Best Novel (932 ballots)
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)
I suppose it should come as no surprise to see George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons nominated here. I do think it sets a bad precedent to say that his worst novel in A Song of Ice and Fire is one of the five best novels of 2011. Ridiculous. That said, I fully expect it to win. Maybe it’s a make-up award after not winning for A Storm of Swords, which is easily one of the best fantasy novels ever written. I could live with that reasoning. Kind of.
I expected Among Others and Embassytown to make the list. While I’ve not read either, lots of people I trust consider them worthy. I’ll be reading both in the next month or so. As for Deadline and Leviathan Wakes, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am confounded. I thought Feed was an odd choice last year, and to see its sequel on the list this year surprises me even more. I can only guess it’s a signal to Seanan McGuire’s (Mira Grant) popularity as she has been short listed four times this year across various categories. Good for her, she’s a very good writer, but I find her books more entertaining than significant. Which, not surprisingly, is also how I feel about Leviathan Wakes. It’s a pulp, noir, old school space opera. It’s nostalgic and epic, a tighter Peter F. Hamilton with fewer ideas. Sadly, I don’t even think it’s the best novel Daniel Abraham worked on this year (Dragon’s Path).
Quick question, and one I’m legitimately curious about, why hasn’t Joe Abercrombie or Steven Erikson caught on more among the voters? Both have written some of the absolute best work over the last five years, and neither have yet to receive a Hugo nomination. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that the Hugo Award trends more toward SF than fantasy. Or maybe they don’t resonate as much with American readers? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this.
For everyone’s information, I’m going to be reviewing every one of the novels nominated via Cheryl and Fizbane, even the ones I’ve already written reviews for. They’re all good novels, but they could all used to be mocked a little, because who couldn’t?
Best Novella (473 ballots)
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)
Best Novelette (499 ballots)
“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)
Best Short Story (593 ballots)
“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)
Ken Liu is like short fiction sex, bottled, aged for two decades, decanted, and drank, eliciting the immediate reaction of, “I wish there was more.” That is to say, when is this guy going to write a novel? I didn’t personally make a lot of nominations in these categories. I don’t read much short fiction. I was hoping that two authors would get nods here — T.C. McCarthy and Maureen McHugh. McHugh’s After the Apocalypse was the best piece of fiction I read last year. The fact it wasn’t included is a monster oversight. I can’t comment on who I’d expunge from the current short list until I’ve read them all, but I’m sure something wasn’t as good as the McHugh (wow, that makes me sound like a jerk).
Best Related Work (461 ballots)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 don’t entirely grasp this category, which is definitely my own fault. It just seems too broad. Either way, I’d probably lean toward the Encyclopedia. It’s a tremendous resource for the community at large. I’ve heard great things about The Steampunk Bible as well, but I really don’t care for the subgenre (usually).
Best Graphic Story (339 ballots)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 don’t read graphic stories. No comment. In other words, I really liked Watchmen.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) (592 ballots)
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)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (512 ballots)
“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)
Doctor Who three times? Really? How come no individual Game of Thrones episodes here? I’m surprised. I’m pretty sure this is Gaiman’s category to lose and that he’ll win by the same margin that Games of Thrones wins the long form. My one major complaint here is the nomination for The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech. It might have been awesome, but it makes the whole thing look like the ‘old boys club’ patting itself on the back. Garcia and Bacon both received multiple nominations across several categories. They do good work, but putting this speech ahead of the aforementioned Game of Thrones episodes or hosts of other programming reeks of inside baseball. It only further highlights an absolute need to bring new blood into the Hugo voter rolls (in my opinion).
Best Semiprozine (357 ballots)
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
No comment. Don’t read them enough.
Best Fanzine (322 ballots)
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
I’m not going to lie. I’m disappointed. I was hoping for more blogs to be nominated, in particular Pornokitsch run by Jared Shurin and Anne Perry. SF Signal is incredibly worthy though, and I’m excited to see DeNardo’s ten years of hard work recognized. The other four are the usual crowd, who we’ll be seeing more of a little later in this post.
Best Fancast (326 ballots)
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
I’m still not sure what to think of this category. It seems to me all of these would also be eligible under related work and in SF Signal’s case (at least), under Best Fanzine. I have a hard time thinking Podcasts deserve their own category and blogs don’t. I believe this is just a one year award and may or may not be on the ballot next year. I’ll be interested to see how that turns out. From a “did the nominators get it right” stand point, I think they did (mostly). I would have liked to have seen Speculate! or The Functional Nerds also make the list, but these are good choices too. I’ll be voting for SF Signal.
Best Professional Editor — Long Form (358 ballots)
Anne Lesley Groell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
[rant] No Jeremy Lassen, no care. These five are all great editors, but no one had the kind of year Lassen did. He created the New Voices Program at Night Shade Books and brought us first novels from Kameron Hurley, Teresa Frohock, Stina Leicht, Bradley Beaulieu, Courtney Schaefer, Mazarkis Williams, Michael Dempsey, Will McIntosh, Rob Ziegler, Katy Stauber, among several others. If this is an award for best copy editing, or best story editing, maybe Lassen doesn’t deserve to be on it (none of us know though, right? It’s not like we read the original manuscripts). But, if it has ANYTHING to do with editorial direction, not having him on the list is a fucking tragedy. [/rant]
Best Professional Editor — Short Form (512 ballots)
John Joseph Adams
No comment. I don’t read enough short fiction to have any serious ideas about this other than “people whose anthologies I dug.”
Best Professional Artist (399 ballots)
Dan dos Santos
Very surprised not to see two names here: Raymond Swanland and Kekai Kotaki. I think they did the best work this year in terms of covers. It’s probably Picacio’s award to lose given his A Song of Ice and Fire calendar that has garnered a tremendous amount of (deserved) praise.
Best Fan Artist (216 ballots)
Brad W. Foster
Who? No idea who any of these people are. Not surprisingly it’s by far the least “voted on” category with only 216 ballots submitted. I just don’t really know where to even find Fan Art, much less who all the artists of this art are. Again, my own failing. I’m looking forward to the voter packet so I can get a feel for these folks.
Best Fan Writer (360 ballots)
Christopher J Garcia
Jim C. Hines
Steven H Silver
Well, here are they are again. Bacon and Garcia, who also co-edit another Zine with Brialey. Silver has been nominated ten times for this award. I’m bummed no non-professional writer blogger was nominated, but these things happen. From what I’ve read of them, everyone on this list is a good writer, but I don’t read Zines, nor do they hold much interest to me based on the ones I’ve previewed. Look back over the last five years of this category (and FanZine). The same names keep popping up, over, and over, and over, and over again. That’s a problem. One that would urge me to eliminate several categories from consideration at all.
My vote will go to Hines whose blog is consistently funny, interesting, and timely.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (396 ballots)
Karen Lord *
Brad R. Torgersen *
E. Lily Yu
*2nd year of eligibility
NOT A HUGO! My first thought on this list are that only two eligible novels have been published by authors on it — one each for Leicht and Lord. Lafferty will have a novel out in 2013, well past her continued Campbell eligibility (and Torgersen has one in the works). I know this award is for short fiction as well as novels, but Yu and Laffery have only one story each that qualifies under the award. Torgersen at least has several, now in his second year of eligibility. The take away from this list is that several thousand words are enough to make you the Best New Writer of 2011. I feel like the floor should be a little higher. At least in Torgersen and Yu’s cases, their stories are also nominated for Best Novella and Novelette respectively, giving some hope that despite the scarcity of their work, what they’ve had published is of exceptional quality.
Unfortunately, this is going to sound like an attack on Lafferty, which I wanted to avoid because her nomination certainly isn’t her fault. But, I feel like her reputation as a tremendous advocate for genre fiction and one of the friendliest people in the business has given her a leg up on the competition. I’m sure her story is very good, and she’s got quite a bit of non-eligible work out there, but calling her one of the five Best New Writers seems premature. Meanwhile, award winning author Robert Jackson Bennett is passed over for a second time (a nearly Jeremy Lassen level tragedy), and T.C. McCarthy and Teresa Frohock, two of my favorite 2011 debuts, are also sitting on the sidelines unrecognized.
This seems a pretty poor year for the Campbell with some this year’s best novel debuts either not eligible (Kameron Hurley, Doug Hulick, Bradley Beaulieu) or outright evasive about eligibility (Mark Lawrence). Maybe that’s all this is, but I can’t help but look at the 396 ballots (and how many didn’t have a full slate?) cast here and wonder if this isn’t another example of the inside baseball mentality of the Hugo voters at work once again.
All of this leads me wonder, is the Hugo format broken? Is providing a barrier to entry ($50 membership fee) a sensible way to nominate work? Or should it be done by panel (Clarke) or a popular vote that doesn’t have a barrier to entry (Gemmell)? I’m perfectly fine with having only “Hugo Voters” vote on the ultimate winner, but in allowing them to pick the short lists as well gives an incredible amount of power to the convention conclave. And for those who say there are plenty of Awards out there that do it differently, the Hugo carries more weight than any of them, at least here in the U.S. It’s the one genre award that people have heard of. It sell books. The winner should not be a popularity contest.
The truth is, the Hugo doesn’t really represent me. I’m not one of the old curmudgeons that make up the majority of its voting pool. I can’t help myself though. I care because I want to see good work recognized. I want to see new blood recognized. Without that, what do we have? The same old shit year after year. That’s not good enough and we should insist on better.