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Harry Potter Wins Hugo 452

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-thats-a-little-strange dept.
H.I. McDonnough writes "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling has won the Hugo for best novel. I'll refrain from commenting." I read the 2nd and 3rd Harry Potter books last week and they are just wonderful stories. I'm looking forward to reading this one. But a Hugo for SciFi Achievement? I have a hard time calling Potter stories Sci-Fi. But then again, since SF and Fantasy are often so blurred together, it probably is worth it. And anything that can get kids to read (or for that matter, get me to read a dead-tree version of anything) is good by me. And if you haven't read any Harry Potter books, then you aren't qualified to complain ;)
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Harry Potter Wins Hugo

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  • I don't know about a Hugo, though, either. They're entertaining, original, well written stories (even for a "grown up" book). Many of the books I've read that were intended for a much older audience aren't as well written. So I would definitely think that it deserves awards...but I had always gotten the impression that Hugos were for hard Sci-Fi...am i wrong?
    • > but I had always gotten the impression that Hugos were for hard Sci-Fi...am i wrong?

      Yes, you are wrong.
    • Certainly they are award winning, I'll be amongst the first and many to say that. My first thoughts when I heard all the hype was, "What is all this crap about anyway?" I picked up the books and figured I'd read them (voracious reader that I am, it took a few weeks) and then give the books away to a library or school. Well... I still got 'em. I was absolutely riveted by Goblet of Fire. Clearly Rowling's writing ability improved as she continued and Goblet was very interesting and gripping (although the map from an earlier book is what I would put at the top of my birthday list :)
  • Hugo but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mirko (198274) on Monday September 03, 2001 @11:43AM (#2248086) Journal
    OK, Hugo prizes usually mean good stuff but for God's sake:

    How would I accept to give my money to Warner after what they did to Harry Potter's fans [zdnet.com]?
  • Overrated? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Contact (109819)
    I must admit, I gave into the hype and bought the first Harry Potter book. It was... okay, I guess. I was expecting something a lot more complex, though, and I was disappointed - it reminded me more of Enid Blyton than anything else.

    When I was a kid, I was reading things like Robert Westall, John Wyndham, Ursula K LeGuin, Diana Wynne Jones... maybe it's just nostalgia, but Harry Potter doesn't seem like it's even in the same league as those old classics.

    There are children's authors who deserve a Hugo (Roald Dahl springs to mind, as well as some of those listed above) but I suspect this award was given due to popularity, and the cynical side of my nature suspects that at least part of that popularity is due to their safe, harmless nature.

    • by melquiades (314628) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:06PM (#2248142) Homepage
      ...the cynical side of my nature suspects that at least part of that popularity is due to their safe, harmless nature.

      You said you've only read the first, which really is pretty harmless. But the award was for the fourth, which is interesting -- the books in the series get progressively more complex, and much darker. There's a lot more death and unfairness in the world, etc. I think it's not an accident that they chose the fourth for the award....
    • Re:Overrated? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943)
      When I was a kid, I was reading things like [...] Ursula K LeGuin
      I have to say you were a very advanced "kid". LeGuin is hard reading for most kids. I started with Douglas Adams and Start Trek books, and then dove right into Heinlein short stories at about the age of 12 or so.

      Asimov and Clarke were about as deep as I could go, and no offense to those craftsmen, but LeGuin is a diffferent kind of animal. I'd liken her work to Philip K. Dick (Lathe of Heaven was a tribute to Dick, actually) and more recently folks like Johnathan Lethem. All great authors, but not really what I would point your average kid at.

      Potter is great stuff, and I associate it (as fantasy) with kids SF like A Wrinkle in Time, which I have no end of respect for.

        • I have to say you were a very advanced "kid". LeGuin is hard reading for most kids.

        I don't know what works the poster was referring to, or what the poster meant by "kid", but LeGuin has a number of books directed at young children. They are very very good. Here's a good reference to them http://www.feministsf.org/femsf/authors/leguin/juv enile.html [feministsf.org]

        As for LeGuin's non-children's works, The Lathe of Heaven wouldn't be a hard read for most kids who enjoy Harry Potter. The Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness might require an older teen to appreciate.

        Maybe The Wizard of Earthsea or The Word for World is Forest would be appropriate for kids, I'd have to go reread them to be sure. I read those as a young teen myself.

        • I'd forgotten about her children's books. Yes, I was refering to things like The Lathe of Heaven and The Left Hand of Darkness

          I've never read any of her stories for younger readers. Should check them out (though I'm a little out of the age range now).

          What I'm really hoping for is a resurgance of speculative fiction at all levels from TV's mass-market appeal to children's books to hard-core SF novels. If Harry Potter is the doorway to a younger generation of readers to start demanding quality sotry telling, I say more power to it!
    • It was... okay, I guess. I was expecting something a lot more complex, though, and I was disappointed - it reminded me more of Enid Blyton than anything else.

      A book doesn't bave to appeal to everyone to be a great book.

      I suspect this award was given due to popularity, and the cynical side of my nature suspects that at least part of that popularity is due to their safe, harmless nature.

      And a book that is popular doesn't automatically mean it's a bad or overrated book. I suspect that most of the bitching about this book is due to its popularity. I've never understood why people feel the need to mock things that are popular. Jealousy that their pet books are not as popular, perhaps?

    • I must admit, I gave into the hype and bought the first Harry Potter book. It was... okay, I guess. I was expecting something a lot more complex, though, and I was disappointed - it reminded me more of Enid Blyton than anything else.


      Harry Potter is to children now what The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was to my generation. Having read the Philosopher's Stone (so far) I think there's hope for the next generation after all.

      The fiction children read is vastly important - the generation that explored near-Earth space had grown up on Sci-Fi. The Victorian explorers had grown up with tales of adventure. It was fiction that got me into travelling for fun, and working in cutting-edge tech. I look forward to great things from today's kids.

  • publicity stunt (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Ayon Rantz (210766)
    I'm guessing the Hugo awards are losing press, so they try to get their name linked to Harry Potter to ride on his wave of popularity. And lo and behold, it's working! :)
  • by Gorobei (127755) on Monday September 03, 2001 @11:51AM (#2248107)
    I love the HP books, but a Hugo? Look at the previous winners: all are hard sci-fi:

    2000 A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge
    1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis
    1998 Forever Peace, by Joe Haldeman
    1997 Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
    1996 The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
    1995 Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
    1994 Green Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson
    1993 A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge; Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
    1992 Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold
    1991 The Vor Game, by Lois McMaster Bujold
    1990 Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
    1989 Cyteen, by C. J. Cherryh
    1988 The Uplift War, by David Brin
    1987 Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card
    1986 Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
    1985 Neuromancer, by William Gibson
    1984 Startide Rising, by David Brin
    1983 Foundation's Edge, by Isaac Asimov
    1982 Downbelow Station, by C. J. Cherryh
    1981 The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
    1980 The Fountains of Paradise, by Arthur C. Clarke
    1979 Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre
    1978 Gateway, by Frederik Pohl
    1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, by Kate Wilhelm
    1976 The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
    1975 The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, by Ursula K. Le Guin
    1974 Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
    1973 The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov
    1972 To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip Jose Farmer
    1971 Ringworld, by Larry Niven
    1970 The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
    1969 Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner
    1968 Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny
    1967 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein
    1966 ...And Call Me Conrad, by Roger Zelazny; Dune, by Frank Herbert
    1965 The Wanderer, by Fritz Leiber
    1964 Way Station, by Clifford D. Simak
    1963 The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick
    1962 Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein
    1961 A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
    1960 Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein
    1959 A Case of Conscience, by James Blish
    1958 The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber
    1957 No Award
    1956 Double Star, by Robert A. Heinlein
    1955 They'd Rather Be Right, by Mark Clifton (currently sold as The Forever Machine)
    1954 No Award
    1953 The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester

    • by Earlybird (56426) <slashdot AT purefiction DOT net> on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:03PM (#2248136) Homepage
      They're not all hard SF. Stand on Zanzibar, Neuromancer, The Man in the High Castle, A Canticle For Leibowitz, The Demolished Man, Lord of Light, Stranger in a Strange Land etc. -- lots of great soft SF here. I should know; I don't read hard SF. :)
    • Asimov's Foundation Trilogy just narrowly beat Tolkien's Lord of the Ring Trilogy in the same year. (I liked both, but I'd say Tolkien was robbed.)

      It's not just recently that fantasy and sci-fi have been blended and confused. And to make just two genres is also terribly limiting. Is "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" a fantasy, or a sci-fi, book?

      • How could anyone POSSIBLY confuse Harry Potter with Science Fiction? Yes, some forms of Fantasy and some forms of Science Fiction are closer to each other today than they traditionally have been. But Harry Potter simply doesn't fit that mold.

        It's ridiculous; obviously the Hugo is becoming a popularity meter like the Oscar.

        Please note any raving Potter fans that I also like the books, I have all four and bought the last two as soon as they hit the stands. But that doesn't mean that an award for something completely different ought to be given to Ms. Rowling. Give her the Caldecott medal and whatever Fantasy awards you like....

        • Popularity Contest (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr.Mustard (58247)
          It's ridiculous; obviously the Hugo is becoming a popularity meter like the Oscar.

          The Hugo Award [worldcon.org] is a popularity contest. To quote from the page:

          ...and determined by nominations from and a popular vote of the membership of [the World Science Fiction Society].
      • . Is "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" a fantasy, or a sci-fi, book?
        Come on, everybody knows it's a mystery book. Sure, it may have ghosts, time travel, aliens, spaceships, electric monks from another planet, and the bit about the horse, but it's deffinitely a "whodunit" book.
    • Ignoring the fact that several[1] of those novels barely qualify as SF (let alone "hard" SF), you're ignoring the other categories of Hugo, i.e. novella, short story, etc.

      Some counterexamples:

      1997 best novella: Blood of the Dragon by George R.R. Martin

      1995 best original artwork: Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book by Brian Froud

      1991 best short story: Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson

      1991 best dramatic presentation: Edward Scissorhands

      1982 best novelette: Unicorn Variation by Roger Zelazny

      1971 best novella: Ill Met in Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber

      1958 best short story: Or All the Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson

      And these are just a sampling of winners that I know to be fantasy. There are many more I suspect may be as well. True, there is a strong tendency to choose SF over fantasy for the Hugos, but it's never been a rule.

      [1] To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book, Hyperion, The Snow Queen, Dreamsnake, To Your Scattered Bodies Go and Lord of Light are all on the border between SF and Fantasy, and several other entries are clearly soft SF. Note that Larry Niven argues that all time travel tales are fantasy.
  • by Vulch (221502) on Monday September 03, 2001 @11:53AM (#2248113)

    Article 3 - Hugo Awards

    ...

    Section 3.2: General.

    3.2.1: Unless otherwise specified, Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.

    With added emphasis by me...

    Anthony

    • by Ponderoid (311576) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:36PM (#2248226)
      The Hugo awards are voted on by the people who attend or support the World Science Fiction Convention [worldcon.org]. It's a popularity contest voted on by the fans. Any work that the fans think qualify as SF or fantasy is eligible to be nominated and voted on.

      It doesn't cost very much to buy an advance supporting membership. I wish this page for the current Worldcon [netaxs.com] still had the prices for advance membership posted, but that info was probably removed when the deadlines passed. The prices were probably not too much different than next year's Worldcon [conjose.org]. Act now; for just $35 USD, you too will be able to nominate and vote the Hugo for works first published in 2001.


      *** Ponderoid

      • Not only are the awards voted on by fans they also make the rules.

        The rules covering the Hugos are determined by the Worldcon business meeting which is open to all attendees who may propose and vote on amendments. Any amendment has to be ratified at next years convention which may be thousands of miles away but that is intended to prevent any local group packing the meeting.

        In practice nobody has ever been able to come up with a definition which seperates SF and Fantasy. How, for instance, would you classify 'Jack of Shadows' where magic works in one hemisphere of the planet and Science in the other ?

        I voted for the Harry Potter in second place, and I while think it is good enough to get a Hugo, this was a weak year for the novel. Last year I was torn between 'A Deepness in the Sky' and 'Cryptonomicon'.

        I think 'Look to Windward ' by Iain M. Banks and the film 'Memento' are eligible next year so I'm going to nominate them if possible.

    • here [chicon.org] (I keep getting a fcuking lameness filter abort, if I dont write anything here. Geez)

      Also, a review of most of the winning books are here [jademountain.com]
    • or fantasy

      and this is reinforced strongly if you actually look at the winners. Note that the film winner is Crouching Tiger.... There's no way that could be construed as science fiction.

  • by Pac (9516) <paulo...candido@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 03, 2001 @11:54AM (#2248120)
    Any suficient advanced magic is indistinguishable
    from technology
    • While this has been moderated as funny, there is a serious side to this. David Brin, in his essay Science versus Magic makes a point essentially along these lines. His point is that the distinction between magic and technology is not so much their principle of operation as their sociology. Science and Technology (according to Brin) are about sharing ideas, understanding universally operating principles, and developing artifacts that work reliably. Magic, OTOH, is based on non-shared knowledge and forcing the world to work the way that you want it to, not according to reliable principles.

      By that logic, you can actually make a very good case that "magic" in Harry Potter is much closer to Brin's idea of technology than his idea of magic. In Potter's world, new discoveries are shared with the rest of the (magical) world though regular publications and (magical) artifacts are mass produced and expected to work reliably. The very idea of a place like Hogwarts, where young witches and wizards are trained in a standardized magical curriculum is specifically against Brin's idea of magic.

      IOW, Clarke did have it backward. Sufficiently advanced technology is distinguishable from magic because it operates differently. OTOH, as magic becomes more advanced it starts to look more and more like a technology.

  • A Better Choice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nlaporte (116203) on Monday September 03, 2001 @11:58AM (#2248125)
    As a bookseller, I think that Phillip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass is a much better choice, if you want to pick children's books. When I sell it (and the first two, The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife) I describe it as being "like Harry Potter, only with depth." The books are much more intricate, thought-provoking, complex, with (gasp!) subplots that seem (gasp!) unrelated at first, until they all come together. Now that is a book that deserves an award.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the Harry Potter books a lot, but they don't have nearly the complexity that a Hugo award winner should.
    • I second that vote! Those books are excellent and I'm surprised that, ugh, Harry Potter, won a Hugo.

      Oh, wait; did you see the author of the Harry Potter series? Whoa, hot, young, curvaceous blonde. Maybe she'll bounce up and down in her excitement.

      After all the fuss, I went and bought a Harry Potter book. Aimed at a 5th grade reading level, and kind of boring. I'm surprised how popular it was with adults though.

      It's embarrasing that Harry Potter now ranks up there with books like Hyperion and Ender's Game.
    • I third, or fourth, or whatever that opinion. I haven't read the Amber Spyglass yet, but the first two books have been really great. I also like that they maintain the mystical, adventurous feel of a fantasy novel, while the worlds aren't just arbitrary -- either arbitrarily Tolkien/ADD style, or otherwise cliched like most fantasy.

      And while there is a theological bend to the books, I really quite enjoy it -- there's something subtle to it. I'm under the impression there's much more of this in the last book. I reread the Narnia Chronicles a while ago, and the Christian basis of them was just painful -- I'm glad I didn't notice it the first time around. There's something about "Good Christian" art (music, fiction, etc.) that tends to be so tedious, unimaginative, and unchallenging.

    • And as of this weekend The Amber Spyglass is now out in paperback (in the UK anyway).

      I can't tell you if it's any good -- it's sitting on the table in front of me at the moment, next up to be read -- but the first two were fascinating. Strongly recommended.

  • by tenzig_112 (213387) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:03PM (#2248137) Homepage
    "And if you haven't read any Harry Potter books, then you aren't qualified to complain ;)"


    Given that logic, one cannot make fun of Mary Kate & Ashley Magazine without reading it cover to cover. Yikes.


    But the Hugos aren't much to get upset over. Douglas Adams [ridiculopathy.com] lost the Hugo for "best dramatic presentation" in 1979 to Superman, the Movie. Clearly, the Hugos have their Jethro Tull moments as well.

    • Given that logic, one cannot make fun of Mary Kate & Ashley Magazine without reading it cover to cover. Yikes.

      I've never read the magazine. Why would I assume that I could make fun of it?

      But given YOUR logic, I can go ahead and assume you're a child molestor, right? After all, I haven't met you, but you've indicated that it's OK to make any assumption I want without any evidence. I will notify the FBI immediately.

      Of course, we know why you're making both these assumptions: popularity. Anything that is popular must be automatically bad. I picture you in your dank cellar, reading some obscure book, quietly seething that your book is not given the popularity that these "damn Harry Potter books" are given. Yes, it must be a conspiracy. The Hugo panel must have been bought off. Otherwise, why would they continue to ignore your fabulous, underrated book? You go back to reading your book for the 80th time.

      Come out of the cellar, man, and just admit your book is a piece of crap. That's why people ignore it.

  • by Gorimek (61128)
    I had to check out what all the fuss was about and read the first book. While I'm sure it's a good adventure story for six year olds, there is no way in hell it's anywhere close to Hugo quality.

    I guess the later books might be better and more complex, but still...
    • I had to check out what all the fuss was about and read the first book.

      Why not go back and read some of Joanne Rowling's English term papers from grade 5, and then use those to comment on whether the 4th book in the series is worthy of the prize.

    • "I had to check out what all the fuss was about and read the first book. While I'm sure it's a good adventure story for six year olds, there is no way in hell it's anywhere close to Hugo quality. "

      She seems to be going for the "cohort" approach. In book one Harry is 11, and the book is written for an audience of that age. In book four harry is 14, and the audience is likewise treated as if they were older.

      The books are getting a much much harder edge as they go one. Book 3 for instance does not have an entirely happy ending and lacks the resolution of the first two, as well as convoluted and taxing plot. Book 4 as I am sure you know features a death, and several rather unpleasant happenings, although I think it meanders a little bit.

      Read the other books is my advice. If she carries on as she has started I think Harry Potter may grow into one of the classic serials of this century.

      Phil
  • by jensend (71114) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:09PM (#2248152)
    In recent years, science fiction and fantasy (especially childrens' books such as Harry Potter) have failed to come up with anything truly original. No authors have come up with anything which approaches the originality or the epic grandeur shown by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. Here's a short bit by Clarke on the matter, published in 1939 but valid today:

    Reverie

    ?All the ideas in science fiction have been used up!?
    How often we?ve heard this moan from editors, authors and fans, any one of whom should know better. Even if it were true, which is the last thing it is, it would signify nothing. How long ago do you think the themes of ordinary, mundane fiction were used up? Somewhere in the late Paleolithic, I should say. Which fact has made exactly no difference to the overwhelming outrush of modern masterpieces, four a shilling in the third tray from the left.
    No. The existing material is sufficient to provide an infinite number of stories, each individual and each worth reading. Too much stress is laid on new ideas, or ?thought-variants?, on ?novae?. They are all very well in their way ? and it?s a way that leads to strange, delightful regions of fantasy ? but at least as important are characterization and the ability to treat a common- place theme in your own individual style. And for this reason, in spite of all his critics, I maintain that if any could equal Weinbaum, none could surpass him.
    If, in addition to its purely literary qualities, a story has a novel idea, so much the better. Notwithstanding the pessimists, there are a million million themes that science fiction has never touched. Even in these days of deepening depression, a few really original plots still lighten our darkness. ?The Smile of the Sphinx? was such a one; going a good deal further back we have ?The Human Termites?, perhaps the best of all its kind before the advent of ?Sinister Barrier?.
    As long as science advances, as long as mathematics discovers incredible worlds where twice two would never dream of equaling four: so new ideas will come tumbling into the mind of anyone who will let his thoughts wander, passport in hand, along the borders of Possibility. There are no Customs regulations; anything you see in your travels in those neighboring lands you can bring back with you. But in the country of the Impossible there are many wonders too delicate and too fragile to survive transportation.
    Nothing in this world is ever really new, yet everything is in some way different from all that has gone before. At least once in his life even the dullest of us has found himself contemplating with amazement and perhaps with fear, some thought so original and so startling that it seems the creation of an exterior, infinitely more subtle mind. Such thoughts pass through the consciousness so swiftly that they are gone before they can be more than glimpsed, but sometimes like comets trapped at last by a giant sun, they cannot escape and from their stubborn material the mind forges a masterpiece of literature, of philosophy or music. From such fleeting, fragmentary themes are the Symphonies of Sibelius built - perhaps, with the Theory of Relativity and the conquest of space, the greatest achievements of the century before the year 2000.
    Even within the limits set by logic, the artist need not starve for lack of material. We may laugh at Fearn, but we must admire the magnificent, if undisciplined, fertility of his mind. In a less ephemeral field, Stapledon has produced enough themes to keep a generation of science fiction authors busy. There is no reason why others should not do the same; few of the really fundamental ideas of fantasy have been properly exploited. Who has ever, in any story, dared to show the true meaning of immortality, with its cessation of progress and evolution, and, above all, its inevitable destruction of Youth? Only Keller, and then more with sympathy than genius. And who has had the courage to point out that, with sufficient scientific powers, reincarnation is possible? What a story that would make!
    All around us, in the commonest things we do, lie endless possibilities. So many things might happen, and don?t - but may some day. How odd it would be if someone to whom you were talking on the phone walked into the room and began a conversation with a colleague! Suppose that when you switched off the light last thing at night you found that it had never been on anyway? And what a shock it would be if you woke up to find yourself fast asleep! It would be quite as unsettling as meeting oneself in the street. I have often wondered, too, what would happen if one adopted the extreme solipsist attitude and decided that nothing existed outside one?s mind. An attempt to put such a theory into practice would be extremely interesting. Whether any forces at our command could effect a devoted adherent to this philosophy is doubtful. He could always stop thinking of us, and then we should be in a mess.
    At a generous estimate, there have been a dozen fantasy authors with original conceptions. Today I can only think of two, though the pages of UNKNOWN may bring many more to light. The trouble with present-day science fiction, as with a good many other things, is that in striving after the bizarre it misses the obvious. What it needs is not more imagination or even less imagination. It is some imagination.
    • In recent years, science fiction and fantasy (especially childrens' books such as Harry Potter) have failed to come up with anything truly original. No authors have come up with anything which approaches the originality or the epic grandeur shown by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.

      I will have to violently disagree with this.

      Before I begin, I should say that I love both Tolkien and Asimov, grew up reading the Narnia books, and intensely dislike Clarke (except for the rather interesting short story The Billion Names of God, which I think is quite good). Both Tolkien and Asimov get whole bookshelves devoted to them.

      I've been reading a lot recently, although only some of it was sf/f. Here's some sf/f authors who are currently publishing that I think are really interesting:

      • Pat Cadigan started as just William Gibson with more musical references, but has recently diverged into some really weird, really interesting stuff. I'm now only a third of the way into Fools, but it's repeatedly blowing my mind.
      • Kim Stanley Robinson wrote the Mars trilogy, and while I haven't been able to maintain an interest in anything else he's done, that single achievement is more than enough to rate listing with other important contemporary authors.
      • Candas Jane Dorsey has only one fantasy book so far, called Black Wine, and if you like dark fantasy at all, it's a must read: possibly the best book of any genre written in the '90s.
      • Speaking of dark fantasy, Steven Brust has written some pretty amazing stuff. It's true that he was inspired by Zelazny; it's equally true that he has clearly surpassed his inspiration. Tad Williams is correct.
      • And in the realm of lesser lights, Neal Stephenson has written some promising books, especially Cryptonomicon; Frederik Pohl continues to produce good, quality hard sf; and Kathleen Ann Goonan did impress me with Queen City Jazz, although I haven't read anything else by her yet.

      No, the real problem is a lack of recognition for these people. Although Robinson did win some awards, there are huge gaps. Generally speaking, in order to make the Hugos, you've got to have commercial success first: and nowhere is this more clear than in the Dramatic Presentation category, where the 1999 awards [dpsinfo.com] didn't even mention New Rose Hotel, [imdb.com] probably the best cyberpunk movie ever made.

      • To your list of recent good SF authors I'd have to add Peter F. Hamilton. His Reality Disfunction series is some of the best hard sci-fi I've read in the past few years. Consisting of a trilogy (which had to be split into 6 books in order to be marketed in the USA) and a few short stories set in the same universe, they have a level of depth and size I personally find really fascinating.

        Of course, that's only my opinion, you know, my 2 fuseodollars' worth.
    • In recent years, science fiction and fantasy (especially childrens' books such as Harry Potter) have failed to come up with anything truly original. No authors have come up with anything which approaches the originality or the epic grandeur shown by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.

      Please turn your attention to Greg Egan. The best current SF writer if you ask me. Cooool ideas, great science, nice plots. Excellent reading for those who like hard SF. The author is an Australian programmer, he has a cool web site with many of his works available online:
      http://www.netspace.net.au/~gregegan/ [netspace.net.au]

      SF of the finest class. Sense of Wonder included.

      • Greg Egan is brilliant, and his Diaspora rates as one of my all time favorites.

        Another excellent author, who manages to capture alien worldviews and put together a complex universe of wonder and suprise is Verner Vinge, in particular A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep.

        His concept of differing physical laws dependent on location in space (implied indirectly to be a function of the mean gravitational density of the region) is AFAIK quite original. Just as you cannot have supersonic craft underwater, so too can you not have superluminal craft in the slow depths of space (which our Earth happens to be in). Actually you may be able to have supersonic submersibles, but at present it appears to be impractical, and it serves to illustrate the concept that technologies which work great in certain regions of space break down completely in regions which are "deeper."

        As for villians, his (human) Emergents are one of the most chilling (un)civilizations I've yet seen described, and his description of transcendent evil in A Fire Upon the Deep has interesting implications (and applications) to the real world, and to real world ethics.
    • Oh please! No new ideas on the modern era of SF writers?

      Just look at some of those other recent Hugo winners like Vernor Vinge, or Neal Stephenson, or Joe Haldeman, or William Gibson.

      What has changed is the audience.

      Look at the huge Star Wars, Star Trek catalog (which keep growing and growing, like a cancer on the SF section).

      Look at the increase in Fantasy, with fewer SF titles in the SF/Fantasy section.

      Although I really enjoy Lois McMaster Bujold's books, I think they barely fall into the SF catagory.

  • by uriyan (176677) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:25PM (#2248192)

    Three books went into /dev/null
    Seven were lost due to a fire
    Nine were left inside a hole
    One remains to rule them all

    One book that bests them all
    One book to grind them,
    One book will stay when most are sold,
    And in oblivion bind them.

  • by ckd (72611) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:26PM (#2248194) Homepage

    #1: The Hugos are a juried award. Nope; they're a fan award. Anyone who is a member of that year's Worldcon can vote; all it takes is the money to pay for a voting membership. You don't even have to attend.

    #2: The Hugos are only for SF. They tend to be given to SF works, but the criteria explicitly include fantasy.

    #3: Why didn't <foo> win instead? Hugos are given based on year of first publication, so Lord of the Rings wasn't eligible this year. The movies will be eligible for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, however.

    #4: The plagiarism case. A Washington Post article [washingtonpost.com] and a transcript of an online chat with Stouffer [washingtonpost.com] give some more details, but I tend to side with the folks who doubt the claims she makes [hpgalleries.com]. They were going to make a billion dollars! All my records were lost when my roof collapsed! I talked to the (never-married) editor and his wife! You can't remove IE from Windows without breaking it! (Sorry, that last one was from someone else.)

    • I mentioned this before, but I will again since the threads I mentioned this on got flamebated: there is a much more interesting case of similarities between "The Books of Magic," written my Neil Gaiman, and Harry Potter than what is found in this current plagerism case. I finally found a news story on a Neil Gaiman fan site here [holycow.com] (3rd Item down).

      The character design of tween Tim Hunter of Books of Magic and Harry Potter is very similiar, right down to round glasses. Gaiman wrote a 4 issue series about an orphaned boy who finds out he has magical powers in the early 90s, and it became a monthly and was only ended recently.

      The above article also tells of similarities between Harry Potter and a 1982 book by Diana Wynne.

      For a while there were rumors that Gaiman was going to sue, but neither he nor Vertigo care about the similarites. As a matter of fact, according to the above article, they put in some nods to Harry Potter at the end of the series as a kind of joke.

      Anyway... if they were to make a case it would be a lot more credible than the case that is current going down. I don't think it really is plagerism... sometimes you get ideas from something, they get all mixed up, and they come out in a new form. This is the stance Gaiman, Wynne, and Vertigo are taking.
  • The Harry Potter books are doing something previously thought impossible. They are pulling kids away from the idiot box (t.v.) and getting them to read in droves. This, in itself, deserves special recognition. Although I am a hard science fiction fan, I enjoyed the Harry Potter books and have no problem with the Hugo being awarded for this book.
  • by Myriad (89793) <myriad@tGAUSShebsod.com minus math_god> on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:37PM (#2248230) Homepage
    Argh, this blurring of what is science fiction and what is fantasy really gets to me sometimes...

    Science fiction stories do NOT have to be in space! Fantasy stories do not have to have witches, dragons, goblins, etc... you can have Fantasy in space and Science Fiction in the past.

    Case in point: Larry Niven wrote a story about the essence of magic being a natural resource, like oil. Only in this story the resource was running out, and the magic in the world was failing. This is definitely science fiction.(Sorry I forget the title)

    On the other hand you see books like the Honor Harrington series by David Webber, which is primarily war-in-space (this type book is often classified as Space Opera, I admit)... but these are essentially fantasy.

    The main difference is that in Science Fiction there is some principal element to the story involving science - be it the Ring in Larry Nivens Ringworld, or Thistledown in Greg Bears Eon. Or it can be a theory, such as a change in the laws of physics (al la David Brins The Practice Effect). It need not involve space at all.

    Fantasy on the other hand is primarily just a story. There might be science, be it in the form of space ships or anything else, but it is not a primary element to the story itself. Just because your characters ride a rocket doesn't make the story science fiction. If they are riding a rocket that they built, and the story is all about how they did it, then it might be science fiction.
    (unless you are the crazy rocket guy [slashdot.org], then it could be your obituary)

    Anyhow, Harry Potter is fantasy... but as has already been noted, that doesn't prevent it from winning a Hugo. A Hugo can go to a science fiction OR fantasy story.

    My congratulations to J.K. Rowling!

    • I recently read "The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump" by Harry Turtledove. It isn't great literature, but I thought it was entertaining. The book is part mystery, part fantasy and part science fiction. It is set in Southern California, in an alternate world where magic has taken the place of technology. The hero is an employee of the EPA (Environmental Perfection Agency) who is investigating possible leakage from a toxic spell dump. Like technology, magic produces hazardous waste that must be disposed of properly. Technology still exists, it's just that magic is cheaper and simpler for many tasks. Nuclear weapons have been replaced with megasalamanders. The military has its own secret and sophisticated magic R&D program.
  • The first Harry Potter book is being translated to film with very few changes. That's quite an achievement for an author; often, little more than the title and some of the characters survive.
    $200M budget. A fair amount of CG for magic, but most of the sets are real places in England.
  • bah (Score:3, Informative)

    by isorox (205688) on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:49PM (#2248272) Homepage Journal
    "And if you haven't read any Harry Potter books, then you aren't qualified to complain ;) "

    I go the the same university as JK Rowling went to. TPTB are changning (strongly opposed) the name of the Free Tibet room the Harry Potter room. Theres a lot of anger arround the university regarding that.

    I wouldnt mind, but We have other alumini that are more worthy! (Thom Yorke from Radiohead for one)
  • by singularity (2031) <nowalmart@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2001 @12:52PM (#2248277) Homepage Journal
    As someone who works with high school kids, I am glad for Harry Potter for one reason - they are getting kids to read.

    I suppose I sound really old, but it seems that with television, video games and others, reading is not as important as it used to be.

    Harry Potter got kids who had not read a book on their own in years to actually read something. Does the book deserve a Hugo for that? Probably not, but I think that they at least deserve some award (other than the huge financial one that they are going to get from licensing and movies)

    I read the first two books (I refuse to buy the third and fourth in hardback), and they are a good read. Not the best ever (I have a difficult time comparing Ender's Game with Harry Potter), but a good read.

    I would recommend that everyone read them, even if you pick them up from a library. Get to know what your kids are reading. We talk about watching kids while they are online. The same should go for what they read.

    • even if you pick them up from a library

      not likely. i go to the library often and all 15 copies are usually checked out. so i've been catching up on heinlein and asimov -- the kiddies tend to leave them on the shelves.

      my true hope is that from this generation of harry potter lovers will come an older, more mature generation of people who broadly enjoy SF and Fantasy books from many authors. and maybe --just maybe-- one of these harry potter readers will eventually write a great story for me to read that would never have been written.

      this is one of the great benefits of great film, literature, etc (programming also), the tendency to inspire great works in others. i think that the harry potter series, if nothing else, goes a long way to inspiring an entirely new generation of kids to think about the world in a creative way which they would otherwise have ignored.

    • I know a lot of kids who have never picked up the habit of reading.

      I grew up with computers and videos and the rest of it, but I was encouraged to read (whatever I liked) from an early age... once the habit of reading is there, you start to explore other kinds of material

      maybe Harry isn't educational in a strict sense, but if he encourages kids to read Asimov or Tolkien down the track, I think he's worth it

    • I refused to buy three and four in hardback as well, I couldn't believe the US publishers were so greedy as to even now still offer three only in hardback - so I bought mine from England [amazon.co.uk] for not much more than the cost of the softcover books here, even with shipping!

      I'm not sure how the "adult versions" they refer to differ from the normal versions - perhaps a bit extra content?

  • The Hugo award winner for novelette, "Millennium Babies" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, can be read online [asimovs.com] in its entirity at the Asimov's Science Fiction [asimovs.com] website.

    TC
  • HEY!!!

    If you'd bother to go read about the Hugo and how it is given before going ballistic, you'd know that the Hugos are nominated and voted on by the membership of Worldcon.

    In other words, the fans did it.

    It's a big fat popularity contest, and obviously the folks going to Philcon this year thought that Harry Potter was the best thing out there from last year (which was, admittedly, a horrible year for SF and fantasy in print).

    If you want to bitch about it, pony up your $35, join ConJose for this time next year, nominate somebody, and vote your ballot. You don't vote, you got no reason to spam Taco's hard drive with whining.

    warpeightbot, member, ConJose, the 60th World Science Fiction Convention
    So let it be written, so let it be done.

  • I think it's a big marketing thing. There are lots of better childrens' stories. The only difference is that Harry Potter somehow got a spark early on and picked up a strange momentum, which the marketers wisely jumped on and milked for all it was worth. Maybe the magic stuff does have a kind of allure, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the author could have done a much, much better job with the stories themselves.

    I've read all of the Potter books released to date, mostly as light reading for the bus ride when heavier material can't hold my attention. These books just zip by - it's like a cartoon series in novel form. I read them because I kept hearing so much about them - and because once the Christians started being horrified by "the Occult" descriptions, and I saw this Onion article [theonion.com], I couldn't not read them.

    But a literary award? The only reason I'd do that would be to piss off the Christians (and it'd almost be worth it...)

    They are very cartoony. The four books released so far have an Episode One feel to them, like when the kid yells "now THIS is pod racing!" Harry's arch-enemy is this brat named Draco Malfoy from a family of evil wizards, but he never seems to be a threat. Like Biff in Back to the Future, every scrape ends in Malfoy under the proverbial shitpile moaning "I hate manure". It's like, can't something bad happen to the hero? Shouldn't he have to face some challenge and get a victory he truely earns, rather than simply lucking out because he was born "the One"? Maybe the next three books will get a little darker as he gets older, I dunno.
  • Gnu only knows what the Hugo voters were thinking. I'd just like to know what sh!t they were on 'cause that was some nasty stuff and I don't want anywhere near it...
  • I'll refrain from commenting...

    It seems like everyone is surprised that Harry Potter won a Hugo. Why? I think everyone is forgetting that the Hugo is a People's Choice type of award. The books are quite enjoyable to read - I'm not surprised that the people chose to honor it. Now, if it were to win a Nebula Award (chosen by members of SFWA), then I would be stunned...
  • While I disagree with that statement, you can get the "facts" over at WorldNetDaily:


    "Potter books: Wicked witchcraft? New documentary claims tales lead kids to the occult" [worldnetdaily.com]


    And the "documentary" video [shopnetdaily.com], of course.


    It is to giggle.


    Bob-

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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