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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hugo Awards Finalists (Plus Preliminary Commentary)

I'm too lazy to offer a proper introduction, so I'm just going to dive in (give me a break; I walked over five miles today).  The only thing I will say is that most of these are preliminary, most-likely-haven't-read-it thoughts.  For the most part, I will have nothing to say about a work except why I didn't pick it up during hte year.  The sad truth is that most of the stuff I nominated this year (my first nominating year) didn't make it.

Here goes (Hugos):

Best Novel

  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
  • Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

Nothing I loved last year made it on the list.  The only book I'm particularly excited about is Ahmeds, but that's based on what others have said.  I haven't read anything on this list and probably won't read at least two of them (nothing interests me about Scalzi's nostalgic book and I just can't bring myself to read Mira Grant's novels, even though I probably should -- I blame that on people frequently telling me to read something, which turns me into a rebel).  But since I'll get copies of all these books in my Hugo voting package (right?), I'll probably read them anyway.

Overall, I'm sort of "meh" about this particular category, though.  It's too...familiar.

Best Novella

  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
  • The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
  • San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • "The Stars Do Not Lie" by Jay Lake (Asimov's, Oct-Nov 2012)

I'm pleasantly surprised to see Nancy Kress on the list.  I quite like her work, though I must admit to having missed the work in this category.  I'm already rooting for her and Aliette de Bodard, who is another one of those really good writers currently, well, writing.  I'll profess complete ignorance about Lake's new story, though his recent work has greatly impressed me.  Grant and Sanderson?  The one thing going for Sanderson is that Tachyon published The Emperor's Soul.  I feel mostly the same about the Grant as I did in the previous category.

Best Novelette

  • "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)
  • "Fade To White" by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
  • "The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi" by Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
  • "In Sea-Salt Tears" by Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
  • "Rat-Catcher" by Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)

Aside from the excessive number of nominations for Seanan McGuire on this ballot (she is also Mira Grant), I quite like this list.  I've not heard of Heuvelt, but Postcripts is a damned good publication.  I've also quite liked some of Valente's work and I am pleasantly surprised to see Pat Cadigan making an appearance.

I should note that I don't actually have anything against Seanan McGuire.  I've not read most of her work.  I'll probably change my tune in a few months.  As a rule, though, I am skeptical about any author who appears more than twice on a ballot.  There is so much good work out there that I find it a little weird that one author could suck up so many votes in one nomination cycle.  But what do I know?  I'm a curmudgeon who likes to complain...

Best Short Story

  • "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
  • "Mantis Wives" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
  • "Mono no Aware" by Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)

Now this is interesting!  I quite like Ken Liu's work, and I did nominate de Bodard's "Immersion" (happy).  I've not read Johnson's newest story, though I'm told by fellow literary curmudgeon Adam Callaway that it is one of her best.

I am, however, disappointed that the votes were so divided among various stories that these three were the only ones to pop out of the crowd.  It's not right...

Best Related Work

  • The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature Edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge UP)
  • Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who Edited by Deborah Stanish & L.M. Myles (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • I Have an Idea for a Book… The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg Compiled by Martin H. Greenberg, edited by John Helfers (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)
  • Writing Excuses Season Seven by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

In order:
1) Cambridge Companion = wonderful!
2) Chicks Dig Comics (same folks who did that other one, I think)
3) Chicks Unravel Time (bored of Doctor Who appearing on everything; yeah, it's really great, but it's really not the greatest science fiction TV show EVER -- it just happens to be the only good one on the air right now, one which I happen to like, of course)
4) I Have an Idea for a Book (never heard of it; sounds interesting)
5) Writing Excuses (yeah, it belongs here and I'm happy to see it get nominated in the proper category)

What?  No VanderMeer or what not?  Pah!

Of course, I would laugh my toosh off if this list were dominated by academic books.  It will never happen, but my pretentious side is plotting and cackling...

Best Graphic Story

  • Grandville Bête Noire written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
  • Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Saga, Volume One written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
  • Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)

Honestly, I don't follow comics enough to have any opinion on these.  So I'll pass...

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • The Avengers Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
  • The Cabin in the Woods Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
  • The Hunger Games Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
  • Looper Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)

In order:
1) I nominated it.  It belongs here.  It's a shoe-in, methinks.
2) Again, it belongs here.  I'd call it a shoe-in if #1 weren't already there...
3) Oh come on...I know that this community has a massive hard-on for Tolkien and The Hobbit, but let's just admit that Lord of the Rings was better as a movie than this 2+ hour monstrosity.  It's bloated, confused, and mostly style over substance.  It's really not that good.  Watch it again.  It's like looking at what Michael Bay would have done if they'd given him the helm.  I love Peter Jackson, but he desperately needs someone to tell him "no."  He's becoming George Lucas...
4) Sure.  OK.
5) Eh, whatever.

I didn't honestly expect this community to nominate Cloud Atlas.  Most people didn't see it, and most of those who did pretty much didn't get it.  Not surprising, really.  But no Chronicle?  Whatever...

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

  • Doctor Who:"The Angels Take Manhattan" Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who:"Asylum of the Daleks" Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who:"The Snowmen" Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
  • Fringe:"Letters of Transit" Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
  • Game of Thrones:"Blackwater" Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

Completely predictable list.  Doctor Who dominates.  Yawn.  To be fair, I only nominated Game of Thrones stuff.  Not much to love in TV in 2012.  I think we should scrap the category and just nominate shows, and then promptly kick DW out into its own category.  The Annual Best Doctor Who Episode category.

Best Editor - Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Good names.  I like it.

Best Editor - Long Form

  • Lou Anders
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Toni Weisskopf


Best Professional Artist

  • Vincent Chong
  • Julie Dillon
  • Dan Dos Santos
  • Chris McGrath
  • John Picacio

Sure, I like it.

Best Semiprozine 

  • Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
  • Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams and Stefan Rudnicki
  • Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Jed Hartman, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Abigail Nussbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Dave Nagdeman and Rebecca Cross

No Interzone.  Not happy.  Bored, in fact.  Clarkesworld deserves to win this year, though.

Best Fanzine

  • Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
  • SF Signal edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester

Now this is interesting.  Three zines we expected, one blog we also expected, and one we didn't.  Well, I didn't, anyway.  Interesting.  To be fair, I still think this list is too much like the Dramatic Short Form.  Too...repetitive.  Such is life.

Best Fancast

  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
  • SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)
  • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Coode Street should win.  That is all.  I'm just sort of bored with SF/F podcasts these days.  Popularity always beats quality.  Curmudgeon Shaun strikes again... (No, I'm not mad that I didn't make it on the list.  Disappointed?  Sure, but I didn't really expect us to receive enough votes to make the final ballot.  I just thought the field would look...different.  But it doesn't.)

Best Fan Writer

  • James Bacon
  • Christopher J Garcia
  • Mark Oshiro
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • Steven H Silver

Same problem as the previous few categories, though TRR is here, which is nice.

Best Fan Artist

  • Galen Dara
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles

I know nothing about any of these people.  No comment.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
(It's really just a Hugo Award and I'm sick and tired of people saying it isn't.  If it's not a Hugo Award, then give it a completely different ceremony.  Otherwise, let's get over ourselves and admit that whether the Campbell is officially a Hugo, it is a de facto Hugo.  We vote on it via the same exact form.  It is presented at the same awards.  It is, for all intensive purposes, a normal part of the whole process.  It's a Hugo.  Accept it and move on.)

  • Zen Cho *
  • Max Gladstone
  • Mur Lafferty *
  • Stina Leicht *
  • Chuck Wendig *
Stina Leicht.  That is all.  She will win or I will burn all of fandom to the ground...

And that's that.  I hope you enjoyed the incoherent rambles.  Don't hate me too much...

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  1. No, no hatred here. Based on your tweet, I was expecting more vitriol than you actually expressed.

    Popular awards are, well, popular. Nature of the beast. Juried awards have their own issues, though.

    A juried award that was popularly voted on would be an interesting thing but I don't see the Hugo's changing to that, and I doubt anyone has the verve to do another major award.

  2. Yeah. I think I pulled my punches (but you know that, because we DMed about it).

  3. Your final word on Stina's nomination cracked me up. Well played. :)