Should ‘Rhythm of War’ Get a Hugo?

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Last week, I wrote about my plan to review books that might get nominated for a Hugo award, and so here’s my first entry into that endeavor.

Now anyone who knows me, will know that Brandon Sanderson is by far and away my favorite author. A casual look at my goodreads account will show you that I’ve read well over 30 titles by the man, and when it comes to obsessing over his books, I am pretty much as nerdy, and rabid, as they come. If a new Cosmere book drops, I drop whatever I’m reading at the moment, and usually whatever I am doing to go read it. Even if what I’m doing is traffic.

On this bloggo, I’ve talked about his “short stories” Dreamer, and Snapshot, as well as his YA novel The Rithmatist.

Needless to say, I’m a Fanderson.

Which is why I am utterly shocked to say that Rhythm of War will not be the title I will be nominating for the Hugo come March 19th.

I know! Weird right? I suppose I should explain . . .

Did I enjoy the book?

Oh yes. Immensely. There is no shortage of things to love in Rhythm of War. Without spoiling too much, there are rhythms, and there is war. There is magic (so much magic), and adventure. The characters are flawed and have expertly crafted change arcs. Characters you want to hate, you end up liking, and characters you’ve loved for years, you find maybe aren’t as perfect as you thought. And of course, that awesome moment where everything comes together, and the thing we’ve been building towards for about 1,000 pages, finally happens! And uses up the entirety of the special effects budget (if it were a movie which hopefully someday it will be!).

And as with all of his books, Rhythm of War gives you that sprinkle of answers that only lead to more questions. Worldbuilding on top of worldbuilding until your simply stunned with the complexity of it all.

If you have not read the book yet, please drop traffic and go do so. It is wonderful. I mean that times ten for anyone interested in Cosmere books, or even just the Stormlight Archive in general.

Yes, Brandon Sanderson knows how to give a reader what they want, and Rhythm of War does not disappoint.

So why isn’t it getting your nomination?

Well, to put it simply, it isn’t new.

Still My Fav Stormlight book!

While Rhythm of War is an amazingly written and crafted book, it is amazingly written and crafted in the same way that The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive 1) was amazingly written and crafted. In the same way as Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive 2), or Mistborn, or even Elantris or Warbreaker (though those two had some growing pains to be sure).

Rhythm of War seems to be suffering from a problem of scope and time. It is the fourth installment, in what is going to be at least a five books series, and probably a ten-book series, if Brando Sando achieves what he’s set out to do with these books. And at a certain point, it is just an iteration of the premise that Way of Kings began over ten years ago, and (IMHO) Words of Radiance perfected seven years ago.

But the Hugo is supposed to represent the best of Science Fiction and Fantasy right now, in 2021 (or ya know 2020 since that’s when the books were published). Not what was undoubtedly one of the best books of 2011, or 2014.

And so, it’s not my pick this time. I think it belongs on the list for most popular, and it has earned every single reader it has, but I don’t think it quite lines up with what the Hugo is supposed to be and do.

If Brando Sando dropped the first installment of a new series tomorrow, I would absolutely be looking at it for a best of award (if it really was great). But not this time around. Not for Rhythm of War . . .

Anywho, see y’all next time!

The Hugo’s are coming!

Image from Michi Trota on Encyclopedia Britannica

What are those?

So, every year since like 1955 (according to wikipedia), an award is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention for really really “good” science fiction and fantasy writing, whether it be a novel, series, short story or a bunch of other categories. It’s considered one of the top prizes in the field, and usually makes for good reading for anyone interested in the genre. I’ve mentioned these awards in passing when reviewing Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Cameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, but aside from that, it’s never really affected me much except for maybe providing a reading list when I’m looking for some good books (oops I’m realizing I mentioned Hugos in my Redshirts review also).

How is it decided what’s “good”?

Well people vote on it, of course! If you buy a World Science Fiction Convention ticket this year, or attended last year, or bought a supporting membership, then you can nominate titles for the award and vote!

Why am I excited about this?

Because this year, the convention, is supposed to take place in Washington DC (we’ll see what it’s like with Covid). I figured if I was ever going to get a chance to attend, or vote, or have a reason to care about this award, it was going to be this year. So . . .

I bought a ticket!

But now comes the participating part . . . Oh dear.

My Plan:

There’s a ton of books out there that are probably good, and eligible to win the award, so now I must decide which ones I want to nominate, and once the voting begins, which one I want to vote for. Essentially that means I have a lot of reading ahead of me (for me this is actually exciting!). I’ve trolled the internet for a bunch of Best-of-2020 lists for both Science Fiction and Fantasy, and assembled the list you’ll see below.

I hope to be able to read as many of these as possible before the nomination deadline (March 19th 2021), and choose one to push forward. Then, once the finalists arrive, I’ll have some more time to try and finish whichever books move to that round. This list is pretty long, so I’m starting with the books which are standalone, or the first installment in a series (unless I happen to already be caught up which only happened in two cases . . . I bet you can guess which authors they are).

Anyway, I’ve put check boxes by the books I’ve read so far, and I’ll be posting reviews as I find time to write them. Once a review is posted, I’ll turn the list item into a link to the review. You can either keep coming back here, or just follow the blog. On the 19th I’ll try to post which one I’m going to nominate, and why, and then when the finalists come, I’ll say which one I’m going to vote for. Should be a fun time. Well, at the very least, I’m excited.

Update (4/2/2021): Since some of the works are parts of a series, I’ve started listing some of them in bullets. If I review the previous series books on the blog, I’ll put a link and a check next to them. If they have ** next to them, then they’re the titles eligible this year. Hope this is useful!

Here are the books:

I’m Baaaackkkk!

Apparently, it’s been nearly two years since I posted on this old bloggo, and a lot has happened in that time. I’ve grown older. I’ve gained experience! I have gray in beard now!

And while this blog may have been sitting idle, I have not! I have grown as a person. I have lived!

In my youth, I was but a boy, naively typing away at this keyboard to bring the world reviews of cool books I had read, or my experience at a convention or perhaps — when scraping at the bottom of the barrel — a picture of a cute dog I’d seen. In essence, any random nonsense I wanted to write about.

But now . . . Now everything has changed. Now I have gone to the top of the mountain, and returned with words, and better yet, the correct order in which to write them. From now on, this blog will be about:

cool books I’ve read . . .
my experience as a fan of SF and Fantasy (which will likely include conventions if this pandemic ever ends). . .
or perhaps — when I don’t know what to write about — a picture of a cute dog I’ve seen!

Hmm. Well I guess those are the same things as before. But now I’m older . . . and I got a new keyboard so that has to count for something.

Anyway, a sharp observer will notice that two new sections have been added to the top menu, the first being Fiction, and the second being Making. These are currently, ‘under construction’ so to speak, but I’m hoping to have some content for you soon.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been completely idle during the last two years. I’ve picked up fiction writing as a hobby, and am hoping to be able to share some of what I’ve written to the world once I’m not terrified of letting the world see it. Hopefully that day will be soon.

And making will just be whatever random nonsense I manage to build with a 3D printer. I’m hoping that having a section of it on the menu will inspire me to pursue the hobby.

Anyway, stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting new posts coming down the way. And here’s Aerosmith so you’ll know how to properly read the title: