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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Skin Game by Jim Butcher - "Best Novel" category, Hugo Awards voting 2015

Just quickly, I was not overwhelmed Skin Game - the 15th novel in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series - but it does show what everyone told me: that Butcher is a skilled and serious craftsman. Again and again, he brings complex situations and perceptions alive with astute first-person writing.

The story basically involves a supernatural heist, complete with backstabbings and betrayals - plus cleverly choreographed magical battles. This is not necessarily my kind of thing, though I expect I'd have found Skin Game more enjoyable if I'd come to it with a previous knowledge of the series. The character interactions are clearly important, but they'd be more meaningful for someone already familiar with these characters, and perhaps emotionally invested in them and their fates. Butcher has a monstrous fan following, and I can see why, even if this book, taken in isolation, did not strike me as so extraordinary as to merit an important international literary award.

I'd not begrudge Skin Game a Hugo Award if it works out that way. It is on the ballot at least partly because of its appearance on the "puppies" slates, but that in no way shows that either the book or its author is undeserving. I'll leave it at that, I won't be voting it down merely because of the Sad Puppies situation, but I'll see whether any of the other nominated novels strike me as more obvious winners in the category or inspire me to greater eloquence.

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