Anyway: yes, I am ploughing my way through the Hugo 2014 nominated works, why do you ask?
I gave one of the novels nominated more attention than I normally would for a work that didn’t grab my imagination within the first few pages, because I knew I didn’t like his earlier work, but he’s been writing steadily (and profitably) for a few decades now and I wanted to be rigorous in ascertaining whether his writing had become in any way more appealing to me since 2003. Sadly, no.
If anything, it seems to have worsened – the first two chapters were pure infodump regarding this particular space opera’s historical background and then finally in Chapter 3 there was an attempt to start introducing some characters that were perhaps about to say or do something to unfold the next stage in the space opera. I don’t know how or if anything interesting did unfold, because when (after several pages of introducing a perfunctory cast of characters complete with overworked tropes) he then described his POV character meeting a tall imposing man holding an impressive title and dressed in a robe covered with symbols. Symbols of what, you may wonder, and so still do I, because there was no attempt made to inform the reader about what those symbols meant or what level of authority they represented in whatever hierarchy was represented by that impressive title, and at that point all I could do was snarl incoherently about utterly incompetent world-building, and that’s when I stopped reading and put that book below No Award on my Hugo ballot.
I’ve had a similar reaction so far to the several other SP/RP slate nominated works I’ve taken a look at. It seems to be common practice amongst the authors favoured by SP/RP adherents to approach world-building as ticking off a tell-all-up-front checklist rather than to build their speculative worlds as an ongoing and gradual show-don’t-tell process of exploration and revelation. For me, that up-front checklist approach makes them crappy world-builders, which means I am most unlikely to find their works Hugo-worthy, and apparently I’m not alone: complex and innovative world-building is a prime indicator of quality writing for a large number of SF readers.
Anyhoo, on with the next contender.