The 2014 Hugo Award Winners have been announced, and to my astonishment, I have already read all the winners (but not all the nominees). I must be some kind of SF nerd.
Ancillary Justice, the space opera that won best novel, was one of the big surprises of my reading. I’m a fan of space opera (see Iain Banks), but this one, about an AI imbedded in a dead soldier, also did unexpected things with gender assumptions and made me think confusedly quite a bit. But it makes sense — why should we assign a sex to an artificial intelligence? Wouldn’t a gender-free mind not really care that much about the conventions of our language traditions? And wouldn’t interactions with biological beings that care very much about gender cause all kinds of interesting conflicts?
I also read one of the big losers, Vox Day. His pedestrian short story, clearly tailored to avoid the controversies that usually dog his work (there were zero women in it, so there was no opportunity for him to vent his usual bog-ignorant misogyny), was dead last. Worse, “No Award” beat it in the final runoff. I laugh schadenfreudenly.
Scalzi has a few words for the guy with the flaming sword. I agree with him.