Entries from July 2022 ↓

2022 Hugo Nominees: Best Novel

I may tweak a couple rankings before the final ballot is due, but at the moment here\’s my ballot for Best Novel.

1. A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark

I first encountered Clark\’s \”Dead Djinn Universe\” in The Haunting of Tram Car 015, a finalist for the Best Novella Hugo in 2020, and I was thrilled to return to the world for a longer story.  A Master of Djinn was everything I was hoping it would be and more, giving us a deeper understanding of the djinn\’s place in this alternate Egyptian society, a few tantalizing glimpses into how the return of magic to the world has manifested in other parts of the world, and of course a high-stakes mystery weaving through the mundane and mystical realms.  I\’m really looking forward to reading more in this universe.

2. The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers\’s stories are a balm for the soul.  I first discovered her with the first Wayfarers book, and I was deeply sad to learn that The Galaxy and the Ground Within was to be the last one in the series.  Other than that disappointment, though, the novel was another comforting delight, following a small cast of characters trapped at a planetside travelers\’ inn when the local orbital traffic gets shut down due to an accident.  Each of the characters brings their own story, history, and baggage to their accidental cohabitation, and Chambers weaves their arcs together with her usual warmth, portraying once again an aspirational world where people of varied backgrounds can overcome their differences and prejudices and learn to care about one another.  We need more of that in our world.

3. A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine

If the first book in the Teixcalaan series, A Memory Called Empire, hadn\’t already won a Hugo, I\’d likely have this one at the top of my ballot.  It\’s a worthy second entry in the series, broadening the scope of the series out to the edges of Teixcalaan space and further into the depths of intrigue within the imperial capital, the military, and even Lsel Station.  Fans of Ann Leckie will particularly enjoy this series, I think.

4. Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir

This novel takes a few more liberties with science and engineering than Weir\’s debut The Martian did, but fans of that novel are likely to enjoy this one as well.  It starts with a very similar feel – the lone genius solving his way out of dangerous situations with the twin powers of Science and Engineering – but the story soon takes on more depth as Weir weaves in more background and a wider cast of characters.  Overall, a satisfyingly crunchy \”hard sci-fi\” story that balances the \”science\” part with the \”fiction\” part well.

5. Light from Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki

This was a really fun read, weaving together a couple wildly different genres/tropes – Faustian bargains for musical talent and alien visitors living on Earth in disguise – into a story of a trans teenager just trying to survive and keep her music alive.  The genre whiplash felt weird at first but over the course of the book Aoki melded the disparate threads well, leading up to a payoff that tied everything together.

6. She Who Became the Sun, Shelley Parker-Chan

Dire and difficult but worthwhile, full of questions about what aspects of our destiny we can shape ourselves, and what is beyond our control to influence.  I don\’t even know if I\’d necessarily say I enjoyed this book – but I definitely believe it deserves a place on the ballot nevertheless.