Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Hugo Endurance Project


I'm in-between reviews right now, so I thought I'd take a moment and just give a shout-out to a blog I just found, The Hugo Endurance Project. While the Hugo Award does not only highlight literary achievement, the winners are a pretty great place to start when looking for quality writing and concepts.

Jeremy, who runs the site, made it his goal to read 64 Hugo winners in 64 weeks. He's also prepping for a marathon at the same time, which is also cool. I like layers of meaning to the idea of "endurance."

I haven't explored Jeremy's archives exhaustively yet, but I can say a few things:
1. Jeremy's a smart dude. He doesn't let enthusiasm blind him to weaknesses in even his favorite stories. And he has a well-thought out and multi-part grading system that makes for interesting comparisons between books. I have some minor reservations about the system, but I'm sure a lot of my readers have reservations about my system as well. That's okay. And if you  happen to like my meticulous (over-the-top?) breakdown of strengths and weaknesses in a book, you'll find plenty to intrigue you in what Jeremy does. 
2. I don't agree with all of Jeremy's reviews (I felt Larry Niven's Ringworld, for instance, was a real let-down, but Jeremy scores it pretty high). But this just means I look forward to having some intelligent arguments with him as he continues his project. 
3. Reading a book per week is gonna be a seriously grueling effort, when you've got stuff like C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen or Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to get through. It's interesting to read about the difficulties Jeremy has as he tries to pack in the pages, and what it does to his reading experience.
Basically, what Jeremy's doing is what I thought I might try to do when I first started my blog, but then I kind of chickened out and just started reading books semi-haphazardly, and without a rigorous deadline. But a thoughtful and thorough look at Hugo winners is exactly up my alley, and I look forward to seeing how the project goes.

17 comments:

  1. I just did a review of Snow Crash.
    I need to hit some lists, but I have so much stuff stacked up right now, I don't think I'll get to anything like that.

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    1. It's been so long since I've read Snow Crash...it was in my high-school years, before I'd decided to be really rigorous in my reading.

      I remember liking it...but also finding some of it rather bizarre and out of place.

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    2. It's possibly the worst book I've ever read. But you'd have to read my review for the full experience.
      And I didn't even cover the horrible editing.

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  2. Worst ever? Now I HAVE to re-read it, to see how I'd compare it with Wizard's First Rule.

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  3. Well, I liked First Rule; it was everything after that I hated. I actually compared it to Goodkin in the review, though. Snow Crash may be the stupidest book I ever read. Poor conceived and even more poorly executed with all kinds of continuity errors which drove me crazy. Like Hiro being in two places at once and Raven arriving at the big fight scene at the end way before the helicopter he'd been on arrived. It was horrible.

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    1. It's interesting to note what kinds of things push different reader's buttons. I couldn't stand the way characters in Wizard's First Rule went to melodrama with every reaction, for instance. But things like excessive usage of adverbs (not like you know anything about that!) doesn't bother me all that much. For other people, that's a death sentence. I'm off to check your review.

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    2. It's been too long since I read WFR to remember that about it, but I did enjoy the first one well enough to keep reading. The second was horrible, and I complained all the way through it. I can't remember if I finished the third, but I do know that I did not read the fourth. They were pretty dumb, but they were dumb in a very conventional manner.
      Mostly, adverbs don't bother me at all. The only time they really stand out to me is when they are used excessively in dialogue tags, and that can start to drive me crazy after awhile.

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    3. Right, I wasn't meaning you as the adverb police, just that you'd had recent thoughts about them. I think I read a review of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 where the reviewer just couldn't get past the idea that he used way to many adverbs in dialogue tags, which I hardly noticed.

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    4. Yeah, yeah, I knew what you meant, that you were just referring to my post. I was just making a statement about them since you brought them up, and I didn't actually say how I felt about them personally in my post.

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  4. Thanks Neal! That is way too many nice things to say about me.

    My grading has basically transformed into a measure of a books characteristics against my early conceptions of SF. I'm not sure it's very useful for determining which books have been my favorites anymore so much as when a book appeals to my more naive enthusiasm for the genre. I think I've had a couple posts just lamenting this fact. Oh well...

    And do bring the arguments! It's the best part of book blogging, right?

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    1. That's fair, Jeremy. So revamp the system! I'd be happy to get into a debate about what characteristics are most valuable to rate. 'Course, then people like Andrew will probably encourage me to revamp my own, so it's a slippery slope.

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  5. Hmm... I'm not seeing a way to follow Jeremy's site unless it's just not loading all the way for me (which happens occasionally).

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    1. I don't know...I just add things to my google reader...

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  6. That is quite an awesome blog you found.

    I can count all the books I've read from his contenders list on one hand. And that makes me feel sad and a little stupid...

    I checked out his review of The Left Hand of Darkness. It's one of the few I've read and one of my all-time favorite reads. Overall good stuff.

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    1. I still haven't made my way into Le Guin territory, which makes me a little ashamed (except her short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, which is great). It keeps getting bumped from the top of my list. Clearly, I need to re-arrange my priorities.

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  7. Wow, that is definitely something that requires endurance. Great project! I'm off to check that site!

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    1. Someday when my daughter is old enough to not try to drink lotion, I'd like to try it too.

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