Your story isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay

It’s important to write a story that reaches as broad an audience as possible. By the same token, you need to understand you not everyone will like what you write. It’s not just a matter of not liking the genre. Some people will just not like your particular voice or characters or how you handle your plot. You know what? That’s okay. Now that the Hugos are over (I did this post a week ahead of time, so I don’t know who won), I thought I would give you my impressions on the works that were in the “Novel” category. My ballot was as follows.

1. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
2. Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson
3. Three Body Problem by Lui Cixin
4. No Award

If you follow the Hugos, you’ll notice that there are two books that are missing, Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, and Goblin Emperor by Sarah Monette, both of which were hugely popular. Neither of which, however, kept me interested enough to actually finish them, which is why neither was on my ballot. I’ll talk briefly about each one, and why I placed it where I did. There are very minor spoilers in some of the following.

Goblin Emperor
I hate stories about politics. I find them mind numbingly boring. I don’t mind if politics are part of a story, but when they’re the main focus, the story really has to be something special to keep me interested. Goblin Emperor did not do that. I found I didn’t care about the characters. In fact, I was a third of the way through the book before I could even tell you the main character’s name, and I couldn’t name any of the others. I could describe some of their roles, but other than that, I had nothing. At a third of the way through a story, I should be far more interested than I was. Once I realized that, I stopped reading.

Ancillary Sword
See note above about how I feel about stories about politics. This one had enough non politics going on that I was interested at first, but only at first. There’s a whole gender thing that I found gimmicky. The constant bringing up of the aptitudes, basically placements tests that everyone takes but that kind of serve to keep a certain social class in power, struck my as heavy handed social commentary. Add that to the politics prevalent throughout the book, and and the story just bored me. I got a little bit more than halfway through before I realized that if this hadn’t been on the Hugo ballot, I would’ve stopped reading.

Three Body Problem
Initially, I really liked this. About three quarters of the way through, I realized the protagonist had basically done two things in the entire book. Other than that, he’d basically gone places and been told things. He would wonder about new questions this information raised, and before long, he went somewhere else and was told new things. Because of that, the book relies too much on the mystery. Don’t get me wrong, the mystery is fantastic, and does manage to sustain the story quite well, but I wouldn’t enjoy rereading this. I already know how it ends. That is a huge mark against it. I also didn’t care for the ending, though at the time, I didn’t realize this was part of a trilogy, which would’ve made the ending better, but still not great.

Dark Between the Stars
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. I enjoyed this. I thought it had a somewhat slow start, but I liked the story. I found the characters engaging. It was a complete story while still managing to set up the rest of the series. This is the first in a new series in the Saga of the Seven Suns universe, and I have read that series, so that may have contributed to how much I enjoyed this one.

Skin Game
This is the only one of the books I had read before the Hugo ballot came out. In my opinion, it succeeded in doing what Three Body Problem failed to do. There was an element of mystery, but rather than finishing it and feeling I wouldn’t enjoy rereading it, I immediately started reading it again so I could catch the little hints strewn throughout the book. I read this book twice the first week it was released, so that sets a high bar, and is more than reason enough to put this in the number one slot.

The point of this post was not to make anyone mad because I didn’t care for a book they loved. This is to illustrate a point. I love fantasy, but if you write a book like Goblin Emperor, I’m not going to like it. Goblin Emperor, however, was hugely popular, and I doubt very much Sarah Monette is losing any sleep over me not liking her book. I also enjoy scifi, but not something like Ancillary Sword. Many people I know did enjoy it. Neither of those stories were for me, and that’s okay.

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