While I knew I could just buy a membership and vote, I never actually did it until the Melancholy Canine Kerfuffle motivated me to get involved.
And I’ve been happily nominating, reading the packet after the ballot comes out, and voting ever sense.
Which *drum roll* brings us to—the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards and the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards have been announced!
2020 Hugo and Astounding Awards
Only two of the books I nominated made it to the final ballot, but three more were already in my to-be-read pile, so this is a very strong selection, and I suspect I’ll have a very hard time picking in this category.
- The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
- The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
- A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
- Middlegame, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
- Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
Again, only two of the novellas I nominated made this list, but a couple more were ones I would have nominated if I could nominate more than five. And the other two I’ve heard good things about, so, I’m looking forward to the Hugo packet.
- To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)
- “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
- The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
- This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
- In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
- The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
The further you get down the ballot ballot in the printed fiction categories, the less possible it is that any individual reader has seen a significant fraction of all the stories in that category published in a single year. So I’m not surprised that only one single entry is one that was on my ballot. But several that I haven’t read yet have been written by authors I know are really good, so…
- “For He Can Creep”, Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com 7/10/19)
- “Omphalos”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
- “Away with the Wolves”, Sarah Gailey (Uncanny 9-10/19)
- “Emergency Skin”, N.K. Jemisin (Forward)
- “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 7-8/19)
- “The Archronology of Love”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 4/19)
Best Short Story
I think this is the first time, ever, that four of the stories in this category are ones I had read before the ballot came out. This looks like, again, a great set of nominees.
- “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/31/19)
- “As the Last I May Know”, S.L. Huang (Tor.com 10/23/19)
- “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons 9/9/19)
- “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, Nibedita Sen (Nightmare 5/19)
- “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, Rivers Solomon (Tor.com 7/24/19)
- “A Catalog of Storms”, Fran Wilde (Uncanny 1-2/19)
This is still a very new category, and it’s difficult to know which series are eligible in a give year. Only two of the entries on this list were on my nomination ballot, but I’m familiar with a couple more, and know that they are very good.
- Winternight, Katherine Arden (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)
- The Expanse, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- Luna, Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
- InCryptid, Seanan McGuire (DAW)
- Planetfall, Emma Newman (Ace; Gollancz)
- Wormwood, Tade Thompson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Best Related Work
This category is always odd, because it is intentionally a miscellaneous category intended as, among other things, a place to nominate new artforms. Anyway, three things I nominated made it here, so obviously I think it is good. I am delighted that Jeannette Ng’s speech made the list, even though it never occurred to me that it was eligible. On the other hand, I think that other things on the list are more deserving of the trophy. But then, I have to admit that half the reason I’m delighted that the speech is here is precisely because of the people who are furious that it got nominated.
- Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press)
- The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendlesohn (Unbound)
- “2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, Jeannette Ng (Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon)
- The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square)
- Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, J. Michael Straczynski (Harper Voyager US)
- Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Graphic Story or Comic
When I was younger I was reading comic books as they came out, before they were collected into graphic novels. I tend to wait, now, so I’m not as up on what all is out there, like I used to be. This year while I was trying to fill out my nomination ballot, I learned that almost everything I’d read in the last year had been published earlier, so I didn’t nominate many. Only one title below is one that I have read recently (and nominated). But I’m familiar with several of the writers and artists of the other titles, so I’m looking forward to reading them.
- Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Stephanie Hans (Image)
- The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: Okay, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson (Image Comics)
- Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
- LaGuardia, Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
- Paper Girls, Volume 6, Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson (Image)
- Mooncakes, Wendy Xu & Suzanne Walker (Oni Press; Lion Forge)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Three things I nominated made this list. Two others I have reason to believe are really good. One… one is going under No Award on my ballot already. But I don’t think anyone who knows me will be surprised that the number one slot on my ballot is going to Good Omens…
- Avengers: Endgame
- Captain Marvel
- Good Omens
- Russian Doll, Season One
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Only one episode I nominated made it to the list. A couple of the other series, I nominated different episodes than are here.
- Doctor Who: “Resolution”
- The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”
- The Good Place: “The Answer”
- The Mandalorian: “Redemption”
- Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”
- Watchmen: “This Extraordinary Being”
Best Editor, Short Form
Editor categories are always hard to predict. Three of the editors I nominated made it here. Two of the others I am familiar with their work already. It will be interesting researching the others.
- Neil Clarke
- Ellen Datlow
- C.C. Finlay
- Jonathan Strahan
- Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
- Sheila Williams
Best Editor, Long Form
The last couple of years what I have tried to do in this category is find out the editor of the novels I nominated. This year, I was only able to find out who was one of the editors of the five novels I nominated. She made it to the list. I really wish the book publishers would make it easier to find who the editors are. It was only after the ballot was released today that I found out that one single editor who wasn’t on my ballot edited two things I nominated. They didn’t make it to the list, and I firmly belief part of the reason is because people like me can’t find out who edited the books we love!
- Sheila Gilbert
- Brit Hvide
- Diana M. Pho
- Devi Pillai
- Miriam Weinberg
- Navah Wolfe
Best Professional Artist
Several great choices. I suspect the ones I’m not familiar with already are good, as well.
- Tommy Arnold
- Rovina Cai
- Galen Dara
- John Picacio
- Yuko Shimizu
- Alyssa Winans
Three of my nominees made it to the list. The other three entries on the list are all things that almost made it. I just read/listen to a LOT. Every one of these publishes good stuff, so another really strong category.
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Escape Pod
- Strange Horizons
Only one of the things I nominated made it to the list this time, but three more are publications that I quite love, and the other two I’ve never perused before, so I’m looking forward to exploring new things.
- The Book Smugglers
- Galactic Journey
- Journey Planet
- nerds of a feather, flock together
- Quick Sip Reviews
- The Rec Center
Three of my nominees made the list. I’m familiar with a couple of the others and they almost made the cut. So, once again, a strong category.
- Be the Serpent
- The Coode Street Podcast
- Galactic Suburbia
- Our Opinions Are Correct
- Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel
- The Skiffy and Fanty Show
Best Fan Writer
I was so happy watching the livestream when this category was announced. Three of the entries were also on my nomination ballot. Two of those are Blog Buddies! And the other three are people whose work I am at least partially familiar with and have enjoyed their work, so this is a category I’ll have a difficult time ranking.
- Cora Buhlert
- James Davis Nicoll
- Alasdair Stuart
- Bogi Takács
- Paul Weimer
- Adam Whitehead
Best Fan Artist
- Iain Clark
- Sara Felix
- Grace P. Fong
- Meg Frank
- Ariela Housman
- Elise Matthesen
Lodestar for Best Young Adult Book (Not a Hugo)
Only one book I nominated made it to the list. But part of the problem there is that three other books that did make it were in my to-be-read pile at nomination time and I don’t feel right nominating if I haven’t read it. This is another really strong list and I’m looking forward to finishing a few books and reading two more.
- The Wicked King, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Hot Key)
- Deeplight, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
- Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
- Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
- Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney/Hyperion)
- Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)
Astounding Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo)
This is another really strong list!
- Sam Hawke*
- R.F. Kuang*
- Jenn Lyons
- Nibedita Sen*
- Tasha Suri*
- Emily Tesh
*Second year of eligibility
1945 Retro Hugo Nominees
The Retro Hugos are… weird. At final ballot time I seem to never pick the winners. I know that part of the problem with the Retros is that enough voters vote by looking for familiar names, so when an early story by someone who later became really good is on the ballot, even when that is one of the worst stories that later-famous author ever wrote, and clearly the weakest story on the Retro ballot, it still wins.
I’m happy that Leigh Brackett has several nominations.
I am even more happy that C.L. Moore is nominated in several categories!
I am delighted that a movie based on a story by Oscar Wilde made it into one of the Dramatic Presentation categories.
Related, a non-fiction book by H.G. Wells is also nominated. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Oscar Wilde and H.G. Wells won Retro Hugos at the same time? I’m just saying!
I am not surprised that Edgar Rice Burroughs appears more than once, but remember he owned his own publishing company by this point, and was churning out work at an insane pace.
The f-ing fascist was nominated in one of the editor categories. I really hope that my fave, Raymond Palmer finally gets one of the Retro Hugos, but we all know it is almost guaranteed to go the fascist, so…
- “Shadow Over Mars”, Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories Fall ’44)
- Land of Terror, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.)
- The Golden Fleece, Robert Graves (Cassell)
- “The Winged Man”, E. Mayne Hull & A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 5-6/44)
- The Wind on the Moon, Eric Linklater (Macmillan)
- Sirius, Olaf Stapledon (Secker & Warberg)
- “The Jewel of Bas”, Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories Spring ’44)
- “A God Named Kroo”, Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories Winter ’44)
- “Trog”, Murray Leinster (Astounding Science Fiction 6/44)
- “Intruders from the Stars”, Ross Rocklynne (Amazing Stories 1/44)
- “Killdozer!”, Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
- “The Changeling”, A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 4/44)
- “The Big and the Little”, Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction 8/44)
- “Arena”, Fredric Brown (Astounding Science Fiction 6/44)
- “No Woman Born”, C.L. Moore (Astounding Science Fiction 12/44)
- “The Children’s Hour”, Lawrence O’Donnell (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction 3/44)
- “When the Bough Breaks”, Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
- “City”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 5/44)
Best Short Story
- “The Wedge”, Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction 10/44)
- “I, Rocket”, Ray Bradbury (Amazing Stories 5/44)
- “And the Gods Laughed”, Fredric Brown (Planet Stories Spring ’44)
- “Desertion”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44)
- “Huddling Place”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction 7/44)
- “Far Centaurus”, A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 1/44)
- Pellucidar, Edgar Rice Burroughs
- Jules de Grandin, Seabury Quinn
- The Shadow, Maxwell Gibson (Walter B. Grant)
- Captain Future, Brett Sterling
- Doc Savage, Kenneth Robeson/Lester Dent
- Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others
Best Related Work
- “The Science-Fiction Field”, Leigh Brackett (Writer’s Digest 7/44)
- Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom, George Gamow (Cambridge University Press)
- “The Works of H.P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal”, Fritz Leiber (The Acolyte Fall ’44)
- Rockets: The Future of Travel Beyond the Stratosphere, Willy Ley (Viking Press)
- Fancyclopedia, Jack Speer (Forrest J Ackerman)
- ‘42 To ‘44: A Contemporary Memoir Upon Human Behavior During the Crisis of the World Revolution, H.G. Wells (Secker & Warburg)
Best Graphic Story or Comic
- Donald Duck: “The Mad Chemist”, Carl Barks (Dell Comics)
- >Buck Rogers: “Hollow Planetoid”, Dick Calkins (National Newspaper Service)
- Flash Gordon: “Battle for Tropica”, Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate)
- Flash Gordon: “Triumph in Tropica”, Alex Raymond (Kings Features Syndicate)
- Superman: “The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk”, Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster (DC)
- The Spirit: “For the Love of Clara Defoe”, Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine, and Don Komisarow
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
- The Canterville Ghost
- The Curse of the Cat People
- Donovan’s Brain
- House of Frankenstein
- The Invisible Man’s Revenge
- It Happened Tomorrow
Best Professional Editor, Short Form
- John W. Campbell, Jr.
- Oscar J. Friend
- Mary Gnaedinger
- Dorothy McIlwraith
- Raymond A. Palmer
- W. Scott Peacock
Best Professional Artist
- Earle Bergey
- Margaret Brundage
- Boris Dolgov
- Matt Fox
- Paul Orban
- William Timmins
- The Acolyte
- Futurian War Digest
- Shangri L’Affaires
- Voice of the Imagi-Nation
- Le Zombie
Best Fan Writer
- Fritz Leiber, Jr.
- Morojo (Myrtle R. Douglas)
- J. Michael Rosenblum
- Jack Speer
- Bob Tucker
- Harry Warner, Jr.
Edited to add: Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online.
Dang it, was barely started on the formatting, let alone my comments!
Okay, now you can read the post: Line up your rockets! Or, we have the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists!
Imagine that you, like me, were a fan of your local sports team. Imagine that you have watched their games for years—perhaps since childhood with fond memories of cheering the team on with your loved ones. Imagine that you wear the team t-shirt every Friday during the sports season. Imagine that when you see strangers on the street, or bus, or in the store also wearing the t-shirt (or hat, or scarf, or some other article of clothing with the team logo), you exclaim the team cheer (in my case it’s “Go Hawks!”), and the other person smiles and either repeats the phrase to you, or replies with another well-known cheer for the team.
Imagine that (perhaps because it was a time in your life when you couldn’t afford the official team merch) you made your own scarf or hat in the team colors. Or maybe you just couldn’t find the thing you wanted, so you made the banner or the sign or whatever about your favorite player or the team and put it out to share in the team spirit.
Year after year, game after game, you cheer for your team when they win. You are sad when they lose. You get ecstatic, jumping up and down and screaming, when they make it to the play-offs. When they don’t win the championship, you console your fellow fans, talking about how they were robbed and how next year will be different. Over the years you’ve bought tickets and attended games when you could afford to, you’ve bought the merch, you’ve organized viewing parties, you have screamed and hollered and been a fan.
Then, finally, imagine your team makes it all way to the top. They win all the games in the play-offs, they make it to the final championship, and OMG, they win!
Oh, the cheering and the screaming! Fans pounding each other on the back! Shouting “We won! We won! We are the champions!”
The team flies back home and there’s going to be a parade, so you put on your team jersey and your hat and scarf with the logo. You make a big sign on which you have painted the team logo and written the words, “We’re #1!”
And there you are at the parade, in a crowded sidewalk, holding up your signs, yelling happily as the team goes by on the vehicles of the parade. You’re excited and happy and everything is wonderful.
Except a guy walks up to you. You don’t recognize him. Maybe he’s wearing a button down shirt and tasteful slacks. He’s holding a clipboard. “No, you are not number one,” he says, angrily.
You’re confused “What? We won!”
He shakes his head, pulls out some identification that seems to say that he is an official of the league. “You did not win. They won. You are not a member of the team. You are just some wannabe who thinks that being a fan counts.”
And suddenly, everyone else on the sidewalk goes silent. Some of the people in the crowd say, “Technically, he’s right. We didn’t win. We cheered them on to the win, but that’s not the same thing.”
And someone else in the crowd points to the jersey and other gear he’s wearing and says, “I support the team with my money, too! I’m at least a part of the win!”
The guy with the clipboard and some others in the crowd shake their heads. “You can technically say that you contributed to an award winning team, but that’s it. Anything else is just a slap in the face to all those hard-working players who won this year and in the years before.” He takes your homemade sign away from you. “This is trademark violation. Don’t make us sue you.”
The parade is decidedly less festive after that.
Imagine a few months later, and you’ve tried to shake off the feeling you had when you were told that you, as merely a fan, have no share in the team’s victory. It was just some silly technical legal thing, you decided. That’s okay. You still love your team. You still wear your t-shirt. And when you see another person wearing their shirt and they exclaim the traditional cheer, without thinking you reply, “We’re number one!”
And suddenly the clipboard guy is there. “Okay, that joke might have been funny right after the win, but you have to stop. Every time you claim that you’re part of the winning team that is a slap in the face to all the actual winners. You are disrespecting the championship trophy. You are shitting all over the award. Don’t you see that?”
“But I’m just being a fan. This is what we do,” you explain. “We cheer when they win, we cry when they lose. We put in our time and money supporting them. When I say ‘We’re number one’ I know that I wasn’t literally out there on the field, but we’re still part of the team.”
The guy with clipboard sneers, looking you up and down. “Don’t be ridiculous. You could never be part of the team. Show respect for their hard work.”
“How is cheering not showing respect?”
“I never said that cheering isn’t showing respect. Check your notes. What I said was that when you shout ‘We’re number one’ and wave around your homemade sign that you are slapping them in the face.”
“But ‘We’re number one’ is literally a cheer—”
Clipboard guy leans in until his nose is practically touching yours and shouts, “Listen! Stop being an entitled, immature princess! Just sit over there and be quiet and wait until we tell you when you are supposed to clap and what you are supposed to yell and and stop trying to claim that you are something that you aren’t!”
You start to walk over to the designated fan place he has pointed you to. You see, among the other bewildered fans, one of the actual players from the team. “What are you doing here?” you ask.
The player smiles and says, “I’d rather share a space with a million silly people who think it’s awesome to be part of a win than one dour guy shrieking that people who love the team are entitled princesses.”
You don’t have to imagine, you just have to read the comments: ABOUT AO3’S HUGO AWARD.
Right after the Hugo awards ceremony, as part of my A Hugo of Our Own post I said:
I do have one quibble with some of my fellow members of AO3 (as we call it): you are not a Hugo Award-winner author. No matter how many of thousands of words of your fiction is in the Archive. Just as authors whose work was published in Uncanny Magazine this last year aren’t Hugo winners by dent of Uncanny winning the award; they are authors who have been published in an award-winning zine. Another way to look at it: Camestros Felapton compared the AO3 entity to a library: “It’s the library that’s being nominated, which includes its contents but which is not the same as its contents.” (emphasis added).
Yes, all of us who support, use, and contribute to Archive of Our Own should take pride in this win. But don’t go slapping a Hugo logo on your fanfic, all right?
I haven’t yet seen anyone grousing about AO3 winning. I saw a bit of that “Ew! Fanfic! ICKY!” when it was nominated. I saw more people trying to disguise their fear of fanfic cooties with arguments about why the Archive itself is not a “Work” in the sense necessary for the award.
I firmly believe that if someone seriously tries to claim to be a Hugo Winner because they have fanfic in the Archive of Our Own that they are making a fraudulent claim. I also fully support sending a cease and desist to the couple of people who are trying to sell unlicensed Hugo merchandise or running a kickstarter with unlicensed use of the Hugo logo.
- Someone who changes their twitter handle temporarily to “Hugo nominated pornographer”, or
- someone else making a single comment on twitter being happy that Hugo voters have endorsed their man-loving-man slashfic, or
- someone else making a few comments on twitter that all the fanfic they love is now award-winning, or
- someone else making a single ‘I have written Hugo award winning porn, you’re welcome’ comment
…are clearly not literally claiming to be Hugo winners. What they are doing is precisely the same as fans shouting, “We’re number one!” after the team they love wins the championship.
That is not disrespecting the award, that is reveling in it!
And Clipboard Guy? It doesn’t matter if you are technically, pedantically, legally correct when you point out that the cheering fan isn’t actually a player who fought it out on the field and won the game—you’re still being a biased, dour jerk who is screaming in the face of some fans because they aren’t being fans in exactly the way you want them to. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re telling them to keep their fanfic cooties off their award, because sometimes our words have implications we didn’t mean—that you didn’t (consciously) mean them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Finally, you’re the only person who is disrespecting the spirit of the award.
I mentioned the temptation to move things around, and I should explain that a bit. The Hugos use a ranking system, so you pick which entry is your first choice, your second, and so on. Along with the option to placing No Award in the ranking. And one of the recently adopted rules adds a kind of instant run-off along with the ranking. It’s all well and good that the system has a way to break ties, but that doesn’t help the individual voter when you sincerely feel too or more nominees in a given category are equally excellent.
So one place where I had that dilemma this year was Best Novel. Three of the novels I nominated during the nomination phase made it to the final ballot. When I first saw the ballot announcement I was over the moon. Yay! I loved three of those books! And other people liked them, too! But then I started trying to decide how to rank them… and see in the nomination phase you just list five books things in a category without regard to whether any of them are better than the others. They are all five my favorites! Yay!
But now… now I have to pick. I can’t just say, “they’re all wonderful!” I have to rank them.
It was easy to procrastinate, because while three of the books were ones I’d already read and thought was great, the other three were ones I hadn’t read, yet. One of those other three was a book I had purchased and was in my to-read pile (because my husband had enthused about the audiobook), but I hadn’t read it yet. Obviously I couldn’t rank the category until I had read all the books. Similarly, there were at least two stories in each of the other fiction category that I hadn’t yet read, either.
Anyway, while several of the categories were ranked on my ballot weeks ago, I hadn’t touched the novels until Monday night. Because I finally finished the last novel that day. And I’d gotten through everything else. So I didn’t have any excuse.
It was so hard. I like them all. I want to give a Hugo rocket to each of them. I made a choice. I ranked them.
There is another category that I think is giving everyone problems. It’s the relatively new category of Best Series. To be eligible the series has to consist of a minimum of three works totaling a minimum of 240,000 words.
When the new category was being debated, one of the arguments that swayed my opinion was the the category would allow us to recognize the excellence of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. A long-running series might consist of a bunch of merely good books, one or two mediocre entries, and only a couple of truly stand-out stories—yet the overall story, the long arcs that play out of the course of the individual tales, is award-worthy. The category offers a way to recognize the skill of spinning a larger tale, of keeping the reader coming back for more, in a different way that the individual book and short fiction awards.
Implicit in that idea, to me, was that Best Series should go to a group of books that had otherwise been overlooked by the Hugos.
But then, the very first year it went, the award went to a series which had won two Nebula awards, two Locus awards, and four Hugo awards. Now, it happens to be a series that I loved, and okay, I admit, I put it at the top of my ballot that year. But not without some trepidation about whether the award might better to another series. I rationalized this by reminding myself that the six most recent books in the series had not won awards, even then three of those were my favorites of the whole series, two of which I thought were absolutely robbed by not getting an award.
The next year the winner was a different series written by the same author. The first book of the series had won a Mythopoeic award; the second book won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. While the total number of awards the series had won was smaller, it was also a shorter series (only three books and a bunch of short stories). Again, it didn’t feel as if it was a series that had been overlooked previously.
On the other hand, both of those wins went to series that had been going from many years, and since one of the objections that other people raise to the category is to ask, “Can you really judge a series that isn’t complete?” Since the speed at which new entries in both series as considerably slowed, and each have had a book published that feels like an ending to a saga, it can be argued that they meet that objection as close as you can meet it without making a rule that the award is only allowed to awarded posthumously.
And I don’t like that for several reasons. To the extent that awards are recognition, I prefer recognizing excellent work while the author or artist is alive to feel the love, you know?
A few nominees each of the three years the award has existed thus far as series that seem quite clearly to still be in the middle. So I have some issue putting them at the top of the ballot. And I remain uncertain what criteria we ought to be using to decide which is best. Is the idea to look for qualities of the series that span multiple books, or is it okay if a series just has a bunch of great entries?
I don’t know.
I figured out how I picked my number one in this category this time. And I know since the only rules the Hugos have ever had is to define eligibility, I don’t think anyone is going to make it clearer how we ought to be judging them.
Before I comment further (and link to some other reactions to the ballot), I should list the actual winners, just in case you haven’t found this information elsewhere:
Best Novel — The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin
Best Novella — All Systems Red, by Martha Wells
Best Novelette — “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer
Best Short Story — “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse
Best Series — World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Related Work — No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Best Graphic Story — Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form — Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form — The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland
Best Editor, Short Form — Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Best Editor, Long Form — Sheila E. Gilbert
Best Professional Artist — Sana Takeda
Best Semiprozine — Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky
Best Fanzine — File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
Best Fancast — Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
Best Fan Writer — Sarah Gailey
Best Fan Artist — Geneva Benton
Best Young Adult Book — Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer — Rebecca Roanhorse
First, Nicholas Whyte has a breakdown of the statistics and voting that I found fascinating. Cora Buhlert has some very insightful (as always) comments on the winners. Camestros Felapton has his Hugo reactions and the comments contains some great observations. And Alexandra Erin has some interesting thoughts about conventions, awards, fandom, and what it all means.
A lot of the other blog posts and stories you will find out there are focused on N.K. Jemisin’s historic win: she’s the first person ever to win the Best Novel Hugo three years in a row. Two years ago it was big news that she was the first African-American woman to win in that category. As one person observed on Twitter: that historic first was more about how exclusionary society and the Hugos had been during the 60-some years of Hugos before that. So that win was only historic because the community had previously been less than welcoming. This year’s historic moment is much better: she’s won three times in a row because her novels are awesome.
The fact that I even point this out is used by certain people to try to prove that these wins are undeserved, or that those of us who voted for these works are doing so for some kind of political messaging rather than because we actually like the stories in question. And all I can say to them is: we already know you are bigots and a-holes, so we don’t really care what you think.
But, in the interest of full disclosure, I will let you in on an important detail (which I didn’t quite realize myself until a few minutes ago when I dug out all my Hugo ballot emails from my email archive): at none of these last three years did I chose Jemisin’s novel as my number one choice on the ballot. Each year her novel was my second choice. This year, for instance, I really quite liked her book, and it was a difficult choice, but there was another novel (Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee) that I liked slightly better. Similarly last year and the year before there was another book that I liked better than Jemisin’s, so I put them just above hers. Do I wish that my choices each year had won? Well, yes, but I was also quite happy that Jemisin’s book won each time, because I liked each of them, too.
That’s because I’m able to understand that just because I likes one book slightly more than another that doesn’t mean that my favorite is somehow inherently a superior work to the others. Which isn’t to say that I don’t believe there aren’t ways to grade the quality of the writing or plotting or execution of a story, just that everything else being more-or-less equal, my tie-breaker is going to be different than yours.
It is true that I find stories written by women, people of color, or queer people are more likely to resonate with me in ways that stories by white cisgendered heterosexual guys do not. That isn’t because the white cis het guys are inferior to the other people, it’s because in our society white cis het guys get to operate on the lowest difficulty setting and thus are less likely to perceive some aspects of our society that the rest of us have to deal with. I’m a white guy, yes, but I’m also an out gay man who as a child was unable to hide my queerness; growing up I experienced society differently than my straight contemporaries. I saw unfairness in places where they found opportunities. I saw barriers where they found open doors and welcoming arms. The way I was marginalized isn’t the same way that people of color or women and so on are marginalized, but writers from those groups ran into similar barriers and injustices. Their perspective is going to be, in many cases, more like mine than not. So, yeah, I find the stories they tell and the viewpoints they employ more interesting.
So, yeah, I’m more likely to read books by these authors—not because I’m refusing to read white cis het guys, but because they are more likely to be recommended by the reviewers I have learned have similar tastes as mine, they are more likely to write about subjects I find interesting, and (most importantly) when I begin reading their stories, I’m more likely to be pulled in and keep turning the pages.
I read stuff written by men. I vote for stuff written by men. Checking my ballot, I see that works written by men made it into the top half of several categories on my ballot. But I had to go look—I didn’t remember because that is not how I choose which pieces to vote for. By the time I’m fiddling with my ballot, moving the entries around, all I’m thinking about is the story and how I felt while I was reading it.
I only nominate stories/magazines/shows/podcasts I have read/watched/listened to. Once the ballots are out, I do my darnedest to read all of the things that made it to the ballot that I haven’t already. And when I’m reading, I’m not thinking much about the author. Because if they have done their job, the story is going to consume my attention.
To sum up, I quite enjoyed this year’s ballot. I have a couple more authors on my list to look out for. It was quite fun. And as I said after I turned in the ballot, now I have a lot of other things in my to-read pile that i need to get back to.
But, before I close, I highly recommend you watch N.K. Jemisin’s 2018 Hugo Award Best Novel acceptance speech.:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
The con chair asked Mary Robinette Kowal (who I quoted in one of those posts) to assist in repairing the programming grid. She’s run programming for more than one Nebula conference (and I believe a few other conventions) and seemed a good choice. She made a couple of short comments online right after agreeing, in which she said she had several volunteers to help, and would be too busy for the next several days to answer any questions from people not directly involved.
The con has subsequently published a new schedule, which looks much more diverse (in both topic and participation). I’ve seen several of the pros who had previously said they would withdraw from programming to make room for others since post that they had agreed to participate in at least one event in the new schedule.
I’m sure it was a mad scramble, and my hat’s off to the staff for realizing they needed to fix the problems, for being willing to accept help when it was offered, and to everyone who pitched in. It looks like a great program. I hope this was a learning experience for some people.
And I hope everyone who attends has a fabulous time.
But the best commentary I’ve seen on the topic of convention programming, the desire some fans have to only include popular/well-known/established writers, et cetera, has got to be the amusing short story Cora Buhlert posted a few days ago: Convention Programming in the Age of Necromancy – A Short Story. You should go read it there, because it’s hilarious, but I will include the opening to give you a taste:
At the daily program operations meeting of a science fiction convention that shall remain unnamed, the debate got rather heated.
“We absolutely need to hold the ‘Future of Military Science Fiction’ panel in Auditorium 3,” the head of programming, whom we’ll call Matt, said.
“And why?” his fellow volunteer, who shall henceforth be known as Lucy, asked, “Is military SF so important, that it needs one of the bigger rooms, while we shove the ‘Own Voices’ panel into a tiny cupboard?”
“No,” Matt said, “But Auditorium 3 has air conditioning.”
Lucy tapped her foot. “And? Are old white dude military SF fans more deserving of coolness and air than own voices creators and fans?”
Matt sighed. “No, but Heinlein’s reanimated corpse is coming to the panel. And trust me, he smells abominably. Oh yes, and he’s declared that he wants to attend the ‘Alternative Sexualities in Science Fiction’ panel, so we’d better put that in a room with AC, too.”
A personal note: The first time I was in charge of programming for a convention was an accident. I was on staff as the convention book editor (and I was also responsible for laying out the pocket program), and had previously been a panelist at the same convention. The person who was in charge of programming missed a couple of meetings as we were getting down to the wire, and she wasn’t responding to e-mails or phone calls from anyone. I was getting frantic because I didn’t have content for the program books. Many of us who had responded to the programming survey were worried because we hadn’t heard what panels (if any) we were on.
Turned out that the person in charge of programming had had a massive stroke and was in the hospital for an extended time. The hospital had not been able to contact her daughter (who was also on con staff, but she lived on the other side of the country, and her job at the con was strictly on-site. The daughter was on an extended business travel thing during the weeks all this was going down). The upshot was that at nearly the last minute to finish the program books, we found all this out, and suddenly I was in charge of programming. With the help of a couple of other people (and with a pile of email messages once we redirected the programming alias), I put together a programming grid in about three days. It wasn’t the best programming grid I ever saw, but we got it done.
And panelists were happy. We got a lot of compliments on the programming.
And that’s how I ended up in charge of programming for the following two years at that convention. We had a slightly less frantic process the next two years.
The woman who had the stroke did get out of the hospital and even attended the next couple of year’s convention in a wheelchair. Sadly, one of the things my successor had to put in his first grid as programming lead was a memorial service for her.
I wish I had a more upbeat ending to this tale.
The only conclusion I have is: running programming for a convention takes you in directions you never expected. It is an adventure, but remember that one of the definitions of “adventure story” is something really awful that happens to someone else.
So, to re-iterate, the hardest part this year was picking which things to put in first place in each category, since I thought pretty much everything this time around was award worthy.
Technically I still have several hours after this post will publish when I can go back in and move things around on my ballot, but I really think I need to stop dithering and just leave it.
Two categories that I almost always decide on last are the Editor, Long Form, and Editor, Short Form. For short form, usually if I recognize which publication an editor worked on, and I’m familiar with it, I feel confident I can rank them. It’s when I don’t know the publication well that I feel a little less certain.
Editor, Long Form is easy if, like this year (and as I recall last year) every nominee provides a list of all the books that they worked on that were published in the year under consideration. Then I have something to judge them on. This category was previously one of the hardest for me in the nominating phase, until I read a suggestion on someone’s blog: look at the list of the books you’ve decided to nominate, go to the publisher’s web site for each, and find out who the editor of that book was.
I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this during the nomination phase with regards to professional artist. If a book that I know is eligible has a great cover, I should nominate that artist. So, next year I hope to have more than one nominee in that category!
Anyway, it’s been a fun couple of months reading the stuff that made the ballot. Now that I’ve finished my voting, I can go back to reading other things in my big to-read pile!
I need to do a bit of a follow up to my previous post about the issues at Worldcon. I didn’t touch on everything that happened, and since the issue blew up, Mary Robinette Kowal, whose tweet from years ago on a related subject I quoted in that post, has agreed to help redo the programming. Kowal has been running the programming tracks at the annual Nebula conferences for a while, and she had posted a nice summary of their process for trying to put together a program that appeals to many parts of the community. So many of us are provisionally hopeful that the situation will be a bit better at the actual convention than they appeared just days ago.
I have also been reminded that sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between ignorance and actual malice. Now, I was thinking that most of the bigotry that seemed to be motivating the issues were likely unconscious—all of us are often unaware of just how many prejudices we have absorbed from society. Alis Franklin, in particular, has pointed out another explanation for much of the problem:
“This all feels very much like people used to running a small-town parochial con with an established member-base suddenly getting in a twist because they have to accommodate (gasp) outsiders.”
And she’s likely on to something. A lot of this does sound like the people in programming are speaking from their past experience running their local convention, where they believe they know their audience and what those attendees expect. But even if that is the case, I still suspect that their local crowd includes a lot more queers, people of color, and other folks who are interested in topics that their local con doesn’t recognize in programming—because as I said, we’re everywhere, and we’re all used to being excluded and dismissed; so much so that when we raise an issue and are shut down, we often just hold our tongues thereafter.
On the issue of the one pro whose submitted bio was edited to change all of eir pronouns to “he” and “him”, and the insistence for a few days that this was a bio taken from the web (when no one can find such a bio and they can’t provide a link), that gets into the conscious versus unconscious bias. Either the person who copied the bio was simple too ill-informed about non binary people and nontraditional pronouns, and simply assumed it was some kind of extremely consistent typo (which I think is a stretch), or they’re one of those people who balk at pronouns to the point of refusing to use any they don’t agree with and decided to change the bio and then claim it was a mistake if they were called on it.
I don’t know if the same staffer is the one who decided not to use another pro’s usual publication bio and photograph, and instead write a different bio using information that usually was not released publicly and use a photo taken from the pro’s private Facebook. In any case, it is difficult to construct an “honest mistake” excuse for that one. And if it is the same staffer, I think that is more than adequate proof that the changed pronouns on the other bio was an intentional aggression.
In several of the discussions online I’ve seen a lot of people not understanding what the problem was with requesting semi-formal wear for the Hugo ceremony. Foz Meadows summed it up better than I did:
”…the fashion at the Hugo Awards ceremonies tends to be a welcoming, eclectic mixture of the sublime, the weird and the comfortable. Some people wear ballgowns and tuxedos; some wear cosplay; others wear jeans and t-shirts. George R. R. Martin famously tends to show up in a trademark peaked cap and suspenders. Those who do dress up for the Hugos do so out of a love of fashion and pageantry, but while their efforts are always admired and appreciated, sharing that enthusiasm has never been a requisite of attending. At an event whose aesthetics are fundamentally opposed to the phrase ‘business casual’ and whose members are often uncomfortable in formalwear for reasons such as expense, gender-nonconformity, sizeism in the fashion industry and just plain old physical comfort, this change to tradition was not only seen as unexpected and unwelcome, but actively hostile.”
I also note that a few days ago Mike Glyer posted a link to a letter from decades back from E.E. “Doc” Smith (the author of the Lensmen books, among others) when the 1962 WorldCon asked for all the ladies attending the award ceremony to wear long formal gowns. Smith commented that his wife had not owned formal wear since entering retirement and thought it was unreasonable to expect people to go to such an expense.
Which is a nice segue to this: until the 34th WorldCon (MidAmericaCon I, 1976 in Kansas City, Missouri) the Hugo Awards were given out at the end of the convention banquet. The banquet consisted of eating (obviously) while the guests of honor gave speeches. Fans who couldn’t afford the extra expense of the banquet were allowed in (usually in a separate area such as a balcony) for the awards portion. The awards ceremony was separated from the banquet in 1976 for a couple of reasons, but one was to make it easier for everyone who wanted to attend to do so. The conventions had gotten so large that the fraction who wanted to see the award ceremony was too much for the banquet halls of typical convention hotels to accommodate, and there had always been the problem of people who couldn’t afford the banquet ticket. I wanted to close with that because I have seen a number of people arguing that the people who are feeling unwelcome because of this con’s actions are making unreasonable demands to change traditions of the conventions.
The traditions change over time for many reasons. It isn’t about change for the sake of change, it is change of the sake of practicality and realism. People have, in the past, believed that science fiction and fantasy was only created by straight white guys, and was only loved by other straight white guys. That has never been true, but the illusion was maintained through a variety of societal forces and some willful ignorance. It has become increasingly difficult to maintain that willful ignorance, and besides, ignorance is never a good look on anyone. It’s not about whether fandom is diverse, it is about to what lengths some people are willing to go to ignore, silence, or push out that diversity.
But you don’t have to take my word for it Rob Salkowitz breaks it down nicely: GEEKGIRLCON DEALS WITH THE PAINS OF PROFESSIONALIZATION.
“As anyone who has ever worked for or with a nonprofit can tell you, the transition from volunteer to professional organization is not always smooth. People who contributed to the growth of the organization may feel resentment toward an outsider brought in above them, whose job is to make tough decisions and impose management discipline on previously informal systems. As fair-minded and inclusive as you might want to be in that role, eventually you will piss some people off just because you are the boss and they aren’t.
“It’s not unusual for longtime staffers to quit in these circumstances, sometimes in a huff. Sometimes, to really make a statement, they’ll resign in a group. If there’s something actionable, they can call a lawyer. And if they really want to leave a mark, they’ll take their dispute public via social media.
“But taking over the organization’s official email to blast out their manifesto after they’ve already quit? Nope. NOPE. In no conceivable universe is that ok.”
We now know that all of those who quit were white guys who posted their grievances anonymously (vague claims of being discriminated against by the new executive director who happens to be a woman of color) because they didn’t think they would be taken seriously. And that might have been true no matter what, but the way they did it really shows all we need to know. I’ve been either on staff or closely involved with enough people on staff for a lot of cons to recognize both the dynamic Salkowitz explains above and the circumstances that likely led to the mass resignation. By the way, it was only five guys, out of a staff of a bit over 50, so while it seems like a lot, it certainly isn’t most of the staff, as their post clearly tried to imply.
I could go into more detail about why hijacking the con membership’s list was wrong, how it is triangulation and so forth. But the real reason is this: when I have been in situations where I felt I was the aggrieved party and have been tempted to do such things, I knew that the suggestion was coming from the little devil on one shoulder, and not the little angel on the other. (Although in my imagination it’s the evil fairy tale queen on one shoulder, and a happy glitter-covered fairy on the other).
We come up with rationales for vindictive, angry, destructive behavior all the time. It’s not fair, we say. Or they started it! Or it’s just the internet! Or I was joking! Or you took it wrong! Et cetera and ad nauseum.
Maybe you are right. Maybe you have suffered a great injustice. But here’s the thing: if you win by fighting dirty, that isn’t justice. The ends don’t justify the means. There is a big difference between righteous indignation and vengeful lashing out. Just as there is a difference between cruelty and kindness. How we take a victory or defeat matters just as much as the actual outcome.
Situations are messy and there’s always more than two sides to every story. But every side isn’t equally true, or equally valid, or equally relevant. And sometimes you can tell which side has the fewest facts in their favor by their tactics. And I, at least, can spot a sore loser from miles away. Even when they’re hiding behind anonymity, misleading verbiage, and the furtive fallacy.
There are not two of you. There isn’t literally a devil/evil queen on one shoulder and an angel/good fairy on the other. There’s just you. A noble and just person doesn’t have to resort to dirty tactics. If you’re fighting dirty, even if for a just cause, then you’re not the hero.
For one week each the last couple years they encouraged artists to draw “hella objectified fantasy dudes,” post them to Tumblr, and tag the art #MagicMeatWeek ”
This year they want all of March to be Magic Meat March.
I learned about the event from of the awesome Bikini Armor Damage tumblr. I’ve linked to an written about Bikini Armor Battle Damage before, which pokes fun at the weird sexual objectification and impractical armor drawn on fantasy women in video games, comic books, and so on. You may recall the Bikini Magic Bingo card shared here and many, many places, for instance. Anyway, I’m not a good enough artist to really do this, but I love the idea of putting male characters in the same kinds of strange flesh-baring armor and fantasy costumes the women get drawn in all the time. So I’m spreading the word!
And yes, I like looking at the pretty artwork of the pretty, pretty men. I mean, the empowered men. Right! They’re empowered, not being objectified and shown in ridiculous costumes in overly sexualized poses which would never work in actual combat. No. Empowered. That’s what they are.
(Hey! I can’t just blog about serious stuff all the time! I’m a queer nerd, after all…)