender
Feb. 2nd, 2016 09:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Where to start?
People's tastes definitely differ, which was why we tracked so many different reviewers--including Gardner. If you see "GDozois" next to a story, it means either that he recommended it via SF Editors Picks or that it was in his Year's Best Science Fiction. (Not that I think you personally need help finding stories to read.)

The reviewers tend not to overlap very much. The highest overlap was between Gardner Dozois and Neal Clarke, and that was only 33%. With nine different reviewers, I like to think we covered a wide range of tastes.

By the way, Old Venus was fantastic. I'm not sure if you noticed, but Botanica Veneris got more recommendations from reviewers than any other story. Apparently you guys are a good team. :-)
Feb. 1st, 2016 10:03 pm (UTC)
Mr. Martin
I'm a big fan of your work, so thanks for the link!
Knowing this is a somewhat heavy question, but do you have a favorite genre or sub-genre? Or maybe even a favorite book?
Feb. 1st, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Favorites
Oh, I have a lot of favorite books, of all sorts... LORD OF THE RINGS, THE PUPPET MASTERS, THE GREAT GATSBY, LORD OF LIGHT, LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, THE STARS MY DESTINATION, almost everything by Jack Vance... one could go on and on...
Feb. 1st, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
In incredible list to devour while I wait for Winds. Thanks George. Any initial recommendations from the Fantasy list?
Feb. 1st, 2016 11:49 pm (UTC)
I'll check them out! (Your books got me back into reading. Currently devouring Maurice Druon.)
Mitchell Henson
Feb. 2nd, 2016 12:48 am (UTC)
There is one major error on the Locus ballot. They listed Stephen Kings mystery novel for best fantasy novel. It's a straight up mystery following Mr Mercedes and deserves an award. Not a Hugo. I believe Mr Mercedes won an Edgar.

Edited at 2016-02-02 12:49 am (UTC)
Feb. 2nd, 2016 02:15 am (UTC)
One that missed the locus boat and one that deserved to drown...
I feel like Pierce Brown's "Golden Son" was a very entertaining read, better then the first installment "Red Rising".

He should be considered for the Campbell IMHOP as well.

The one that didn't make the Locus list and deservedly so was Ernest Cline's "Armada". Huge fan of "Ready Player One" but this book was offensively thoughtless.
Zack Martin
Feb. 2nd, 2016 02:16 am (UTC)
I've tried finding books
George im sure you have heard this a million times but i just cant find a book by any author that can hold a torch to. Asoiaf. Its like choosing to have taco bell instead of a nice steak. Ive read all ur books 5 times...might be i need to go again.
Feb. 2nd, 2016 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I see that the Red Rising books keep getting overlooked.
Feb. 2nd, 2016 04:48 am (UTC)
Take your time
Thank you for keeping us posted :) As for your status, i can't begin to imagine... You have to take your time Mr. Martin to rest, and I'm speaking as a professionnal health care here. You've been exhausted and stressed with the deadlines and all the rest. Your mind need it so you can once again do what you do best, writting astonishing stories :D I salute you, take your time, change air if you need to, you're nobody's slave.
Red Zen
Feb. 2nd, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
"Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone's slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals."

Bravo! Well said. I think this is how the Hugos will be saved: lead by example by good men, rather than counter-slating, scorched earth, and the endless descent into red vs blue.
Feb. 2nd, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
Locus List

I looked at the list and noticed that of the 49 novels they recommended that none of them were published by Baen. I then looked at the past 3 years and noticed that of the 147 novels Locus has recommended that none of them are from Baen. If you look at the last 3 years there have been 66 unique publishers who have had novels recommended (list below pulled from Locus and deduped). Do you think that this continued exclusion is a positive for a reconciliation for this years Hugo awards? Thanks!

Angry Robot
Arrow 2015
Big Mouth House
Cheeky Frawg
Del Rey
FSG Originals
Fourth Estate
Grand Central
Hard Case Crime
Harper Collins
Head of Zeus 2015
Headline Review
Heinemann 2015
Hodder & Stoughton
Jo Fletcher
Little, Brown
McClelland & Stewart
Mulholland Books
Mythic Island
Night Shade
Open Road
PS Publishing
Peter Owens
Picador USA
Pixel Hall
Plus One
Random House
Reagan Arthur
Small Beer
St. Martin’s
The Friday Project
Thomas Dunne
Victoria University Press
Feb. 2nd, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Locus List
Believe it or not, I don't think most readers pay the slightest bit of attention to which publisher is responsible for which book. I know I don't. I've read a dozen books in the last month (not all SF and fantasy, I also read a lot of history, historical fiction, mystery, etc), and I could not tell you who published any of them. (I might be able to make educated guesses, but I have no idea how well I'd do).

Reviewers are not unlike readers in that regard. I think most say, "oh, look, here's the new Kim Stanley Robinson" or "oh, look, here's something from Marko Kloos," not "here's a book from Tor/ Baen/ 47 North," or whatever.

(It is also possible that Baen does not send review copies to LOCUS. I have no idea about that. Charles Brown had rigorous guidelines on that, I recall; those may still be in effect).

Occam's Razor applies. No need to imagine conspiracies. Simpler explanations suffice.
Feb. 3rd, 2016 11:12 am (UTC)
Re: Locus List
Heyne is also missing. Thats the number 1 SF publisher in Germany. Bastei Lübbe too.
Ray Betancourt Álvarez
Feb. 2nd, 2016 04:16 pm (UTC)
Feeling moved by books
Did you or do you get "moved" or emotional about something you read? Is there any phrase or sentence in the books you had read that keeps coming to your mind and heart? Is there anything in your own work that touches your heart as a reader?
Feb. 2nd, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
Nice list, seems a good mix between accustomed names already well settled in the genre and newer ones, so they seem to try to work around most biases already from a short look.

OTOH you can't possibly know every name and every title on such a list so it would really help if the books that came out as part of a series had at least a small mark saying they're not book 1 of doesn't matter how many... a lot of series suffer from being not easily enterable at any point in their run, being more enjoyable if you already know the story behind the universe and all... so giving all books just the same info without a nod of the head to "but it's not book 1, so maybe you want to look that up too?" might give them better chances?
Feb. 2nd, 2016 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Wow, the titles themselves make one's mouth water. Lots of reading to be done.

They don't have a nomination for translated works, do they? Shame. Russian SF/F is now on the rise...
Feb. 2nd, 2016 07:35 pm (UTC)
Translations do not have a category of their own, but they are eligible in the regular categories in the year of their first English publication. In fact, two translations won last year: a Chinese novel and a Dutch short story.
Feb. 3rd, 2016 09:59 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'll check the lists, then.
Feb. 2nd, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
It is an interesting list. I appear to have anticipated it somewhat by reading several of the novels in the science fiction section already; so at least I have a minor head start.

I just finished AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson and found it to be compelling and disturbing, at least from the viewpoint of someone who hopes we might one day go to the stars. I'm glad to see it made the list from LOCUS, although I think the pacing of the novel was odd at times. James S A Corey's excellent NEMESIS GAMES kept me awake for several nights because I couldn't stop turning pages. I had the same experience with Carolyn Ives Gilman's DARK ORBIT and reading it reminded me somewhat of my first encounter with Andre Norton's novels many years ago, particularly the FORERUNNER books. I look forward to finding and reading more of Gilman's work.

Next up in my novel reading queue are SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson and then Ann Leckie's ANCILLARY MERCY. After that I think just picking them randomly will do, although I might sneak in John Scalzi before resorting to random selection.

I don't know if I can manage them all before voting commences, but I will try. When the nominations are final, I concentrate mostly on reading all of those titles on the list which I haven't yet read. I'm certain there will be many short stories and novellas nominated which I haven't encountered on my own, and probably some novels as well. Even being retired, I don't have enough time in the day to read everything out there.

Edited at 2016-02-02 07:05 pm (UTC)
Feb. 2nd, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
No one has enough time to read everything out there.

Read what you can, nominate what you love.
Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
Re: nominations
Both the reading lists for the Nebula and Locus left off my favorite book from 2015, Mark Lawrence's Liar's Key. So everywhere where I add the link to the Locus list I also give a shout out for this title.
Flippa T
Feb. 5th, 2016 12:35 pm (UTC)
Love your recommendation, Accursed Kings is the best!
G'day George,

Just wanted to leave you a comment and thank you for pointing out the Accursed Kings series. I'm up to book 4 at the moment and am loving every page.

Thanks so much, I will have to look up more books you recommend!

Next series for me will be The Magician series.

Kind Regards,

Richie from Australia

P.S. Game of Thrones was the first book I ever truly read. Lured in by the TV show I regret not reading the books before the HBO series came out, and that's saying something as I am a die hard Game of thrones tv fan. SO basically thank you for introducing me to books!
Feb. 5th, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
Harriet Rigney for Best Editor Long Form
George Martin recommended the Wheel of Time Companion for best related work. Note that Harriet Rigney is elligible for best Editor Long form for this. Its hard to pick best editor because as a fan I can't tell what an editor did on a specific book. If its based on the best book, then the best editors should be the editors of the best novel nominees, but they rarely are. The Wheel of Time companion is one big editing job. So you can tell by looking at it that it was an incredible amount of work to edit. This is likely Harriet's last chance for a nomination.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


George R.R. Martin
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