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U.K. SF Writers Dominate Hugos 290

Posted by Zonk
from the u.s.-not-doing-so-hot-creatively dept.
gollum123 writes "The BBC reports that For the first time in its 63-year history, all the writers nominated for the prestigious Hugo award for the best novel are British." From the article: "Mr Stross says that what an author writes is a reflection of his society, and currently US genre writers are mirroring the 'deep trauma' that 9/11 wrought on America. 'What we write tends to reflect our perceptions of the world around us,' he says, 'and if it's an uncertain world full of shadows it's no surprise you get wish fulfilment or a bit downbeat.'"
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U.K. SF Writers Dominate Hugos

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  • Wait... (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheOtherAgentM (700696) on Friday August 05, 2005 @06:31PM (#13254153)
    You can't hear the cool accents in writing. I don't get it.
  • by kingduct (144865) on Friday August 05, 2005 @06:35PM (#13254183)
    Hey, I live in Ecuador, and I've always looked for sci-fi written originally in Spanish, but darned if I can find much. What authors write in other languages, and do they ever get Hugo awards?
    • French science fiction [wikipedia.org] -- Verne, Barjavel ... wait, planet of the apes was french (Boulle)? Woah. Sadly, wikipedia has no equivalent "Spanish science fiction" page, nor, that I can find, a page listing sci-fi by language. Sorry.

      As they note, french sci-fi tends to be 'different'. I can't quite put my finger on it, despite having watched plenty of made-in-france sci-fi animated stuff as a kid ("Il etait une fois ... l'espace", "Mysterieuses Cites d'Or", "Ulysse 31") and read french sci-fi (like Barjavel's).
    • It may not be quite what you're looking for, but this may be helpful. Amazon.com has a buried section (why, I don't know, and I can't even remember how I found it) called Libros en español [amazon.com] that is nothing but Spanish language books.

      There's a section under it called Ciencia ficción y fantasía [amazon.com]

      I'm not necessarily pitching Amazon.com. Even if you don't want to buy off of Amazon.com because of patent issues [slashdot.org], it may give you a good list of titles to look for somewhere else.

      Another po

    • by fireduck (197000) on Friday August 05, 2005 @07:38PM (#13254734)
      What authors write in other languages, and do they ever get Hugo awards?

      From the official FAQ:

      Are non-American works eligible?
      Yes. Any work is eligible, regardless of its place or language of publication. Works first published in languages other than English are also eligible in their first year of publication in English translation.
  • I read Perdido Street Station and King Rat,I thought they were jus OK.. I hope Stross gets it. I can't beleive Richard Morgan didn't get a nod for Broken Angels.
  • by creimer (824291) on Friday August 05, 2005 @06:41PM (#13254236) Homepage
    Bloody, hell. Star Trek goes off the air and Dr. Who comes back to the air. There are too many British actors on Battlestar Galactica. Now the red coats are taking over literature. I guess this is the end of Pax Americana. Where do I surrender?
    • They were good books and honestly, I can't think of a single american who should have made the list...
    • American culture does seem to be stagnating, IMO. Realism in TV (Reality TV) and sci-fi; movies based on sequels, TV shows, comic books, and remakes of old movies; and the recycling of fashion and music trends (disco and Afros?) show a lack of creativity, as far as I'm concerned.

      I slowed down on reading sci-fi books when the realism became too big a factor in the stories. For example, I like David Brin, but just didn't like "Earth" because it focused too much on science and not enough on the characters.
      • I slowed down on reading sci-fi books when the realism became too big a factor in the stories.

        Yeah, spot on!

        I think of it as "Suburban SF" -- in the early 90s or so, more and more stories (especially in magazines) seemed to be about near-future very slight variants on our own society, with characters that are basically the same boring white-bread SUV-driving bozos we see around us in real life.

        Frankly when I read SF, I want to read about something different than what I can see out the window. I don't neces
    • Canada already is massing troops on the border so they can return our breakaway republic back to the motherland and win brownie points. I suggest Mexico.
    • There are too many British actors on Battlestar Galactica.

      Well, that's probably because there are a lot of bad guys in Battlestar Galactica...

      Actually, I'm not sure that was intended to be 'funny'. (Spoiler follows for those who haven't seen the first hour of the new Battlestar Galactica mini-series); I noticed that they had an English guy play the unheroic self-preserving computer geek who inadvertantly lets the Cylons into the defence computer.

      Yep, there's always a 'British' actor with the required
  • Very surprising to me is that amongst all these British nominees, there was not even a nod for Rowling's fifth book in the Harry Potter series (HP & The Order of the Phoenix), given that book #4 in the series was the Hugo Best Novel Winner when it was released in 2001.
    • by StefanJ (88986)
      I really enjoy the Harry Potter books, and dread the wait for the next and last book in the series.

      But lets get real: We're not talking about great literature or ground-breaking fantasy.

      That said, I thought book #6 was the best since The Prisoner of Azkaban. A great read, but still not what I'd consider Hugo material.

      Stefan
    • Order of the Phoenix came out in 2003, so it would have been eligible last year. Altough, if one looks at the full listing of Hugo nominees [worldcon.org.uk], the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie was nominated in the long form dramatic presentation.

      Also exciting to see that Lost (the pilot) and Battlestar Galactica (33, the first episode) garnered nominations for short form presentation.
  • I've paid little attention to where a writer is from, I just revel in the superb work that's being done these days. Yes, China Mieville evokes a bizarre London, but I'm finishing up Singularity Sky from Stross, and it doesn't seem particularly "British". As for Alistair Reynolds, Dan Simmons, George RR Martin, Peter F Hamilton, and many others, as long as they keep producing brilliant works, I'll keep reading.
  • Who really cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tktk (540564) on Friday August 05, 2005 @06:54PM (#13254352)
    How many people here buys books based on where the author is from? This is the first time in 63 years that it's happened. It might be an interesting statistic to help future Jeopardy contestants but right now it doesn't seem like a horrible occurence to me. If the same thing happens over the next few years then maybe something's going on.

    On a side note, a friend of mine for a very long time didn't know that Octivia E. Butler was a woman. I haven't told him yet that she's also African-American.

    • by starling (26204) <strayling20@gmail.com> on Saturday August 06, 2005 @02:12AM (#13256573)
      How many people here buys books based on where the author is from?

      That's exactly the point. People buy good books, regardless of the author's nationality.

      Right now, US SF authors are mostly churning out either glorified soap operas or thinly disguised political diatribes. So they're not popular.

      On the other hand the UK, and particularly Scotland, has a set - clique, whatever - of novelists who are truly revitalising the genre. Their stories have the same spirit as (ironically) the great books which US authors used to produce. So they win awards.

      Right now there's a definite correlation between nationality and quality of SF. I just hope the US writers get over whatever's bothering them and start writing the good stuff again.

      (BTW, how on earth could someone read an Octavia Butler novel and *not* realise she's African-American.)
  • ... And an excellent book it was. If you haven't read it -- even if you aren't a Banks fanboy -- I'd recommend it. No Culture experience required (because it's not a Culture novel).

    That said, I'm a little surprised Alastair Reynolds' "Century Rain" didn't get nominated, as it was also an excellent novel and, perhaps, especially relevant to the /. crowd. I've been meaning to write a review forever (since nobody else has) but I'm lazy, so I just write comments about it hoping someone else will.

  • Weird timing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @07:03PM (#13254421) Homepage Journal
    I read this story right after finally allowing myself to rent Gunner Palace [gunnerpalace.com] from Netflix. I don't watch TV news, because I feel it insults my intelligence, but as a result I don't see much footage of the war in Iraq. I knew about Gunner Palace for some time, but I never rented it until now probably because I wasn't ready for it.

    It's not that I'm not ready to see the soldiers doing their thing in Iraq. I was a soldier myself, so I appreciate watching soldiers going about their business without any "analysis" from those doing the filming. Rather, I avoided the film until now because I was so angry at the monumentally stupid way in which the war was approached, from its rationale and build up to the invasion, to the beginnings of the occupation stage, to the large-scale operations in Fallujah and elsewhere.

    It is supremely frustrating to see American soldiers doing their jobs with as much humor and professionalism as they can, all the while knowing that the civilian leadership at the top of the pyramid has let them down in a monumental fashion. I experienced something like that on a much smaller scale myself, when my unit left Somalia after not quite three months in country. A few months later, all American forces left Somalia. We had done our job very well, but because the American government had no real plan of action beyond immediate food security operations, a few casualties was all it took to send the global superpower packing.

    So every time I see video footage of Americans in Iraq, I think back to Somalia and the way in which our leaders profoundly misunderstood the situation there before, during and after my deployment. I'm not suggesting that we stay in Iraq indefinitely to "make all those sacrifices worth something." I do, however, think that the monumental planning failures at the top of the food chain have done a tremendous disservice to the men and women of the US armed forces.

    What does all this have to do with Charlie Stross's comment about the "deep trauma" of America? I think that in different ways Americans have been avoiding complex issues in our movies, our fiction, and our music specifically because we have been more deeply affected by the string of events (9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq) than we care to admit even to ourselves. For me, that means avoiding footage of the war. For others the reaction might be keeping minute track of every skirmish and ambush. Some might prefer to ignore the war entirely and pretend it isn't happening.

    Those of us who believe wholeheartedly in the manner in which we are fighting Islamic militants don't want to see anything that will shake our convictions. Subversion in the cultural sphere could easily spread to the political.

    Those of us who are profoundly disappointed by our leaders' lack of imagination, failure of vision, ignorance of history, and misunderstanding of the ground truth don't want to see more of the same in our entertainments. We want to be comforted that somewhere, even if only in fictional worlds, people with power are capable of making the right choice.

    For the majority of the American population, who sit somewhere in the middle, the constant bickering between those who know what to do but can't do it, and those who know what not to do but can't figure out what *to* do is infuriating. We're at a watershed in American history, and people know it, even if they don't articulate it. Decisive, capable heroes, preferably unrelated to the current reality, fit the bill.

    A friend of mine once said that everyone remembers the cultural achievements of Athens, but not of Sparta. Why? Because Sparta was a completely militarized society, while Athens was not. Perhaps yet another part of the bill America must pay for our hamfisted approach is that as we become more militarized, the creative and free-thinking aspects of our society become isolated and minimized.

    • I'd mod this up if I had the points.

      I can't bring myself to visit the SF & F section of bookstores often these days.

      When I do, I'm struck by the large amount of "comfort food" fiction: Either outright fantasy, or fiction nominally set in the future but whose society and technology essentially duplicate that of a familiar and understandable past.

      I've quoted this before, but it fits:

      "It is the business of the future to be dangerous, and it is amoung the benefits of science that it equips the future for it
    • A friend of mine once said that everyone remembers the cultural achievements of Athens, but not of Sparta. Why? Because Sparta was a completely militarized society, while Athens was not. Perhaps yet another part of the bill America must pay for our hamfisted approach is that as we become more militarized, the creative and free-thinking aspects of our society become isolated and minimized.

      Course, history also remembers Sparta as having perhaps the single best infantry (ah the 300) the world has ever seen as
      • It wasn't Athens, but it wasn't Sparta, either. Those two essentially wore each other out and left the field clear for what had been the lesser powers. One of which developed into Rome.

        (I'm leaving Macedonia out of this, because it was possible that Athens or Sparta could have revived after the death of Alexander. Didn't happen, but it could have.)
    • Infonaut writes: Perhaps yet another part of the bill America must pay for our hamfisted approach is that as we become more militarized, the creative and free-thinking aspects of our society become isolated and minimized.

      Some of my favorite genre fiction when I was growing up was written by famous guys like Joseph Heller and not so famous guys like Brian Daley. Guys who were painfully aware of how much of a price this is to pay.

      Labor Day weekend is the 3-Day Novel Contest [3daynovel.com], and November is National Novel Wr [nanowrimo.org]
  • ...and have for a long time.

    We Americans have given a good effort, but....
  • Some of the best American SF was written by counterculturalists during the 1960s and 1970s. With the exception of Gibson, the "go-go 1980s" and science-fictional 1990s produced vastly worse signal:noise in SF. Americans have to pick another reason for our current decline, other than a couple of planebombs hitting buildings here in NYC, as bad as that was.

    Maybe a better explanation is the rise of "faith-based" fiction, and undereducated consumers of SF generally? That "science fiction" has become really just
  • To nominate a book for a Hugo award, you need to be a member of this year's World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon). This year's Worldcon is in Britain. You do the math.
  • Does the author imply that Britain's last 10 years were somehow better than US' years? These are the people who are much more used to terrorist attacks and now don't even question cameras on every street corner. I am sure in proportion to their population they have lost many more lives to terrorism than us. Stop looking for excuses!
  • Yeah, Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Friday August 05, 2005 @08:57PM (#13255237) Homepage
    "currently US genre writers are mirroring the 'deep trauma' that 9/11 wrought on America."

    Bullshit.

    They're mirroring the "deep trauma" that being unable to write anything except "Lord of the Rings" ripoffs has inflicted them with.

    Enough of this fantasy shit.

    If you can't write worth a shit because somebody flew a plane into a building and killed a couple thousand people, then you couldn't write for shit before.

    Am I supposed to claim I'm "traumatized" because 150,000 people got killed in the tsunami, or 100,000 Iraqi civilians got blown up by our illustrious warriors (over 1,800 of whom in turn got their asses waxed)? Is that why I can't make a buck?

    Where is Thomas Harris - who can write wonderful satire about psychiatrists and cops urning into cannibals - when we need him?

    Somebody needs to write a "Catch-22" or "M.A.S.H." or "Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal" about Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

    I guess I need to get cracking on my "Transhuman" series of novels - more rabid sex and merciless gunning down of monkeys than anybody has seen since the Marquis de Sade...

    I got your "deep trauma" right here, assholes.
  • Fan voting.... DUH!!!

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