Hugo and Nebula shortlists

Just posted this to usenet:

Maybe this is an old point of discussion, but I thought I’d toss it out anyway. After some time off, I’m trying to catch up on more recent science fiction, and have listed several year’s worth of Hugo and Nebula winners to find and read. I have my own thoughts on this, but how would other fans describe the differences between the types of novels that win each of these awards? In other words, how is the average Hugo award winning novel different than the average Nebula award novel?

First of all, I echo someone else’s comment that the shortlists will be at least as interesting as the winners and of course provide much more reading material!

However I have not found the Nebula Award final ballot very useful for me in identifying novels that I would like to read, and two of the last four awards for Best Novel are, in my humble opinion, completely incomprehensible (Darwin’s Radio and The Quantum Rose). The Hugo shortlist, on the other hand, always includes several books that I already own and I usually enjoy tracking down and reading the others; and while I disagree with all of the last four Hugos for Best Novel, I can at least understand what the voters saw in them (even if it’s only loyalty to the local candidate as with this year’s award to Hominids). I actually find that the shortlists (and winners) of the British Science Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award are much better guidelines for my own personal taste, but your mileage may vary.

In terms of how the average Hugo winner differs from the average Nebula winner, the Nebulas are more likely to go to left-wing writers; are more likely to go to women writers; and are more likely to go to new writers. I don’t think any of these are necessarily bad things. It’s a shame that the Nebulas are also more likely to go to inferior books.

One thought on “Hugo and Nebula shortlists

  1. Maintaining cohesion is going to be interesting, especially since the spectacular success in Quebec means that the majority of NDP MPs are Francophone.

    (Two weeks ago, I can’t imagine writing that.)

    We’ll see what happens. I have hopes; as the only party that straddles the language barrier, the NDP has prospects for national power.

    (Two weeks ago, I can’t imagine writing that, either.)

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