So this is a little geeky but:
There’s a thing called the Hugo Awards, which gives an Oscar-like prize in various categories of the best science fiction stories of the year. And for the last few years, there has been some controversy over the kinds of works which have been winning. I’m very much an outsider, but the impression I get is that the conflict is between one set of people who think that popular fiction ought to win more often, and another who think that something more literate ought to win. I’m not exactly sure even who is on what side, or if I have the sides right. But that’s irrelevant to my point.
Because there has been such controversy, I’ve learned a few things about the process that gets me interested. The big difference between the Hugo awards and something like the Oscars is that the Hugoes are actually pretty easy to get in on. To vote for your favorite book, you have to be a member of the World Science Fiction Society, which membership costs $40 a year. That’s a pretty low entrance fee. But here’s the icing on the cake: In order to vote, you need to have read all the nominated works in each category, and in order to do that, the WSFS makes a solid attempt to provide its members with a digital copy of every nominated work.
So, for $40, you can get a copy of the best science fiction of the year. Yes, it’s probably more than it would cost to get a copy of everything at the library. It’s a lot cheaper than Amazon. And perhaps your local library doesn’t keep a ready copy of the 70 best science fiction works each year. Perhaps you are not a master of the interlibrary loan system. Maybe the thought of redefining “the best science fiction” amuses you.
Anyway, if you read science fiction, you should join. It’s not a bad investment. This year’s nominees were announced today, here. It looks as though the popular fiction crowd is in the ascendancy.