Now we get to the category where I can actually seem vaguely competent because I’ve read most of them before. As you would hope, this is an extremely strong category, and my only regret is that I didn’t have time to read more books in these series.
As mentioned before this is not strictly a Hugo category, it just uses the same voting system with the same electorate and is given out at the same time. It’s also an odd duck, as novels duke it out with short stories and mixtures of both. Still, the Campbell Award often ends up being my favourite slate – in previous years I have preferred the novels represented here to those in the novel category.
What happens when SFF fans nominate comic books for an award? Usually I would say you get fewer superhero titles and more SFF, but this year fully half the titles contain avengers, though not the avengers you are thinking of. Also, I love comic books, but I have no knack for visual criticism, so I apologise in advance to both readers and artists if my art criticism boils down to “it looked pretty”.
The problem with Among Thieves is that it is two great novels fighting against each other to make one merely good book. Drothe is a classic lovable rogue; he’s an information dealer with interesting relatives, a homicidal best friend, and a bit of an attitude. The parts of the story where he interacts with his informants, navigates the obligations of the kin (fantasy mob), and tries to avoid being knifed are amongst the best examples of a fantasy underworld I’ve seen. At the same time, the high fantasy story of an empire ruled by a triumvirate of serially reincarnating emperors who are becoming erratic and beginning to hate each other hold endless promise.
When I read the Bloodline Feud, I thought it was a high concept masterpiece, by the time I got to the last volume of the Merchant Princes, I couldn’t finish it, and returned the first book of the new series in the same world, Empire Games, unread to the library.