I Have Already Read Something Better


Posted on : 3/19/2016 11:12:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

The bickering in the SFF community exists for a couple of reasons.  As far cooler heads than mine have observed, the field has gotten so large that no one person can truly survey all of the published works in order to have an informed opinion.  Therefore there will always be works that are overlooked.

Given that the Hugo Awards acknowledge five finalists and one winner each year, it is entirely predictable that high quality work will pass under the radar of enough voters to end up being left without acknowledgement.  Specifically, the rest of this entry will reference the Best Novel category.

In looking back over the list of nominees and winners, I find 1986 to be a turning point.  Prior to that year, I had found most of the nominated works that I encountered to be quite enjoyable.  Some had a serious message.  Some were just plain fun pieces of fiction.  But they almost uniformly provided an enjoyable reading experience.  I have not read all of them, but I have read a high percentage of them.

1986 was the year that Orson Scott Card won the Hugo novel award for "Ender's Game".  I got around to reading "Ender's Game" a few years back after the movie came out.  I ignored the movie.  And quite frankly I found the book to be less than impressive.  The storyline dragged at times and the prose wasn't all that great.  It was not a bad experience.  It just was not an experience that I would put at the same level as the great SFF works from the preceding years and decades.

Considering the explosion in SFF works published each year, it is not unreasonable to find that my chanced experiences with Hugo nominated works have declined over the years.  Now that I have spent a couple of years paying closer attention to the theoretically superior books that are nominated for the Hugo awards, I have sought out more of those works.  Quite frankly, my response is that while they are largely enjoyable works, I have already read something better.

Going back a few years, I think about David Weber and his "Hammer's Slammers" series.  I also think about Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman's work on the Dragonlance series.  From that series comes one of my top ten books "The Legend of Huma" by Richard Knaack.  Dave Duncan and L.E. Modesitt Jr. are also authors of interest that have not had any Hugo nominations.

Jumping into the 1990s, Mercedes Lackey, Sara Douglass, Barbara Hambly and Melanie Rawn are a quintet of ladies that produced a wealth of fiction that I devoured.  Yet none of them have received Hugo Award nominations.

Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams, and R.A. Salvatore....the list could go on and on and on.

Someone could almost write a book listing authors of quality SFF works that have not been able to make it into the final round of the Hugo Awards.

Does this mean that the authors that did make into the final round produced bad work?  Nope.  Nor does it mean that the works that did make into the final round were in some way objectively "the best" of those years.  The pool of voters has been small enough that it may not accurately reflect what readers of SFF fiction truly feel are the best works in the field.

As I encounter more nominated works from the last 10-15 years, I find myself more and more frequently arriving at the conclusion that "I have already read something better".  What would be better than some of those works?  What other books have provided me with a better reading experience than the nominated works that I have read?

Here is a quick, short list of authors and series that have done a great job of scratching my particular SFF itch.  I have included the name of the first book in the series where possible. Some of these works include a diverse range of characters.  Some do not.  Some have commentary on our modern world.  Some do not.  All of them provide a unique approach to storytelling.

E.E. Knight - Age of Fire Series

Peter V. Brett - The Demon Cycle (5 books) - Book 1 - The Warded Man

Justin Cronin - vampire trilogy (3 books - natch) Book 1 - The Passage

Sebastien de Castell - Greatcoats (4 books) Book 1 - Traitor's Blade (made me weep man tears - this one was series is great)

James A. Moore - Seven Forges (4 books thus far) Book 1 - Seven Forges

Joe Abercrombie - The First Law (3 books) - The Blade Itself

Hugh Howey - The Wool Series - Wool - Stop after the first book.******

Sarah Beth Durst - The Lost - I've only read the first book and can't vouch for the series.  The first book was great!***  [The second book was declined by the publisher.  I'm sad.]

Emma Newman - Split World Series (5 Books) - Between Two Thorns*****

Frank Cho - Skybourrne (graphic novel) [6*]

Peter V. Brett - Red Sonja: Unchained (graphic novel) [6*]

Alec Hutson - The Crimson Queen [6*]

Myke Cole - The Armored Saint [6*]

If you have not heard of these authors or these works, then perhaps you ought to read more widely.  I promise that you will not waste your time with any of these works.

**edited/cleaned up on 3/21/2016
***added a book on 5/11/2016
****added another book on 5/13/2016
*****added another series on 8/8/2016
******added comment on 11/10/2016. Reviews forthcoming.
 [6*] added on 1/11/2019

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Comments (2)

Thanks for the recs! I've heard great things about "The Passage."

Glad I could help! Thanks for the comment.