Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hugo Month - Deadline

The Hugo Awards are a set of science fiction awards given out across a broad range of categories, from novels to short stories to editors to fan artists. They are part of WorldCon which is a Science Fiction convention that takes place in a different location every year. Those who are members this year, or were members last year were able to nominate titles and authors, and members this year get to vote.

Since 2009 the con organisers have arranged to provide digital versions of most of the works that make it into voting so that the voters can be fully informed. I am trying to read through as much of this as I can during my break so I can talk about them on the blog. The Hugo Voter Packet is available to all members of ChiCon, which is the WorldCon for 2012, supporting membership is $50US and all of the provided works are DRM free. I should note however that of the novels, only Among Others is available in ePub and Mobi formats, the others are all PDF only which is a pity.

With that out of the way, the first of the novels I plan to discuss is Deadline by Mira Grant. This is Book Two in the Newsflesh trilogy, a post-zombie apocalypse scifi/horror novel. It is written from the perspective of Shaun Mason, one of the protagonists from the first novel, who is a blog journalist.

Deadline is very clearly a mid-series novel. It expands upon the story from the first novel it develops what were previously minor characters and deepens the overarching plot, significant progress is made but nothing is really resolved, because of course there is a third book to the trilogy.

The Newsflesh series, like any good zombies series, is not really about zombies, it is about people. The zombies rose up, but they have not killed humanity, this isn't a world where small populations of humans are hiding from the zombie threat, it is mostly under control, but society has changed. Mira Grant does a fantastic job of painting this changed world and exploring how humanity has adapted or in some cases failed to adapt.

A central theme of the series is about the control of information, again and again the mainstream media is shown as bowing to pressure withholding important pieces of information from the public. It is built into the very core of the premise the Rising was initially downplayed by the media at the request of the government. The reason why blogging is so significant is that new media was what spread the information that helped people stay alive, it helped spread the story of the rising.

I really enjoyed this series, the first book Feed was nominated for a Hugo last year and upon finishing it I immediately purchased Deadline and had to wait impatiently until earlier this month for the final book Blackout to be released. I am have avoid going into detail about the plot as unfortunately discussing most of the plot of Deadline would spoil Feed somewhat. What Shaun is going through in this book was something that resonated deeply with my personal experiences. I highly recommend reading this entire series.

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