Dear Puppies: Please talk about what you love

Hey, Puppies,

Can we talk?

I’ve been watching this Hugo thing unfold with an ever-growing sense of disquiet. A lot of people are angry right now, and the anger isn’t helping anyone. In fact, it’s hurting people all over fandom, no matter where they stand on the Hugos.

Sometimes anger is productive, but I haven’t seen anything remotely productive out of this yet, so maybe it’s time to start talking about books.

“Oh, so we’re supposed to make nice and sweep it all under the rug?”

No. Talking about books doesn’t sweep anything under the rug. What it does is build common ground, and common ground is that place where productive conversations can eventually happen. Anger and more anger just makes everyone defensive. Doors slam, walls go up and people become more insular, not less.

“Why us, Kary? Why do we have to go first?”  Because there’s a lot of our stuff on the ballot.

If you love it so much that you nominated it, it’s time to tell the world about it. Which is your favorite, Dark Between the Stars or Skin Game, or was it something else entirely? Write a post on why your pick is so awesome. Put it on your blog, your Tumblr, your Facebook, etc. Heck, put it here as a comment.

Then do the same for your second favorite or something in one of the other categories. If we all do that, the internet will be brimming with book recommendations instead of outrage, which, frankly, would make it a much nicer place to be than it is now.

“But they started it!” At some point, it doesn’t matter who started it.

You know what started it? Books started it. Stories we love, by authors we love. Middle Earth. Ringworld. Westeros. Gotham City. That’s what started it. Mary Shelley. H.G. Wells. Jules Verne. They started it, too.

So let’s take a page from the Dread Pirate Roberts. Let’s put down our swords and rocks and talk about books like the genre intended.


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144 thoughts on “Dear Puppies: Please talk about what you love

  1. Robert Reynolds says:

    Thanks for posting this. I hope people take the time to do as you suggest. It might be helpful to point out that people have been talking about books over at File 770 for quite a while now. There have been attempts by people to discuss things over there, which of course you are aware of, as you’ve been there.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  2. james says:

    YES! I can’t agree with this sentiment enough! The purpose of all of this has been to promote books that we like. Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. Here is a one-liner that should hook you: ” It follows the protagonist, Harry Dresden as he teams up with former enemies to rob a vault belonging to Hades, lord of the Underworld.”
    Here is a fun read involving a wizard, people he grudgingly works with, and stealing… From HADES! I like books like this. They are escapism at its finest. I take a few hours and just enjoy a well-written story in a world that I have visited many times before. The high-stress job I work at can really take its toll, and books like this one are a great way to just relax.

    • Kary English says:

      I haven’t finished it yet, but your elevator pitch sounds like Ocean’s 13 – IN HELL! 😀

      • james says:

        Well… I would read that book! I loved the Ocean series of movies. They got a lil ridiculous, but I felt that was the draw. Just how crazy were they going to get with the plot twists and turns? Now, add magic and a team of people that don’t necessarily get along. How could you not want to see just where they are going with this plot?

        • Kary English says:

          Oh, I agree. I thought it was a good description.

          • RK Modena says:

            Despite being the latest in the series, I think it manages to stand on it’s own as well; better than some of the others. But since The Dresden Files is written as Wizard Detective stories, they’re good like that.

            As someone who dropped into the Dresden Files this way:

            Friends: OMG how could you NOT know of these books?! GO GET IT!!!!!!

            Me: That good huh? *goes to bookstore* Eeek, they don’t have book 1-3, 4 is on sale, 5,6,7 isn’t… well, my friends say it’s awesome… *buy book 4*

            *2.5 hours later*

            Rhys *over skype*: So, you want the rest of the series, but you started in the middle.

            Me: No, no, I want the rest of the books currently AVAILABLE there before they vanish!

            Rhys: *laughing* I’m gonna be ignored for the next few days, huh?

            Me: I love you.

    • Edith says:

      I read the first 3 dresdens. The first was entertaining, the second only mildly entertaining because it was a lot like the first, the third was a slog. Ymmv. As a Hugo voter I see no point in forcing myself to read it since it’s the last in a long line of books I haven’t read.

      Don’t get me wrong. I love fun escapist fiction. Dresden just doesn’t work for me. Butchers Codex Alera was better.

      The Leckie and Addison were soooo good I nominated them and I hope one of them wins.

  3. cmm says:

    I really loved the Goblin Emperor. I instantly empathized with the protagonist, the world building was excellent, and I spent a weekend utterly immersed in the intrigues of a completely different world. The only complaint I have is that the “excerpt” from a guide for travelers that gives an explanation for the Elf titles and name structures should have been at the beginning of the book, or flagged some kind of way. Keeping the names and titles straight is one of the things that I’ve seen people say caused them to bounce off. If that’s you, try reading that appendix and give it a little longer.

    Of everything that I’ve read so far from the Hugo packet, that is the one that has really stuck and been the kind of book I want to tell everyone about.

    I also second the recommendation to check out some of the book discussions in the File 770 comments. My Amazon wishlist is taking a beating with all the new titles and authors I’ve been stuffing into it (imagine that Yosemite Sam cartoon where he is jumping up and down trying to cram all the TNT under the house, that’s what my wishlist looks like).

    • Scott Richardson says:

      I had a different take on The Goblin Emperor.

      **********SPOILER ALERT**************SPOILER ALERT************

      If you’re still reading now, it’s your own fault. My problem with this book is not the writing. It was very well written, and was a pleasant read. The problem is that the emperor never really faced any adversity. Sure, some unpleasant-tob-bad things happened to him, but he was able to overcome all of these obstacles fairly quickly, and not due to his own efforts, for the most part. When finally something major happens, the attempted coup, he stalls for time, and is then quickly rescued. His major accomplishment seems to be getting the bridge approved. Well, that’s great, but not truly exciting.

      Also, I felt that there was a lack of world building. I became very familiar with court etiquette, but not too familiar with the kingdom. I know they had airships, and visitors from other countries that were fairly colorful, but I didn’t get a real sense of the world that any of the characters occupied.

      All in all, it was a pleasant read, but not something I would read again, nor would I necessarily read another book by this author.

      • Will McLean says:

        Scott, I’m going to differ with you on TGE. Maia comes to court as a friendless and ignorant halfbreed. He educates himself, accumulates friends and allies through generosity, compassion and good judgment, and overcomes his own inclination to repay evil with evil. So when the two nearly fatal crises hit, he has enough support to survive, sometimes in places his enemies don’t expect. He had to work at that. And achieving his goals without a pile of corpses is admirable rather than boring.

        • Scott Richardson says:

          “Scott, I’m going to differ with you on TGE. Maia comes to court as a friendless and ignorant halfbreed. He educates himself, accumulates friends and allies through generosity, compassion and good judgment, and overcomes his own inclination to repay evil with evil. So when the two nearly fatal crises hit, he has enough support to survive, sometimes in places his enemies don’t expect. He had to work at that. And achieving his goals without a pile of corpses is admirable rather than boring.”

          Again, *************************Spoiler Alert******************************

          I’m not asking for piles of corpses. I’m just asking for more dramatic tension. As far as fatal crises, the attempted coup, from start to finish, was a few pages. My point is that all of the obstacles he faced were overcome rather easily. I realize that opinions on books are subjective, so I’m glad you liked the book. I enjoyed it also, I just didn’t enjoy it that much.

      • dave says:


        I can definitely see what you mean about it seeming like Maia does very little. It annoyed me at first too, because my expectations of a fantasy novel like this involve a hero who is a mover and shaker, a warrior king who directly faces all his adversities.And it was failing those expectations spectacularly.

        But about half way through, I realized that wasn’t the book Addison was writing. Instead, she was writing a quiet book about bureaucracy and how nations are actually ruled, internally and externally and how one man, even an emperor, can only do so much directly. All of Maia’s power to affect change in the Empire comes from the friends and allies he makes. And all those friends and allies comes from Maia’s capacity to be empathetic, to deny custom, and to choose NOT to do the easy, direct thing.

        [WARNING SPOILERS!!!!!!!!]
        Take the cousin who saved Maia from the attempted coup, for example. Yes, it might have been more exciting if Maia had talked his own way out of it or somehow escaped and ran or grabbed someone’s sword and fought for his life. All sorts of DIRECT action could have been chosen over it. Only Maia isn’t physically strong, isn’t particularly dexterous, and really isn’t very good at intimidating through words. The only thing he’s really good at is empathy. So it was the cousin who saved him.

        But why did he save him? Because much earlier in the novel, when it would have been politically expedient to exile the cousin because he was next in line to the Throne, and therefore a rival, Maia instead chose to befriend him. Had Maia exiled him, Maia most likely would have died in the coup.
        [END SPOILERS]

        The novel is full of this kind of thing. And once I realized it, I really began to adore what Addison was doing. Maia is not a warrior king. And he didn’t need to be to be a strong ruler.

        I do agree, though, that there could have been a lot more world building. 🙂

        • Scott Richardson says:

          I agree with you about what the author was trying to do. I think she could have accomplished this while still having more, or at least extended dramatic tension.

          For instance, I think if Maia had been saved from the attempted coup after a more extended episode, rather than a couple of pages, I would have appreciated it more. Even if he had ended up being saved in the same way by the same people.

          I guess even though it was a somewhat enjoyable read, The Goblin Emperor just wasn’t my cup of tea, in the end.

        • Lee says:

          That’s funny, because I saw a ton of world-building in it. Maia’s world has mythology, children’s tales, folk music, pirates, places where two women can live together as wives (and also places where homosexuality is very much Not The Thing), exotic trade goods (lion-girls?!), opera, steampunk science, teahouses (and different kinds of teahouses depending on the culture), desert nomads, exotic races (the signet-maker), and all kinds of other stuff. But since the POV is entirely Maia’s and he doesn’t venture much outside the Palace complex, we only glimpse all these things as they are mentioned to or around him. It’s like reading a book instead of watching a movie — we have to supply a lot of the background from our imaginations instead of having them laid out for us to see directly. And there are a lot of things which are easy to infer; for example, there are airships, but clearly little or no effort has been made to develop ground transportation that doesn’t rely on horses. That tells you something about the likely state of the roads.

          The book pays greatly for close reading. I’m on my something-over-10th re-read and still picking up details I hadn’t noticed before.

          • David Lang says:

            I haven’t read this book, but I do want to say that World Building is not just lots of descriptions and odd situations. Great World Building is laying out the _reasons_ for these differences to be there in a way that the reasons make a self-consistent whole. You don’t have to give all the rules up front, but the rules should be discoverable and ideally discovered by the character/reader over the book/series

            Great descriptions of interesting places and things are good backdrops, but not worldbuilding.

      • Alex says:

        That was exactly my take: a pleasant book in which nothing really bad happens to the pleasant but dull protagonist on-screen, with some heavy-handed politics dumped in the middle and a really heavy-handed metaphor at the end. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly good, either.

        Am I the only one who was told two keys to drama are:
        1. Make your protagonist do things, not just have them happen to him.
        2. Conflict is the heart of story.

        TGE failed both, IMO.

        • Craig (2) says:

          Yeah. Everything was just too neat to me, and too many things that threw me out of the story by their absence (tension being a big one of those; and it could have been added fairly simply had the author wanted, so one assumes the utter lack of tension was deliberate).

          I wouldn’t call it bad, but it was very much not to my taste.

  4. cmm says:

    I was just saying elsewhere that although we downsized last year to a home that is under 500 sf, and I therefore got rid of most of my “real” books, (I have probably 90% electronic book collection at this point), I did go ahead and buy a paper copy of Friday by Heinlein. Though it’s considered late and less-good than the serious classics, and I went back and read many of the serious classics, Friday had a huge impact on me when I read it as a high school and college student. I’m simultaneously looking forward to and a little bit dreading re-reading it. I fervently hope that the Suck Fairy hasn’t visited it.

    • Kary English says:

      Re: Friday – I first read that as serialized mini-books in Portuguese. 🙂 I loved it enough to buy another copy in English when I got home, the one with the gorgeous blue Michael Whelan cover. And speaking of Michael Whelan, I often bought books just because his art was on the cover.

      • Rev. Bob says:

        Oh, I love that cover… despite how howlingly inaccurate it is.

        First of all, the title character was genetically created from many sources – and if that weren’t enough of a hint, she is explicitly described as being multiracial to the degree that “You can never afford to be racist; you would bite your own tail!” As for her appearance, from that same passage:

        “Beautiful”! Boss, I do own a mirror. Was it possible he had really thought so? Surely, I’m built okay; that just reflects the fact that I’m a crack athlete-which in turn reflects the fact that I was planned, not born.

        As far as books I like, although I’m definitely not a Puppy, I’ll recommend a YA series I’m currently reading: Cidney Swanson’s Saving Mars. (Imagine a cross between Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and “The Menace from Earth,” with a dash of Podkayne of Mars thrown in, as a rough estimate.) A daring and impulsive teenage pilot, friction between Earth and Mars, a colony on the edge of extinction, identity transference, questions of loyalty and love… what’s not to like? There are six books in the series, and naturally Saving Mars is the first.

        Charles Stross does nifty things with the Cthulhu Mythos in his “Laundry Files” series, the next of which (The Annihilation Score) is due out this summer. Tom Holt’s next “YouSpace” novel, The Good, The Bad and the Smug, should come out around the same time; that comedic series uses baked goods as interdimensional gateways. (The first in the set is Doughnut.) I’m a couple of books behind on Simon R. Green, whose current work is a pair of intertwining urban fantasy series: “Ghost Finders” about a decidedly non-wacky team of ghostbusters, and “Secret Histories” which is kind of a “James Bond versus the supernatural” shtick. Both of those also tie into his earlier “Nightside” books; each line looks at the same setting from a rather different perspective.

        As for the current nominees… I liked Skin Game well enough, but I don’t think it merits a Hugo. I loved last year’s Ancillary Justice, but I’m not sure Sword meets the same standard. Given the other choices, though, Sword would be my top choice. It’s kind of a lean ballot this year.

        • Kary English says:

          Yep, I remember her being described as multi-racial, including, IIRC, Cherokee. In the Whelan cover, she looks vaguely like Sigourney Weaver?

        • Nick Gardner says:

          I’m behind on Simon R Green myself. And I’ll never catch up. I’m just tired of his stuff. His light, only on the surface style of storytelling is fun for awhile, but I’m just not getting any satisfaction out of his stuff anymore. If you like his stuff, have you read the Deathstalker books? Similar stuff but in a sci-fi universe. Fun, but a little Deus Ex Machina. And he could learn another physical description other than “Lithe and muscular.” lol

          • David Lang says:

            Simon R Green: how many people can make “He saved the Dragon from the Princess” make sense?

          • Rev. Bob says:

            Actually, the Deathstalker ‘verse crosses over into one of the Secret Histories books… and one of the gates in a Nightside train station leads to Haven. He’s doing that thing a lot of late-term authors do, where they start tying their different worlds together. I started to connect those dots in Stephen King’s work at one point – before he really got the Dark Tower stuff cranked up – and I stopped when the Overlook hotel ended up being in the same universe as the movie of The Shining, which made my head hurt… 😉

          • Wes S. says:

            With Simon R. Green, it depends on which series you’re talking about. I loved the “Hawk and Fisher/Blue Moon” novels – well, except for the last one, which felt a bit rushed; he seemed to be trying to wrap the series up just to be done with it – and liked the couple Eddie Drood novels I’ve read. The Deathstalker books, on the other hand, just seemed a bit “off” to me for some reason and didn’t leave much of an impression. Haven’t yet read the “Nightside” novels or his new one about the ghost hunters.

            But yes, “He saved the dragon from the princess” is the sort of wry, twisted humor Green does so well when he’s on his game.

      • Kamas716 says:

        Ooh, I absolutely LOVE Whelan’s art. I think my favorite so far has been his cover of To Green Angel Tower. His artwork is great marketing. I’ve picked up more than a few books simply because I saw the art on the cover.

        • B. Durbin says:

          Whelan’s art is a good signifier for me because the editors who use his art tend to have similar tastes to mine. This is as opposed to Darrell K. Sweet, whose artwork has been used for things I love and for things I loathe both. (I have other problems with DKS’ artwork, but I will simply say that the man had a serious work ethic and was apparently kind and charitable in person, so I won’t go into them.)

    • FrancisT says:

      Friday is still excellent IMHO. The Internet isn’t quite as predicted but it isn’t too far off.

  5. cmm says:

    Friday’s cover was my first Michael Whelen cover art too. I checked the book out of the library multiple times and then used babysitting money to buy my own copy of it. I loved the way she looked; I wanted to grow up to be like her. (Actually, given how much time I spent staring at that cover, AND how much time I spent watching the “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” video around that same time period, you’d think I’d have figured out my orientation earlier than I did…)

    • Kary English says:

      Re: Sweet Dreams – LOL!! There was a year when my exercise regimen consisted of dancing in my basement to that entire album. 😀

  6. Scott Richardson says:

    One story I absolutely loved was “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House). The characterization that took place in that short story was impressive. It was enough to convince me to go buy some other books by Steve Rzasa.

  7. William Underhill says:

    TBH, I had no idea I *could* nominate. So I was waiting for the Hugo packet, and now I’m reading things. I’m in sympathy with the SP stated aim of wanting to get more fans in, for exactly that reason. I’m willing to bet quite a few nickles that many fans have no idea they could nominate as well as vote.

    That said, I don’t feel very conciliatory etc. etc. when someone I don’t even know says I’m a racist, misogynistc homophobe, simply because I count myself as a Sad Puppy.

    • Kary English says:

      Hi, William,

      I didn’t like that either, but for me, the apologies have been sufficient. Have you read anything in the packet that’s wowed you?

      • William Underhill says:

        Kary English spake thus:
        “I didn’t like that either, but for me, the apologies have been sufficient. Have you read anything in the packet that’s wowed you?”

        I haven’t finished working through the categories yet; I figured I’d start with the short things and work out to the longer, on the principle that at least I’d be able to fill my votes in more categories. I want to be able to read everything before I vote, but it’s going to be a tight crunch, and I’ll likely wind up casting my vote at Worldcon rather than email it in.

        So far, in the Professional Artist category, Ms. Dillon’s art really captured my attention, especially “Scholar’s Tower” – what an amazing-looking library! There’s two or three other pieces of hers I really enjoyed as well. Mr. Pollack’s “Undercity” drew my eye as well.

        In the Related Work category I really enjoyed Mr. Roberts’ “Why Science Is Never Settled”; I’ve seldom read such a clear demonstration that science is not a thing or a product, but a way of thinking and a process, ongoing and continuous. I just wish it could be compulsory reading in schools. Mr. Wright’s “Transhuman and Subhuman” made me think. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions or PoV, but he presents arguments that make you stop and consider things, much in the manner that I found Heinlein’s work often did.

        Nothing in the Fan Artist and Graphic Novel categories particularly grabbed me, so I’m going to pass on voting in those. I decided early on in this brouhaha that no matter what, I was not going to vote “No Award” on anything. I’d rather abstain in those categories.

        For Short Story, “Totaled” is hands-down my top pick. I got a lump in my throat and my voice fugged up. Haunting and poignant. “fading kittens the silver light”… dammit I’m doing it again. ‘scuse me. Got something in my eye, dammit.

        I haven’t got to the rest of the categories yet, unfortunately. There’s a lot, and as I said, it’s going to be a tight squeeze to get them all in before it’s time throw the bags in the car and head off to Spokane.

        • Bookworm1398 says:

          William, just FYI, voting ends July 31. There is no option for voting at Worldcon.

          • William Underhill says:

            Bookworm1398 spake thus:
            “William, just FYI, voting ends July 31. There is no option for voting at Worldcon.”

            I could have sworn there would be voting in person at Sasquan… Ah, I see. I was confusing voting on the nominations with the on-site cutoff for voting on the 2017 bids. Well, crud. Must read more/faster.

          • B. Durbin says:

            You can update your ballot as you go, so if you don’t get to one category, you don’t need to squeeze in your voting on the rest at the last minute. (I should go do that. I’ve got all the short fiction and I can do the artists simply through a series of tabbed image searches.)

    • Wyldkat says:

      William said”I’m willing to bet quite a few nickles that many fans have no idea they could nominate as well as vote.”

      And you would most likely win that bet. I had a slight headstart on you. I got in during the nomination phase. Have not read anything yet since I elected to have the physical pack instead of the electronic pack.

      • William Underhill says:

        Wyldkat spake thus:
        “And you would most likely win that bet. I had a slight headstart on you. I got in during the nomination phase. Have not read anything yet since I elected to have the physical pack instead of the electronic pack.”

        I bought two attending memberships in January, before the price hike. When did nominations close? I’m assuming probably before Christmas hols.

        • Tully says:

          You had to be a member by January 31st to nominate, nominations closed the end of March. Voting will close the last day of July.

          • William Underhill says:

            Tully spake thus:
            “of March. Voting will close the last day of July.”
            Crud. In that case I could’ve nominated, but didn’t know I could. Ah, well. Next year, then.

  8. Keith Glass says:

    I’ve worked my way through the Novel category for this year. I put down “Ancillary”, “Goblin”, and “Dark”: I just got bored with the first 30-40 pages of each. Got through “Three-Body”, and was not as impressed with it as shorter pieces of Liu Cixin’s works, but just learned yesterday that it’s the first part of a series. Working my way through “Skin Game”. Decent, but honestly don’t see anything that stands out from the pack so far.

    While I’m a Puppy supporter. . . kind of indifferent on the novels this year. So I’m looking to NEXT year. Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves” was actually pretty darned good, including the final plot twist that seemingly came out of nowhere. . . but the clues were there all along.

    I was rather disappointed when Marko Kloos pulled his “Lines of Departure”, but his latest one in the saga, “Angles of Attack” is even better than “Lines”. Definitely a player for next year.

    And while he’s mired in the File770 wars over the Puppies, I’ve grown fond of Peter Grant’s “Maxwell” series. Best way I can describe the series is a combination of C.S. Forrester’s “Hornblower” saga and an old-style Horation Alger poor-boy-does-good tale. . .in space. It’s a solid tale with increasing craftsmanship as Grant continues to write, especially as his “Laredo” series has now crossed over with “Maxwell”.

    Actually, I’m pretty darned impressed with your stuff, Kary: “Totaled” is VERY good stuff. I’m having a hard time as to which is 1st and which is 2nd on my Short Story ballot: I’m still reading and re-reading “Totaled” and “Turncoat”. Both are, IMHO, Hugo-quality, and by that I mean the stuff that was winning Hugos when most of my SF was borrowed from the public library, a bike-load at a time. . . .

  9. David Lang says:

    A few things I like (deliberately sidestepping anything that’s part of the Hugo fuss this year)

    Weber’s Safehold series, Bazell series, much of the Honor Harrington series (I still have the last couple year’s worth of books on my to-to list. the problem is the escalating capabilities/challenges were getting extreme)

    Flint’s 1632 universe

    Heinlen’s Juveniles (some of his later ones were good, but I always liked the Juveniles more)

    Most works by Ringo (less his Ghost series). The Last Centurion was a bit preachy, but there was enough good story to pull me though those bits.

    I love good Alternate History books, both the ‘what if a minor change happened’ that Flint does in his 1812 book, and the “Connecticut Yankee” type of his 1632 books

    Baen used “David’s Sling” to fill in a monthly bundle last month, and I loved it.

    Looking over this list, Good Worldbuilding is a big thing with me. Setting rules and following them to their logical conclusion. Avoid “pulling the rabbit out of the hat” as a solution. The solution should follow logically from the rules of the world. It may require extreme heroics and luck to pull of, but it shouldn’t be “Oh, I forgot that we’ve been carrying the key all along, solved” type of solution.

    • David Lang says:

      For humor:
      Phules’s company
      Chicks n Chainmail series

      Taking ‘standard’ tropes and turning them on their head like Weber does in the Bazell series can be fantastic if done right (in the appropriate settings where what are traditionally the “bad guys” are actually the “good guys”). But can be horrible if done wrong (the reverse Lord if The Rings where they don’t change the setting or facts, just ignore them in the interest of “it all in your viewpoint” grey goo morality)

  10. Quilly says:

    About ten days ago I started books on #SadPuppies on twitter. Interesting only Puppies tweeted back. I’m wading through Related Works and then will jump back with Shorts.

  11. Bill Scott says:

    My Hugo Winners??
    Three-Body Problem and Skin Game are 1a and 1b at the moment for me.Cixin Liu has the edge temporarily because I get a taste of Solzhenitsyn in his writing. I would put Anderson’s at #3 based on the first three Seven Suns books I’ve read to date. Goblin Emperor was OK but needs some adrenaline. Ancillary Sword had some good ideas and the world building appeared interesting but the female unisex was offputting (that’s the nicest way I can describe it).

    Big Boys Don’t Cry edges out One Bright Star to Guide Them; Flow a respectable third.

    Championship B’tok followed closely by Ashes to Ashes, … I liked all 5 entries.

    Totaled edges Turncoat. Again I liked all entries.

    Letters from Gardner, The Flash, Interstellar, Jennifer Brozek, Toni Weisskopf, Alan Pollack, Amanda S. Green, Elizabeth Leggett, and Kary English head their respective categories.

    I have a working list of works to read by the end of the year.

    Straits of Hell by Taylor Anderson
    The Change edited by S. M. Stirling
    Operation Arcana edited by John Joseph Adams
    A Long Time Until Now by Michael Williamson
    The Years Best Military SF and Space Opera Baen Books
    1636 The Cardinal Virtues by Flint & Hunt
    Grantville Gazette Volumes 57-62 edited by Paula Goodlett
    Sword of the South by David Weber
    Hells Foundations Quiver by David Weber
    Sword of Arelion by Amanda Green
    Onward Drake by Mark Van Name
    Raising Caine by Charles Gannon
    Son of the Black Sword by Larry Corriea
    Mission Tomorrow edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
    Come the Revolution by Frank Chadwick
    Stormfront by Robert Conroy
    Writers of the Future Volume 31
    The End Has Come edited by Adams & Howey


    • Synova says:

      Bill, I think that’s going to be the biggest thing… how many people are actively thinking in terms of finding what is good for next year? It’s got to be an improvement over “OMGosh… what did I read… when was it published… I don’t remember!”

      I normally pay attention to when a few of my favorite authors have a new book coming out and completely ignore everyone else. I’ll read it eventually if people say it’s good, right? But now I’m thinking more in terms of “got to read this this year… got to check that other stuff out, too.”

  12. I can’t necessarily discuss my likes — for the author picks — without being seen as playing favorites. But I can absolutely cheer The Lego Movie. When I took my daughter to see that, I was charmed very much by not only the writing, but the sentiment. As a child who grew up loving Legos, and devoted countless hours to constructing castles, robots, jet planes, and other things — using those little colorful bricks — the love and devotion shown to the toy itself, was truly appreciated. These were movie-makers who seemed to love Lego the way I loved Lego.

    • Soon Lee says:

      But Brad, surely you can say why you liked individual nominees without having to rank them?

      Not asking which nominees you liked best, but why you liked them.

    • katster says:

      Hey Brad,

      That’s a wonderful synopsis of why I like the Lego Movie too, and it and Guardians are duking it out for the best of the year. (I had a lego spaceman just like Benny, down to the crack in his helmet.)

      Keeping away from the slates because I understand why you don’t want to talk about them, I’ve got a slightly different question for you. What’s your favorite science fiction (or fantasy) book? I mean, I know it changes for me all the time, so it’s okay if you give the one that first comes to mind. Or the book that made you go, “Hey, I want to tell stories like that!”

      (Heck, I’ll open the floor — not just Brad. Anybody. And I’ll even say, right now, it’s a close tie between Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles and Clarke’s Childhood’s End.)

      • B. Durbin says:

        I picked up The Curse of Chalion at a library sale because I’d remembered somebody telling me I should read Lois McMaster Bujold. That was the first book since I was a kid that I immediately re-read upon completion simply because I needed to read that story again, right that minute. I’d rarely seen such a seemingly effortless tale that organically grew into something extraordinary. I also loved her take on sainthood; her explanation of will is very much in line with Catholicism without being anything other than part of a fantasy religion. (That might seem like an anti-recommendation, like when I talk about loving Modesitt because of the philosophical discussions. It isn’t *meant* to be; I find these things fascinating and I don’t think they’re obtrusive if that’s not your cup of tea.)

        I also love Connie Willis, who manages to consistently write characters I’d love to climb into the book and slap. Though it’s not for that reason… 😀

        Terry freaking Pratchett. The man knew people. And persons. And humanity, even when it wasn’t human. And honestly, for someone who described himself as atheist, he was fairly kind to and shrewd about religion.

        I guess any book with “real people” tends to get my vote. The consistent winners in my personal favorites all have characters I can imagine as more than ciphers. And there’s usually a touch of humor about the place.

  13. Steve Rzasa says:

    I enjoy a variety of authors: Jim Butcher, David Drake, David Weber, Eric Flint, for starters. I’ve read a few of each one’s books and loved them. Also have a well-worn paperback set of Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” on my shelf that’s about 17 years old.

    On a side note to Katy, I very much enjoyed reading “Totaled.”

  14. Aimee Morgan says:

    LOVED “Totaled”. Just wanted to say that. I have my list in the other room. I’m going category by category and picking my favorite, and for the most part, Noah Ward isn’t getting any votes from me.

  15. Va. says:

    I will praise Skin Game because it’s funny, clever, endearing–and a wild ride. Just like the rest of the series. Characters to care about who have changed through more than a dozen books but are never completely alien. There’s good. There’s evil. There are things that are too off human map to declare. The women are strong and mostly gorgeous. The guys are the same if not so lovingly described. It’s first-person, and Harry’s into women.

    Plots as well as characters evolve through the books, but it’s never preachy. Lots of action, too. Butcher keeps the sense of wonder coming while writing epic fantasy with a noir edge.

    Jack Burton said it, but it could have been Harry:
    “Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, ‘Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.'”

    • FrancisT says:

      Of the (surviving) Hugo nominated novels I’m most happy with Skin Game. I had never read any Dresden books before but I’m going to now. I do sort of like 3BP but it has those resonances of “forced to read it because its LITERATURE” that are probably irrational but, none the less, make me rank it lower

      Of the original nominated works Marko Kloos’ “Lines of Departure” was my fave.

      Recently I’ve been going on a Chris Nuttall binge and I’ll be nominating one of his books for next year. Assuming the date works, it’ll probably be the most recent of his “Schooled in Magic” series – which is sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Valdemar. I also enjoyed L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Harry Potter-ish “Unexpected Enlightenment” books

      • Synova says:

        Oh! I bought the Unexpected Enlightenment books for my (young but adult) daughter and sent them off without reading them first. (What? Who doesn’t read gift-books before you wrap them? Huh?) She’s back now, so the books are back. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. bogie says:

    What do I love?

    Well, that’s an awful strong word, and it’s bit me in the ass before. Quite painfully too…

    What do I really like?

    Bad movies, with stuff blowing up real good, with plenty of munchies and cold beer, and friends who I have to remind to “please do not throw the empties at the screen.”

    Space operas, mysteries, books that keep you on the edge of your mental seat.

    Books that make you wonder “Hey, what if?”

    Making things.

    Teaching people how to make things.

    Watching the circus called life, that some folks take way too seriously.

    Giggling at the people who insist that they know what is good for me, and everyone else.

  17. Wes S. says:

    Really, really wish I’d discovered Ramez Naan’s “Nexus” before the Puppies started soliciting recommendations, because I loved it and would have recommended it for the Puppies slate in a heartbeat.

    Naan’s Nexus Arc trilogy is classic cyberpunk with a 21st-century edge, taking on everything from the expanding surveillance state to the terrifying possibilities of nanotechnology (short version: People use nanotechnology to hack their own brains and those of other people. Hilarity ensues.) Reading the Nexus trilogy to me is like reading William Gibson in his prime, or Daniel Keys Moran back when DKM was still writing. (Four “Tales of the Continuing Time” books in thirty years. And people complain about GRRM and Game of Thrones taking so long…?)

    I devoured “Nexus” in a single sitting, then immediately downloaded the second book of the trilogy on my Kindle (“Crux”) and pre-ordered the third (“Apex,” which wasn’t yet released at the time). Good stuff.

    For other books: I’m looking forward to the next installment of Weber’s “Safehold” series and Sanderson’s upcoming Mistborn sequels; I really, really hope we aren’t boycotting Tor when those come out.

    Currently reading Phil Rickman’s thriller “Night after Night,” because I love his brand of Celtic-flavored horror. Upcoming on the ol’ Kindle: John C. Wright’s “Transhuman and Subhuman;” a re-read of Jonathan Maberry’s “Ghost Road Blues” trilogy; John Birmingham’s “Dave and the Monsters: Resistance” (book two of another trilogy); and Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander,” because I liked the few episodes of the TV show I saw and decided I could use a little (historical) romance in my life. 😉

    • B. Durbin says:

      Ooh, Nexus. Naan was up for the Campbell last year and I voted him first because of that book.

    • Greg M. says:

      Bloody Hell, Wes. It’s bad enough that File770 has my list of books I want to read increasing at alarming levels, you’ve got to add MORE?



      (Kary, congrats on your nomination. I haven’t gotten to “Totalled” yet, but it’s getting high marks from a lot of folks.)

      • Wes S. says:

        That Amazon One-Touch Ordering is the road to perdition, isn’t it? 😛

        But yeah, I think you’ll like the Nexus books, even if your wallet and/or credit card hates you for it. Meanwhile, I’m looking at Turtledove’s upcoming “Bombs Away!” and debating whether to hit the “Buy Now button…

  18. Hydrophobic Juvenile Canine says:

    I have been amazed and enthralled by all of John C Wright’s stories. One Bright Star is perhaps the best, though when I started reading Plural of Helen of Troy I had a “this is what SF ought to be” moment.

    Maybe the best thing I’ve come across is The Three Body Problem, and it wasn’t even a puppy-pick. Serious drama about China’s upheavals, mystery, cyber-punk, space adventure, enough intellectual red meat to keep you chewing for a long time.

    When I’m not voting on the Hugos, Robert E. Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, Lovecraft, and Barrington Bayley are what I read in SF/F.

  19. Shawn Carey says:

    I purchased a supporting membership after the nominating process was over. I had never read any books by Butcher before and thought Skin Game was amazing. Since then, I have read Ghost Story and picked up another book in the series. I thought all the short stories were very good and had a difficult time deciding how to order the stories by Steve Diamond, Kary English, and Lou Antonelli. I thought they were the best three. I was very impressed with Tom Kratman’s Big Boys Don’t Cry. It had the effect on me that some of the first science fiction I read (about 40 years ago) did.
    In a group I am a member of on Facebook I started a short discussion about Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula novels eariler today. They are among my favorite books.

    • Rev. Bob says:

      I enjoyed most of Saberhagen’s Dracula books, but there were a couple of clunkers in the series; the first three are my favorites. Did you ever see his The Frankenstein Papers?

      Now, I wouldn’t consider it for a Hugo, but I really love what Adam Warren’s doing with his Empowered graphic novels. He publishes about one a year, and it’s a fun takedown of the superhero genre. Apparently it started as a way to do commissions without completely abandoning story, so the first volume is a lot of very short excuses for “superheroine in bondage” splash pages; set your expectations accordingly. (Very briefly: Emp is an attractive woman with body-image issues who receives a bodysuit in the mail. Wearing it gives her superpowers, but only as long as it remains intact – so, kind of a spin on The Greatest American Hero, especially in that it didn’t come with instructions. This has a tendency to result in her taking a hit during battle and getting tied up with the remains of the suit… which conveniently regenerates in time for the next episode.) Naturally, some content is visually NSFW, but the language is bleeped – his decision, not the publisher’s.

      However, it turns into a coherent universe pretty quickly, and Warren uses the “D-lister on a C-list team” concept to really shred some of the tired superhero tropes; one of the standalone issues* was all about the best way to effectively use a car in a supers fight. (Hint: Throwing it is wasteful. Get inventive.) The graphic novels have evolved from collected short snippets into full-length stories, and the only reason I haven’t preordered Volume 9 is that I’m holding out for the third Ultimate Edition hardcover, which should include volumes 7-9.

      * There are a few one-shot comic books, primarily illustrated by other artists with Warren doing a few pages. They’re not part of the main line, and the ones published so far have been collected as an “Unleashed” trade paperback.

  20. Christopher M. Chupik says:

    One of my favorite series right now is Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen. A WW2 US destroyer finds itself on a parallel Earth where dinosaurs never died out. There are two native sapient species, the mammalian Lemurians and the Grik, who are intelligent velociraptors. Oh man, this is an awesome series. I love how Anderson has increased the scope with each installment and still managed to balance the action and characters. Hugely enjoyable stuff. The series starts with Into the Storm, while Straits of Hell is the most recent one.

  21. Kamas716 says:

    I haven’t read any of the shortlisted novels (only eligible novel I read last year was The Chaplain’s War by Torgersen). I’ve been slowing going through the shorter works and putting my thoughts up on my blog. I’ll hopefully get through Totaled and the John C. Wright stuff this weekend. I’m really disappointed Annie Bellet hadn’t pulled Goodnight Stars, because that has been the most impressive short work I’ve read in awhile.

  22. Shawn Carey says:

    Should probably mention I am not actually a puppy, I do support what they are doing. My favorite author is Roger Zelazny. I read the works of many other writers, David Drake, Eric Flint, John Ringo, Ben Bova, Robert Heinlein, Jack Vance, Philip K. Dick, Poul Anderson, Gordon R. Dickson, Tanya Huff, Robert Conray, F. Paul Wilson, Walter Mosley, Neil Gaiman, and many others.

    • Wes S. says:

      Love Drake and Flint’s “Belisarius” series. One of my favorites, and I’m also quite fond of the Raj Whitehall novels Drake co-authored with Steve Stirling. I also picked up Drake’s three-volume “Hammer’s Slammers” collection a while back. I also like Flint’s “1632” and a couple of the sequels (although after the two 1632-verse collaborations Flint did with David Weber, that series just spun totally out of control).

      I thought Tanya Huff’s “Confederation of Valor” series was really good, too. (Yes, I really like mil-SF and space opera.)

      • Nathan says:

        “Belisarius” is what got me back into SFF. Even if the end of the series dwindles a bit, it’s still a fun read.

        Seveneves, I wanted more of the last third, and a lot less of the first two. Although I suspect that Stephenson’s onto something about social media being a curse, just like I’m starting to believe his idea of programming through memes from Snow Crash is true. Flawed, but the only stand out so far. I hope the second half of the year is better.

        Bridge of Birds by Hughart has been the best thing I’ve read this year, although it’s thirty years too late to award.

        I’d also suggest Boku no Hero Academia for Graphic Novel. There’s something endearing about seeing a mix of Japanese shounen and American superhero tropes.

  23. Nick Gardner says:

    Skin Game is my top for this year. I’m working on Three Body and enjoying it a great deal. But after 14-15 books in the Dresden Files I think there’s an inertia that TBP can’t derail.

    But I have to say, of the Dresden Files, Changes is by far the best book of the series. And time you take 11 novels worth of writing and character development and turn them on their head and the finish by *SPOILER* killing your main character, there are only two options. Suck incredibly or soar like an Eagle. Butcher definitely managed the Eagle one.

    For movies, the LEGO Movie, hands down.

    Outside the Hugos, my favorite book is “In Conflict Born.” Imagine the Gor universe advanced to galactic sized and tech’d empires. It’s amazingly well crafted and densely plotted.
    My favorite movie is “The 51st State.” Sometimes called “Formula 51.” If you haven’t seen it, DO! It’s a dark comedy starring Samuel L Jackson as a illegal drug chemist. He’s developed a new drug, and kills the head of the drug syndicate who employs him, played by Meatloaf. He heads to England to sell the formula for enough to buy a castle. Crooked cops, drug kingpins studying TM and Punks round out the fun. Oh yeah, Jackson is wearing a kilt the whole movie. Watch the credits to find out why.

    Thanks Kary

    • Kary English says:

      Do you mean In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman? She’s a fave of mine, but I love the Coldfire Trilogy best. 🙂

      • Achillea says:

        Aw yisssssss. Gerald Tarrant. Loved that series. Loved everything I’ve read by Friedman, in fact.

      • Nick Gardner says:

        Yes, That’s what I meant. ooops

        Everything by Friedman that I’ve read I’ve enjoyed. I haven’t read the follow up to the Coldfire trilogy though. Can anyone recommend it?

      • B. Durbin says:

        I want some test subjects to test out a theory of mine. Basically, I’m wondering if the Coldfire trilogy is the perfect gateway drug for Twilight users to get into fantasy… (I know it has a reasonable SF gloss. It still reads enough like “fantasy” to work for this purpose.) Anyone have a friend they’d like to volunteer? All it takes is handing them Black Sun Rising…

        • Pluviann says:

          I’ve heard friends who were previously only fantasy fans say that Lois McMaster Bujold brought them into SF.

  24. Jason Rees says:

    3BP and Skin Game get my first two places for novel.

    My favorite books include anything written by Gene Wolfe, Hobb’s assassin books, OSC’s Ender’s Game (but none of the sequels), Bakker’s ongoing series, and the Wheel of Time.

    • Kary English says:

      Hobb’s Farseer books are faves of mine, too. Assassin’s Apprentice is a favorite re-read, along with the Liveship books.

  25. Synova says:

    I think that the book that I love the most *at the moment* is The Lawyers of Mars by Pam Uphoff. (hopefully I spelled her name right.) I’m not going to say it’s the best book ever, just that right now I love it the most. (I also have no idea when it was written so this isn’t like, oh, this should get a Hugo or something.)

    It just hit me at the right time. I think I was smiling for three days after I read it. Every time I thought of it I’d smile again. One of the reviews on Amazon made me a little bit sad because the person complained that her aliens were just people in lizard suits. And it’s true. But what’s wrong with that? There’s no pretense at building an alien race or alien society. There are some fun little quirks of biology that aren’t human and since Pam is a geologist (if I’m not mistaken) she gets some good science in there in between the silliness. It was a grand adventure where Mars is saved from global destruction more than once and it was just purely fun.

    So, it’s the book I love the most just now.

  26. Christopher M. Chupik says:

    Also a big fan of R. M. Meluch’s Tour of the Merrimack. I love the audacity of a space opera series that features a literal Roman Empire in Space. Meluch went through a rough patch with the death of her husband a few years back, but I hear she has a new book coming later this year.

  27. Angus Trim says:

    When Larry Correia pulled out, I decided to not vote this year. That I would put my efforts into my writing, and read the talked about works for this year. Part of the reason I dropped out, is I didn’t know any of the short works, and the only two novels I was familiar with was Skin Game and Corriea’s piece.

    This year time wouldn’t allow me to be fair. Next year, starting this summer, I’ll begin the reading necessary to be an informed voter.

    I was spoiled early. I read “Dune” shortly after it came out while in my teens.I don’t recall all of the short stuff I loved while reading Analog, Amazing, If Science Fiction and Fantasy and Science Fiction, but I do remember my favorite novella. For me, nothing else came close, even though there were many I liked.

    “No Truce With Kings”, Poul Anderson

    Novels, there are several that hit a deep chord. Some of those on the top of my head in no particular order:

    “The Path of the Fury” David Weber
    “Once a Hero” Michael Stackpole
    “The Paladin” C. J. Cherryh

    Then of course, an old classic

    “The Lord of Light” Roger Zelazny

    Thanks Cary. This was kinda fun

  28. […] English posted on her blog suggesting we talk about the books for a change, and she’s got a good point.  Earlier today, Ampersand and I discussed Kary’s […]

  29. Achillea says:

    I’ve only read a few of the Hugo noms yet this year, since my summer vacation hasn’t arrived. (sooooooon). I’m doing them in the order they come up on my kindle, so it’s been pretty scattershot. So far … I dunno. Nothing’s really been terrible like so much of the stuff last year, but none of it’s rocked my world, either.

    Since that doesn’t really fit with telling what I love, I took a look at my bookshelves and promptly commenced with the ‘ooooh yes, that! and that! and that!’ Here are a few examples:

    David Brin — basically everything. I love the way he takes believable characters and societies, drops some technological twist on them, and goes from there.

    Steven Brust — the Vlad Taltos series, with its snarky, sardonic, highly-competent main character. Also, “To Reign in Hell,” which is an irreverent take on the Christian creation mythology.

    Lois McMaster Bujold — the Vorkosigan Saga. Wish we’d gotten more than two books of Aral and Cordelia, but Miles rocks.

    Jim Butcher — Harry Dresden. ’nuff said.

    Orson Scott Card — the Ender series, especially “Ender’s Game.” Any writer who can not only get me to read completely through a novel with a child/teenage main character, but actually enjoy too it is an incredible storyteller.

    PN Elrod — Vampire Files and Johnathan Barrett. Great vampire stories, completely free of teenage wangst, overwrought neogothic silliness, and BDSM porn.

    Naomi Novik — Temeraire. The Napoleonic Wars … with dragons.

    Fred Saberhagen — “The Dracula Tape.” Stoker’s novel from Dracula’s point of view. There’s a series that follows on from it which is pretty good, but the first is far and away the best.

    Julian May — the Metapsychic books, especially the Pliocene Cycle. I usually loathe time travel stories, but in these it works a treat. The Pliocene Cycle is also a fascinating take on Celtic myths.

    F. Paul Wilson — Repairman Jack. Urban fantasy with a pragmatic modern-day mercenary vs. what’s basically an Elder God.

    I tried to trim it down to a Top Ten, but just couldn’t do it. And there’s more I left off!

    • B. Durbin says:

      One theory I have is that every author has a major “concern.” These things aren’t central to the novels, necessarily, but they tend to show up in one form or another. For instance, H. Beam Piper has a fascination with law and its processes and implementation. L.E. Modesitt focuses on the chaotic ramifications of decisions. You say “David Brin” and I retort “Human Singularity.”

      I like him too. It’s just funny to see how it shows up in his writing.

      • Standback says:

        Yes! This is true and pretty fantastic.
        …and now, based on your descriptions, I want to go find some Piper and Modesitt to read. Those sound like fantastic underlying themes. Any particular recommendations?

        • Kary English says:

          I’m a Modesitt fan, myself. 🙂

        • B. Durbin says:

          I prefer his science fiction to his fantasy, honestly, though it was the Recluce series that got me into his writing. (Dear God, that man has an insane output.) I think my favorite right now is the oddly titled Archform: Beauty because it has an extensive discussion of why the arts are important (in the face of the successors to auto-tune and so forth.) Adamantine is also interesting from a viewpoint of two cultures that simply cannot communicate—the “Earth” one is being as clear as they can, and the other side just doesn’t get it.Basically, in any Modesitt you’ll see consequences spiraling out of control; I believe he worked with the EPA back in the 80s and that seems to have made him aware that no choice is ever as straightforward as it seems.

          If you’d rather try his fantasy, I think the Corean Chronicles come off well. He does have a bit of the tendency for his protagonists to be a bit “whiny farm boy” sometimes, but he toned that down with his later series.

          For Piper, duh. Little Fuzzy. Or Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen for a fun little alternate universe story.

          • Standback says:

            Many thanks. Those sound terrific; I’m adding Adiamante and Little Fuzzy high up on my TBR list 🙂

          • Kary English says:

            I read Little Fuzzy as a teen and loved it. I hope it holds up for you. 🙂

      • Tully says:

        “One theory I have is that every author has a major “concern.” These things aren’t central to the novels, necessarily, but they tend to show up in one form or another.”

        Kaplan’s Law of the Instrument. People tend to see things in light of their own areas of skill and expertise. Someone versed in law will tend to see things in a legal light, etc.

  30. […] “Dear Puppies: Please talk about what you love” – June 16 […]

  31. Kary English says:

    I’m closing down comments for the night. You can still make them (please do!) but I won’t be able to review and approve until tomorrow.

  32. Cleo says:

    I absolutely love Letters From Gardner by Lou Antonelli, nominated for best related work. This is such a fun, interesting read, and a book I might not have bought had it not been for the Sad Puppies.

  33. Bruce says:

    I haven’t read all the novel nominees yet, but up next is either the Butcher or Anderson. I’m still on the fence on how I feel about 3BP, I really liked almost all of it except the explanation of what’s really going on which I didn’t quite buy. It’s kind of like the way I felt about Robinson’s 2312, where I generally liked the book, except for the whole deal around the hollowed out asteroids as arcs for endangered species. I thought that too many of the habitats would have been too small for the necessary ecologies, especially for large nomadic predators and their prey. I’m not sure why certain things kill my suspension of disbelief. I liked Wilson’s Julian Comstock, which had an unreliable narrator that I found fun to read, but McGuire’s Parasite had an unreliable narrator that bugged me. I just checked out Naam’s Apex from the library, I’ll probably read before the Hugo works because I really liked the first two in the series and I expect it will be a fairly quick read.

  34. Julie Frost says:

    Things I love I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. There’s a talking Irish Wolfhound. And werewolves and vampires.

    Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty books. They just keep getting better and better.

    Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate. Steampunk werewolves and vampires, aw yes please, give me more of that.

    Anything by Rob Thurman. The woman is brilliant.

    Anything by Dan Wells. Just. How does he do that.

    Steve Diamond’s “Residue.” It’s a bit YA for my normal taste, but I love his kickass female protag and his earnest male protag.

    FWIW, I’m keeping the “stack of things I’ve read that were published this year” in their own pile, so I can go through it and nominate things next year. This way I won’t be scrambling.

  35. Thanks for inviting SP to talk about books, Kary. I share your sentiments. In fact, I’ve been posting a 16 part series on John C. Wright’s Transhuman and Subhuman.

  36. Michael says:

    Honestly what started this was a discussion of books. Specifically along the lines of “I think this is good. Read it and if you like it then nominate it”. Which is not different than what many authors do. As to books to discuss. I’ve been hitting more and more indie stuff like Child of the Ghosts by Moeller. There is something kind of cool about a female spy and assassin that has the mental capabilities of Sherlock Holmes and hunts necromancers.

  37. bojojoti says:

    I’m not a Puppy, but if it weren’t for the drama, I wouldn’t have known I could vote for the Hugo awards. I came in after the nominations, but I’m looking forward to nominating next year. Following several authors’ blogs, I’ve come across a wealth of stories and writers I’d previously been unaware of, so my thanks go the kerfuffle that added a hundred or so books to my to-read list.

    Jim Butcher is one of my buy-it-in-hardback-as-soon-as-it-hits-the-shelves kinds of authors. I’d love to see him get a Hugo for his wonderful Harry Dresden character. I still need to finish two of the nominated novels before I decide if he gets my vote this year.

    One of the best fantasies I’ve read lately is The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. He knows how to create characters I love and worlds I’d like to visit.

    I was surprised by by Hugh Howey. Very inventive.

    I don’t hear people talk about Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine; it should be more well known. It’s nominally science fiction but transcends genres. It’s one of those books that transports the reader completely into another time and place. Beautifully written.

    I love many of the “usual suspects” of science fiction/fantasy: Lois McMaster Bujold, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Orson Scott Card, Daniel Keyes (only one story–like Harper Lee–but that’s all you need when it’s that good), Connie Willis, Elizabeth Moon, Isaac Asimov (his short story “The Ugly Little Boy” is one of my favorites), Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Jasper Fforde, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, and Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve spent many a happy hour living in their worlds. On reflection, the time I’ve spent in Martin’s world hasn’t always been sunshine and roses… 🙂

    • katster says:

      Dandelion Wine was actually a required reading book in ninth grade. I liked it — is not my favorite Bradbury, but I don’t think I’ve come across a Bradbury I didn’t like. The man was that good.

  38. Barb Caffrey says:

    Kary, I think this is a great idea.

    I’m not a puppy. (Don’t even play one on TV.) Many of my friends are, including a few of the nominees. (I support them wholeheartedly. Which has caused some problems with friends of mine who don’t, but that’s a side issue. I hope eventually long friendships will be able to be repaired. Somehow.)

    The best book I read this year by someone not named Katharine Eliska Kimbriel was Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven.” That’s a powerful, powerful book. Dystopian, yes. But also hopeful in a strange way. Lots of pop culture references. And lots of sideways looks at our present life, with some rather startling conclusions.

    The best book I’ve read in the past year, bar none, is SPIRAL PATH by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. This is an outstanding YA book that has not gotten its due because Ms. Kimbriel put it out through the Book View Cafe author’s consortium. It stars Alfreda Sorensson, and features a frontier fantasy filled with magic, heart, and wit. (Note that Ms. Kimbriel did frontier fantasy before Patricia C. Wrede, and just as well.) This was her first new book in Allie’s series (which started with NIGHT CALLS) in over fifteen years, and it was worth the wait.

    Other good books I’ve read this year include Rysa Walker’s YA novels TIMEBOUND and TIME’S EDGE, and her companion novella TIME’S ECHO; Charlie N. Holmberg’s YA THE PAPER MAGICIAN; Chris Nuttall’s THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS (perhaps his best work to date); and I’m reading Patricia Kennealy Morrison’s epic about the Tuatha de Danaan in space. (That’s an oldie, but a goodie.)

    As far as short stories go, I haven’t read all that many. I liked Gray Rinehart’s and I also liked Annie Bellet’s. I’d have nominated both of them.

    As for best editor, I have no problem with Toni Weisskopf’s nomination — she does a fine job — and Sheila Gilbert’s was long overdue. (That’s one nom I’m glad the Sad Puppies made. They were right.)

    And I echo what Brad Torgersen said above about THE LEGO MOVIE. Just an excellent, fun piece of work, that…enjoyed that thoroughly. (As for a more serious SF movie, Tom Cruise’s EDGE OF TOMORROW was very, very good as well. Can’t remember if it was nominated or not.)

  39. Barb Caffrey says:

    Oh, yes. One more to recommend. I enjoyed Mary Robinette Kowal’s VALOUR AND VANITY immensely; it’s an alternate Regency series, with magic. Very detailed, very well done. Excellent book in a very fine series; I’ve reviewed all four thus far in this series over at Shiny Book Review. (As well as many, many other books.)

  40. Mike M. says:

    Constraining comments to nominated works that I enjoyed so that I don’t ‘talk down’ someone else’s favorite:

    Novel – Skin Game – I never cease to be amazed at how Butcher is somehow able to ‘turn it to 11’ in each succeeding novel in this series. The fireside chat with the lord of the underworld and his dog ‘Spot’ was preposterous and funny, and the lead character was able to reflect on that without breaking the reader’s credulity. Butcher’s pacing, his careful calculation of the apogee of each crisis so that it is a springboard to the next and his ability to use *all* his characters to tell a story (not just a few with a bunch of straphangers there for background) is tremendous.

    I don’t know if SG is his best Dresden novel, but it is in the top 3.

    Graphic Novel – Saga – I didn’t expect to like this. The narrative point of view felt clumsy at first but the art style and coloring was attention grabbing without being cheap. The characters were developed rapidly enough to be interesting in just a few panels. The range of characters was fully fleshed and the each primary member of the supporting cast was fully developed. The twists in the story were, if not surprising, then at least entertaining.

    It can be hard for a comic to convey a message, let alone several. This book (in the comic book sense) touches on relationships, addiction, nationalism, parent-child relationships, propaganda, pop-culture (in a self critical way), family economics – shoot… pretty much everything. I meant to read just the stuff for this year but was so enthralled that I eventually read the back catalog (four omnibus collections) as well as the issues from this year. Totally worth it. A complete stand out from all the other titles this year not only for its quality but for living up to the grand sweep of the author’s created universe and not settling for ‘funny’, ‘topical’, ‘safe’ and ‘popular’.

  41. Scott Richardson says:

    I would like to make note of a disturbing trend in comments here and on other sites. As an example, on another site a reader posted that because they didn’t like Kevin J. Anderson’s Dune books, they were not going to read The Dark Between the Stars and would not consider voting for it. I think that this is irresponsible.

    Stephen King has written some of my all time favorite books. However, he has also written a few books that I couldn’t finish and tossed in the garbage. I think it’s unfair to prejudge a book based on other works by that author.

    The first John C. Wright book I ever encountered was Orphans of Chaos. I read a few chapters and put it aside. I then recently read his story One Bright Star to Guide Them, and didn’t like it at all. But then I read The Plural of Helen of Troy, and that story blew me away! In fact, it’s my vote for the winner in that category.

    I think we owe it to the authors and to WorldCon to read all of the selections in categories we vote in.

  42. RK Modena says:

    Hmm, I’ll have to see what I can come up with. For fairness sake I’ll avoid reviewing the current Hugo Noms though.

    This is a great idea!

    (PS: LOVED Totaled!)

  43. Mike M. says:

    @ RK Modena, @ Kary E. – ooops, did I mess up? I interpreted the thread intent as welcoming Hugo related nom commentary. Was it instead intended to be retrospective?

    I have a ton (TON!) of those comments.


  44. Cara Halvorson says:

    Of this year’s nominees so far (of the books) I like Skin Game. I just recently read all the Dresden books in one go and what he does with the series is truly amazing. So hand’s down it’s Skin Game for me. Novella (of the ones I’ve read so far) Big Boys Don’t Cry did for me. Long form media, Guardian of the Galaxy. Short form, Doctor Who Listen because I’m a die hard Who fan lol.

    But books that really get to me and I read over and over again I have a handful. Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles is masterfully done. The amount of research he did into the time period is obvious. The characters are so alive! Also, Jordan/Sanderson’s Wheel of Time. I’ve read those books probably half dozen times minimum and I always, *always* see something new. The fine detail in them blows me away. Plus, it’s a fantastic story. I also find pretty much anything Naomi Novik writes to be charming, sensitive but exciting in that swashbuckling sort of way I love. The Napoleonic Wars with dragons?!? I mean come on. That is brilliant! The last of note for me, is David Eddison’s Belgariad/Malorean series. Yeah, they’re light and “old-fashioned” but they are always the ones I recommend to moms looking for a gateway into adult fantasy literature for teens. They’re fun, exciting and little snarky. Also, I love a good coming of age story and this is one of the best. Wheel of Time also does that well, too. I could go on and on but those are the four that pop into my head right off.

  45. Andrew says:

    Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce Brown
    Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
    An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

    I am also loving the Ben Aaronovitch PC Grant series, although IMO the audiobooks are much better than the written, Kobna Holdbrook Smith is a voice acting god.

    I got into SFF through Dune, and Ender’s Game, and Clifford D. Simak. Base Library had every Simak book ever at the time, and I liked them a lot. Effinger’s Budayeen series, Steakley’s Armor, Gibson…I can go back and re-read those often. Bujold as well.

    Lately I’ve been reading a lot of indie stuff, Elliot Kay, Nuttall, Howey. Bellett, some really good stuff there. I’m hoping the next few Hugos will have a few more indy authors on them.

  46. Mike M. says:

    @ Andrew – I haven’t seen much commentary on Brown’s two SFF novels (Red and Golden). I enjoyed them both, although the second was half a notch under the first. I still liked them both enough to buy the third (Jan 2016, I think).

    @ Cara – right there with you Dresden and Grimnoir. I really enjoyed the first 2-3 Novik’s, but something began to fall off after the Ivory book. Did it pick back up? I haven’t proceeded past #5.

  47. Bill Scott says:

    I gave you a long list earlier of books that are out this year that I am going to try to get to. But I needed to share some other favorites.
    I discovered David Gemmell’s Troy series a few years ago. Fantastic!!! Historical fiction based on historical fiction or I guess you could call it historical fantasy. Also his Alexander books, Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince, were very good.
    Check out William Forstchen; Lost Regiment was great and more recently Pillar to the Sky (unlimited energy) and One Second After (no electricity tonight!) that are near-time possibilities.

  48. cirsova says:

    I’m diggin’ manly stories about manly men doing manly things. Y’know, the kind that women like Leigh Brackett write.

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