Hugo winners you didn't like

Vince W

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2011
Messages
2,040
#1
hugo-awards.png


Hugo season is approaching and having that Hugo Winner stamp on the cover a book is a great endorsement. I was wondering how many, if any, past Hugo winners have you read but didn't like?

For me it has to be Speaker For the Dead by Orson Scott Card. I read this before his whole anti-gay stance and whatnot. After Ender's Game this one was a huge let down for me.

The other is Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman. I really wanted to like this book, but it never captured me the way Forever War did.

I've listed novels, but feel free to include novellas, novelettes, short stories, or whatever.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
21,610
Location
Highlands
#2
And here's a list of the Hugo award-winning novels, if of help: Hugo Award for Best Novel - Wikipedia

So far I've only read 16 winners in the novel category - there are more on my reading list - but I could only really recommend 8 of those.

The one I disliked the most was The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis - I couldn't escape a feeling of flippancy and superficiality to every aspect to that story, which really grated. However, I know some people absolutely loved the book, and I wouldn't want to diminish that.

Different readers, different personal tastes, and thank goodness there are usually enough books to cater for all. :)
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
16,001
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
#3
I wasn't keen on:

American Gods, although I'm usually a huge Gaiman fan, this one didn't work for me.
Ancillary Justice, but I can see why it won. Ditto The Three Body Problem, which I really admired but didn't quite grasp.
Harry Potter leaves me ... meh. I much prefer Rowling's Robert Galbraith books.
 

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
1,172
#4
I've read more winners than I'd guessed: 22.

Perhaps oddly, I enjoyed Speaker for the Dead much more than Ender's Game. The former had an almost Faulknerian view of the past that I liked, while the latter was okay escape reading but really struck me as nothing more than an extended Twilight Zone episode. I recall about mid-way through EG thinking I knew the twist, but no, no I couldn't possibly, Card would be cleverer than that ... nope. No, he wasn't.

The only other one that I didn't care for was Starship Troopers, the pro-military gung-ho-ness of it at the time I read it (late 1970s or early 1980s) not appealing. I was more a The Forever War kinda guy and suspect I still would be.


Randy M.
 

tinkerdan

candycane shrimp
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
3,696
Location
x(squared)+y(squared)=r(squared) : when x~infinity
#5
Honestly I've not gone out of my way to read Hugo Award Winning novels; to the point where I can't recall ever reading a book because it was a Hugo winner. In more recent years I've somehow managed to avoid the Hugo winners.

However of the ones I've got on my shelves.
There a a couple of the CS Lewis that I have but could never fight my way through them.
Out of the Silent Planet
That Hideous Strength

There are even a few Issac Asimov that I couldn't get through.
The End of Eternity
The Gods Themselves

and Alfred Besters Demolished Man was a hard read for me.
The Demolished Man
All of these though were when I was much younger and I've just never been tempted to retry.
Perhaps I should.
 

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
106
#7
I am iratated and dumfounded that an episode of season 2 of The Expanse was not nominated this year.
I gag that Star Trek: Discovery was, this is insane!
 

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
106
#8
1962 Stranger in a Strange Land when Daniel F. Galouye's Dark Universe was better.
( You probably never heard of Galouye.)
Stanger is way over rated as a Heinlein novel.

1965 Fritz Leiber* The Wanderer when Cordwainer Smith's only chance , ever, was The Planet Buyer (also known as The Boy Who Bought Old Earth) .

Asimov won in 1973 for Foundation tho people could only vote for The Gods Themselves , which was awful.

Clarke , also got an 'honorary HUGO' for Foundations of Paradise , 1980. One of his least interesting novels.

Asimov picked up another 'honorary' in 1983 for Foundation's Edge (not a bad novel , one could see the master had lost his touch.)

Two mind bogglers:

Sturgeon's More Than Human (1953) could not win a Hugo in 1954 because there were no Hugos in 1954.
For the 1953 Retro Hugos , More Than Human was better than the excellent Fahrenheit 451.

Bester's The Stars My Destination met the same fate in 1957 then there was only awards for magazine SF.
 
Last edited:

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
7,333
Location
Iowa
#9
I've also read more of these than I'd have guessed, but very few in the last 7 years or so. About the time I discovered Kindle and the ability to get books not on the 5 shelves of S.F. in my "local" bookstore. --- I've not bought a book there now in 5 years (?) although I reading much more than before.

Disappointed with:
Dan Simmons Hyperion --- I found it mediocre and severely over-hyped.
Lois McMaster Bujold --- The Vor Game --- Average at best and far, far, less than Shards of Honor or Falling Free
 

kythe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
687
Location
Arizona
#10
Some of these Hugo winners and nominees are still on my to-read list, I haven't gotten to them yet.

There are three that I have read but didn't like:

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein. This felt like a guide to free love and sex, with little plot or morals involved. I just disagree with a lot of it.

Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick. I don't really "get" it.

Xenocide - Orson Scott Card. One of the few books I couldn't even finish. The strange part is that I liked Ender's Game and loved Speaker For the Dead. Speaker is very philosophical and influenced me on a number of levels, so I was surprised to find that I couldn't finish the series. But Xenocide managed to be so incredibly descriptive and slow moving that I couldn't follow the story any more.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
7,333
Location
Iowa
#11
@kythe ..... I agree with you on all three of these. Heinlein was very much into free love and lots of sex without relationships. Philip K. Dick to me is incomprehensible, but somehow they keep making movies, some of them good, out of those stories. Also agree about Xenocide. I did finish it, and I thought "Well that's a wrap on that series." ---- Little did I know!!! ---- But Speaker for the Dead has been a seminal book for me in how to do funerals that speak about the life of those who have died. I've always been very thankful for that.
 

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
106
#13
Some years there is a surfeit of novels.
1956
Robert A. Heinlein Double Star
Isaac Asimov The End of Eternity
Cyril M. Kornbluth Not This August
Leigh Brackett The Long Tomorrow
Eric Frank Russell Call Him Dead

The only klunker there is Call Him Dead , not a bad novel but totally outclassed by the 4 others.

As far as I am concerned Heinlein should be known for his short stories , but his best novels are Double Star and The Door Into Summer . (Both of which seem unjustly not well known).

Asimov's excellent The End of Eternity is also not that well known, one of his best novels.

Poor Kornbluth*, Not This August showed so much promise and he was dead 2 years later.

Of the four Leigh Brackett should have won for The Long Tomorrow , this quite understated novel about a post atomic war world is very different from the good pulp she wrote in the 1940s. (We know she wrote gems of screenplays for Howard Hawks starting with The Big Sleep.) The Long Tomorrow is one of science fiction's hidden gems.

*Kornbluth last collaboration with Phol was Wolfbane ,1959, their second best collaboration after The Space Merchants. This novel has an odd plot but is quite refined , I think Wolfbane may be totally forgotten.
 

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
106
#14
Some of these Hugo winners and nominees are still on my to-read list, I haven't gotten to them yet.



Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick. I don't really "get" it.
Man in the High Castle is a difficult novel. I picked it up to re read last year , because of Amazon's TV version (god knows who thought to make a show of it! I think Ridley Scott was behind it, the show actually works of the back on the drama that is off-stage in the novel, tho Dick describes it the Nazi - Japanese conflict).
This novel really reads well , one has to pay attention to the threaded parallel universes , only two (universes) for the book (TV show has more!). This is a subtle novel well deserving of it's HUGO.
 

kythe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
687
Location
Arizona
#15
I never thought of Man in the High Castle as taking place in two "universes". That is a strange theme not to pick up on in a book. :unsure: I thought it took place in an alternate universe but with a twist ending where he finds that the war ended in the opposite way from what he had been taught. This didn't make sense.

I probably should watch the tv show.
 

Rodders

|-O-| (-O-) |-O-|
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
3,713
#16
Thanks for the link, Brian. Useful and I was quite surprised how many I had actually read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Stranger in a Strange Land when I read it back in the late 80's early 90's. I should reread it though as my taste may have changed somewhat in my advancing years.

I really struggled with Xenocide and the other sequels to Enders Game. (although I did enjoy the Shadow series.)
William Gibson's Neuromancer was okay, but I never really got the Cyberpunk vibe so it didn't especially resonate with me.

There are a few on my To Read pile, specifically A Canticle for Liebuwitz and Anne Leckie's Ancillary series.
 

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
106
#18
Dune. Tried reading it years ago and couldn't finish it.
DUNE is a ripping yarn. It is a good space opera. It is not better than Left Hand of Darkness, More Than Human, most of Cordwainer Smith , or Fred Pohl, or The Stars My Destination, James Blish , … even Poul Anderson's high space opera is more satisfying to me ,lot of other SF.
DUNE requires a big dose of willing suspension of disbelief. I don' buy for one moment that one can have an interstellar civilization underpinned by a medieval monarchy, the social-economic-politics just don't make sense when the support-from-below is a actually a high technological framework , mostly hidden yet suggested. O well it is a good story by Herbert well put and I enjoyed it tho with my viability filters dialed back!
I did not like any of the sequels those by Herbert are drab and unengaging. The later ones by his son and help range from ok to shabby they are a publishers ambulance chase.
 

SilentRoamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 5, 2015
Messages
1,122
#19
I found Sussana Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell to be boring, pretentious, overly wordy, overly long and ultimately unread by me. Not often that I put down a book once I started but I stopped with this one about halfway through as nothing had actually happened.

I understand the style Clarke was trying to emulate but I found it a poorer imitation of a style I don't particularly gel with anyway.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
5,103
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
#20
They'd Rather Be Right (1954) by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley is notorious as the worst novel to ever win a Hugo. It's also probably the least read. I managed to track down a copy, and it's not very good at all.

It's all about a god-like computer that can make you perfect in every way, including immortality, but only if you give up your prejudices and accept that it is right and you are wrong. I don't like the theme (which brings echoes of every cult to mind) and the story isn't very interesting.

I've read all the Hugo winning novels from the first (The Demolished Man) to 1981 (The Snow Queen) and didn't dislike any of them. After skipping a couple of years, I didn't dislike any until I got to Ender's Game, which I thought was overrated at best. I have read very few since then, although I loved the Kim Stanley Robinson Mars trilogy, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (sorry, SilentRoamer), and The Three-Body Problem. I'd agree that The Doomsday Book is overrated.
 

Similar threads

Top