People have been asking various questions about the Memoirs and the Hugo Awards, so here’s a quick set of answers to share around (so I don’t have to type them over and over again — which, I just recalled, is Isabella’s in-story reason for writing her memoirs, so this is rather meta):
1) Is the series complete?
Yes! The book I’m writing right now is a related sequel, but it concerns Isabella’s grand-daughter Audrey; the Memoirs of Lady Trent themselves are finished. There are five books: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, Voyage of the Basilisk, In the Labyrinth of Drakes, and Within the Sanctuary of Wings. There is also a short story, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review.”
2) I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to read everything. Where should I start with the Memoirs?
If you need a quick taster, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review” is probably the easiest way to get that. It’s somewhat different from the Memoirs, being told in the form of letters rather than, y’know, a memoir — but it will give you a decent sense of Isabella’s personality and some of the series’ core concerns, in only 2100 words, and you can read it for free on Tor.com or get it in ebook. It takes place between the third and fourth book, but neither contains any significant spoilers nor requires you to have read the series to understand it.
Where the novels themselves are concerned, well, the traditional place to start is at the beginning. 🙂 But the challenge of the Best Series Hugo, of course, is that it isn’t the Best First Book of a Series Hugo. A Natural History of Dragons is a fine introduction, but if you’re pressed for time and want to jump in deeper, I recommend either The Tropic of Serpents or Voyage of the Basilisk. (Labyrinth and Sanctuary are distinctly dependent on the preceding books for their full effect.) I think Voyage does the best job of being both comprehensible on its own and a showcase for many of the series’ aesthetic and thematic concerns, but it also does so in the context of a story that’s a little more decentralized, because (as the title suggests) it’s Isabella’s Darwin-esque trip around the world. If you’d rather a more focused milieu, Tropic is the one to look at.
3) How does one go about voting for the Hugos?
The Hugo Awards are bestowed by the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention, so if you want to vote, become a member! A supporting membership gets you the right to vote on the 2018 award, the right to nominate for the 2019 award, and (in all likelihood) access to the Hugo Voter Packet, which assembles ebook copies of as many of the nominated works as publishers are willing to provide — usually quite a lot of them. An attending membership gets you all that and access to the convention itself, which will be August 16th-20th in San Jose, California.