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The Hugulas

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message 1: by Geoff (new)

Geoff | 4 comments I just listened to the Hugulas podcast. Interestingly, I've done about the same thing, reading all of the Hugo and Nebula winning novels. In fact, I've ready most of the books that won just one of the awards.

I've had a very different experience from Luke... I've generally enjoyed all of the books, or at least found something to like about them, and I always look forward to reading a new Hugo or Nebula award winner. Not discounting Luke's opinion at all; I think he, as always, does a nice job of backing up his opinions.

At the end, Luke and Juliana mentioned how the more recent Hugulas fared especially poorly. I wonder if there is an uncanny valley effect going on? The uncanny valley theory is that things that seem almost human produce a feeling of revulsion (like poorly computer animated humans), whereas things that seem less human (say hand-drawn animation) are perfectly acceptable.

So, applying this to the Hugulas: Science fiction written in the past couple of years resonates with the reader, because it reflects an extrapolation of our current attitudes. Science fiction written in the farther past (say, 50s through 70s) is written at such a distance from our current mindset that it is fine to read. However, something written between the 80s and 00s grates upon the reader. The point of view is _almost_ modern, but not quite. People act sort of like modern people, but things are out of whack. Technology, especially, but perhaps gender and racial issues have a similar feeling.

For instance, I can read a Robert Howard Conan book, written in the early 1900s, and gloss over the racism and sexism, as a product of the era. However, a David Brin book written in the 1990s grates because the computers and robots are pathetic, even though a lot of the other stuff feels modern. (Actually I really like Brin's work, but I read it when it came out). And I loved "The Windup Girl", but in 20 years it will probably seem dated in all the wrong ways.

Anyways, just a thought. Keep up the good work Luke!

message 2: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 285 comments Mod
Good idea, but I'm not sure I agree. I don't think there is a lack of good books in the 90's, just the Hugula novels take a bit of a dive then.

For example, here are some post-Speaker-For-The-Dead Hugo winners I rate highly:

1989 Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh
1990 Hyperion by Dan Simmons
1993 A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
1994 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
2000 A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
2006 Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

It's really not bad. I've not read Red/Green/Blue Mars since the 90's, but I'm sure they hold up okay. All the rest of these I've read way more recently and they are still good.

Again, this experiment was more to see if book awards are a good guide to what you should read, or if you should read books otherwise considered good. You know, like all the above books. They are titles people would recommend even if they didn't win a Hugo.

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul Forbes | 16 comments I enjoyed Cyteen - would love to hear it reviewed on SFBRP!
- Paul

message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy | 15 comments And Downbelow Station, which proceeds it.

message 5: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 285 comments Mod
Downbelow Station was the last book I read and didn't review before starting the SFBRP. But it's been almost 7 years, so I guess it's time for another re-read! This time as an audiobook and a discussion with Juliane.

message 6: by Geoff (new)

Geoff | 4 comments I thought Downbelow Station and Cyteen were excellent (though it's been a long time since I read them). The more recent sequel Regenesis was just OK.


message 7: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 285 comments Mod
Generally I don't like long-delayed sequels. An author going back to a beloved work decades later is usually a bad idea.


See also: Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge.

message 8: by Kev (new)

Kev Bartlett | 5 comments See also Forever Peace. Which admitedly I haven't read so cannot pass judgement but according to yourself Luke it was pretty 'so-so'

message 9: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 285 comments Mod
Forever Peace is different, I think, because it isn't a prequel or sequel. It's just another novel by the same author with a similar name. Like a thematic sequel.

It is, however, very so-so. First half great, second half the shittest shitty thing I've read by Haldeman.

message 10: by Amy (last edited Nov 10, 2014 08:04AM) (new)

Amy | 15 comments I think there is a difference between a "sequel" and "another book in the same universe". A sequel to me implies more of a promise that there will be another book, even if there is not an out-and-out cliffhanger. I agree that making fans wait ages for a sequel is annoying, especially if there was a cliffhanger. But if an author wants to revisit an old universe and expand on it, I'm cool with that. I can judge the next books on their own merits. And let's be honest--I can't imagine many publishers bringing out new books based on a years- or decades- old novel or series unless there was fan demand.

And Prometheus was just indefensible. Yuck!

message 11: by Geoff (new)

Geoff | 4 comments Any good exceptions that prove the rule? Foundation's Edge by Asimov is a possibility, though it's been so long since I read any Asimov that it's a little hard to remember. The first of the Foundation books were in the 50s, and then he had a second run in the 80s starting with Foundation's Edge (#4 in the series). I know I didn't like Prelude to Foundation (the 6th in the series), but I think I liked the couple before that.


message 12: by Luke (new)

Luke Burrage (lukeburrage) | 285 comments Mod
The big problem is revisiting loved characters and concepts 20 years later. 20 years later the author is a different person, and often doesn't understand what made the original work so good. The things they put in were unconscious choices.

So I don't mind new books in the same universe. Like the Culture novels by Iain M Banks, are new stories that explore new characters and new ideas.

And it's fine that Deepness in the Sky revisited the same world, because it has a different setting and (mostly) different characters. But Children of the Sky is a direct sequel to Fire Upon the Deep, and had many same characters and locations, but seemed to leave out EVERY factor that made the first so good.

message 13: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 53 comments The worst is when an author retroactively decides all his stories are in the same universe, and you end up with crossovers that make no sense, like one of the Dark Tower novels where a guy from Salem's Lot shows up, and R. Daneel Olivah turning out to be (view spoiler) Didn't Heinlein do it too?

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