Some Hugo Thoughts

Well, it is that time of year again. Voting is open, and there is a nominations ballot to be filled out. What have I actually read?

The Novel category is, as usual, full of great stuff. Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail is my favourite science fiction novel of the year, though Emma Newman’s Atlas Alone, Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night, Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade, Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire, and Max Gladstone’s The Empress of Forever, are also great. Any year with a new Guy Gavriel Kay is a good year, and A Brightness Long Ago will doubtless be representing fantasy on my list, though it has strong competition from Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea, Alix Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and Theodora Goss’s The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl. Tamsyn Muir, being a Kiwi with a stunning debut, will definitely be on my list for Gideon the Ninth, whatever genre it is. I also have no idea how to categorise Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts, but thankfully this is the Hugos so I don’t have to. Is that more than 6 books? Oh dear…

I have not included The Absolute Book in that list because it has had such limited distribution that I think it is worth asking for an extension on the grounds that someone in the US or UK will come to their senses and publish it in 2020.

I’ve not mentioned Tade Thompson above because his having two novels out makes like difficult. However, Rosewater can be nominated in Series. Also on my list will be The Athena Club by Theodora Goss, Dominion of the Fallen by Aliette de Bodard, Luna by Ian McDonald, Planetfall by Emma Newman and Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.

Novella is a little easier, but still strong. This Is How You Lose The Time War is the stand-out of the year, but The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday runs it close. Paul Cornell’s The Lights Go Out in Lychford will also be on my list, as will P Djèlí Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and Rivers Solomon’s The Deep.

For shorter fiction I have no idea, I read very little of it. I will be looking at the Locus Recommended Reading List (out tomorrow) to see what I can check out.

In Related Work I will definitely be nominating Farah Mendlesohn’s excellent The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. I suspect, however, that AO3 will win again.

I have only read two Graphic Novels this year: Vei and House of Whispers. I enjoyed both of them, and will therefore nominate both. You can do that. The point of nominating is to vote for things that you have read/watched and enjoyed.

I’ve been unimpressed with movies this year and my long-form ballot is going to include some TV series. Good Omens, His Dark Materials, Watchmen, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will all be on it. I’ll probably nominate Avengers: Endgame, though it was a lot less impressive than Infinity War. When is Black Panther 2 due?

Nomination of individual TV episodes is a bit difficult for me as most of what I watch comes as story arcs that aren’t easily understood as stand-alone episodes. I guess the Doctor Who fans will do their thing again.

Artists and Editor categories always need a bit of research, but I want to put in a good word for Navah Wolfe (foolishly sacked by Saga) and for Ben Baldwin, who continues to do amazing work for Wizard’s Tower.

I suspect that Our Opinions Are Correct will have a lock on the Fancast category for a while, but I’d like you to take a listen to Breaking the Glass Slipper which I think deserves a place on the ballot.

There are loads of great fan writers out there, and the electorate seems good at finding them. Fanzines, as we saw last year, are rather less common. Obviously this ‘zine is eligible, but something I’d like to see get recognition is Rachel Cordasco’s SF in Translation.

As for fan artists, I don’t know. I try to pay artists these days.

Clearly there’s a lot of research to be done before I can complete a ballot, though of course you don’t have to fill every slot. I’m hoping that other people out there will recommend works as well.