2015 Locus Recommended Reading List Appears

The highly influential Locus Recommended Reading List has been posted by Locus Online.

The 2014 list is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers with some input by others —

Liza Groen Trombi, Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, Faren Miller, Russell Letson, Graham Sleight, Adrienne Martini, Carolyn Cushman, Tim Pratt, Karen Burnham, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Paul Kincaid, and others — with inputs from outside reviewers, other professional critics, other lists, etc. Short fiction selections are based on material from Jonathan Strahan, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, Lois Tilton, Ellen Datlow, Alisa Krasnostein, and Paula Guran with some assistance from Karen Burnham, Nisi Shawl, and Mark Kelly.

On the list are —

  • 28 SF novels, 22 fantasy novels, 18 YA books, 11 first novels;
  • 14 collections, 12 original anthologies, 11 reprint anthologies;
  • 12 nonfiction books, 13 art books;
  • 16 novellas
  • 53 novelettes
  • 58 short stories

The list is always a focal point of discussion during awards season. This year it may also provide ammunition for the Sad Puppies 3 campaign because despite its breadth it contains a grand total of zero works written by —

  • Larry Correia
  • Brad Torgersen
  • John C. Wright
  • Vox Day
  • Sarah Hoyt
  • Dan Wells

— five writers who were on last year’s Sad Puppies slate, and a sixth, John C. Wright, who has been constantly mentioned as a writer they will endorse in 2015. Four members of last year’s slate, Correia, Torgersen, Day and Wells, made the 2014 Hugo ballot (though none was on last year’s Locus list, either).

Oh, and the current Locus list also contains absolutely zero works published by Baen Books.

29 thoughts on “2015 Locus Recommended Reading List Appears

  1. The lack of Wright is the most egregious, by far. Publisher’s Weekly tagged him several years ago as possibly one of the more important voices in SF, and you can’t possibly deny that he has fully lived up to the promise. His works this year have been absolutely masterful.

    But, yes, you are absolutely correct: Sad Puppies has simply been proven correct in its assessment of the Hugo problem.

  2. The Wright omission was the tipping point for me writing this post because Paul DiFilippo favorably reviewed his latest novel at Locus Online. DiFilippo was enthusiastic enough you’d have to wonder why Locus didn’t consider it one of the 50 best novels of last year.

  3. If anyone hasn’t read them, you really, really, really may want to do so. Awake in the Night Land is epic in scope, thrilling in execution – and the sort of thing that not only belongs on the list today…but would have had no problem joining Dune and Witchworld and Cat’s Cradle for quality and importance back when the Hugos were first getting off the ground.

    The oversight by Locus is simply damning. There is no way they were unaware of a Campbell finalist, whom they have profiled, who just happened to publish a book that should be on a few all time Top 100 lists this year. It is kind of like forgetting to include Flannery O’Connor from a list of good Southern writers…you just can’t do it and maintain your credibility.

    I wonder how many authors have won Hugos for works published at Black Gate Magazine. I don’t know the answer, but if that magazine, during its run, was shut out, that would be another indicator that the voters really have no idea how to select for greatness.

  4. xdpaul, all the stories in AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND were previously published between 2004 and 2008.

    It’s also possible AITNL got less regard because Wright is sharecropping in a world created by William Hope Hodgson. That, perhaps unfairly, tends to make people assume it won’t be as good as the original.

    And in Hodgson’s case, that’s a big mark against it. I understand there are fans of Hodgson’s THE NIGHT LAND, but I’ve never been able to understand why. When I tried to read it about forty years ago, the pacing was slow, the prose so interminably turgid and overwritten, that I gave up on the book about a third of the way through, and have considered it ever since as one of those few books I’d categorize as “spectacularly awful”.

    I downloaded a copy of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND when it had a “free” promotional offer a while back, curious to see if someone could actually make Hodgson’s world interesting and readable. Haven’t gotten to it yet, but your comment here moves it higher on my TBR list.

  5. I’m cool with it. Paul gave me a great review. Which was welcome. As one of the rare Nebula-Hugo-Campbell nominees in the field’s history, I especially appreciated the flattering Longyear comparison.

    I have little doubt Sad Puppies played at least some factor in our names not appearing on the new Locus recommended list. Then again, Locus’s list is not the only list.

    That’s the nice thing about the SF/F consumer market being big. No single group nor exclusive collection of people get to say what’s “noteworthy” anymore. If they ever did?


  6. “It’s also possible AITNL got less regard because Wright is sharecropping in a world created by William Hope Hodgson. That, perhaps unfairly, tends to make people assume it won’t be as good as the original.”

    That may be one of the excuses they use, but Scalzi’s highly SJW-acclaimed Heinlein ripoff (Old Man’s War) and fan fiction (Red Shirts) would seem to put the lie to that propaganda.

  7. To paraphrase Monty Python,mere foaming at the mouth is not an argument.

    And since when is emulating Heinlein a bad thing?

  8. Not only that, but Old Man’s War was self-published in 2002, and won the Hugo a few years later, so eligibility on those grounds has already been established. Old Man’s War is why The Martian should be eligible. I could be wrong, but I believe Dune was published as a novella first in a magazine a year or two before it was eligible as a book. So, although there may be something on paper in the guidelines, it is clear that partially published or previously self-published works don’t disqualify themselves from later Hugo consideration.

    I could be wrong on any of the above: I’m speaking from vague memory.

  9. A work that has been substantially changed — especially when a great deal of wordage was added — is eligible as a new work. For example, “Flowers for Algernon” won the short fiction Hugo category in 1960, and was nominated as a novel in 1967. Dune was up for the novel Hugo in 1964 after its serialization, and an augmented version of the novel won the Hugo in 1966.

    You’re certainly right that the Hugo has never placed any restriction on self-published works; neither the publisher nor the medium by which the text was distributed should enter into it one way or another. Was there a substantial difference between the earlier and later versions of Old Man’s War? I’m not going through Whatever with a fine-tooth comb for the answer, but this summary written on the 10th anniversary of that 2002 publication, while informative about its publication history, doesn’t answer the question before us as to whether the Tor version was much different.

  10. Old Man’s War was not fundamentally different from the self-published version and the Tor version – again, I believe – I don’t remember much difference, but that was a long time ago, and I only read part off OMW before it went offline for publication.

    My bigger point is that the Martian should not be disqualified – as many have suggested (elsewhere, not here) – because it was self-published first. That should not make a difference.

  11. But you’re aware that it DOES make a difference under the eligibility rules, yes? Fiction is eligible in the year in which it is published. There is no condition laid upon the quantity of copies or the medium of distribution.

  12. OMW was simply posted to a website, which is a rather different case from The Martian, which was offered for sale as an ebook.

    However, I don’t know if that makes any difference under the rules. It may be that OMW was accepted simply because the administrator was unaware of its history. But the fact that something is wrongly admitted in one year should not mean that other things have to be wrongly admitted from then on.

  13. I think listing first novels as a category is a bad idea. It makes people underestimate those novels. Last year, Ancillary Justice was a first novel and it won the best novel award. This year, A Darkling Sea is a strong contender and also a first novel.

  14. I think its a measure of how far Locus has drifted off the main line of SF/F that I recognize not one single name on that list of theirs, whereas I have paid money for the work of -all- the artists on the Sad Puppies list.

    If the SF/F publishers and critics etc. want to stay in business at all, I think this practice of stuffing the awards ballots with obscure authors of outre works and ignoring the popular ones needs to change.

    But hey, if Locus wants to become an unpaid hobby blog, who am I to stand in their way?

  15. Mike, then I don’t understand why OMW was eligible, I guess. The whole book was published years before the year it was deemed eligible. If the Martian is correctly ineligible, then OMW needs to have its nomination cleared off the records.

    Either that, or the OMW precedent should alter the rule. I happen to think it is a silly rule: there’s clearly a lag that occurs for self-published works that tends to affect its ascent into the popular culture, and to say The Martian couldn’t win in the year that it rose to prominence is to say that most self-published works can’t win at all.

  16. “I think its a measure of how far Locus has drifted off the main line of SF/F that I recognize not one single name on that list of theirs”

    You don’t recognize William Gibson, Greg Bear, Steven Brust, John Varley, Steven Baxter, etc.? Sure you read any science fiction since 1975?

  17. You can’t rescind a Hugo Award after it was awarded even if a mistake in eligibility is noticed after the fact. There are a number of cases in Hugo Award history when administrators made mistakes, including one I know of where someone should have made the ballot except that the administrator didn’t realize that all of the variant names of the work were actually the same work, so the votes were split up to the point where none of the variations had enough nominations to make the shortlist.

    Saying “posting it on my web site shouldn’t count” is as foolish as insisting that e-publication _never_ makes a work eligible. (You can’t have it both ways; either e-publication starts the clock or it doesn’t.)

    We’re better now at checking to see if there was a prior version published than we once were, but there are no guarantees. Administrators are only human and aren’t omnipotent. Also, there is a mechanism for “limited circulation” works to get another chance, albeit that no work that’s ever gotten a specific exemption has ever made the shortlist, let alone win.

  18. XDPaul: If self-publication creates such a lag time, then how is it that a self-published work made the ballot in one of the “story” categories last year?

    Although precedents are important, sometimes administrators make mistakes, and subsequent administrators figure out that they should ignore past precedents because of those mistakes. This is similar to the US Supreme Court overturning one of its own past decisions.

  19. BC: “That may be one of the excuses they use”

    Is that a specific “they” or the general-purpose “they” who are responsible for everything?

    The point of my comment above was that there’s a longstanding prejudice, often unstated and even unconscious, against nominating tie-ins or sequels-by-other-hands for Hugos or other awards, even if the tie-in’s work is outstanding for its own merits. (I’ve heard it said of several Star Trek tie-in novels that they should have won or at least been nominated for Hugos; Diana Duane, John M. Ford, and Melinda Snodgrass come to mind as authors of such.)

    To my perception, that prejudice is the most cogent and strongest reason why Wright’s, or anyone else’s similar tie-in, would be left off a recommended reading list. Ascribing it to personal or political dislike on the part of the recommenders looks a bit foolish, in my opinion.

    The only “tie-in” (homage, pastiche, there are a lot terms that make a tight distinction difficult) that’s won an award, as best I can recall (Standlee might correct me if I’m in error), was Gaiman’s “A Study In Emerald”, a mash-up of Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulu Mythos.

  20. By the way, while the Hugos proper do not have any rules requiring professional publication, the Campbell does. Hence I would suggest (though I would welcome an opinion from those more knowledgeable than me) that even if The Martian is not eligible for the Hugo, its author is/i> eligible for the Campbell.

  21. I read THE NIGHT LAND years ago to write a review. I thought it was very bad. It still is bad. Someone ought to translate it into English.

    So a number of stories set in the world of a really bad book doesn’t get me raise any interest. It’s like fan fiction for MY MOTHER THE CAR. Can’t get me to read that either.

  22. Just to correct something said above, Old Man’s War was nominated for Hugo, but it lost the award to Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin.

  23. xdpaul: “… or the OMW precedent should alter the rule”. Each Worldcon administers the Hugos, to the best of its ability, according to the then-current rules in the WSFS Constitution. Changing the rules is fairly straightforward. Any member of the current Worldcon can propose constitutional amendments to the WSFS business meeting.
    You’re welcome to join Sasquan (if you’re not already a member), and attend the business meetings. If you can convince enough of the other business meetings that the rule should be changed, the amdendment wil pass, and then if it gets ratified by the business meeting of the following Worldcon (which will be in Kansas City in 2016), the change will take effect.

  24. xdpaul: You must attend the Business Meeting in person to participate. It’s never been _formally_ streamed online. (I did a sort of pirate stream of the meeting in Australia just to confirm that my camera was working, but I basically didn’t tell anyone I was doing it until we were live.) Even if the meeting is presented online so you can watch it, you cannot participate remotely; that is, you can’t debate or vote.

    Members not attending the meeting (including supporting members) can submit proposals even if they’re not present; however, since they’re not physically present, they can’t debate or vote on their own proposals.

    Proxy voting of any sort is not allowed. It’s a general principle of parliamentary law that proxies are never permitted unless explicitly authorized by the governing document.

    There is a proposal (I wrote it and will be debating it this year) that if ratified this year will subject future proposals to both the initial year and second year of in-person votes, but also a third year, where anything that survives two business meeting is subjected to an up-or-down vote of all of the members of the third year’s Worldcon (including those not attending) for final ratification.

Comments are closed.