The 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards have been announced, and the top five titles in the fantasy, SF, and paranormal fantasy categories may give us some hints as to the likely contenders for the 2010 best novel Hugo.
A crowded fantasy field showed a pretty close race. The top five, out of 4711* votes cast:
- Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, 451
- The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman, 426
- Kraken by China Miéville, 386
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, 363
- The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, 353
Sanderson clearly has a lot of fans, and I wonder whether their votes ended up split because he had two strong books in the running. I hadn’t even heard of the Hoffman, perhaps because it was marketed as YA (so I don’t know why it’s in the fantasy category rather than the YA category). Splitting “paranormal fantasy” off into its own category seems to have taken a lot of the female authors out of the fantasy-qua-fantasy running; kudos to Jemisin for bucking that trend. This also probably settles the question of which of Jemisin’s two 2010 novels will get award consideration, which is almost a shame, since I thought The Broken Kingdoms was even better than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Nice to see Jemisin
and Miéville breaking the color barrier, too.
SF (3764 votes cast) was much more clear-cut:
- Feed by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), 592
- Blackout by Connie Willis, 345
- Dreadnought by Cherie Priest, 310
- Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Backlash by Aaron Allston, 309
- Killbox by Ann Aguirre, 276
This win for Feed, with nearly double the votes of the runner-up, is pretty tremendous, and I hope it boosts McGuire’s Hugo chances. (When’s the last time a mass market original won a Hugo?) Willis may have suffered for having Blackout considered on its own, without All Clear. Once again, Priest’s steampunk alternate history novels are classified as SF; can anyone explain this to me? Tie-in novels get a really undeserved bad rap, even though some terrific writers work on them–for just one example, if Eric Nylund, Greg Bear, and Tobias Buckell wrote an all-original SF series together, it would be praised to the skies, but since they’re writing spin-offs of Halo, their work goes practically unnoticed–and it’s great to see Allston making a showing here. Aguirre’s space opera is likewise often overlooked, perhaps because of its paranormal-ish covers. And on the gender front, Allston is actually the outlier! When’s the last time you saw an SF award where four out of the top five were written by women? It is an all-white crowd, though.
Then there’s paranormal fantasy, which got 7190 votes or nearly as many as SF and fantasy combined:
- Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris, 1506
- Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs, 707
- Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews, 646
- Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, 630
- Changes by Jim Butcher, 574
Urban fantasy is the spec fic world’s version of box-office smash hits that don’t have a prayer of winning an Oscar. Each of these books got more votes than any of the SF or fantasy titles except for Feed. (McGuire’s 2010 urban fantasy title, An Artificial Night, placed 12th in the paranormal fantasy category.) The sixth-place title is Richelle Mead’s Succubus Shadows, which got 441 write-in votes. If any of them makes it to the final Hugo ballot, I’ll eat my nonexistent hat. The most plausible candidate for a Hugo pin is probably Butcher; I think the Hugo-voting crowd is far more likely to read him than Harris, Briggs, or Andrews. Something about those icky girl cooties.
I do think there are some Hugo hints here overall, though. My best guess at the shortlist: Feed, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Blackout, Dreadnought, Kraken. And McGuire may well find herself trading in her Campbell tiara for a rocket.
* If you saw “4711″ and immediately thought of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, give yourself a nerd cookie.