My picks for this year's Hugo Awards continue with the Best Novel category. My vote for Best Novel, and my suggestion to others, is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.
The novel is one of the best SF stories I've read in years and a perfect rejuvenation of the space opera subgenre, which has long needed a strong reset. Ancillary Justice is also wondrously well-written, and presents a fresh look at both human culture and gender issues. Leckie has expertly crafted an exciting glimpse into humanity's potential instead of dwelling in the continual nostalgia which haunts so much of genre literature. For all of these reasons, this novel should win the Hugo Award.
When I recommended Interzone the other day for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine, I mentioned that the other finalists for the award also deserved being on the final ballot. I can't say the same for the novel category.
First off is the 800 pound doorstop, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Due to a quirk in the Hugo rules, all 14 novels in the series were allowed on the ballot. I have never been a fan of this series because it simply rehashes every previous epic fantasy novel in existence into a nearly endless series. Since the series is so popular with readers there's a good chance it will win, but this doesn't change the fact that The Wheel of Time doesn't deserve being on the ballot or winning.
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross is a follow-up to his previous novel Saturn’s Children, set in a universe where humanity's androids have outlived humans. It's a good novel but not as good as Saturn’s Children. Parasite by Mira Grant is another good novel but doesn't reach the power of Ancillary Justice. While both of these novels are well worth reading, they simply are beaten in this category by Ann Leckie's novel.
The final novel on the ballot is Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia, who waged a vote campaign on behalf of himself and others to become a Hugo finalist. I knew very little about Correia and his writing prior to his campaign. Putting aside his in-your-face political screaming and desire to promote one of the worst haters in the SF/F genre, I tried reading Warbound but found it to be simply cranked out and predictable, one of the numerous genre novels which are read for a while then forgotten. While I can't say if this novel is typical of his writing, if you're going to urge people to vote for a book make damn sure they vote for a good one.
So again, the clear choice for the Hugo Award for Best Novel is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.
As a final note, it is irritating that Orbit only included samples of Ancillary Justice, Neptune's Brood and Parasite in the Hugo voting packet. But I urge voters not to hold this against the authors or their books.