Ack! Five Weeks Until Hugo Nomination Deadline

So, I woke up this morning to find an e-mail from my wonderful girlfriend, telling me that she had purchased me an attending membership at the Worldcon as my birthday present.  Apart from this being a delightul surprise, it has also introduced a bit of worry into my life.

As an attending member, I get to nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards.  Every year, I’m always interested to see the winners, and often check out the winners or finalists after they’ve been announced.  This year, however, I get to come at things from the other direction.

This is a problem because, if you’ve been following my reading summaries, you’ll note that I’ve been looking at a lot of older works.  I can only nominate stuff from 2008.  And while I have a number of books published in 2008, I haven’t read any of them yet.

This brings me to my plan: to read as many of the 2008 science fiction and fantasy books, novellas, short stories, and whatnot that I can in the next five weeks, so as to make informed Hugo nominations.  Once the finalists are announced, I’ll try to read all of them, as well, before final voting.

Don’t be surprised if you get a flurry of reading summaries in the coming weeks.  And if any of you readers have read standout science fiction or fantasy books (or short stories, novelettes, novellas, etc.) published in 2008, let me know about them in the comments, so that I can check them out, too.

Reading Summary: Miles, Mystery & Mayhem

In a previous summary, I mentioned that after finishing Lois McMaster Bujold’s Young Miles, I kept going into the next omnibus, Miles, Mystery & Mayhem.  I finished that one before the holidays, but didn’t get around to writing about it.  That oversight is to be rectified… RIGHT NOW!

Miles, Mystery & Mayhem consists of two novels, Cetaganda and Ethan of Athos, and the novella “Labyrinth”.  Cetaganda continues the story of Miles, taking him into the heart of an enemy empire while under cover as a diplomatic aide.  Machinations within the Cetagandan empire try to set Miles up as a patsy, but they hadn’t recokoned on their mark being Miles.  Naturally, wackiness ensues as the inordinately complex plot is unraveled by Miles.  A highly entertaining story is the result.

The next book, Ethan of Athos, did not grab my attention so quickly, as it was not about Miles.  It introdues a world, Athos, populated solely by men, and the problem they face: the ovaries they use to reproduce are running out, and the new batch they ordered is full of duds.  Ethan is volunteered to go personally to find more, and finds himself adrift in a space station amid cultures he is totally unprepared to deal with.  He gets into trouble pretty quickly, only to find himself rescued by Elli Quinn, a Dendarii mercenary on a secret mission from Miles Vorkosigan (in his role of Admiral Naismith).

As I’ve mentioned, it didn’t grab me so quickly as the Miles books, and so I actually stopped a couple of chapters in.  I picked it up again, after a while, and after a few more chapters, when the mysteries became apparent and the plot got rolling, it was nearly as not-put-downable as the Miles novels.  Bujold, apparently, knows how to write.

The novella “Labyrinth” rounds out the book; it once again features Miles getting into trouble, and getting out of it in a most unconventional way.  The premise for this one seems a little silly, but still, Bujold spins an entertaining tale in Vorkosigan’s universe.

Perhaps I should try one of her fantasy novels….