Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reading Lists - Hugo Award Winners for Best Novel

The Science Fiction Achievement Awards, or Hugos, are selected annually by popular vote of the World Science Fiction Society. Established in 1953 and named for Hugo Gernsback, an early science fiction publisher, the awards are given for the best science fiction and to individuals for contributions to science fiction writing, art, and publishing.

The City & The City by China Miéville (2010)
Twin southern European cities Beszel and Ul Qoma coexist in the same physical location, separated by their citizens' determination to see only one city at a time. Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad roams through the intertwined but separate cultures as he investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010)
In a future of rising water levels, bioengineered plagues, widespread food shortages, and retrotechnology, calories have become currency. An encounter between Anderson Lake, AgriGen's "calorie man" in Bangkok, and Emiko, a genetically engineered member of the New People (and titular “windup girl”), sets off a cataclysmic chain of events.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2009)
While a killer murders his family, a baby pulls himself out of his crib and toddles out of the house and into the night. Finding his way into an ancient graveyard, the baby is discovered by a caring couple who just happen to be dead. Under their care, baby "Nobody" is raised among the dead in order to protect him from the murderer, who relentlessly pursues him. (YAF Gai)

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon (2008)
In a world in which Alaska, rather than Israel, has become the homeland for the Jews following World War II, Detective Meyer Landsman and his half-Tlingit partner Berko investigate the death of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy. Raucous, decidedly impolite, and stylistically arresting, this book is a brilliantly engaging read.

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (2006)
After witnessing the onset of an astronomical event that has caused the sun to go black and the stars and moon to disappear, Tyler, Jason, and Diane learn that the darkness has been caused by a time-altering, alien-created artificial barrier and that the sun will be extinguished in less than forty years.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2002)
A convict called Shadow is flung into the midst of a supernatural fray of gods such as Odin, Anansi, and a multitude of other ancient divinities as they struggle for survival in an America beset by trends, fads, and constant upheaval. They are joined in this struggle by such contemporary deities as the geek-boy god Internet and the goddess Media.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1999)
In 2057, Ned Henry goes back in time to 1889 to study the Coventry Cathedral for a wealthy American who wants to build a replica. This novel is the grand result of taking an excursion through time, adding chaos theory, romance, plenty of humor, a dollop of mystery, and a spoof of the Victorian novel.

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1997)
In the final installment of the Mars trilogy, Mars has declared independence from Earth, but it still faces problems—an impending ice age, a search for religious meaning, and immigration. New medical discoveries enable people to live 200 years, causing overpopulation on Earth; the Martians object to being swamped by Earthmen.

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (1993)
In a far future interstellar society, intelligence is limited by a mind's location in the universe. A scientific experiment gone awry disrupts this situation, causing widespread destruction and chaos. Refugees who may have the secret to saving civilization fall into the hands of a medieval race of aliens, and the quest is on for an oddly assorted band of rescuers to save the refugees.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1986)
A desperate Earth command resorts to genetic experimentation in order to produce a tactical genius capable of defeating the alien “buggers.” So likable but determined "Ender" Wiggins, age six, becomes Earth's last hope. In a dramatic, brutal series of war games and computer-fantasies, Ender is forced to realize his military genius and to rely on nothing and no-one but himself.

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1985)
Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way and burned the talent out of his brain. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courts death in the high-tech underworld until a shadowy conspiracy offers him a second chance and a cure.

Gateway by Frederik Pohl (1978)
In this adventure, earthmen try to unlock the secret of the Heechee Gateway, an asteroid created by a long-gone civilization that provides instantaneous passage to the far reaches of the universe. Prospectors venture to unknown destinations, mindful that only one in three will survive, but the financial rewards for a successful return are stupendous.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (1977)
Having foreseen and planned for the worldwide devastation of war and pestilence, the landed Sumner family of Virginia have assured themselves physical survival through a perilous cloning experiment, but they are hard-pressed to provide for a meaningful human future. This novel is sweeping, dramatic, and rigorous in its science.

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