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The 2014 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

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Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Excerpt) WINNER!
Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Excerpt)
Parasite by Mira Grant (Excerpt)
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Amazon Excerpt)
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Excerpt)

The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (PDF Excerpt)
“The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen
“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Full) WINNER!
“Six-Gun Snow White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Excerpt)
“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Full)

“The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) WINNER!
“Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (EPUB Full)
“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Full)
“The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (Full)

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Full)
“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Full)
“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Full)
“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Full) WINNER!

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2013 Hugos
2013 Nebulas

The 2013 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

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BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Blackout by Mira Grant (Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Excerpt) Either way
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Excerpt) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Excerpt) Either way

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall” by Nancy Kress (Amazon Excerpt) Either way
“The Emperor’s Soul” by Brandon Sanderson (Excerpt) Either way WINNER!
“On a Red Station, Drifting” by Aliette de Bodard (Excerpt) Skip it
“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” by Mira Grant (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Full) Skip it

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan WINNER!
“In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire Thumbs Up!
“Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Full) (Audio Version) Either way
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson Either way
“Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu (Amazon Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!

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2010 Hugos
2010 Nebulas
2011 Hugos
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The 2012 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

hugo award

And of course, as soon as I’m done reading the Nebulas, the Hugos get announced. Lots of crossovers this year though.

Remember — the Hugos are a popular vote, voted on by anyone who pays money to Worldcon to become a member.

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Deadline by Mira Grant (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Embassytown by China Miéville (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“Countdown” by Mira Grant (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“The Ice Owl” by Caroly Ives Gilman (Interview)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Excerpt) Either wayWINNER!
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Silently and Very Fast” by Catherine M. Valente (Full) Skip it

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Full) Skip it
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgenson (Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Full) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Full) Either way
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Full + Audio) Either way
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (Full) (Audio) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Full) Thumbs Up!

And finally some observations.

First, it is totally awesome that Jim C. Hines got nominated for best fan writer. I don’t even know how he got it, he actually posts as many pictures of neat Lego sculptures as he talks about science fiction. I can’t imagine what he must be feeling right now — he’s just a regular guy who only gets the time to write on his lunch break, like me. But this proves that the little guy can make it into a recognized author. And its inspired to dedicate more strength to my writing, less time to funny videos and Internet kerfuffles. I need to focus on the positive. I’m not going to become a science-fiction writer by being a cynical, argumentative person. The more time I dedicate to hate and insults is less time I’m writing.

Next, like I found last year, some of the nominations are very strange. One, under “Best Dramatic Presentation (short form)” is “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech” given at last years Hugo’s for best fanzine. It made a splash last year, but I didn’t watch it until day. It’s passionate, it’s lovely, but… well, maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t these awards supposed to be for creative works? I guess one of the criteria for creation is that it’s got to be pre-planned or engineered, at least in mind. This is not acting, this is not a planned skit. This is simply a spontaneous reaction.

Then, there’s John Scalzi’s “Shadow War of the Night Dragons”. This… well, this story was an April Fool’s joke. It was meant to mimic a real book release, written as a parody/satire of the prolific trend of dark fantasy. You know, girls with back tattoos and daggers looking at the moon. But… it’s a joke. A long form joke, yes, but, it’s really not meant to be taken as serious literature. Although Scalzi makes a good point about humor getting a nod. That’s fine, I’m all for funny. But it’s like the situation in The Producers, where someone attempts to make something bad and it’s critically revered. Ah well, sour grapes.

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2010 Hugos
2010 Nebulas
2011 Hugos
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The 2011 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

Rachel Bloom Ray Bradbury

·Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Amazon Excerpt) WINNER!
·Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Excerpt)
·The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Amazon Excerpt)
·Feed by Mira Grant (Excerpt) Either way
·The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Excerpt)

·The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up!
·The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
·The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand
·The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey A. Landis (Full) Thumbs Up!
·Troika by Alastair Reynolds

·Eight Miles by Sean McMullen
·The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele (Full) (Audio) WINNER!
·The Jaguar House, in Shadow by Aliette de Bodard (Full) Skip it
·Plus or Minus by James Patrick Kelly (Full) Either way
·That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone (Full) Thumbs Up!

·Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn (Full) Skip it
·For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
·Ponies by Kij Johnson (Full) Thumbs Up!
·The Things by Peter Watts (Full) Either way

And as a special note, I wanted to exhibit something that was nominated for “Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form” as it seemed a real unusual pick. It’s an amateur YouTube video, a fan work, a meta-sci fi work (meaning it’s not a science fiction story, but it’s about science fiction) and features profanity in the title. Meaning that everyone who’s going to write about the Hugos is going to have a tough time with this one. I don’t know why the committee selected it, maybe it didn’t have a choice, like Madden with Peyton Hillis on the cover. It’s good, but is it Hugo good? You decide.

The 2010 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

So every year the Hugos and Nebulas come out and I try and read them all. Of course, it’s hard to read the novels, but they do have excerpts. So at least you can get an idea for what the book is about when they talk about it in the blogs.

This year, I thought I’d let you all in on what I find too. Share the wealth, that’s what I say. So here are all the links I found to this year’s Hugo nominations online. Some are full and some are excerpts. I usually didn’t include Amazon if I didn’t have to, but that’s another resource you can use.

Now I’m not 100% sure all of these online publications are legal. So if I put up a link here, and it’s not supposed to be there, let me know and I’ll take it down. However, no one likes a Narc.

And for those of you that didn’t put your work online–shame, shame. You’re ruining a good chance for people to read a sample of your work and possibly buy more. Just keep that in mind.

EDIT: I’ll also include a thumbs up or skip it rating, not that you care about my opinion

EDIT 2: Noted all the winners!


Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Excerpt – Prologue) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
The City & The City by China Miéville (Excerpt – Chapter 1) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson (Excerpt – First 6 pages) Skip it
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente (Excerpt – Chapters 1 & 2) Either way
Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Excerpt – Chapters 1-12) Thumbs Up!
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Excerpt – Chapters 1-9) Skip it


Act One by Nancy Kress (Full) Thumbs Up!
The God Engines by John Scalzi (Excerpt – Chapter 1) Thumbs Up!
Palimpsest by Charles Stross (Full) Skip it WINNER!
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow (not found)
Vishnu at the Cat Circus by Ian McDonald (not found)
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker (Excerpt – Chapter 1 & 2) Thumbs Up!


Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Skip it
The Island by Peter Watts (Full) Either way WINNER!
It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith (Full) Thumbs Up!
One of Our Bastards is Missing by Paul Cornell (Full) Skip it
Overtime by Charles Stross (Full) Thumbs Up!
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster (Full) Either way


The Bride of Frankenstein by Mike Resnick (Full – audio) Thumbs Up!
Bridesicle by Will McIntosh (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen (Full – audio) Either way
Non-Zero Probabilities by N.K. Jemisin (Full) Either way
Spar by Kij Johnson (Full) Thumbs Up!

Nominations are Awesome

Today’s rant comes to us from this fellow (and the letter Q). If you read Scalzi’s blog, you’ve probably already seen it. Basically, it’s just a rant on how this guy’s not pleased with the mediocrity of the Hugo nominations for best novel this year, and how the voters are not going for, what he says is, the good, groundbreaking, experimental science fiction. He demands that we, the readers, need to broaden our horizons, and starting picking the right novels (which he conveniently lists for our convenience).

He also expressed disgust on how many novels were YA this time around, calling them monotonic and simple. He even tries to lump Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross in with the YA’s. This way, he can call them all YA (except for Anathem, which he frequently made exceptions for). Now I haven’t read Saturn’s Children, but I did read (most of) Accelerando, and I peruse the YA section of the bookstore, and have never seen Saturn’s Children there. Probably because it has something to do with space whores. I also don’t think Zoe’s Tale is very much a YA. Just because the POV is a kid, doesn’t mean it’s YA. Little Brother is enjoyable to any audience. And The Graveyard Book is The Graveyard Book. Based on this evidence, I call shenanigans on this argument. YA is a very subjective term, and it’s all based on marketing, not actual content.

Scalzi, who was mentioned in this rant, waved his hand dismissively and said something about how it’s not a good idea to insult your readers. True, true. But I think he neglected to mention how often this happens with any award system. You’re always going to find someone that gripes about how they don’t like the short list. And usually it’s because nothing original or interesting was nominated.

Look at this year’s best pictures. Frost/Nixon and The Reader – both political snoozefests. Milk – controversial tale about a politician (again, politics) martyred for trying to further civil rights for his group. Nothing I haven’t heard of there. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – a mild movie based on a novel written a hundred years ago that treads no new ground, and is basically Forrest Gump. Ned Flanders would enjoy it. And Slumdog Millionaire – the winner turns out to be the brightest and flashiest of the list, but also with a forgettable rags-to-riches plot. The saving grace is that it’s from mysterious India (which is serving the same purpose Africa did in the middle of the century), and it’s a life story framed around a quiz show. NOT ONE OF THESE IS AN ORIGINAL WORK. Each is either based on a book or real life.

Not that these are science fiction, but they are stories. And a story is a story is a story (unless it’s not a story). The same concept applies – the presumption that people want interesting, experimental, groundbreaking, good stories. I do not believe that. I believe that people want good stories. Whether it’s original is something left up to chance. It’s more the original execution, a fresh look on an old story, that people are looking for. And explosions.

My point is no one is ever going to like everything. Ever. And I find it terribly hackneyed to complain about nominations for anything, because it’s something that happens each year. Where was this guy’s rant when the nominations came out months ago? Only now, when its close to award time does he strike the match? I also call shenanigans here.

Any award voted on by normal humans is going to be based on what those people like. Not what’s good. There’s a distinct difference (Transformers 2, I’m looking at you). Usually, these awards go to something that’s pretty high on the “good” scale, at least. But none of my favorite movies have ever won a major academy award (except for something in the technical achievement category). I’ve never chosen a book based on the awards it’s won. I mean, look at the Emmys! Shows like “Arrested Development” and “The Ben Stiller Show” get multiple awards and then canned within two seasons. Awards mean nothing, but give you an excuse to have a big party.

I don’t know what criteria people use to judge the books they select. But for me, it’s how the book made me feel. If I remember the book fondly, if I was satisfied from reading it, then I’m giving it a thumbs-up. I’ve tried to read many a classic, and never got past the first quarter of the book. It’s all about Return on Investment. True, this is all subjective, but I don’t know how else you’d select a “best” of anything in the arts. That’s why it’s always a losing game to argue against what people choose. It’d be better just to make a shortlist of nominations and leave it at that. Say they all won an award for “one of the best” novels of 2008. But no, humans have to select a firm leader. The best of the best. The one. It’s in their nature.

Now, it’s in bad taste to say what I’m about to about a critic, because that denies a critic its nature, but since this guy’s a writer, I can say it: If you don’t like it, go write your own. Write your own groundbreaking, experimental science fiction. I can’t wait for your nomination.

One loud voice does not a change make. It’s like anything you vote for. I say you can go ahead and complain, but you won’t find much progress unless you seek to change it.

Me, I’m not changing nothing. I’m just trying to get published.

The Books I Read: January – March 2009

bookshelf books

While I’m wool-gathering brain-storming researching develop the background for Mermaid Story, let’s take a look at the books I read this past quarter.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I discovered this online for free shortly before the movie came out, although that’s not really relevant since I haven’t seen it yet. It’s a good book, good children’s story. Like Alice in Wonderland if it was directed by Tobe Hooper. There’s something about the “Person falls into Magic World” that’s still appealing, and Gaiman’s done it thrice now (Coraline for the kids, Mirrormask for the teens, and Neverwhere for the adults). He does a good job of starting out as mundane, moving to whimsical, then eerie, then oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die-a-horrible-death-if-I-don’t-return-to-mundanity. I recommend it. It’s plenty short.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I saw the movie first and I thought “Gee, this movie’s not terribly great, but judging by the material, the book must be awesome”. And I discovered an inherent problem with seeing the movie first. The book becomes boring, because you know what’s going to happen. There really isn’t anything new to explore, all you get is a bunch more detail, and none of the fantastic details. Still, I did like this book, mostly because it has giant warrior bears. And I am probably going to read the other books in the series (before the movie comes out), after I get done with all the other books I’ve got to read.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

One from the archive of free stuff. I think I got this because I was going to read The Jungle Book (which is still on my list) in preparation for The Graveyard Book. This is a collection of stories about racial stereotypes. It’s always funny to read old stories and how blatantly racist they are. I know racism is wrong, but it’s basically unavoidable. And these stories come from a time when there weren’t any political activists or special interest groups that dedicate themselves to what words you can or can’t use, instead of useful things like the economy. Anyway, back on track here. The problem with this book is I’ve heard all these stories before, so I was able to zip through it. The ones I haven’t heard, well, now I know why. Especially the one which is basically about a father and daughter inventing the alphabet. I could have lived without reading this, but it’s still nice to have it as a notch. Sometimes I wonder why I read these old books.

Tigerheart by Peter David

This book is awesome. In the “The Big Idea” piece David did for Scalzi, he says that the reason he wrote this was because, of the many penned Peter Pan sequels, none of them succeeded in capturing the heart and soul of the first book. That’s because the first book narrates in a dream-like state, with frequent infodumps, fourth-wall interjections, and a general sense that you are being shown a story, not told. I think David recaptures this essence, but keeps the plot coherent. I found it delightful that we get to revisit and re-explore some of the lesser known characters, like Tiger Lily, but is mostly about the dichotomy between The Boy and the new main character who finds himself being basically harrassed by Neverland. But it retains a whimsical nature, a storyline both kids and adults can enjoy, and a child-fueled pace. I heartfully recommend it.

neil gaiman graveyard book fragile things

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

I’m going to put these two together because I need to comment on Gaiman’s later works globally. Neverwhere is cool. Coraline is cool. My favorite Gaiman novel is Anansi Boys, (which I think he must hate, because he never mentions it anymore) and nothing compares to Sandman. So what’s the deal with his later works now? I don’t like them.

The Graveyard Book was good, but I don’t think it was a Newbery winner (not that I read the other candidates – maybe it was a crappy year for YA literature), and it’s also got a Hugo nod. It seems like it left a lot out that I wanted to see or know. The coolest part of the book – where a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, and something else are in an epic battle, is barely mentioned. The best story is the Witch’s Headstone, and the rest are rather predictable stories. Bod’s ghost powers barely fit into the story, and most of the rest of it is how he doesn’t get along with any of the ghosts.

Then Fragile Things is a mish-mash of stories that don’t make any sense. I’d say only 3% of the stories I liked (most I read previously) and there were too many. And there’s disturbing stuff in there – pedophilia, rape, etc. Nothing I care to read. It’s not that they’re not good, it’s that they’re not coherent. I liked Smoke and Mirrors just fine, but this is not as good. So I guess my beef is that I’d like it if Neil Gaiman went back to being new Neil Gaiman instead of old Hugo Winner Neil Gaiman. The same thing happened to Stephen King. Except for Sandman, I’ve had enough of Gaiman for a while. At least until he comes out with another Anansi Boys.

zero option lindsay brambles

Zero-Option by Lindsay Brambles

This was a novella I had in my archives, released under CC, that I finished in two days. It was awful, such a Mary Sue. Here’s the plot, some Space Navy Intelligence officer boards a ship with a “loose cannon” captain. The captain is a complete moron, taking unnecessary risks into deep space, enemy territory, and warp jumps, for no apparent reason. And in the end, they all die, because she was a moron. Here’s the narrative.

“Loose Cannon” Captain: I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something stupid and unnecessarily risky.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius, we’ll do whatever she says.
“Loose Cannon” Captain: Now I’ve screwed us. But I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something else stupid and risky to get us out of this.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius, we’ll do whatever she says.
“Loose Cannon” Captain: Now I’ve screwed us again and we’re going to die. But I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something even more stupid and risky to get us out of this. Because I’m a loose cannon.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius. She’ll get us out of this.
All: Crap, we died.

Thus we come to another end of AuthorQuest Theater.

I mean seriously, as a writer, can you not see that your main character is a moron? Or that your plot is the same formula, all based on ridiculous jumps to conclusions, none of which are character based. Some books intimidate you to be a writer. Others make you realize that ‘you can do this’.

The Blue World by Jack Vance

The first of books I’m using to research Mermaid Story. It takes place on a world totally covered in water. All their tools and supplies come from biological resources. Most material is made from plants and plant-like animals (like sponges). The hardest substance they have is bone. There is no metal (until they start bleeding themselves to get to the iron in their blood – ew) and communication is done by big semaphore towers. This is true science fiction – a whole lot of science and not a terrible amount of story. Its saving grace is that its short and tight, and the science isn’t flooding, just distracting. And there is story here to latch onto – the conflict of religion and science. A man dares to question why things must be as they are, and the priests don’t much care for that. I like those kinds of stories (although there is some irrelevant stuff in the beginning that makes me question its relevance therein, and the romance is nil).

I just finished reading all the available Hugo nominees as well. Amazingly, I’ve read two of the nominated novels, and will probably read a third at some point. No one cares about anything but the novels in the Hugos, but there are multiple other categories of readables. I think the best stories this year (that were available to read) were “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick, “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi. “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner, “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang, “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel was quite good too, but it’s written in the Jane Austen style, which makes it difficult to get through. Jane Austen is like kryptonite to sci-fi readers. And “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson was good, but written in the abstract style which always comes off in a pretentious, art-film way.