Blog: Hugo Awards 2016… ugh not again
Well after the debacle of the last few years we once again have a contrary Hugo Awards list finalists (check it out here). Thankfully this year there are still some really good authors and works on the ballot, although the Puppies are at it again in some of the categories.
So here is a breakdown of the list in all its glory with a bit of commentary from me when I feel the need:
BEST NOVEL (3695 ballots)
- Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
- The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
- Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
So I wasn’t the biggest fan of Leckie’s Ancillary series. I think they are important books, good books, and well worth reading, but to be honest, I was a little disappointed in them. Butcher’s Dresden Files series is a guilty pleasure of mine, and he has continued to improve as an author, but I am not 100% convinced that this new book is worthy of one of the highest awards in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Jemison’s work has always left me cold. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting and by no means bad, it just never worked for me the way it did for a number of my friends. Her writing remains great, her characters and settings are always worth diving into, but I just haven’t enjoyed her books as much as some have. I suppose it comes down to what flavours you enjoy as much as what is ‘good’. Neal Stephenson has always produced interesting, well written work, but the author I like best on this list is Novik. I loved the first four of her Temeraire books, even if I am yet to read Uprooted.
BEST NOVELLA (2416 ballots)
- Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
- The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)
- Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
- Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
- Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)
Okorafor, Polansky, Bujold and Reynolds are all great writers, and they all produce fascinating stuff. Sanderson, despite his massive popularity, just isn’t a favourite of mine. I certainly look forward to reading all these and seeing what tickles my fancy.
BEST NOVELETTE (1975 ballots)
- “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb2015)
- “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
- “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
- “Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
- “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
To be perfectly honest, I know nothing about these Best Novelette, Short Story or Related Work, but if the titles and ‘publishers’ of the short stories and related work are anything to go by, this is where the Puppies have screwed us over in terms of getting to see some of the best writing in the genre by placing crap on a slate and drumming up support for it.
BEST SHORT STORY (2451 ballots)
- “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
- The Commuter by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
- “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
- “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
- Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
BEST RELATED WORK (2080 ballots)
- Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
- “The First Draft of My Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson (jeffro.wordpress.com)
- “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (castaliahouse.com)
- SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Castalia House)
- “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland (askthebigot.com)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (1838 ballots)
- The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second)
- Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (dyingalone.net)
- Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (ffn.nodwick.com)
- Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics)
- The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)
Nice to see Aaron Williams on this list as I have long been a fan of Full Frontal Nerdity, but I will be very surprised if Gaiman doesn’t win it… even though, as I said in my review, I wasn’t exactly enamoured with the story aspect of Overture.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (2904 ballots)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
- Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
- Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
- The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
For some reason I actually care a lot about this one. I loved Mad Max and thought it was brilliant. I also quite liked Ex Machina, even if there were a couple of minor issues that I had with it. The Martian was entertaining enough and it was nice to see a solid SF film get some mainstream acceptance, but The Force Awakens and Age of Ultron??? Seriously??? They are terrible films by almost every yardstick available apart from box office.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (2219 ballots)
- Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
- Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf(Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
- Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions;Netflix)
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
- Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)
I may be breaking from the pack here, but I have never understood why Doctor Who gets such kudos and love at awards time. I watch the show, I like the show, but come on, it is generally a disappointing mess that we spend hours trying to justify liking. Given my love of Jessica Jones, it is no surprise that I would love it to win here. Supernatural fell off my radar around season 9, and Grimm fell off my radar sometime around halfway through season 3… I think. Of the two, I preferred Supernatural, but to be honest, they kept tying themselves up in knots and the story just began to feel tired and repetitive to me. I may go back to it though as it has turned up here. Emmmmm My Little Pony… emmmm…. ???? Huh…. I was not expecting that. Are there a lot of bronies in the nominating group? Emmmm…. Really not sure what to think. I would love Jessica Jones to win though.
And I really don’t have much of an opinion or enough knowledge of the last few categories to make any decisions or have any real insights.
BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (1891 ballots)
- John Joseph Adams
- Neil Clarke
- Ellen Datlow
- Jerry Pournelle
- Sheila Williams
BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (1764 ballots)
- Liz Gorinsky
- Vox Day
- Sheila E. Gilbert
- Jim Minz
- Toni Weisskopf
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (1481 ballots)
- Lars Braad Andersen
- Larry Elmore
- Abigail Larson
- Michal Karcz
- Larry Rostant
BEST SEMIPROZINE (1457 ballots)
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews, Nicole Lavigne, and Kate Marshall
- Daily Science Fiction edited by Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
- Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie
- Strange Horizons edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A. J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin,Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons staff
- Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
BEST FANZINE (1455 ballots)
- Black Gate edited by John O’Neill
- Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
- File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
- Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
- Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale
BEST FANCAST (1267 ballots)
- 8-4 Play, Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
- Cane and Rinse, Cane and Rinse
- HelloGreedo, HelloGreedo
- The Rageaholic, RazörFist
- Tales to Terrify, Stephen Kilpatrick
BEST FAN WRITER (1568 ballots)
- Douglas Ernst
- Mike Glyer
- Morgan Holmes
- Jeffro Johnson
- Shamus Young
BEST FAN ARTIST (1073 ballots)
- Matthew Callahan
- Christian Quinot
- Steve Stiles
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (1922 ballots)
- Pierce Brown *
- Sebastien de Castell *
- Brian Niemeier
- Andy Weir *
- Alyssa Wong *
But to sum up my feelings on this… The various Puppy campaigns have done irreparable harm to the award. What used to stand for a bench mark of great writing, interesting works that you might want to pick up, even if they aren’t always your cup of tea, has now become a joke. Great writers have had their nominations cheapened by these antics, and the people who are most affected are actually the fans.
Rather than widening what the Hugos encompass (an oft stated goal of the puppies) they have just trashed the award. They have forced people to read piles of shite, not because they think those works are good or interesting, but because they want to ‘stick it to’ an imagined foe. Seriously, if you don’t like how nominations and awards shake out in the end, then find great books and great authors and nominate them. Don’t nominate a bunch of drivel and rally around it crying ‘discrimination, discrimination’… you want more military SF nominated, read and nominate more military SF (like Bennett R. Coles’ Virtues of War), you want more space opera, then nominate good space opera, you want more derring do (not something usually lacking in fantasy I might add) then by all means nominate more great works. Just don’t nominate shit and think that you are doing anything other than screwing over fans who could have used the short list as a way of finding new great works.
This turned up during a Google search, so I’ll bite: *if* you were going to nominate an episode of My Little Pony for a Hugo, “The Cutie Map” would be a pretty decent choice. It’s an unusual episode which has some interesting dystopian themes, though of course there’s only so far you can go in a TV-Y rated cartoon. Should it win a Hugo against that opposition? No. But regardless of the reason it made the ballot (which seems to be certain people deliberately misinterpreting its message), it’s not quite the joke nomination you might think.
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Thanks for the response. As I said, I was just really confused by its inclusion. I know very little about My Little Pony and had, perhaps wrongly, assumed that it was either a joke nomination or a spoiler nomination, especially considering some of the other things nominated.
But I will check it out and withhold judgement until then… but it is fair to say that it would have to be mind-blowingly good for me to change my mind about Jessica Jones being the best thing on there.
On the short stories:
some of them are freely available online.
At first sight, “If you were an award, my dear” made me smile. Seemed like a funny enough satire. Quickly succumbed to poison and bile. Avoid the commentary space at all costs.
Did read “Assymmetrical Warfare”. A very average story, imo. Maybe it was on the SP slate – because it’s… about warfare? But opinions may vary. The idea is okayish, but it just doesn’t have what constitutes a good short story.
Regarding Jessica Jones and Doctor Who:
I’m pretty sure Jessica Jones is gonna get the award, what with all the troubles with Sad Puppies and it being an exemplary piece of feminist fiction.
I just wasn’t that enamored by it myself. Daredevil seemed much better. Or if not “much better”, then at least a bit more flawless. Had more going for it imo.
“Heaven Sent” wasn’t just a random episode of Doctor Who. Being a show with an episodic nature, it’s bound to have amazing episodes and absolute… meh’s. And Heaven Sent is where the writing, directing and acting are at their absolute finest. It’s the most universally acclaimed episode of the show after the yber-popular Blink. If you haven’t seen the episode itself, I wouldn’t recommend just going “ah, it’s another one of those doctor who’s”.
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Thanks for the comment.
I fully intend to read up on those stories I haven’t read yet, but thanks for your commentary.
As for Jessica Jones, I really loved Daredevil Season One until I watched JJ, and it blew me away. I thought DD was great but JJ was brilliant. Then again it is horses for courses about what we all like.
I have seen all the DW episodes, and while ‘Heaven Sent’ was good (probably the best of that season), I don’t think it was as good as either JJ or DD. I have never really been a Whovian, I watch them all, but I am just not a fan of them. Every season is always so uneven, and even the best ones are then tainted by all that come before and after them for me. But Who does seem to get a lot of love in terms of Hugo nominations.
I haven’t followed the Hugo awards over the last few years but assumed it was still operating as one of SF/F’s highest accolades – so when I saw this article title, it piqued my curiosity. I’d never heard of the Puppies controversy before this and now after looking it up I’m grateful you brought this to my attention. Now all I can do is shake my head and lament. It’s such a shame that at a time when these genres are enjoying incredible mainstream exposure and greater acceptance in the literary world, serious fans and gifted writers can’t even celebrate this shift properly.
And regardless of whether or not the controversy is responsible, I think I’m going to lose sleep tonight asking myself “WTF?” in regards to My Little Pony making it on this list.