Locus Award winners announced -- After the Siege is best novella 2008!

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34 Responses to “Locus Award winners announced -- After the Siege is best novella 2008!”

  1. Greender says:

    Congratulations Cory, After the siege is a fine piece of reading

  2. seth matthew says:

    I admire Chabon a great deal, and his prose is terrific, but this looks to me like a vote of no confidence in SF as a genre.

  3. Kayembee says:

    Just built a track to jog through Cory Doctorow’s nine podcasts for “After the siege”.

    Enjoy!

  4. Kayembee says:

    So here is the track (I have a sort of zombie brain this morning ;) )…

    http://www.jogtheweb.com/reader/index.php?trackId=143

  5. travelina says:

    Congratulations! It’s an amazing story.

  6. Vanwall says:

    Congrats, M. Doctorow! You work is always an interesting read. Are you accepting the award with cape and goggles on?

  7. Fooksie says:

    Kudos to you, Cory!
    You actually got me to start buying science fiction again.
    As I read your stories, I am reminded of works by Ian McDonald, and Harlan Ellison.
    Once again, congratulations!

  8. Talia says:

    I’ve heard Steve Eely bring up the “what is sci fi” question a few times, and I can’t recall if he’s quoting someone else on this or not, but as he put it,

    “Sci fi is whatever you point at and say it is.”

    It’s too diverse a genre to limit it as severely as some would.

  9. Asswipe Johnson says:

    Chabon’s book was my favorite of last year, but how does “alternate history” come under the umbrella of science fiction? There wasn’t a single sci-fi element to that story.

  10. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    David Bilek @30:

    Teresa: Well, you obviously know that Lester refused a Hugo award for Judy-Lynn in 1986… hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were actually there… so I’m assuming you’re asking about the connection. In my opinion that episode showed that giving an award for a reason other than “XXX deserves this particular award” is fraught with peril. An award isn’t a “hey, you’re dead/dying/sick and we like you!” consolation prize.

    Historical note: it was Owen Locke who did the actual refusing on behalf of Lester and Judy-Lynn Del Rey, though I think he was reading Lester’s written statement.

    Onward. I don’t think the two cases are comparable. It’s a matter of context. There used to be a bitter old joke among sf and fantasy book editors, to the effect that the only way a book editor could win the “best editor” Hugo was by dying. For decades, neither fannish voters nor the Worldcon rules for that category recognized the thoroughness of the changeover from an sf publishing scene dominated by magazines, to one in which the majority of work in the genre is published in books. What finally got around that was a change in the Hugo rules making best book editor a separate category.

    If you want to talk about a criminally underappreciated figure in the genre, Judy-Lynn Del Rey is right up there. She was brilliant at marketing and publishing. Among her achievements was successfully completing the project, started by Ian and Betty Ballantine, of breaking out fantasy as a separate publishing category.

    I don’t know how much you know about the underlying systems of mass-market (rack-size paperback) publishing, but in Judy-Lynn Del Rey’s day it was definitely the most important book publishing format. Mass-market paperbacks are marketed by category. Within that category, each month’s books are ranked: lead title (1), 2, 3, 4, etc.* Some quantity of customers would order strictly by position on the list: taking only lead titles, or only the first two slots, or whatever. This meant that as long as SF and fantasy were the same category, fantasy could only grow by cannibalizing SF’s rack space.

    You don’t make a new category just by announcing it exists. I don’t know what all the technical moves and requirements are. I do know that it takes a lot of time and effort, a deep knowledge of publishing, marketing, and distribution systems, and a lot of successful books that clearly fall within the new category. It’s a major piece of wizardry.

    I could go on in this vein for a long time.

    In all the years Judy-Lynn Del Rey was the driving force behind Del Rey Books, and unquestionably one of the most influential editors in the field, she got next to no acknowledgement. A magazine editor who had only been on the job for a year or two, and might still be working their way through all the inventory stories bequeathed them by their predecessor, had a much better chance of getting a Hugo nomination than she did.

    The same went for all the other book editors. For instance, there was Terry Carr, who edited the first (1968-1971) and third (1984-1987/1990) series of Ace Science Fiction Specials. Follow the link and read the Wikipedia entry. Many of the first series were first novels; all of the third series were. Between 1971 and 1987 he also edited seventeen volumes of the very influential Universe series of original short story anthologies. In 1985, he became the only book editor to ever win the Best Editor Hugo under the old rules while still alive. Judy-Lynn died in 1986 and was given a Best Dead Editor Hugo, which was refused. Terry Carr died in 1987, and was given his own Best Dead Editor Hugo.**

    Anyway, that was the context in which Judy-Lynn Del Rey’s 1986 Hugo got handed back, accompanied by a speech about the suggested uses of Hugo-shaped objects.

    Terry Pratchett, by contrast, has not been ignored. Far from it. He’s genuinely popular.

    This may not be evident if you live in the United States, but Pratchett is a perennially best-selling author in the UK. I don’t just mean within the genre; I mean overall. He has very healthy sales, an income to match, a devoted fan following, and a recognized place in UK pop culture. He’s received an OBE, four honorary degrees, a Carnegie Medal for best children’s novel, three Locus Awards for best YA, one more Locus Award now for best novel, and heaven knows what-all else. People write books about him. Major conventions invite him to be guest of honor. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    Not a comparable situation.

    Saying MAKING MONEY is the best fantasy novel of last year when it was not the best fantasy novel of last year is patronizing to Terry Pratchett.

    Not the best fantasy novel of last year in whose opinion? Yours? I know people who would disagree with you. Some of them voted on that award.

    Beyond that, I’d say it’s Pratchett’s place to decide whether or not it’s a patronizing gesture. It could be that he’ll take it for what it almost certainly is: a last gesture of thanks from a community that honestly loves his work.

    If we want to recognize Pratchett (and don’t get me wrong; he deserves recognition), he should get the equivalent of an SFWA Grandmaster award, or a lifetime achievement award, or something like that –

    And those aren’t patronizing? They’re closer in spirit to the Dead Editor Hugo than the Locus Award ever was.

    Besides, how do you know that he isn’t getting a special award? The likeliest body to give him one is the Worldcon, but that’s not going to happen before the convention.

    – which is specifically intended to recognize his body of work and not this particular novel. Pratchett deserves recognition, but like Judy Lynn del Rey, deserves to be recognized for contributions to the field …

    Let’s say absolutely everyone who voted agrees with your judgement of the book. This is unlikely, but let’s assume it anyway. If they don’t think Making Money is the best fantasy novel of the year, then the only reason they can be giving it to Pratchett is in recognition of his body of work; so what’s the problem? If, on the other hand, some or all of them genuinely think it deserves the award, what’s the problem?

    My best advice is to just get used to the vox populi, vox dei basis of the Hugo Awards and Locus Awards. Anything else is a waste of nervous energy. I say this as someone whose own Hugo-nominated nonfiction book was mown down by Isaac Asimov’s posthumous memoirs.*** The fans will do as they see fit.

    Besides, their judgement has overall been pretty sound. There’s a reason why the Hugo has more credibility than the Nebula.
    _____________

    *That was then. These days, hardly anyone even tries to sell mass-market books ranked lower than a 2. Mass market is in bad shape.

    **That wasn’t the last of it. Jim Baen narrowly missed getting a Best Dead Editor Hugo in 2007. I recommend James Nicoll’s comments on the subject in one of John Scalzi’s letter columns. Go to this link and search on “James Nicoll | March 29, 2007 01:30 PM”.

    ***Chris Priest was nominated in the same category. We sat next to each other in the cordoned-off VIP area up front. We were the calmest and most resigned nominees there, if not the soberest.

  11. Agies says:

    @7

    Quantum Mechanics. It’s not gee-whiz lasers and robots but divergent realities and parallel universes are firmly grounded in scientific theory.

  12. Anonymous says:

    PS, Yay for Connie Willis love!

    I haven’t read this collection yet, but she is the most criminally underappreciated writer.

  13. John Markos O'Neill says:

    Xopher, it’s pronounced Ah-SWEEP-ay.

    Cory, congratulations! Can Little Brother be considered for best young adult book in ’09? I think it’s the best work I’ve read of any genre in years.

  14. Xopher says:

    Asswipe,* Allohistory (the new name for alternate-history fiction) began life as science fiction, because it was (most frequently) part of a time-travel story. (Notable exceptions include “The Fall of Frenchie Steiner,” which is an early allohistorical story with no element of time travel at all.)

    As allohistory became more and more historically knowledgeable and complex, the element of time travel receded, and allohistory is now a genre of its own; but it and science fiction (its “mother” genre, if you will) have many of the same fans, and a lot of us still think it has a place in the tent if it wants it.

    *I’m not namecalling! It’s his NAME!

  15. David Bilek says:

    Teresa: Well, you obviously know that Lester refused a Hugo award for Judy-Lynn in 1986… hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were actually there… so I’m assuming you’re asking about the connection. In my opinion that episode showed that giving an award for a reason other than “XXX deserves this particular award” is fraught with peril. An award isn’t a “hey, you’re dead/dying/sick and we like you!” consolation prize.

    Saying MAKING MONEY is the best fantasy novel of last year when it was not the best fantasy novel of last year is patronizing to Terry Pratchett. If we want to recognize Pratchett (and don’t get me wrong; he deserves recognition), he should get the equivalent of an SFWA Grandmaster award, or a lifetime achievement award, or something like that which is specifically intended to recognize his body of work and not this particular novel.

    Pratchett deserves recognition, but like Judy Lynn del Rey, deserves to be recognized for contributions to the field, not for being sick (or dead in the del Rey case).

  16. buddy66 says:

    Chabon is considered literary. He’ll be going for Pulitzers and hincty awards like that. SF is still ‘trailer park’ among book chatters.

  17. christov says:

    Thanks, Xopher, for the explanation, but it still seems to me that science fiction should have science or technology as a central element in the plot.

  18. Avram says:

    Talia #24, it was Damon Knight, founder of SFWA (among many other accomplishments) who famously said “Science fiction is what I point at when I say science fiction.”

  19. buddy66 says:

    Woops! My dumb.

  20. eustace says:

    Allohistory (nice name!) could also be called Writers Imitating P. K. Dick. He wrote the classic of this “genre” with The Man in the High Castle. Before that it was a short story conceit. I haven’t read Chabon; has he done something original with this idea?

  21. Takuan says:

    hear “Nation” is coming out

  22. Nelson.C says:

    Congrats, Cory! The award’s well deserved.

  23. Lord Xenu says:

    Congrats!

    Also: what is the difference between a novella and a novelette, exactly?

  24. seth matthew says:

    #11 Eustace: While The Man in the High Castle is a classic, and among PKD’s best (and most cogent) works, it is not the first such work. Many others are listed here.

    As far as I can tell, Chabon has not done anything new with the genre. While I realize there is still a low-level debate over the sci-fi/spec-fi convergence, if the award is for science fiction, give it to a science fiction novel.

  25. David Bilek says:

    Teresa, thanks for the context. I’ll think about what you said with regard to Pratchett. It does seem that the lack of recognition for del Rey when she way alive compared to the surplus of recognition for Pratchett may make a large difference.

    As to:

    My best advice is to just get used to the vox populi, vox dei basis of the Hugo Awards and Locus Awards. Anything else is a waste of nervous energy

    I don’t do so well with this, and regularly rail against the Hugo nominees on a yearly basis on RASFW. So far the Hugo voters have ignored my invective, but there’s always next year. If I could only get them to listen to reason and stop nominating Sawyer. One day… one day…

  26. Xopher says:

    Christov, yes, that (among other things) really is why allohistory is its own separate genre now. I’m saying why I think people treated an allohistorical novel as SF, not that I agree. I haven’t read Chabon’s work, so I don’t know what I’d think of its genre qualifications. But then genre qualification is a loser’s game anyway; as Patrick Nielsen Hayden has pointed out time and again, when you try to define what makes a genre, you focus on the edge cases to the exclusion of the core examples.

  27. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Seth Matthew, Michael Chabon is a longtime fan of the genre, and respects it. He was patently delighted win a Nebula award last year. He’s also a very good writer. The Locus Award was handed to him by a confident community.

    Asswipe, where have you been? Alternate history has always been part of science fiction.

    Anonymous @8: Connie Willis, criminally underappreciated? She’s been nominated for the Hugo twenty-four times and the Nebula Award fourteen times, going on to win those awards eleven and six times respectively. That’s on top of all the other awards. Believe me, she’s not underappreciated.

    Christov, I have good news for you: there’s a very large body of critical writing, going back decades, on exactly that question. Get hold of any good bibliography of SF’s critical literature and have at it.

    Seth Matthew, thanks for clearing up the bibliographical chronology. I must say, I can’t see how you think Chabon hasn’t done anything new with the genre. Or, if you’ve set your standards so high that that criticism is warranted, can’t the same thing be said about the other winners?

    David Bilek, you know why Pratchett got that award. What does it have to do with Lester Del Rey?

    Buddy66, was that “Whoops!” because you remembered ten minutes later that Chabon already has a Pulitzer?

  28. David Bilek says:

    if the award is for science fiction, give it to a science fiction novel.

    This argument has already played out and been decided in favor of inclusiveness. Brunner, Delany, Aldiss, Disch, Silverberg Zelazny, Ellison, etc and the New Wave answered the question definitively. You’ll still occasionally find an old greybeard, his copy of RINGWORLD or RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA clutched to his chest, who argues the whole “Science Fiction should be about Science!” proposition, but they are a dying (literally, unfortunately) breed.

  29. David Bilek says:

    Note: The actual questionable award is the Best Fantasy Novel for MAKING MONEY. I wish Terry Pratchett nothing but the best, but that book wasn’t remotely the best fantasy novel of last year. I thought people learned their lesson with the whole Lester Del Rey fiasco?

  30. Khonsu says:

    Man, Mr. Gaiman must be running out of mantel space. Reminds me of the Colbert Report joke about the two Emmys.

  31. MajorD says:

    Regarding Swanwick’s “A Small Room in Koboldtown”… it’s a great choice!

    Escape Pod (at escapepod.org, episode #157) featured this in their Hugo Nominee series this spring, and it was clearly best in show. If you haven’t heard or read the story, you’re missing a real treat. Go get surprised and spooked by one of the oddest genre collisions you’ll ever come across. I would love to see a novel set in this yewnavoice.

  32. eustace says:

    I should have kept my mouth shut above. I googled allohistory and got schooled. I forgot how many of the stories I liked fell more-or-less into this catagory.

    Here’s a review that’s worth sharing:

    http://www.johnreilly.info/whnm.htm

    …and Congratulations, Cory!

  33. Longshot says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Doctorow!!! I’d picked up _Little Brother_ off Amazon with a birthday gift cert and LOVED IT (I’ve always enjoyed sf & near-future books written for the young adult set, like Heinlein’s _Space Cadet_ and Gerrold’s Dingilliad)!!!

    I picked up _Overclocked_ just yesterday at BookPeople in Austin (very strange experience – former press secretary Scott McClellan was doing a book signing there that day), but have only just an hour ago read through “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” (which of course was wonderful) – looking forward to getting to “After the Siege”!

    Lord Xenu – According to Wikipedia, a Novella is longer than a Novelette but shorter than a novel. The SFWA classifies them, for the purpose of the Nebula Awards, as novelette = 7500 – 17,500 words, while a novella is 17,500 – 40,000 words.

  34. Bruce Arthurs says:

    Majord, THE IRON DRAGON’S DAUGHTER and THE DRAGONS OF BABEL are set in the same universe as “Koboldtown”. I believe the short story is incorporated into DRAGONS OF BABEL.

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