Welcome to the Hugo Retrospectives

Welcome to the Hugo Retrospectives. This is going to be a series of monthly reviews and discussions focusing on the winners of the Hugo Award for Best Novel starting with the first recipient way back in 1953 and following on with each winner in turn up to the present day. The plan is to gradually build up a modern look at past winners with a view to identifying what made them award-worthy in the first place, and how they’d fare against today’s genre releases.

But what exactly are the Hugo Awards?

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Ten of the Best: 2019

It’s been a ridiculously good year for fantasy and science fiction books this year, with a lot of seriously deserving titles hitting the shelves. According to my Goodreads stats I’ve managed to pour twenty-three of those books into my eyes over the course of the last twelve months, and in most cases I’ve enjoyed them enough to award them four or more stars. There have been a couple of not-so-great titles, but they really are the exceptions for me this year, which means either I’m very easily pleased by the written word, or the quality of new genre fiction is improving. Personally I’m inclined to say it’s a bit of both.

Anyway, of the twenty-some new titles I’ve read this year, here are my ten favourites, in no particular order.

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Book Review: Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with an advanced reading copy of the UK edition of this book by the publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review. My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for giving me this opportunity.

Maggie Hoskie is a DinĂ© (Navajo) hunter in a post-apocalyptic world, gifted with hereditary clan powers that give her an edge over the monsters she hunts. Brought out of self-imposed exile by a group of locals being terrorised by a new type of monster, she soon finds herself chasing after the witch who is apparently creating these monsters. Along the way she picks up the help of Kai, a young man with big medicine, and Ma’ii, the Coyote of DinĂ© legend. But as Maggie soon begins to learn, nothing is truly what it seems in what’s left of the world after the destruction wrought by the Big Water.

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Book Review: Made Things

Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s fair to say that Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite contemporary authors. I’ve only read a handful of his works to date but every one of them has been excellent in its own way and the more I read the more eager I become for his next book. Made Things is no exception.

It’s an absolutely delightful novella that follows the trials and tribulations of puppeteer Coppelia as she finds herself getting pulled into the machinations of the local thieves guild and their ongoing struggles against the Magelords of Loretz. Tagging along for the ride are two of Coppelia’s little friends, Tef and Arc, mysterious homunculi who are themselves fighting to find a place in a world that’s much larger than they could ever imagine.

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Book Review: The Almanack

The Almanack by Martine Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced reader copy of this title from the publishers and NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review. Many thanks to Black Thorn Books for giving me the chance to read and review this book.

In the year 1752 Tabitha Hart earns a living at the pleasure of whichever London gentlemen have the coin to pay for her time, but when her ailing mother calls her home to the village of Netherlea she has no choice but to reluctantly do as she is bid. Unfortunately, by the time she returns home it is too late. Despite the assurances of the village constable and the local doctor, Tabitha finds evidence in her mother’s almanack that suggests a darker truth to her death, and a mystery that threatens more darkness to come.

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Unfiltered ramblings on a number of topics including books, writing, role-playing, wargaming and life. You have been warned.