One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was about my thoughts on every Hugo Award winning novel. I didn’t write much about any of the books, I just placed them into categories. Now, I’m going back through each of those categories and giving some more in-depth thoughts on the books. This post is about the books I hated. I still finished reading them in order to complete my goal, but I couldn’t stand these books. Let’s get this over with:
The Big Time (1958) by Fritz Leiber:
This book was just way too confusing for me when I read it. To refresh my memory a little bit I read a plot synopsis before writing this post, and as I was going through it a few things struck a chord On the whole, however, I don’t remember any of the main storyline. I generally like time travel stories, but this one, where it takes place outside of time was a bit much. I remember slogging through the book, trying to keep track of what was going on, and failing. I don’t think it helped that the characters telling about the time war came in and out of the story so much. It was hard for me to connect with any characters because so many of them appeared, said their bit, then left, never to be heard from again.
Stand on Zanzibar (1969) by John Brunner:
I didn’t like this book because it tried to be too innovative. Within the first chapter of the book reads like stage directions, and the second is a bunch of quotes. That completely lost my interest and made it hard for me to care about the narrative afterwards. I can understand the desire to try new things as a writer, and I can even get why it won the Hugo, but that doesn’t mean that I liked the book. I think the combination of different types of writing made the plot difficult to follow and hard to remember from one chapter to the next. I like the James Blish quote “… I was constantly impeded by the suspicion that Brunner was not writing for himself but for a Prize.” This was a book that I read early, which makes it hard to remember specifics, but it’s been far more memorable than some of the other on here, just because of how different it was.
Downbelow Station (1982) by C.J. Cherryh:
I don’t remember much of this book. It was another one of my early reads, and I was biased against the book from the beginning since I had already read, and greatly disliked, Cyteen. I will say that the setting of the story is great. It’s the middle to end of a war. The participants are pushing to either salvage what they can, or push toward an end. The characters, in general, behave rationally and realistically. Everything is there for a solid book. I was going to write a big thing here about how I didn’t like some of the character, or how I felt the plot was a little too contrived, but I realized that I honestly don’t remember the book well enough to say those things. My biggest complaint that I can say with certainty is that I hate Cherryh’s style. I think her pace is too slow and her tone is too heavy (some of that may be due to her strong adherence to limited 3rd person perspective).
Green Mars (1994) and Blue Mars (1997) by Kim Stanley Robinson:
I really hated the Robinson’s Mars trilogy. I read the first chapter or so of Red Mars about three times before I finally decided I had delayed enough and needed to get through the book so I could finish my goal. I kind of understand why each book was nominated for a Hugo. The technical aspects of the books are well thought out and reasonable. The science seems solid, and the terraforming process itself is fascinating. The problem is that the characters in all three books are horrible people. They’re petty and vindictive. Reading these books was like reading a bad soap opera. There wasn’t a single character through the whole series that I found to be sympathetic, and most of their interactions with each other just made me mad. They were supposed to be the best and brightest people from Earth sent to build and populate a new world, but as soon as they landed on the red planet they just started bickering and politicking to the point where none of them seemed to actually care about the actual science anymore. Those very few characters that did seem to genuinely care about their scientific specialty were almost immediately marginalized by the others. I almost gave up reading this series over and over again. It took me months to finish each book just because I dreaded the thought of using my time on reading something I didn’t enjoy. I did finish them, but I don’t think I’ll ever read anything else by Kim Stanley Robinson.