Hugo: Spin (2006)

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Read December 20, 2010 – December 27, 2010

Premise: Three childhood friends must cope with the sudden extinguishing of the night sky and the resultant time-gap between Earth time (very slow) and Universe-time (super-fast), as they grow up and each cope with the crisis in their own ways.

Verdict: I really loved this novel. The narrator is Tyler, a rather poor boy whose best friends are the twins Jason and Diane who live in the house where his mother is the housekeeper. Tyler becomes a doctor, Jason a genius at everything (but mostly an expert on the Spin, what the time differential star-extinguishing phenomenon comes to be known as), and Diane seeks solace in religion. I have to say, I generally hate when people put religion in science fiction. It’s usually there for one of only two things: to preach at me, or to degrade and humiliate the people who believe in religions. This book manages to show religion—even extremist crazy religion—from an atheistic point of view but also allows it the dignity and respect that millenia-old religious traditions and the poor people who adhere to them deserve. Kudos on that. Also it’s got overbearing and/or absent parents, mysterious hard-sci phenomenon, Martians, copious sci-fi references (I had fun with those), and largely unrequited painful pining love affairs. Plus it addresses overpopulation issues which is my favorite modern crisis and the root of all other modern crises. So. Yeah. I loved this book and I had a lot of fun reading it.

Fast, interesting, and engaging. You lose nothing by giving this book a chance.

Hugo: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1972)

To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer
Read November 26, 2010 – December 20, 2010

Premise: In some mysterious place at some mysterious time all members of the human race from the first pre-Monolith Kubrick ape down to the extra-terrestrial who has destroyed all of humanity are resurrected to fend for themselves and are protected, nurtured, and presumably studied by mysterious benefactors. The people resurrected include Richard Francis Burton, Alice Liddell, and Hermann Göring. It’s all quite mysterious. Ooo.

Verdict: I have never read a more stupid useless book. Except for some of the other Hugo winners that I’ve read. Burton the manly explorer is resurrected, has much sex with nameless “beautiful women,” is creepishly in love with Alice Liddell (as in, Lewis Carroll’s real Alice), and continually bucks authority to try and find the point of the whole resurrection exercise—meaning he commits suicide to escape the creatures controlling the resurrections and is resurrected somewhere else on the great river of humanity. That’s fine, that’s great, that’s all mysterious and wonderful. Oo, I’m impressed. Except there isn’t even an ending to the stupid book. The ending is “Curse you evil future beings monkeying with my life! I will defeat you some day and find out your nefarious purpose!” I didn’t care for this novel at all. There is no real plot beyond Burton being an asshole and the premise is at first intriguing but ends up coming off as stupid, boring, and like nothing more than poorly written hero-worshipping “real person fic.” 19th century adventure stories at least have excuses for their misogyny and general weird state-of-being. This does not.

Just wtf. Don’t even bother. This is the first of a series that you’d have to pay me good money to waste my time reading.