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Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Hugo Nominee Ballot: Best Related Work

(Update:  I 'm going to have to change my selections; it was pointed out to me by Mari Ness that this category is only for non-fiction, which means I can't have any collections here.  Right now, I am extremely frustrated about the absence of a category for anthologies and collections.)

This remains one of the ridiculous categories on the Hugo Ballot, since it is essentially a repository for all the things that don't fit anywhere else (which is what folks have been saying as long as I can remember discussing the Hugos as something more than just "that award thing").  So my selections are going to be full of fiction collections which don't fit elsewhere because there isn't a "best collection or anthology" category.

Here are my selections:
Speculative Fiction 2012 edited by Jared Shurin and Justin Landon
Despite the fact that I am one of the editors of next year's edition, I have to say that Shurin's and Landon's landmark collection of criticism and commentary from the sf/f blogosphere is easily one of the most important non-fiction books released last year.  This is the first time I can think of in which the web-based side of the sf/f community was recognized for its contributions on its own, and so I see this book as a necessary push toward a more digital perspective of sf/f criticism.  Other folks have nominated it, so I assume they agree.

Feminist Frequency:  Tropes vs. Women by Anita Sarkeesian
While I don't always agree with Sarkeesian's analysis, I find her overall work incredibly important to our field, even if she is mostly focused on video games (which are often sf/f, too).  And despite the fact that a lot of really angry people keep crying about how wrong she is, her videos have sparked so much discussion about representation in video games that it's hard to ignore the influence.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
If there's one collection of reprinted short stories you absolutely must have from 2013, it's this one.  Lee's stories are vivid, original, weird, and beautiful.  Some of the stories so engulfed me in their tiny worlds that I found myself yearning for more -- novel-length more.  After reading Conservation of Shadows, Lee became one of my favorite current short story writers.

We interviewed Lee on The Skiffy and Fanty Show last year.

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack
The second I heard about this book, I became crazy excited about it.  It reminded me of my days in college, when I learned about Sun Ra and other extraordinary African American writers who were doing cool stuff before I was born (or before I had learned to read); shortly after, we learned a bit about the current flock, which acted as a gateway into my interesting postcolonialism.  This is a book about that world of sf/f, and so it has a special place in my heart.  If you haven't checked it out, you really shoot.

We See a Different Frontier: a Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad
As a postcolonial scholar, I am always on the lookout for fiction collections and academic books on that very subject.  Perhaps arriving unintentionally on the heels of So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (2004) edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, We See a Different Frontier offers a stunning collection of stories that explore the postcolonial condition through the eyes of the colonized.  The academic side of me salivates when I think about this book; the fan side of me would eat the pages if it meant it could get more story out of them.

The Agony Column by Rick Kleffel
I nominated it last year because Kleffel's interviews are some of the best in the business and because he doesn't fit into the Best Fancast category.  And so that's why I'm nominating The Agony Column this year.  The interviews are always informative and fascinating, and Kleffel brings together sf/f with the literary world in a way that sometimes makes me forget that I'm mostly only interested in sf/f.  If you're not a listener, you should be.

Mothership:  Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall
Much like the other Afrofuturism book on this list, Campbell and Hall's brilliant collection of afrofuturist stories immediately made me jump with excitement.  This is exactly the kind of collection I want to see gracing the bookshelves and bestseller lists.  International, varied, and beautiful all around.  Oh, and the stories are pretty darn good, too!

SF History Column by Andrew Liptak (at Kirkus Reviews)
You know you love some sf history, right?  So do I.  Andrew's columns are informative, well-written, and worth reading.  This essay on Washington Irving is solid.  Or how about this one on Weird Tales?  Or this one on Lord Dunsany?  Oh, hell, just go read his column.

So that's what I'm nominating in this category.  What about you?

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