Monday, April 09, 2012

Hugo Awards Shortlist 2012 - My Contribution to the Genre Meme

I was going to respond to Larry’s post about the Hugo Awards, but I figured I’d just write up a blog post myself.

I already made some brief comments on Justin's excellent blog post (and really, I’m sure many of the folks who read my blog read his blog, but if you aren’t go right now add it to your blog roll or RSS Feed). So I might as well join the fun and run down my thoughts on the just released Hugo Nominations even if I didn’t plunk down the $50 just to vote.

I'm sort of in tune with the voters this time 'round, at least in terms of what I read compared to what made the short list. The last time I read as many as four out of the five (like this year’s list) was 2009 whose novel short list follows: Anathem by Neal Stephenson, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, and Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi.

Having written that, here's
the rundown of the 2012 Hugo Awards (courtesy of Tor.com). I’ll comment on each category, at least briefly:

Novels
  • Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
  • A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
  • Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Among Others was a great book and when I read it, I predicted it would at the very least make a few short lists. I think it has a very good chance of winning the Hugo. The novel hits a lot of good nostalgic notes, the protagonist has a wonderfully engaging voice, and like films about films, books about books tend to get critical (i.e. awards) recognition. I’d have no problem with this one winning

A Dance With Dragons, though excellent was not as strong as the first three books in the series. Not to damn it with faint praise, but I found it to be far stronger than A Feast for Crows because I enjoyed the book a great deal. However had I nominated, I wouldn't have added this book to the shortlist. I wouldn’t be surprised to see A Dance With Dragons be Martin’s The Departed, though.

I am a big fan of Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy (at least the two books thus far). I find the books to be several notches above what might be considered typical Zombie fiction. Both books had me thinking long after I finished them about some of the science involved, about the characters, and how the impact of what the ‘science gone awry’ has drastically changed the world. Many people seem to be down on this book being on the list because it is a middle book of a series, but it can stand on its own. Will it win? I doubt it. Should it win? Not sure.

The last Miéville novel I read was Un Lun Dun, which was good and though I enjoyed it and Iron Council, I haven’t felt overly compelled to read more by him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his first true SF novel take away the award.

Leviathan Wakes was old-school Space Opera and a novel I thought was a blast. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it wins. However there’ve been some relatively divisive thoughts on the novel.

One novel I would have liked to see on the short list is The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown but I wonder if being a lesser known author (despite publishing novel length fiction for many years) coupled with a relatively small imprint allowed this excellent novel to fly on the radar.

BOTTOM LINE: In the end, I think it comes down to Among Others and A Dance with Dragons

Best Novella
  • Countdown by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2011)
  • “Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s June 2011)
  • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s September/October 2011)
  • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
  • Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

I’ve not read any of these, I tend not to read much short fiction. That said, I see/read nothing but praise for Ken Liu and it’s nice to see Grant get a double nomination for fiction set in a milieu I really enjoy.

Best Novelette
  • “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)
  • “Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog December 2011)
  • “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
  • “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)

Even shorter fiction that I don’t read. I’m happy to see Paul Cornell nominated since his work in the relaunched DC “New 52” and DC Comics/Vertigo has been very solid. I need to read Charlie Jane Anders’s story and based on everything I’ve seen on the blogoverse/geekly intarwebs the story is as the kids once said “the bee’s knees.”

Best Short Story
  • “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011)
  • “The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011)
  • “Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011)
  • “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)
  • “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Tor.com)

Even shorter-shorter fiction I tend not to read. My roll of the dice has John Scalzi or Mike Resnick winning this one.

Best Related Work
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
  • Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
  • The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
  • Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire
  • Writing Excuses, Season 6 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

I’ve listened to a few episodes of Writing Excuses but shouldn’t it be in the fancast category? That said, I expect The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition to win here.

Best Graphic Story
  • Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
  • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
  • Locke & Key Volume 4, Keys to the Kingdom written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
  • The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

I consider Fables to consistently be the best monthly comic on the shelves though Locke & Key is quite good, too. I’d be happy to see either of those titles win.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely, directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
  • Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
  • Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

I think if Game of Thrones doesn’t win, there will be some kind of revolt and violence. I haven’t seen Hugo and want to see it. I enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger but even by superhero movie standards, it was not the strongest superhero film last year (and I doubt I’d put any of them on a shortlist).

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
  • “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
  • “The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • “A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
  • “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Apparently the only SF show on TV is Doctor Who and that seems to be the case for the past few years. I’ll echo other thoughts, why wasn’t an episode of Game of Thrones on this list? Specifically, Baelor? Odd that an acceptance speech would be on this list. If they’re going the sitcom route, what about Big Bang Theory? I know SyFy is chastised quite often, but they produced Eureka which is quite entertaining. I would like to think shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm might get consideration next year. I fully expect "The Doctor's Wife" written by Neil Gaiman to win in a landslide.

Best Editor, Short Form
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

No problems here, between JJA (in addition to Lightspeed) and Strahan I think they’ve published a combined 483 anthologies last year

Best Editor, Long Form
  • Lou Anders
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Betsy Wollheim

Now here’s a MAJOR disconnect but should NOT be construed as a knock to Lou Anders (who I think has done an incredible job with Pyr, keeping up with and ahead of genre trends) or Betsy Wollheim (who publishes some of my very favorite authors) but… Pyr published a lot of good novels in 2011, novels I enjoyed a great deal but none of them made the short list. DAW has no books on the shortlist though is responsible for the juggernaut that is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear. On the other hand, two Orbit titles are on the Novels short list but none of their editors are on this list of Long Form editors.

Best Professional Artist
  • Dan dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Michael Komarck
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio

I feel like at least three artists appear on a rotating basis every year. Don’t get me wrong, I like the work all five of these men have done, but I haven’t seen very many covers from Bob Eggleton while somebody like Raymond Swanland is doing great work and his art appears on many, many books. All that said, I’d love to see John Picacio win here.

Best Semiprozine
  • Apex Magazine edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
  • New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

I never quite understood the term Semiprozine, do the people running these thing get paid only half a normal rate? I read locusmag.com every day and think JJA is doing good stuff with Lightspeed (and hey, look at this, he was nominated for editor short form and the thing he edits on a regular basis was nominated). Other than, I have nothing else to say about this batch.

Best Fanzine
  • Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
  • The Drink Tank edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
  • File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
  • SF Signal edited by John DeNardo

SF Signal is the only one I visit regularly (and before reading this list the only one about which I was aware beside File 770), probably my MUST visit general genre spot on teh intarwebs. I suppose Fanzine means the people running it are fans and don’t get paid.

On a more personal note, I'm wondering if SFFWorld is eligible or how to get it nominated for such an award. SFFWorld has been a very active fan community for the genre for over a decade, we have several official reviewers, and have been publishing between 50 and 75 reviews per year.

Best Fan Writer
  • James Bacon
  • Claire Brialey
  • Christopher J Garcia
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Steven H. Silver

No knock against him, but isn’t Jim C. Hines a professional writer? Aside from him, I’m only familiar with Silver but I'm thinking maybe one of the folks from SF Signal should have received a nod.

Best Fan Artist
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Randall Munroe
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

Not sure about the criteria for this award nor do those names look familiar to me.

Best Fancast
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz, produced by Patrick Hester
  • SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
  • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

SF Signal Podcast is the one I listen to most regularly so that would get my vote although I enjoy SF Squeecast a great deal.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer WHICH IS NOT A HUGO
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • Karen Lord
  • Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu

I’ve not read any of these folks but do know of Lafferty, Leicht, and Lord.

OK, so that's what I've got to say for the moment.

7 comments:

Bryce L. said...

You've made lots of good points here, but I really like what you've said about the long-form editors. They didn't even have books in the short list, what's the deal? Didn't think of that before, but that's a very good point.

RobB said...

Thanks Bryce. The only parallel I can think of is how certain films get nominated but not the directors.

Justin said...

My thoughts are even more to the point, how can we even recognize who the best editors are? We don't read the original manuscripts. It's impossible to judge. That's why I think the award should be for editorial direction of an imprint.

RobB said...

Fair point, but perhaps there's even reason for something separate like Best Imprint? I know Locus includes such a category. I think it's important to recognize a brand as a whole for outstanding achievement as well as a singular work for outstanding achievement.

My pulpit book KINGS OF ETERNITY book is good example. I loved the book and think it deserves recognition uniquely, but that doesn't necessarily indicate all of Solaris's books are worthy of the same recognition.

Bryce L. said...

Forgot to add, yes, SFFWorld should definitely be up there and often.

But, Justin's right about the Night Shade editor deserving to be up there, whether by imprint or editor. Although I like the idea of an editor winning rather than an imprint. They don't get nearly the nods they deserve.

Joe Sherry said...

What Is a Semiprozine:

3.3.10: Best Semiprozine. Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues, at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which in the previous calendar year met at least two (2) of the following criteria:

1) had an average press run of at least one thousand (1000) copies per issue,
2) paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication,
3) provided at least half the income of any one person,
4) had at least fifteen percent (15%) of its total space occupied by advertising,
5) announced itself to be a semiprozine.

I think you're likely to get #2 and #5 for most zines.

Fan Writer: Jim C. Hines is a pro writer, but he's nominated for his "fan writing" - the stuff he does for free and isn't part of what you'd think of as his professional work. His blog. John Scazli and Frederick Pohl have previously won this award for their respective blogs.

I'm okay with that, because I think pros can be fans, too. It's a weird little community we have.

RobB said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the clarification, I was being a bit lazy when composing this post.

I'll concede that pros can receive recognition for their fan writing. I like Jim's blog a great deal.