The 2017 Hugo Awards have come and gone, and for the second year in a row N.K. Jemisin took home the award for Best Novel. Since the first awards were presented in 1953, the Hugos have helped the science fiction and fantasy community honor some of the greatest authors of the genre. If you’re looking for an exceptional read, look no further. These 13 Hugo Award-winning books are sure to feed your appetite for out-of-this-world adventures.
The Lovers * Dark Is the Sun * Riders of the Purple Wage
Philip José Farmer looks at government supervision and the economy in Riders of the Purple Wage, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1968. The world of Riders of the Purple Wage consists of citizens who all receive a basic income, known as the purple wage, from the government. The plot follows the story of Chib, and his relationship with his great-great-grandfather “Grandpa Winnegan” who hides from the government in his home. Long ago, Grandpa ran a successful company whose workers were highly paid and far more content than the average receiver of the “purple wage.” The novel explores the themes of art, sexuality, and the effect money has on our happiness.
"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman
Ellison’s short story won the Hugo Award in 1966 and is set in a highly regulated dystopian future. Specifically, everyone must do things according to a precise time schedule. Being late has severe consequences: Time is taken from you and if you run out of time the Master Timekeeper, the “Ticktockman,” takes your life. A man who disguises himself as the Harlequin is at the forefront of the story—and urges people to rebel against the Ticktockman and time itself … before his own runs out.
The Forever War
The 1974 military science fiction novel, which won the Hugo Award is 1976, is the first book in a three-book trilogy. The Forever War focuses on William Mandella—a physics student who is drafted by the United States Exploratory Force to fight the Taurans, an alien species. After training, the troops are sent to fight in ships traveling thousands of light-years in a split second. But after they slaughter their enemy and return home, time dilation has caused 27 years to pass (though it seemed like 2 years to the troops), and they must learn to adjust to a whole new world—while realizing that the war never truly ends.
RELATED: Re-Read: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
Winner of the 1969 Hugo Award for Best Novella, Robert Silverberg’s Nightwings takes place in a distant caste-based future, in which some members have been genetically modified to possess specific traits in order to perform particular jobs. The book centers on a member of the Watchers, a guild that has been engineered to use their mental capabilities to watch distant stars and warn the Defenders of alien invasion. But when he visits the old city of Roum (which might have previously been called Rome) he becomes distracted ... potentially causing an alien invasion to commence.
The Big Front Yard
Simak’s short story won the 1958 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. The Big Front Yard follows mysterious alien beings who turn an ordinary house into an interplanetary portal to connect habitable plants. After unearthing a space ship in the front yard, Hiram Taine discovers the portal that allows him to access another planet by simply walking through the front door—leading to the discovery of many other planets all connected by these portals. This collection also includes other short stories by Simak.
In a future Earth, the planet has stopped spinning—leaving the planet half dark and half light. Fighting the odds, humans are one of the few animal species that still exist (though, in small numbers), and plants have taken over the sunlit half of this new world. The novel, composed of five novelettes, was originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and later published in a full volume. Collectively, the stories were awarded the 1962 Hugo Award for Best Short Fiction.
Octavia Butler’s short fiction “Bloodchild” won the 1985 Hugo Award for Best Novelette (as well as a Nebula Award and a Locus Award). Just one of the exceptional short stories featured in this collection, “Bloodchild” explores the relationship between a race of aliens called the Tlic and the humans who have escaped Earth and settled on the Tlic planet. The Tlic soon realize that humans are excellent hosts for Tlic eggs and make it mandatory for every human family to choose a child for implantation in exchange for protection. Though Gan thinks it’s an honor to be a host, he soon learns that there’s a darker side to this kind of duty.
Ill Met in Lankhmar and Ship of Shadows
The 1971 Hugo Award winner for Best Novella, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” recounts the meeting and teaming up of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser—serving as a prequel of sorts to Leiber’s The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser book series. Featured alongside four other stories in Swords and Deviltry, “Ill Met in Lankhmar” starts when Gray Mouser and Fafhrd simultaneously ambush the Thieves’ Guild and steal valuable jewels that they themselves had just stolen. Realizing they make a good team, Gray Mouser and Fafhrd join forces and attempt to infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves’ Guild.
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Chabon’s alternate history book takes place in a world in which Alaska became a temporary sanctuary for Jews during World War II, thus saving four million Jews from being murdered during the Holocaust. In Sitka, Alaska, Meyer Landsman—an alcoholic homicide detective—is investigating the murder of Mendel Shpilman, who many Jews believe to be the next messiah. But as Landsman and his partner Berko Shemets continue their investigation, they’re brought deeper and deeper into a shocking plot. The book won the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
The Fifth Season
The 2016 Hugo Award winner for Best Novel is the first book in the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. The Fifth Season introduces us to a single supercontinent called the Stillness. Every few centuries, catastrophic climate change is endured during what residents of the Stillness call a “Fifth Season.” The book details the end of the world, as the characters must fight to survive it. The third book in the series The Stone Sky was just published, and The Fifth Season is currently being adapted for television.
Originally released as two separate novels, together the book won the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The novels are set in 2060, in a time in which historians at Oxford have the ability to travel back in time to observe historical events. Several time travelers go back to 1940s England to observe the events of World War II, including the evacuation of children and the Blitz. However, time travel comes with its dangers, and the book follows the historians as they attempt to make it safely back home.
Mike Resnick’s book Kirinyaga is composed of ten shorts that were designed to fit together in a novel. One of these, “The Manamouki,” won the 1991 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. The stories in Kirinyaga follow one man’s attempt to preserve African culture in a future “utopia.” The prologue discusses whether or not a Kenyan tribe can still stay true to its roots while adopting European customs.
The winner of the 1982 Hugo Award for Best Related Non-Fiction Book, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre is about horror fiction in all different mediums—as well as the influence society has had on the genre. Within his book, King includes the influences on his own writing and the important historical texts that started the genre, going as far back as the Victorian era.
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