I'm a bit worried that people who call themselves science fiction fans have read little enough of NPR's list that they feel unqualified to vote. Despite what quibbles I may have with the list or whatever, it does pretty much cover the territory. If they are fans of the genre, what are they reading? Not trying to be critical. Is this a "I need to have read at least 90% of the list" perfectionism kind of objection, or is it a "I've only read one book on the list and have never heard of tho others" kind of objection?
's case, she said she'd read about half the books, and I know from talking to her that she's read a great deal of other stuff in the field. There's a lot
of stuff that isn't on the list, particularly since the expansion of fantasy in the late 1970s.
A lot of people seem to be bizarre completists for whatever reason. I think a fair amount of SF reviewing from, say, Locus encourages this as well. A number of reviews will look at some new-seeming book or story and say something like "Reminiscent of War With the Newts (1936)"—which at a certain level of obscurity/rarity is just trainspotting, not contextualizing.
Well, I think that for some people that kind of reference comes naturally--if you're really steeped in 1930s SF, you'll see it everywhere. But I don't think that means everybody should be steeped in 1930s SF. One of the things that disappointed me most as a 17-year-old at a liberal arts college was that there weren't more people referring to things I'd never heard of.
Ok, I went over and looked at dichroic
's post and he/she says that she's a bad skiffy reader because she's only read less than half of the list, which I think isn't bad at all, and gives a very literate analysis of the list itself. My faith is restored!
Sorry, previous comment was a bit too snarky.
There are a few things going on here, in my case: I have not had access to a library (at least, not one with books in English) for the last five years; I have a warm fuzzy fondness for YA and YA SF/F was specifically excluded from this list; I have a pathetic allergy to reading things I should read, even when the people implying the "shoulds" are fellow fen.
Also, I do think the list itself is a bit weird. Lots of people get over being Heinlein fans; I'm not one of them, but even for me inclusion of "The Cat Who Walked Through Walls" was bizarre. And then on the other side Zenna Henderson is completely omitted.
It's ok. I should have read your post before I responded. Check out my follow up comment above.
Don't vote on the reputation of the author or the reputation of the book; vote just on what you've read.
But but but...reading's hard! Oral sex is easy!
I kept trying to read Dervish House because it was one of the Hugo nominees and I wanted to do my Hugo voting homework, and Pat WINOLJ finally pointed out that if I'd bounced off it that many times, it seemed unlikely that I was going to be giving it a high ranking in my voting now, was it?
I had to agree she had a point. But the book has received some very good reviews, so I think I should like it better than I do.
And the relevant point here, which I see I have entirely missed, is that my dithering and stalledness about Dervish House was keeping me from reading the rest of the Hugo nominees. Which I did all eventually read and vote on, except for Dervish House.
And this year I didn't vote in the dramatic presentation category, because I'd only seen one of the nominees.
Edited at 2011-08-06 04:50 pm (UTC)
I don't like "should like" any more than I like "guilty pleasures." You like what you like! This sometimes gets difficult if I can't articulate what's making me bounce, because then it feels like I'm being arbitrary, but I'm not being arbitrary, I'm being incoherent, which is different.
Probably because I'm not communicating adequately. I don't mean I "should" like it in any sort of "I am a bad person" sense. What I really mean is that I suspect the book has a high activation energy, and were I to surmount that (or acquire a catalyst), I might enjoy the rest of the book. It's the barrier, rather than an active disenjoyment, that bothers me.
Hmm, see, I only think "high activation energy, high reward" when I have some really good reason to do so, and I guess I mostly don't find positive reviews to be a really good reason. Positive highly specific reviews, sure. But otherwise, sometimes a great many smart people like something I never do enjoy.
FWIW, I thought it absolutely got much better in the second half. But that makes it half of a dull book attached to half of a pretty good book, which is...
... okay, I was going to say "not award caliber," but I think this is still my favorite of this year's Hugo slate, so hey.
"I should like it better than I do" makes sense only if you accept the axiom "I should be a different person than I am." People who do accept that tend to be working on things other than whether they like a specific book or even style of book: it tends to be about personality traits and/or things that are commonly considered virtues, like "I should be more patient" or "I should keep my temper when X happens."
I've been to Istanbul and thus immediately bonded with that book.
For me, the piece I couldn't bond with and never finished was The Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone.
I've never been asked to vote on anything other than who wins the office's Good Job award every month. (Some months I'm the only one who nominates anyone!)
There is no "vote for your favorite baseball book" award ... that I've seen. But I have a list of the top 10 in my head.
I would slightly dispute #4. I don't tend to read a lot of short fiction, so in past years my Hugo nominating ballot has been very light (if not empty) in those categories. And the stories that got nominated were often not in line with my tastes and thus somewhat underwhelming to me.
This year, I cast several Hugo nominations in the short fiction categories based on the fact I generally like work (of any length) by that author, or in a couple of cases based on the title alone. Several of those made the ballot. I aso did nominate several stories from the limited crop of short fiction I did read. None of those stories made the final ballot. Two of the stories I nominated by author or title alone and which made the final ballot wound up as my #1 choice in their respective categories.
So I violated rule #4, but the result was a win for me because I wound up reading two excellent stories!
Is there some reason you couldn't read those stories in advance?
But that was just luck. You could have ended up reading two stinkers -- and more to the point, so could everybody else. Titles and other work by the author are not the way to go with nominating.
Just a latecomer chiming in to say, I totally agree with these rules.