Odyssey by Jack McDevitt

I finished Odyssey by Jack McDevitt this morning on the way into work. It was an enjoyable read, but between that book and joe_haldeman‘s The Accidental Time Machine, I’m sticking with Joe’s book as my choice for the Nebula this year. Jack’s book has got everything you want in a space adventure, but I don’t think there was enough of a payoff. That may come in a later book (maybe). And I did enjoy the read, but it didn’t quite have the same sense of wonder that Joe’s book had.

It brings up an interesting point. Now that my reading lists are functional again, I went back and did some checking. Overall, since I started keeping track of my reading back in 1996, the average rating I’ve given to science fiction books is 3.4 out of 5. 164 books fall into this category. So then I looked at my ratings of books that I’ve read that won the Nebula award. I’ve read 18 Nebula award winners and their average rating is 3.2 out of 4. I’ve rated books that won the Nebula, on average 0.4 points lower than my general science fiction reading overall.

Obviously, this has to do with taste, but it also makes me feel like I’m a bit out of touch. And to be honest, I sometimes feel like I’m missing some element of the story that everyone else seems to get but me. Of the 18 Nebula award-winning books I’ve read, 6 received 4 stars or higher. Of the remaining, 2 of them received 2 stars: Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold, and The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke. Bujold’s book I struggled through, and sometimes that happens–no fault of the author. Clarke’s book surprised me. I’ve enjoyed most of what I read by Clarke, and had heard good things about the book, but it fell flat what I read it. Why is that?

There are books about which everyone raves and that I just don’t like. Another example is Robert Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land. After three failed attempts, I finally read it back in late 2000 and did not like it. I rated it 2 stars. But, generally, I enjoy Heinlein’s books. And my favorite thus far has been his time travel adventure, The Door Into Summer, which is not one of his award-winning books.

I know what I like, and I guess I just have to deal with the fact that the books I enjoy are not often the ones making appearances on the award lists.


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