Books

Vorkosigans for the win! (Literally.)

There aren't very many years when I have really strong opinions on Hugo award winners, but this was one of those years when there was one category where I did have very strong opinions, and I'm completely delighted that the Vorkosigan books won for best series. (Full list of winners and nominees here.)

This isn't specifically because of my personal feelings about it (all the nominated series are ones that I either personally really enjoy or have heard good things about). It's because, of all the series on the list, it's the only one that I consider really, truly groundbreaking at the time it came out. Yes, the series has dated badly in some ways, but it's still kind of amazing to me that these books (the first half-dozen or so, anyway) were written in the 1980s. They stand out much less today, with so much more diversity of books available -- not just in the kinds of people in the books, but the kind of books that are around in the genre. But even by modern standards, these books are kind of weird (one part mil-SF, one part generation saga, one part comedy of manners). And at the time they were written, they were really, truly visionary. There just wasn't anything else like them. I think they were the first SF books I ever read where gay and agender and disabled characters were just there, as an ordinary human component of the future -- and yes, I know that is one aspect of the books that hasn't aged very well, but it was the 1980s! One thing that sticks in my head is LMB's account of what made her write Ethan of Athos: as a mom herself, she had a conversation with some male friends about whether men would be able to raise children by themselves (without a woman in the picture). She thought it was possible. Not a single one of her male friends agreed. I mean, literally didn't think it was a thing that could happen. So she went and wrote Ethan of Athos about an all-male planet to prove them wrong.

That's how much the world has changed in the last 30 years, and that's the milieu that the early books in the series were written in, and yet, books like Shards of Honor and the early Miles books are still completely readable today; they've dated a bit, but to me, anyway, they don't feel nearly as dated as the vast majority of 1970s/80s sci-fi does now.

So yeah, that's why I had strong feelings on that category, and that's why I'm really thrilled it went the way I was hoping it would go. The other series are excellent books. All of them have their own individual strengths; many of them do well what the Vorkosigan books don't. But I wanted LMB to win because, though they have their flaws, I think her books are really, truly visionary, groundbreaking, and influential in a way the others aren't, and that's what I think the Hugo awards (ideally) should recognize.

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I feel exactly the same. Ordinarily I pay little attention to awards, as it reminds me too much of classroom politics in grade school, but this one did make me let out of yip of pleasure.
Yeah, I'm basically the same - aside from all the Rabid Puppies nonsense, and not wanting to see those people get rewarded for that, I don't typically care who wins what. But ever since the nominees came out, I've been desperately hoping this series would win for all the above reasons, and I was really thrilled to see that it did.
This makes me SO HAPPY. I have a friend who can't stand LMMB's Vorkosigan books because (says the friend) she just WRITES THEM without spending a lot of time to construct an intricate outline and framework. However, it's the spontaneity of the books that amuses and amazes me. There are times I could swear the characters take off on their own without her planning for them to do so, and I love the results.

I love the Termeraire books, too, but for different reasons. They are highly satisfying to me when I crave an adventure with structure and formality. But the Vorkosigan Saga? It just makes me happy, and that's something that's been all too rare in recent years.
Yeah, you can tell she really likes writing them, and she just kinda lets the characters take her wherever they want to go -- I doubt if she has any sort of long-term plan. In fact, I remember a couple of points in the series that were supposed to be the last book (in particular, I think she said she was planning Aral's death to be the very final end of the series, and there weren't supposed to be any books after that -- which was what, 2 or 3 books ago?). But I think that's what gives them the feeling that you're just following along with the lives of this group of characters who are growing up and getting married and growing old as we're watching their lives unfold. And that's a cool thing.