I will confess at this point to feeling slightly nervous about tonight. It is now 7:20pm over here; in about eight hours the Hugo ceremony will be under way. The "best novel" Hugo is handed out last, so I won't hear the result until after 4am, win or lose.
As for the Hugos, here's my subjective assessment of the novel category (now it's too late to influence anyone):
I'm not going to win. Period. "Accelerando" is a little too bitty, episodic -- and has the bad luck to be on the shortlist the same year that Robert Charles Wilson has coughed up the best novel of his career, namely "Spin". He bloody deserves a Hugo for it, if you examine the book in isolation, i.e. without reference to the fact that this is basically a beauty show and the winner's quality is defined in terms relative, not absolute. (Personally, my big disappointment is that "Lobsters" didn't win in 2003 ... but it had the bad luck to come out the same year that Ted Chiang published "Hell is the Absence of God". So it goes.)
The other novels ... well, I haven't read the GRRM series, so I can't comment on his current book; but there's a huge bandwagon behind it. Then there's Ken's "Learning the World". It's a cracking good novel, stimulating in all the right places, and only a few whiskers behind "Spin". Finally, there's "Old Man's War". I confess: it's a light, easy read -- precisely the gateway drug John set out ot write -- and I think he'll win a Hugo eventually, but I'm somewhat surprised it's on the ballot. However, Scalzi, too, has a bandwagon rolling behind him.
Who would I vote for? Well, I'm not a member so I don't get a vote this year, but if I was voting, then (after drawing a polite veil over whether I'd vote for myself) I'd rank "Spin", "Learning the World", and "Old Man's War" in that order. (Although I suspect I'd have made more of an effort to re-start "A Game of Thrones" so I could honestly rate the other nominee.)
As for why I'm not in LA right now ...
Late in June, before I headed off to Australia, I tied myself down with an Edinburgh Book Festival event (last night) precisely to stop myself dashing off to LA at the last minute.
I've been home from Australia for only about 2 weeks, I -- predictably -- brought a chest bug home with me (and a nastier one than usual, it seems), and I'd be stressing myself out with thoughts of stuff I ought to be working on if I was there instead of here. (The to-do list for next week includes: working on a novel, getting my accounts done, visiting relatives, and talking to a surveyor and a lawyer. All the while lazing languidly on my lounger while scantily clad beauties drop peeled grapes in my mouth.)
While the con itself is only five days long, which doesn't sound so bad, the flight over would take another day, the flight home and immediate jet-lag would take two days, and the temptation to spend a few extra days on the ground (I've never visited LA, and I have some friends who live there) would ultimately bloat such a last-minute trip up to a two week junket. On top of the Oz trip, I'd end up spending less than two weeks at home out of a two month stretch of wall clock time. And unlike some, I don't work effectively when on the move. All of which went to make a trip to LACon IV look like a really bad idea to me at the time when I was juggling my schedule.
But I'm still missing the worldcon, dammit. And it feels wrong. The urge to be sitting in the front row at that awards ceremony -- even though I know I'm not going to win one this time round -- is to me much as the eternal search for brains must feel to a zombie.
I suspect I may be in the pub later tonight. If you catch me shambling from table to table with arms outstretched and a glassy-eyed expression, muttering "hugo ... must have hugo ..." please put a pint of beer in my hands.