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2021 Hugo Award Finalists

Every year the World Science Fiction Society awards the Hugo award to outstanding works of Science fiction and Fantasy. The past several years have seen a boom of incredible new fiction in these genres, and last year was no different, featuring some standout work from both new and established authors. Some of my personal favorites from the finalists are Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, and Axioms End by Lindsay Ellis.

We’ve created a list featuring the nominees for Best Novel, Best Series, Best YA Novel, and Best New Writer which you can check out here. Winners are announced in December, so you have plenty of time to read them all before then!

Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Picture of book cover for Cry PilotThe good folks at Bookriot have an excellent one sentence description of the sub-genre of military science fiction; it’s “centered on the technologies and impacts of war on soldiers and society.” In recent years, this field has seen a lot of really great work from newer authors such as Marko Kloos and Linda Nagata, as well as by more established authors such as Kameron Hurley and Jack Campbell. Cry Pilot is the first in a new series and I REALLY enjoyed it. So much so that I’m a bit disappointed I found it before later books in the series were completed. Sigh. Publishers Weekly loved it as well: “Riveting action paired with a sharp psychoemotional landscape combine for the explosive launch of a futuristic trilogy. Centuries in the future, humans live in tiny corporate enclaves while the ruined Earth undergoes terra fixing, a process that sometimes creates biological horrors. Maseo Kaytu is a refugee with a secret, which makes it hard for him to enlist in the corporate military, but through a touch of chicanery and a stint as a cry pilot–human “keys” needed to engage highly technological, high-lethality vehicles known as CAVs–he earns his place in Group Aleph for basic training. The group is part of a program that’s been formed to address the rising threat of entities called lampreys. It’s not an easy road through basic training, but he manages as part of a squad that becomes closer than family despite his checkered past. Frequent adrenaline-rush action scenes make up most of the novel, interspersed with Kaytu’s internal narrative and experiences. This is an intriguing, thoughtful exploration of what a corporatized future might look like, liberally peppered with scenes of military life.”

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

everythingEvery so often I like to read a good post-apocalyptic novel – among other things, it makes me appreciate all the more the life I have now. This book, though – whew! It hits a little too close to the here and now for my comfort, but I put it right up there with King’s The Stand in my post-apocalypse Hall of Fame. Publisher’s Weekly wrote “Wendig pulls no punches in this blockbuster apocalyptic novel, which confronts some of the darkest and most divisive aspects of present-day America with urgency, humanity, and hope. The day after a comet blazes over the west coast of North America, Benji Ray, a disgraced former CDC epidemiologist, is summoned to meet Black Swan, a superintelligent computer designed to predict and prevent disasters, which has determined that Benji must treat an upcoming pandemic. That same morning, Shana wakes up to find her little sister, Nessie, sleepwalking down the driveway and off toward an unknown goal, one of a growing number of similar travelers who are unable to stop or to wake. Shana in turn becomes one of many shepherds, protecting the travelers from a crumbling American society that’s ravaged by fear, dogma, disease, and the effects of climate change, while Benji grapples with his daunting assignment and questions about Black Swan’s nature and agenda. Wendig challenges readers with twists and revelations that probe issues of faith and free will while crafting a fast-paced narrative with deeply real characters. His politics are unabashed-characters include a populist president brought to power by neo-Nazis, as well as murderous religious zealots-but not simplistic, and he tackles many moral questions while eschewing easy answers. This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand, easily rising above the many recent novels of pandemic and societal collapse.”