Monday, September 16, 2013

It Started With The Hugos...Welcome!

Back in 2012, I took a trip to Powell's Books in Oregon, the Cedar Hills location.  I wanted to pick up a new copies of a few science fiction books that I had read for an SF class in college.  I went to the SF section and found a bookcase dedicated to the Hugo Awards.  I was amazed that quite a few of the books from that class were Hugo winners.  I chose Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr and Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.  I loved these books the first time around, and had been wanting to reread them for years.  Browsing the other winners, I was amazed to see so many titles I recognized.  One surprise was Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.  I had often seen this massive tome and never realized it fell under this category.  Feeling adventurous, took a copy.  Feeling like I really needed to live on the edge, I decided I needed one more.  Jacob, my partner, recommended A Case of Conscience, by James Blish.  So with (only) four books in hand, and a little 5-1/2 by 6 inch quick reference sheet of all the Hugo winners for best novel tucked in my shirt pocket, I checked out.

I read the Miller and Zelazny books quickly.  I fell in love with them again.  Next I read the Blish.  I thought it had some problems, but overall, I loved it too.  Finally I dove into Jonathan Strange.  It took me about six weeks to get through it, but I loved it.  Every second of reading was a delight.

About this time, I had a recurrence of several health issues.  Soon I was on disability.  When I wasn't dozing from the myriad of medications, I read.  Jacob had finished an omnibus edition of the Anne McCaffrey's DragonRiders of Pern trilogy and gave it to me.  I read these books in college, but was open to reading them again.  Next thing I knew, I read DragonsDawn and All The Weyrs of Pern.

Sometime while travelling in Pern, I had become infatuated with the Hugo winner quick reference sheet.  I had already read about ten books on the list.  At one point, I found all the winners and nominees online, copied them into a spreadsheet, and marked all the ones I read, the approximate year I read them, and assigned a rating based on 4 stars.

The following morning, I woke up with the insatiable desire to read all the winners.

Fortunately for my bank account and my already stuffed bookcases, I renewed my library card at the Beaverton City library, and began reading.  Forty-nine books and reviews later, I've decided to take Jacob's advice and begin a blog.  By the way, he also suggested I review them fairly early on, but I didn't begin writing reviews until last April.  And now it's September and I'm finally getting the blog off the ground.

Despite being in IT for most of my life, this is my first blog.  It may take me a while to get it looking how I want it, so bear with what I expect to be constant tweaking of the format.  Until I start getting my reviews posted, links to books I've read will send you to the Worlds Without End site.  It's a great place to keep track of books you've read, post reviews, and find new books to put on your reading list.

I'd like to give acknowledgement to The Hugo Endurance Project.  I discovered Jeremy's blog last March, and it has been a great resource to get a preview and general feel for books before beginning reading them.  I often had very different opinions of the books after reading them, but I didn't care.  The blog gave me inspiration to keep pursuing my own quest.

I hope this blog will not just be about posting reviews.  And I'm not going to post all 49 reviews at once. (Whew!)  I plan to use this blog as a way to express myself by writing: maybe stories, maybe an occassional philosophical rant, maybe reviews of non-fiction and non-genre fiction.  We'll see as time goes on.  And maybe I'll get a few people who might be interested in what I'm reading and what I have to say.



  1. I love reading your reviews! Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing is my bookstore as well, so I found it awesome that it was the store that kicked off your science fiction revival.

    1. Thanks for enjoying my reviews Kallen! I'm also in the Cedar Hills' Powell's SF book club. After a rough start getting past the personalities (there's a lot of attendees) I'm actually enjoying it. I go to the store downtown every few months too, mostly to browse through the piles of old musty out of print SF paperbacks by the authors from the golden age, and then to hang out and read in their coffee shop.

  2. Hello. I found your blog via one of your reviews on the WWE site. I've really enjoyed what I've read here, and you've inspired me to start my own reading quest. There are some great lists on the WWE site, so I'll probably use one of those.
    How have you found the Hugo list so far?
    Best wishes from an Englishman in Japan.

    1. Hi Greycope. Greetings from the other side of the Pacific! Thanks for finding my blog! The Hugos are a mixed bag. Some terrifiic books, some not so much. I'm not a fan of space opera so I haven't cared for most of those. Perhaps my favorite book is "Canticle for Leibowitz" which I first discovered for a college SF class. Clifford D Simak is one of my favorite authors. The best part of having read all the Hugo winners is that it brought me back to reading SF and Fantasy after many years of away. Now I'm making up for lost time, participating in way too many WWEnd challenges each year (11 challenges this year), but still loving the experience. Fortunately, I live in a city with a terrific county library system so I never lack for books. I've actually finished the Hugos, I just need to post about a dozen reviews that I wrote for books I read before I created the blog. I hope to have all those posted by the end of the year. Since I wrote those a while ago, the reviews aren't as well written. I have to say writing a review every few days has improved my writing skills.

      I'm glad you found WWEnd as well. I love the site, finding it a warm community of readers. The admin, Dave, is a great guy who loves books and finds joy in hosting a space for other people who love books.

      Thanks again for finding my blog and enjoy your reading journey!