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Gaiman's American Gods Wins Hugo 194

H.I. McDonnough writes "Neil Gaiman won this year's Hugo for his novel American Gods. A much better choice than last year. " If you are a curious, check out the review I did on it.
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Gaiman's American Gods Wins Hugo

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  • A much better choice than last year.

    Would you like some cheese with your whine?

    It amazes me how narrow-minded scifis are about what is pure and what is not.

    • by mikeplokta ( 223052 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @10:33AM (#4183800)
      Would you like some cheese with your whine?

      It amazes me how narrow-minded scifis are about what is pure and what is not.

      American Gods is no closer to being "pure" science fiction (whatever that may be) than last year's winner, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So it's possible that he just thinks it's a better book, and isn't pursuing some purist political agenda.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I remember Hugo, grew up reading his pulp magazines. Here's an article [todaysengineer.org] about him. One of my favorite magazines was Hugo's magazine Radio Electronics. Not only was Hugo a brilliant science fiction promoter, but he was also a brilliant electrical engineer involved in the development of many of the gizmos which we now take for granted.
  • Any of the Culture books by Banks are ripe for this award. I think Potter's a bathtub read not a Hugo but that's OK. I heard a NPR bit which ripped the Author a new waste disposal unit, he pointed out that she used teh term "stretched thier legs" like 5 times and that it was just poor quality writing.

    I have to say the Vernor Vinge books are wonderful and if you haven'r read them you are in for a treat.

    • I agree. Iain M Banks (as opposed to Ian Banks which is the same guy writing straight fiction) is worth a read. I personally much prefer the Culture based novels - but that's the majority of his sci-fi so not difficult to find.
      • Not that the Bridge isn't SciFi. I can see why he published it under Iain Banks. But Powell's puts it in the Gold Room and that means its SciFi to me.
    • Seconded - its a pity that he won't eaver get a booker (big Uk book award) for one of his SF novels.
  • What surprised me was how much the book felt like Gaiman's comic books, Sandman in particular. I certainly enjoyed reading it and would reccomend it, but, and this is a big but, was it worthy of the Hugo ? Well I'm kind of surprised to discover that apparently it was. Yes it was good, entertaining even thought provoking in a minor way and nice twist at the end. But then I suppose that's more than you can say for most sci-fi which is lucky to achieve one of those. Anyway, if you haven't already read it, you should.
  • I must say that Gaiman's book was fun to read, although I wouldn't call it Sci Fi. In that catagory
    I would have picked the Chronoliths, just ahead of Cosmonaut's Keep.
    • The separation between Sci-Fi, fantasy, alternate history, horror, etc. is terribly blurred. There are many, like McAffery's Pern books, that are essentially fantasy, but take time to rationalize it with science. On the other side are far-future Sci-Fi books with technology so far beyond today's that there is no attempt even to explain it, hence rendering it Clarke-style "sufficiently advanced", and magical.

      I've come to like the collective term "speculative fiction". It nicely describes the whole range.

      • I'm one of those people who really wishes it were possible to cleanly separate out Fantasy from SF, if only in bookstores and libraries. Publishers seem to know what's what, generally, and tend to label the spines accordingly, or publish them under separate imprints, but for some damn reason SF/Fantasy is one big mooshey category when it comes to shelving.

        I find it interesting that Alternate History has its own award (The Sideways Awards [uchronia.net]), and that the Libertarian Futurist Society sponsors a href="http://www.lfs.org/awards.htm">The Prometheus Awards for Libertarian SF. Doubtless there are scads more, but these, at least, are awarded alongside the Hugos. It rather feels like 1996, when every schmuck with a bookmark list felt completely justified in hacking together a crappy little gif and awarding other web sites [slashdot.org] for being cool or useful or whatnot.
      • Given the fact that the Hugos honor both science fiction AND fantasy novels, let's consider this interesting what if: J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was published in 2001 instead of 1953-1955.

        Given how amazingly well put together LoTR is, I'm sure LoTR (had it been published in 2001) would likely have garnered both Hugo and Nebula nominations--and probably would have won both awards for Best Novel this year.
    • Ugh, I hated Chronoliths ... it's been a while, so I'm not really up to explaining my reasons, but it was one of those books that started to lose me 1/2 way through and just kept getting worse, somehow.

      I'm with you on Cosmonaut's Keep, however. Ken MacLeod is one of the finest authors to emerge in a long time, imho. I note that further down the page, Locus cites MacLeod as having been awarded the Sideways Award for best short-story ("The Human Front," which I've not read).
  • There are two things I really appreciated about American Gods.

    - The old god's interaction with the current world
    - The mythos of the new "gods" of America

    I also find it interesting that some of the elder gods fall victim to the allure of "The American Dream(tm)". The promise of prosperity didn't apply to them when their followers came over here and now they are bitter. The want a piece of the pie too.
    • The old gods' interaction with the current world

      I've always thought that the fundamental conceit in American Gods, as you state above, was one that was appropriated from Douglas Adams in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. I don't have the exact quote to hand, but it was something like 'The Gods still continued to exist long after the people stopped believing in them'.

      I think that Gaiman took this good idea, half-developed it in Good Omens, and then fully fleshed it in the current Hugo winner.

      Does American Gods deserve to be a Hugo winner? Did Harry Potter? They deserved it as much as Cryponomicon deserved to be nominated in 2000.
    • Haven't read it so...

      Isn't the new gods of America what Neil Stevenson has been hammering away on in Snow Crash, Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon? The whole Athena/Coyote thing. God gives man tech. Tech makes man weaker and more dependant on tech. e.g. Instead of building Menumonics to memorize things like Homer (the poet) you just abdicate your mental powers to a computer to remember for you. The total density of information may be higher in some respects in the computer but it is still a mental crutch.

      Coyote is THE American God. He makes you think you're free by giving you Linux, PDA's and Internet Porn but he's the trickster god, so in reality it all just makes you into a fat pasty nerd who's easier to eat. Kill your computer be a Mentat or a Navagator not a technican for some god of obfuscation.

      Just goes to show that we do need the Butlerian Jihad. "Thou shat not make a machine in the image of a human mind."
  • Whether you thought American Gods was better than Goblet of Fire is irrelevant. They are are both fine books in their own right. But the important thing to remember is that they are written in very different styles and have much different target audiences.
  • Audio Format (Score:4, Informative)

    by RWarrior(fobw) ( 448405 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @10:56AM (#4183877)
    American Gods is also available on audio cassette from Harper Audio. [harperaudio.com] It runs unabridged at 20 hours in length on 14 cassettes. I do books by audio exclusively now (because of my work), and found this to be not only an excellent book, but also an excellent production.

    If you're not familiar with this book, I will make a suggestion: Make sure you get at least half way through before you decide to quit. You won't regret it.

    You can pick this up on Amazon, from your local library, or from your local audiobook store if you have one.

  • I liked "American Gods" so much that as soon as I finished it I told several friends to read it. All of them liked it as much as I did. It deserved a Hugo IMO even though it is *not* SF in the classical sense.

    - Robin
    • It deserved a Hugo IMO even though it is *not* SF in the classical sense.

      Why does it deserve the Hugo, then?

      That's a little bit like saying 'it wasn't a cat, in fact, it was a dog, but it deserved the first prize at the cat show, because it was so beautiful.'
  • with a title like that I almost want to give up science fiction. yechh...
  • Neverwhere (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:04AM (#4183911) Homepage Journal

    I enjoyed "American Gods" well enough, but I thought it was not up to the par with his earlier work, "Neverwhere."

    With the Norse pantheon and American tourist attraction motifs of "American Gods," I kept feeling like it was trying to be too serious for its airy fantasy blend of Douglas Adams' Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (the second Dirk Gently book), and LucasArt's Sam and Max Hit the Road graphical adventure game. The narrative is just disjoint enough that reading this book aloud would just lose some of the punch, I think.

    Conversely, "Neverwhere" seemed to have fanciful influences from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins, where the delusional whimsy was a cover for the sinister trappings of a far more grave underworld that is best kept out of view. The bounds of the action are easily tracked and scenes segue smoothly, making Neverwhere a great story to read aloud to an older child or a spouse.

    But that's just my opinion, and surely, both are quite palatable, and congrats to Neil Gaiman on his well-deserved accolades.

    • Re:Neverwhere (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dokta_C ( 325729 )
      If you enjoyed the Lewis Carroll influences, I'd suggest your pick up Gaimans' new book "Coraline". I'd forgotten just how terrifying buttons can be.
    • by palmech13 ( 59124 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:20AM (#4183988) Homepage
      I've been a fan of Gaiman for a few years, and can remember being excited at finding Neverwhere ("a whole novel!") a few years back. But it just wasn't that good. The whole thing felt a little flat, and while it did seem to want to be a bit like Alice in Wonderland, it just didn't come close. See Coraline for a better attempt.

      American Gods, on the other hand, was a fabulous book. Lots of Gaimanesque details and twists, but felt like it hung together much better. Anyhow, differences of opinion I suppose.

      Congrats to Gaiman. It is well deserved.
    • I, too, liked Neverwhere far better than American Gods. For starters, the latter kept reminding me of Small Gods (Pratchett).
    • I completely agree.

      Personally I think it's because London (with its 3000 years of history) provides a much more interesting canvas on which to paint...

      American gods? Cable TV and Fords. (Sorry, that was unnecessary, but you get the point)
  • voting must have been done by a bunch of philistine marketroids.

    Mieville's Perdidot Street Station [amazon.com] was a brilliantly creative and original book. sooo well written and intelligent. dark humanist tale of adventure and science in an authoritarian world.

    gaiman's book was a poorly written & unoriginal reworking of Sandman.
    • Well yes, I liked PSS better too. But this is, after all, the Hugo; it's a fan award and can be a little populist. If you want something a little more intellectual (though not always better), look at the Nebulas. I like Bujold, for example; her books are fun. But intelligent? No. Yet she's won four Hugos (3 novels, one novella).
  • One of few books that was translated and hit retail market before it was awarded with some of the prices. So we poor eastern europeans have the opportunity to know what is all about.

  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:12AM (#4183948) Homepage
    And as such are voted on by attendees of Worldcon who are bothered enough to vote. There's between 500 - 1000 votes cast (I can't find accurate figures), but the nominating ballot counts are online. This year, there was a total of 381 nominating ballots for best novel.

    We're not talking about a serious statistical sample here, folks.

    As a side note, were the Hogu and Black Hole awards presented this year?
  • by tuxedo-steve ( 33545 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:19AM (#4183976)
    Troll 1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames. (Source [tuxedo.org])

    Now, ignoring the Usenet bit, tell me the poster wasn't trolling with this:
    Neil Gaiman won this year's Hugo for his novel American Gods.
    A much better choice than last year.
    (Referring to Harry Potter).

    Slashdot editors and story submitters really need to start restraining themselves from editorialising in the story itself. That's what the comment section is for. That's what would be professional.

    This isn't intended to be a troll. Now mod me into oblivion.
    • Well, Harry Potter is a worse choice, because it is even less of a work of Science Fiction than Gaiman's book.

      I read the Sandman comics, when they were coming out. It's good work, though I think Gaiman now suffers from a little bit of 'genre literary chic' (you know, being so associated with those smarmy 'masquerade' sorts who hang out at Cons.)

      His current work isn't as good.
    • I almost ate the flame bait myself. Even if I didn't like Harry Potter, the comment is clearly antagonistic, and adds nothing to the news item itself.
  • by sputnik73 ( 579595 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:21AM (#4183996)
    While I am basically fond of American Gods, I did have a few quarrels with it. For those of you who haven't read the book, it's in the vein of the Odyssey in that you have a protagonist who is sent from one locale to another, dealing with gods and operating at their whim. The particular gods square off in two different camps - the modern gods and the old gods. The old gods are the standard mythological gods that we all know and love. The modern gods are the modern items we all need in our lives - television, the Internet, beauty, etc. My problem with it was that Gaimain seemed, at some points, to be making up rules for his world, not because they seemed like the way things would be in such a world, but because they were useful rules for him to have in order to advance the plot. In a word, some sections felt contrived. That being said, I thought the writing was superb and that not only was it an entertaining read, it also had very comedic moments. I also really enjoyed the ending [which I will not give away] but let me just say that it was a fun little twist that really wrapped things up nicely. And while I did enjoy the ending, that may have been partially responsible for my feeling that the book was a bit contrived. Oh, also look out for the inclusion of a dead woman walking the Earth. Clive Barker had a similar character in The Damnation Game and both texts do a nice job of showing just what problems someone who is dead runs into when they're not allowed to lie in the ground. All in all, it was one of the better books I've read in the previous year and would suggest you pick it up. After all, it's in paperback now and that's nearly free!
  • I don't want to start a war here, but come on, this book was horrendous! Wait, wait, put down the flame throwers, I am a huge fan of Gaiman's. Yes, I actually read Sandman when it was first hitting the streets way back when... (as a matter of fact, I do still have most of the first year and half of the comic in a long-box somewhere...) I have read and loved Smoke and Mirrors (great short stories) as well as Good Omens ( I always keep an extra copy on hand to loan out). But American Gods is drivel compared to these other works. I bought the hardback as soon as it came out, read it in a couple of days and was thoroughly dissapointed.

    What bothered me most about this novel was that Gaimen started with an amazing concept, spent three chapters reeling me in, and then it just fell flat. I was under the impression that he was more in the mood to take a road trip across america and wanted his publisher to foot the bill. He meanders for nearly three fourths of the book, only truly returning to his style for the last two or three chapters, as if he has realized "Oh shit, I need an ending"

    I will continue to buy and read just about anything he puts out. He is by far and away one of the better literary craftsmen of our times. I am completely blown away with his lyrical command of the language! But to give this book the Hugo? Surely there were others in the genre that actually fleshed out an entire plot from start to finish???

    Ok, I'm done. You can ignite the flame throwers now.
  • I finally got through it a few weeks ago and I didn't have any particulrly strong feelings for or against it but I did feel like I wanted my time back.

    I did like the story of the Norsemen interacting with the Indians (the woo woo kind, not the one's with the Bomb)
  • Magic Realism (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.ajs.com> on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:28AM (#4184024) Homepage Journal
    Magic Realism is a sub-genre of both Fantasy and Science Fiction (though its roots are more firmly in Fantasy than Science Fiction) that was fist recognized in South America, but has spread across the globe. I consider much of Gaiman's work to be in this catagory, though others might argue. Certainly American Gods is part Magic Realism, though also part traditional Fantasy.

    It's nice to see Fantasy moving forward beyond the niches in which it had languished for so long. Not that there weren't brilliant Fantasy authors or stories that broke out of the standard molds of the genre, but let's face it: science fiction has roamed far and wide from hard science speculation to space opera to the new wave SF of the 60s to the alternate histories of the 90s. Fantasy has maintained a fairly narrow range during that time, focusing mostly on European mythology in various forms (here I include purists such as Tolkein and origial mythologies such as Moorecock's) and the Horror Fantasy that was pioneered in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Poe and Lovecraft among others.

    Fantasy is now re-discovering its vast potential, and I could not be more thrilled. Authors like Ian Banks, Jonathan Lethem and others of the genre are well worth checking out. Hopefully this is only the beginning, and we'll have another three or four sub-genres of Fantasy sprouting in the coming decades!
    • Probably should thow in the cluster of urban fantasy writers such as Charles DeLint [cyberus.ca], Will Shetterly, Emma Bull and Jan Siegel.

      It Gaiman in many ways seems to be pulling into novel format a theology that seems to be at the core of a lot of British fantasy including many of the DC vertigo line which is that god exists, he is a major wanker, but fortunately he is not the only game in town. Probably the best books in this genre is the His Dark Materials [randomhouse.com] trilogy.

      And of course Ursula le Guin is still out there publishing the good stuff. One of the problems with fantasy is that for every author like le Guin who asks a different question every novel you have at least five hacks like Lackey and Salvatore.
    • I don't really see magic realism as being a 'sub-genre' of science fiction or fantasy. I'd rather see it as a development of the 60s and 70s (through the works of, for example, Calvino, Angela Carter, Marquez, and later, Rushdie) experiments in novel writing. It developed out of a need to push the boundaries of the traditional realist novel, whilst at the same time providing social commentary - many of the books' social backdrop is in developing world countries, or concerns characters that are underprivileged.

      I agree that there are shared tropes between magic realism and science fiction. However, there are big differences as well. A magic realist novel will be pretty much grounded in this world (hence realist), but have some slight quirks of fantasy or otherworldliness (hence magic). With fantasy and science fiction, the world being presented is often an extrapolation of the real world, or a parallel one with significant differences.
      • Re:Magic Realism (Score:4, Interesting)

        by darkPHi3er ( 215047 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:44PM (#4184398) Homepage
        "I don't really see magic realism as being a 'sub-genre' of science fiction or fantasy. I'd rather see it as a development of the 60s and 70s (through the works of, for example, Calvino, Angela Carter, Marquez, and later, Rushdie) experiments in novel writing."

        exactly, if you want to go back to James Joyce's "Ulysses" and "The Dubliners", 20th century author's have been struggling with ways to mix metaphorical "alternate realities" to so-called "mainstream" writing.

        i think there is a fairly direct link from Joyce to Gaiman, and it passes the writers you mention, with Rushdie and Marquez (if you haven't read "100 Years of Solitude", you missing out on a great (if really twisted) book) being the best commercially known.

        But, there is also much of this literary approach present, in the Sci-Fi genre, in both the "Dr. Who" series and Doug Adams' "Hitchhiker" series.

        You could also make a pretty good case for ELEMENTS of this approach in Heinlein's last few (post-stroke) books; "Friday", "Number of the Beast" and "Cat Who Walked through Walls", as alternative realities abound.

        And some of Harlan's short stories like "Repent Harlequin, Said the Tick-Tock Man" (the story ROCKS, BTW), mix reality and fantasy, though are more psychological in approach.

        I liked "Neverwhere" and found "American Gods" oddly affecting, but Mr. Gaiman's "Neverwhere" seemed to another of the mixture of the "LOTR, D&D, Snakes & Ladders RPG" type of writing that's been leaking out of Britain/Europe for the last 20 years.

        LeGuin does it as well as anybody, "Dispossessed" is a fabulous book, and the gender-bending shows a pretty "alternate" approach to S/F in and of itself. And it was published in 1975.

        • "Dispossessed" is a fabulous book, and the gender-bending shows a pretty "alternate" approach to S/F in and of itself. And it was published in 1975.

          Are you thinking of The Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness?

          • Are you thinking of The Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness?

            I'd certainly place The Dispossessed in a dual hard-sf/new-wave slot. Hard SF in that it adheres to scientific possibility pretty well, with no 'fuzzy' science like telepathy or super-advanced technology inserted solely for wiz-bang coolness. And of course New Wave for its exploration of an entire world. However, I saw no fantasy elements, so I'd bet that he's thinking of either The Left Hand of Darkness or The Lathe of Heaven. I haven't read either (largely because The Dispossessed took so much effort to slog through: I respect the ideas in the book, but the book was way dry for my taste), but I'm familiar with the basic premise of The Lathe of Heaven and it would seem to fit with the concept of a magical realism, where there are elements (telepathy, magic, precognition, etc) which violate known scientific law, but which is treated according to rational, self-consistent rules within the universe in question. I think today's audience kinda expects some of that. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer treats magic and the supernatural as adhering to rules which can be understood, even though they are somewhat mystical.
        • Magic Realism isn't so much about alternate realities as looking at the mundane in a fantastic way, or telling realistic stories with fantastic elements.

          Here are a couple of referneces:

          You can also find more references on google [google.com].

          I'm a huge fan of this genre as it begins to evolve into the mainstream. It's allowing many authors who have been struggling for credibility in the F&SF genres to start to get some real notice for their extraordinary talents (not to mention producing stores like "American Gods" and "Gun With Occasional Music").

    • Oh, so?
      To me it seems, to the contrary, that just as in the '50s much that purported to be SF was actually just a warmed over adventure novel, with a bit of fancy stage setting, during the period since the '70s it's been mainly fantasy, with a bit of stage setting. and during the '60s it was a time of transition.

      Genuine Science Fiction has always been rare, and never a pure medium. Even such classics as "Mission of Gravity" or "MacroLife", or anything by Forward are a combination of Science Fiction with something else (usually adventure). Exception might be made for "Ralph 124C41+", but that's really in combination with a travelogue, and is pretty boring, too (but short!).

      This says something about the nature of Science Fiction (i.e., it's a better spice than a meal), but it also claims that Fantasy has been the dominant element in what is called Science Fiction for decades. You can point to individual books, both good and bad, that are heavy in Science Fiction, but they are but a small percentage of what gets called science fiction. Consider, e.g., Heinlein. What science fiction did he write? Perhaps the Future history series (up through Time Enough for Love). I can't think of a justification for including The Number of the Beast, or anything, except Friday, that he wrote later. Frank Herbert was clearly working more with mythology than with sociology, and his ecology was all hand waving, inspirational as it might have been. etc,
      • in the '50s much that purported to be SF was actually just a warmed over adventure novel, with a bit of fancy stage setting

        Oh, I have to disagree!

        • Alfred Bester:
          The Demolished Man, 1953
          The Stars My Destination, 1956
        • Arthur C. Clarke:
          Childhood's End, 1953
        • Isaac Asimov:
          I, Robot, 1950
        These are just some examples off the top of my head (and with a quick google search to confirm dates). The 1950s were the dawn of the era of SF inspired by advances in engineering, rocketry, nuclear engineering and the philosophical changes taking place, mostly in the US, though SF was present and even strong in many other countries.

        Sure, there were a lot of Robert Heinlein juveniles and the like, but that too was an SF reaction to the powerful ideas of space exploration, computing devices and other influences of the day.

  • by Tiburana ( 162897 ) <tiburana@@@yahoo...com> on Monday September 02, 2002 @11:34AM (#4184062) Homepage
    I think the Hugos have simply an unstated expansion of the definition to include some fantasy. After all, the winner for Dramatic Presentation was Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'.

    I am very happy with American gods as their choice. I think Gaiman's writing is lush and well-crafted. While American Gods may thematically reflect the flavor of the Sandman comics/graphic novels as a book it gave Gaiman the space to explore the themes with a lot more depth. Despite having a signature darkness his writing has shown a great range from Stardust to Neverwhere to Smoke and Mirrors and even his children's books. I am glad that he is receving some of the critical acclaim that is his due.

    • From the [worldcon.org]
      constitution of the WSFS:

      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.

      Admittedly, prior to Harry Potter the winning novel has never been fantasy (Lord of Light and To Your Scattered Bodies Go are probably the closest, and few people would characterize those as anything other than SF). But fantasy often wins in the short fiction catagories.

  • A much better choice than last year [Harry Potter].

    Yes, because we know that anything that is popular is automatically bad. And of course we know that anything obscure and unread by the masses is automatically better.

    I will never, ever, understand why certain people must hate anything that a lot of other people happen to like (see also: movies, Titanic).

    • I will never, ever, understand why certain people must hate anything that a lot of other people happen to like (see also: movies, Titanic).
      Man, I was with you all the way till you got to that parenthesis...
      • Take a look at the rating breakdown of Titanic [imdb.com] at IMDB. Now, it may not be your favorite movie, but if someone is scoring it lower than, say, a 3 (much less the 10.7% that scored it a ONE), then we know that it's just popularity backlash.

        Personally, I thought it was a great movie. Not the best movie of all time (the dialogue WAS a little clunky in places), but it is certainly among the greatest disaster sequences ever filmed.

      • I think the thing that most people were really annoyed with about Titanic was its status as a pop culture phenomenon, not the movie itself. It was a good movie. A little didactic in a place or two, dialogue missing something in a few places, but I really quite enjoyed seeing it once I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a little bit thinking about the human tragedy of the actual event while watching the film, thought about hubris, and was glad to be on dry land in the middle of a Southwestern US desert.

        However, it was terribly annoying to have to put up with that Celine Dion song over and over and the people who saw it 10 times and insisted it was the greatest film ever made and a turning point in their lives.

        I think most reactive iconoclasms are that way. It's not so much the thing that's popular itself. It's the utter ridiculous prominence on the landscape that's hard to put up with.

        Of course, then there are things like Brittney Spears and O-town, for which there are no excuse...

    • Re:Sheesh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalidasa ( 577403 )

      Yes, because we know that anything that is popular is automatically bad. And of course we know that anything obscure and unread by the masses is automatically better.

      You really think American Gods is obscure and unread by the masses? Sorry, but unread and obscure books don't get on the New York Times Bestseller List.

      I will never, ever, understand why certain people must hate anything that a lot of other people happen to like (see also: movies, Titanic).

      Titanic is a bad movie, period. Has nothing to do with its popularity. Most of the people who liked it have very underdeveloped taste. Star Wars was a good movie, and it was quite popular. Apocalypse Now was a great movie, and it was popular. So was the Godfather. So was Schindler's List.

      Let's see: which is better, Power Rangers or Dune? I'd gather that Power Rangers is a lot more widely known. . .

      • Let's see: which is better, Power Rangers or Dune? I'd gather that Power Rangers is a lot more widely known. . .

        Well, if Power Rangers is a movie, it's probably better than the movie made of Dune.
        • Well, if Power Rangers is a movie, it's probably better than the movie made of Dune.

          Make that "better than both movies made of Dune." Not quite, but close enough to make it funny.

  • Sheesh. The one Gaiman book I don't fly through right away turns out to be one of the best.
  • by bons ( 119581 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:11PM (#4184214) Homepage Journal
    If you don't like the results, go to the Worldcon [worldcon.org] and vote [worldcon.org]. It's not that hard. Preregister in advance to save the money, find some friends, get a hotel room, and have a good time.

    Some people take their fun way too seriously. The hugos are a classic example of this. It's just a vote by a group of geeks attenting a yearly international party. Your local mayor probably gets more voter turnout in the local election.

    See you at Torcon [torcon3.on.ca].

  • Good news, bad news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adso ( 469590 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:14PM (#4184233)
    The good news is that an amazing book won the award, the bad news is that it beat out another amazing book: China Mieville's Perdido Street Station.
    This is the first time in years where some books I have read have showed up as nominations ( I read Chronoliths as well, but it was so-so). American Gods and Perdido St. represent (to me) the best things to come out of the SCI-Fi genre in a long, long time.
    My love for these books aside, I think the arguements over whether these books are actually Canonical Science Fiction are ridiculous. The genre will stagnate (if it hasn't already) if authors are limited to space operas or extrapolating the latest sci-tech flavor (hmmm, I got it, nanopunk! or how about genomepunk?). Neal Stephenson has moved beyond the genre for the most part, and his books keep getting better. Gaiman and Mieville's work are obviously pushing the boundaries of what is or is not science fiction and this is something to be embraced.
    As a bonus, both of these books have covers that are actually interesting (Perdido more so that AG). It's nice to be able to read a book in public which doesn't have a cover that looked like someone moonlighting from Harlequin Romances designed it.
  • I read American Gods on the advice of a friend and I was kind of disappointed.

    Personally, I thought the story was great and interesting, but that the writing was horrible. It's been a while since I've read it, unfortunately, but I recall thinking several times that it felt like it was written by a sixth-grader. I thought it distracted quite a bit from the actual story.

    Apart from that qualm, though, it was an interesting read. Unfortunately, it hasn't convinced me to read anything else he's written and I can't see myself being compelled to in the future.
  • Other awards (Score:4, Informative)

    by vandemar ( 82106 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:40PM (#4184373)
    This book is just racking up the awards. It has been nominated for the most prestigious award of each major genre. This may be the first time in history that something like this has happened (too lazy to verify it myself though). Check it out:

    In horror: Bram Stoker Award [horror.org] (winner)
    In fantasy: World Fantasy Award [sfsite.com] (nominated, the winner has not been decided yet)
    In sci-fi: Hugo Award (winner)

    Look at the tons of other awards in Neil Gaiman's collection [neilgaiman.com].

  • I'm glad Mr Gaiman is finally getting the plaudits he deserves. This book wasn't even his best work (although its far better than most other writers have managed recently). Here's hoing that Coraline gets some sort of recognition. It's by far the best children's book since way before Harry Potter was plagiarised from The Worst Witch and others.
  • by Concertina ( 183807 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:51PM (#4184441)
    The competition for the Hugo award this year was truly intense. Kudos to China Mieville and Lois McMaster Bujold as well for their excellent works.

    From Neil's weblog today:
    (Memo to self: even if you don't think you're going to win, write a speech. Otherwise you will wind up on the stage in front of several thousand people, finishing an impromptu speech with "Fuck, I got a Hugo.")

    Fortunately, we mere mortals aren't plauged by such concerns.
  • ...who would have thought that so much posting and controversy would be stirred up by this! For the record:

    1) I liked American Gods very much when I read it and even felt it was a sort of commentary about current american values. 'Course, I love everything Gaiman has ever written including Sandman, Neverwhere, Good Omens, and so forth.

    2) I thoroughly enjoyed Goblet of Fire and all of the other Harry Potter books. They are mere mind candy (not difficult reading) and enjoyable for what they are.

    3) Should a Harry Potter book have recieved the Hugo? Well it is good writing for what it is. But in the rampant discussion concerning what is fantasy and what is sci-fi, there are many grey lines. That being said, I believe that Harry Potter is purely fantasy. And if the Hugo is a sci-fi award, then it shouldn't have been awarded to Goblet of Fire. Gaiman's works tend to fall in the grey area and are even similar to the "urban fantasy" works of Charles DeLint. I don't think that I would give DeLint an award in the sci-fi category (even though I really love his stuff and recommend it to everyone) but surely in the fantasy realm. Maybe American Gods should be in that realm too. Then again, I really like Gaiman's work, and since it is in that grey area (an area that theoretical physics is in as well) I'd just as soon not argue at length as to whether it deserves the Hugo or not. Let's just say that I'm glad it got an award.

    4) Finally, there are way too many posts under the "Narrow Minded Bigot" subject that are just way off-topic but have been modded up for being "insightful" or similar. People debating what is christian/pagan etc. (though very politely in general, thank-you) is not on the topic of this years and last years Hugo award winner.

    Optimist: The glass is half full
    Pessimist: The glass is half empty
    Doofus: The glass is half full, no, wait, empty, ummm what was the question?
    Realist: Hey, I ordered a cheeseburger!
    • What got a lot of people about the Harry Potter series is that they appealed on an almost unique level to children. It had children actually wanting to read rather than play video games or whatever. Everyone who likes books, looks with alarm at falling literacy rates. The author, J.K. Rowling, did everyone a service by making reading enjoyable for so many kids.

      This is special that it goes beyond the myriads of children's book awards that she had already one and why she also wins in adult categories.

  • Thought this was funny! From his journal:

    Several hundred congratulatory e-mails came in today. My favourite so far, from my son Mike, just said Well, it is always weird to wake up and read your family news at the top of slashdot, but I suppose I'll get used to it at some point. Congratulations Dad!

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva