Hugo there

      4 Comments on Hugo there

Your Humble Blogger has in the past been on about the Hugo-nominators and voters and the general specfic-chattering classes having a blind spot for works that are marketed to people who are not sf fans. As you may already know, this year’s Hugo went to The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon, a novel that was clearly marketed as literary fiction rather than genre. Mr. Chabon himself seems to be a genre fan; certainly there doesn’t seem to be the hostility there that there is with, say, Margaret Atwood. Anyway, I’m happy enough that the book won, as (a) I think it’s a fine book, and (2) I like the idea that it is fully accepted in the Hugo-voting community as a specfic book within the meaning of the act. I will be curious to see whether HarperCollins pushes the Hugo as a marketing tool; they haven’t yet added it to either the main HarperCollins page or the TYPU page, but that could well be tardiness, as they still have the Locus award-winners up on the main HarperCollins page.

Anyway, Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu probably have lots of opportunities to chat with people who know their specfic about the Hugos, or to read the on-line conversations of such people. It was interesting to me to read a thread about the Hugos over at the McCovey Chronicles, a SportsBlogs Nation site for fans of the San Francisco Giants. Not many fans of the specfic novel over there, not many people with any real knowledge of the genre. There seems to be some bewilderment that alternate history of the TYPU kind is eligible for a Hugo at all (to be fair, I believe this is the first time that a straight-ahead alternate history novel has won the Hugo), and it might be interesting to view the confusion over genre definitions from the point of view of people who don’t know much about the genre and don’t care much, either. At least, it has to be as interesting as the same old conversation with the same old people, right?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

4 thoughts on “Hugo there

  1. Matt

    Yeah, like I’m going to read anything SPORTS FANS have to say!

    Your post is completely bewildering if, like me, you read the entire thing as “specific,” rather than “specfic” until the very last use of the word in the post.


  2. Matt

    Although, if you don’t read what sports fans have to say, you might never learn that Gene Wolfe was a Hugo nominee, this year. Go, Gene!


  3. Jed

    One thing that pleased me quite a bit was Chabon’s acceptance speech, read in absentia by George RR Martin. Chabon basically said that when he was 12 (or so) he read a collection of Hugo-winning stories, and he decided that his goal was going to be to win a Hugo. And he kept that goal all his life, and now he’s finally done it. It was sweet and charming, and I’m always delighted when awards go to people who’ll really appreciate them.

  4. Vardibidian


    I was vaguely wondering if he had showed up to claim his prize. So vaguely that I hadn’t actually looked for the answer, actually, so thanks. It sounds like quite a nice speech.

    One of the odd things in that McCovey Chronicles thread was the fan saying “The science fiction community has a history of roping in non-genre/genre-breaking novelists in order to popularize or legitimize the genre. Margaret Atwood comes to mind.” Er, huh? Not the way it looked from here. In particular, looking at the Hugo-winning novels, Michael Chabon was the only novelist who had made a name with mainstream/literary fiction before winning the Hugo. At least the same name that was on the Hugo winner; I’m not up to snuff on the sixties pseudonym stuff.

    By the way, as you may have been involved in some of the Hugo-voting chat, did you hear anybody suggest that TYPU was not specfic within the meaning of the act? I’m just curious.



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