C. A. Casey

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Harry Potter and the Hugo Award

Posted by Casey on October 13, 2007


Okay. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I began my previous blogs about the Harry Potter books with every intention to be civil and positive and ended up trashing the books anyway. Well, I’ll just start with the trashing, because I can’t think of many positive things to say about this book.

First off, I just want to say, I’m glad I finally read the Harry Potter book that won a Hugo Award. I couldn’t believe a Harry Potter book was good enough to be nominated, much less win the major award in science fiction and fantasy, bestowed by the World Science Fiction Society. All I can say, if I had a book nominated that year, I would not have been happy losing to a rather mediocre fantasy for children that had no business vying for a Hugo in the first place.

I hated the film version of this book. The book was a little better than the film–I wasn’t compelled to throw it against the wall. I was compelled to put it down about halfway through when the story came to a grinding halt and lumbered much too long through a series of boring pointless scenes. I kept going but the pace never really picked up to the end of the book.

The pacing problem is only partly Rowling’s fault, I think. Consumer and corporate pressure on both Rowling and her editors to finish these books resulted in poorly paced, bloated novels.

The final confrontations of Harry against evil remain the weakest parts of these books. They’re too leisurely paced and there’s only so much one can do while waving a wand and shouting weird Latin phrases. The ending of this book is unfocused and lazy in execution. But those are ever present traits of Rowling’s writing style. The lack of focus and laziness is just more apparent in the dramatic climaxes because these are the sections where the writing has to be sharp and to the point and . . . logical.

Okay, the readers of the first edition caught the little problem of the ghosts coming from Voldemort’s wand in the wrong order and it’s been corrected in later editions. I read the first edition and was pulled out the story to re-read the section and wonder why Rowling messed up the logic of a simple spell just so Potter’s mother could be the last to emerge from the wand. That was the only reason I could think of to put the ghosts out of order.

Then later in the book, we learn that the ghosts were to appear in the reverse order they died, which means Rowling didn’t consciously mess up the order, it means the copy editor fell down on the job. Just as the copy editor didn’t catch all the times H, H, & R didn’t use Snuffles instead of Sirius. Why even have Sirius make the request for them to use Snuffles when talking about him, when they do it once at the beginning of the conversation and then use Sirius after that? Again, I blame a lot of this on the pressure to get the book out to impatient readers.

One piece of information came from this book that I thought should have been, at least, hinted at in the Chamber of Secrets. The feathers in both Harry Potter’s and Voldemort’s wands are from Dumbledore’s phoenix.

Next, Book 5. All 870 pages of it.


2 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Hugo Award”

  1. Claudia said

    You really need to send these somewhere… like a review on Amazon, B & N… they are great!

  2. The key thing here is that the Hugo is a popularly-voted award. It’s not like some “panel of Experts” (whatever that means) picks a Deep Work of Literature That Will Stand For The Ages. In that particular year, enough members of the World Science Fiction Society thought that book was good enough to be nominated, and then better than the other four nominated works, to be worthy of a Hugo Award.

    I encourage anyone who thinks the Hugo Awards don’t go to works they consider “worthy” to join the Worldcon — you don’t have to attend — and nominate and vote for the works you think are worthwhile. If enough people think the way you do (and you might be surprised how few it takes), then works you like will be nominated and will win.

    Awards are funny things. If they’re popularly-voted, then some people will be unhappy when popular works win. If they’re picked by some Group of Important People Who Know More Than You Do, then they’re subject to being called “too elitist.” As a troll through SF Awards Watch will show, there’s a huge variation in how SF/F Awards are handled.

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