Monthly Archives: May 2019

Historical Nebula Nomination Read Series [1965] Introduction

In my lack of infinite wisdom, I’ve decided to go on an auspicious journey to expand my horizons. Let me sum up.

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember, generally like most writers of the genres, however there are a ton of books I haven’t touched. No matter how many authors I’ve read, there are dozens more I haven’t, including some of the classics in sci-fi and fantasy.

At first, I just started picking up random older, less-known books along with some of the famous ones I’d previously skipped, but I didn’t have much order to my findings and readings and, let’s face it, I was searching for authors, most of whom I was already familiar to at least some degree. When trying to come up with further lists of books to look into, I kept finding the same exact books being recommended time and time again, with little variation or imagination to the recommendations. Which was…frustrating.

Then I thought, what about the nominated books that didn’t end up winning a Hugo or a Nebula or didn’t end up skyrocketing into fame? When we talk about the nominations in current years we usually consider many of them worthy of the award, yet there are always those who think a different story should have beat out the others for the top spot. (There are also books that some people think are snubbed from year to year in terms of nominations themselves, but unfortunately, that’s not something I can easily look up.)

But I can easily look up the Hugo and Nebula nominations and wins. And wouldn’t it be fun to read all the noms in previous years (just as people have done or are doing with this years nominations) and then determine which book I personally would have wanted to win that year?

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do! Starting with the Nebulas.

1965 is up first. Of the 12 nominees (yes, 12, but 1966 only had 3 and 2 of them jointly won, so it evens out) I’ve only read Dune, which isn’t surprising because it won the first Nebula and is one of the most famous science-fiction novels of all time. I’m planning on rereading it, along with reading the other 11 books for the first time. They are:

  • The Star Fox by Poul Anderson
  • Nova Express by William S. Burroughs
  • Rogue Dragon by Avram Davidson
  • Dr. Bloodmoney by Phillip K. Dick
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Phillip K Dick
  • The Genocides by Thomas M Disch
  • The Ship that Sailed the Time Stream by G C Edmondson
  • A Plague of Demons by Keith Laumer
  • All Flesh is Grass by Clifford D Simak
  • The Clone by Theodore L Thomas & Kate Wilhelm
  • The Escape Orbit by James White
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

There’s a possibility I may have to read a total of 14 books before this is finished since Borroughs’ Nova Express is the third book in what looks like a trilogy and I prefer to start at the beginning. But what’s another couple of books :)

I let my daughter choose which book I started with: Rogue Dragon. Not surprised in the least. It has the word dragon in it and that’s far more interesting to an 8 year old than the rest of those titles.

One more thing to note: I read Dune a long time ago, so nostalgia can easily bias this first year’s pick when all books have been read. I’m going to do my best to read without the nostalgia, but eradicating my emotions completely isn’t possible, so I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I may just choose Dune, along with the rest of the voters in 1966, because of youthful love. Yet the point is to read, to experience, so whether or not that happens, I’m still gaining.

Will be writing a check-in blog in June to note my thoughts on the books I’ll have finished thus far :)

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April 2019 Recommended Books

One of the books I read this past month was Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu–read to my daughter. There were so many references to other famous stories and fairy tales that I realized she wasn’t familiar with yet, so we got an abrupt jump to the length of our list of to-read together.

As for my favorites, these stories I’m recommending because I enjoyed them the most out of everything I read :)

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The Ingenious by Darius Hinks
(Dark Fantasy)

This was my absolute favorite book of April. The description of the City drew me to this novel in the first place–a city that absorbs people, culture and even land and then moves on after a few years to another place, creating a setting filled with thousands of years of possibility and differences. The whole of the story held a haunting, somber feel while you follow a woman dealing with layers of addiction who yet is still striving to stand up to the heavy expectations thrust on her at an early age. I found the story powerful and the writing beautiful, painfully beautiful at times when it seems as if Hinks was mixing the fugue-filled state of Isten within the storytelling.

The Reluctant Queen & The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
(High Fantasy)

It’s not often you read about a woman heroine with kids. Not unless the kids are dead, long moved beyond needing mothering or the kids show up at the end as part of the happily ever after. So maybe I’m a tiny bit biased, but I loved getting to read from the perspective of a woman who doesn’t have illusions of grandeur, doesn’t have the desires that spark grand, sprawling adventures and is making most of her choices based on what’s best for her family rather than the rest of the world. And the world of Renthia is still its conflicted self, dark, yet filled with possibility. There were a few obvious plot threads, but when the world is this magical and the story fun, I care far less about being completely surprised at every turn. (Yep, The Deepest Blue is on my list to read come May! Already have it on my bookshelf taunting me!)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
(Mythological Romance)

I read Circe last year and absolutely adored the story, so picking up its predecessor this year was a no-brainer. I admit, Achilles wasn’t what I expected. I thought there would be more focus on the retelling of the Iliad section of the novel, less focus on Patroclus and Achilles growing up. More grittiness and less drama, yet I found I loved it regardless of expectations. This novel is essentially a crème de la crème of gay fantasy romance and while it’s not so much a retelling of Greek myth, it uses the setting beautifully. And now I have to wait for Miller to write a new book because there is no more back-list to mine.

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A mention I want to add: I read Foundation (Isaac Asimov) for the first time in April. I’d read all his robots books as a youth and loved them; have reread The Caves of Steel multiple times. While I found Foundation interesting, it wasn’t as eye-opening and intriguing as I think it might have been had I read it while still young enough to be surprised by some of the changes to the economy. I also read Hyperion for the first time, however, I’m holding out on a complete opinion until after I read through more of the series. So much world-building though!