This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a freebie about books we acquired for a specific reason. I of course decided to go with a more sci-fi take on the topic!
The Hugo Awards began in 1953 and are awarded on an annual basis for achievements in science fiction and fantasy. Some of the greatest sci-fi and fantasy authors ever have won awards, like Robert A. Heinlein, John Scalzi, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Neil Gaiman.
A few years ago I started a book club on Goodreads with the mission to read as many of the Hugo Award winning novels as possible. I haven’t made a massive dent in the Hugo backlist, but I’ve certainly made quite the effort if I do say so myself. Here are ten books that I purchased specifically for the goal of one day finally reading each and every Hugo winner for Best Novel. Be prepared for some seriously retro sci-fi cover art!
(P.S. It’s my husband’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Dave! ❤ )
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
This was our first ever group read and for the most part we all seemed to agree it was just okay. A disappointing start to our reading adventure, but it was still interesting to read. Plus it won the first ever Hugo Award! It’s certainly a bit dated, but what mid-20th century sci-fi novel isn’t?
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
This one was the second book we ever read and it was much better received despite the barely disguised misogyny. It kind was kind of like if the movie Dave met Face/Off but in space. Not Heinlein’s best work, it was nonetheless a decent sci-fi read.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Easily the best book we’ve read to date and it instantly became an all-time favorite of mine. It was my first foray into the military science fiction genre and I was utterly blown away. I had no idea how fracking awesome the genre was! I try to read as many other similar books as possible now.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
I’d heard of this book before it won- it’d be impossible to like science fiction and not hear all the buzz about it- but it wasn’t until after it won the Hugo Award that I made an effort to read it. I soon read the sequel (which won the subsequent year) and hope to read the end of the trilogy soon (which won the year after that). The worldbuilding in this series is breathtaking and makes for really unique and compelling reading.
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Unlike the rest of the group, I wasn’t a major fan of this. I mean, I liked it, but it wasn’t as spectacular a read for me as it seemed to be for everyone else. Again, the world building was really impressive and creative, but it wasn’t enough for me to rate this higher than 3.5 stars.
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The book we all couldn’t finish. Even though it’s credited with starting the cyberpunk genre, none of us could get past the first few chapters. It was a confusing, difficult read that everyone completely gave up on. It even nearly killed the group! Several people just stopped voting and posting for a few weeks after we decided to read this. Luckily they all eventually came back.
Now that I’ve read some in-depth reviews of it I think I might be better suited to go back in. For now, though, it just sits unloved on my shelf.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Even though this wasn’t one of our chosen reads, it is one of the books we’ve discussed reading. It sounded so interesting I decided to buy a copy anyway, but I still have yet to start it.
The City & The City by China Miéville
Pretty much the same as above although instead of ordering online, I actually got this when I was in Norway. I was on a fjord cruise not long after we’d discussed this book and I managed to snag a copy of it in the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” library on the ship. I can’t remember which book I left, though!
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer
Meh. This book really upset me. It was just such a waste of a really interesting premise. The world building was awesome and the basic plot was so compelling: no matter when or how people died, they all ended up in the same place at the same time in the afterlife. This was something I thought would be an incredible device, the different eras of humans coming together in such a mystifying way.
Unfortunately the main character, British adventurer Richard Francis Burton, utterly squandered this opportunity. He even had a Neanderthal in his group (a Neanderthal!) named Kazzintuitruaabemss and all he could do was denigrate Kazz- who in my opinion was far more human than Dick.
When Dick wasn’t sizing up the body of every woman he saw, he was constantly looking down on anyone and anything that wasn’t white, British, or male. I get this book was written decades ago and to be fair, Richard Burton was probably exactly like a real life counterpart would be, but it doesn’t mean it was fun to read anything from his point of view. It was a chauvinistic, xenophobic nightmare being inside his head.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Hyperion hasn’t been selected as a read yet, but it was one of the nominees that caught my eye. I bought a copy last year at one of the greatest book stores ever, Barter Books in Alnwick, and am determined to finally read it this year.
Have you read any of these? Which books make it to your TTT this week? Let me know in the comments!