Thursday 13 July 2017

Hugo Award 2017 Odds and Ends

There are only two days left to cast ballots on the Hugo Awards for 2017, and a lot of topics we haven’t had an opportunity to delve into on the blog. Given the short window of time, we’re just going to touch on some of the categories and nominees that probably deserve more discussion.

We don’t want to spill too much ink over the dramatic presentation categories, as this blog is mostly focused on the written fiction categories. That being said, Arrival is one of the most thoughtful and compelling big screen science fiction movies in ages. Let the Golden Globes offer their plaudits to Hidden Figures, and let the MTV Movie Awards shower praise onto Deadpool. Arrival is the type of movie that the Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation – Long Form exists to celebrate.

In the Dramatic Presentation – Short Form category, “Leviathan Wakes” from The Expanse will get
The Expanse is great Science Fiction that
deserves to get some Hugo love.
Image via
our votes. It’s a good episode of a truly science fictional series that needs to get more love. Game of Thrones already has two Hugos, Doctor Who already has five (and “Doctor Mysterio” was kind of an awful episode). The experimental hip-hop album Splendor & Misery (from Hamilton alumnus Daveed Diggs) is interesting, but ultimately not to our tastes.

Give these editors their due

For Best Editor – Long Form, we’re going to put Liz Gorinsky at the top of our list. She’s nurtured some brilliant talent, seems to be nominated every year in this category, but she’s never been handed the trophy. Navah Wolfe’s work at Saga Press also should not go unnoticed.

Neil Clark of Clarksworld deserves
to finally win himself a Hugo
Image via LinkedIn
In the Best Editor – Short Form category, it’s a battle of perennial nominees, with 36 nominations between the six finalists. Our votes are going to Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine. He’s never won the award, and Clarksworld had a brilliant 2016. Literally everyone in this category deserves the award this year, so it’ll be difficult to rank our ballots.

It’s interesting to note that Sana Takeda’s excellent illustration work has been recognized both in the best Professional Artist category and in the Best Graphic Story category for the comic book series Monstress (which we wrote about earlier). Best Professional Artist is a category that really comes down to a matter of taste, but for our money, Galen Dara should take home the trophy for how varied her art is in tone and palette. Compare her cover of Lightspeed Magazine Issue 80 to the one she did for Uncanny Magazine Issue 10. The former is moody, evocative and shadowy; the latter is fun and
Galen Dara's cover of
Uncanny #10 is awesome.
Image via
 Dara has range and depth, and needs to be recognized for that.  

Fan Award Is No Joke

We have a sneaking suspicion that Chuck Tingle might win the Best Fan Writer category, which would be a shame. In the past, Hugo voters have had a tendency to throw down-ballot awards to an in-joke (As example: Gollum's Acceptance Speech defeating Firefly in the Dramatic Presentation category in 2004), and Chuck Tingle might benefit from that tendency this year. Our votes will be going to Mike Glyer of File 770. He may have won this award four times previously (including last year), but he deserves it.
What we’ve read from the six Best Semiprozine nominees has been quite good – and the nominees are radically different from each other. Cirsova, which focuses on old-school heroic fantasy and science fiction has published some stories we’ve particularly enjoyed. The BookSmugglers does a brilliant job of talking about all-ages genre fiction, including some kick-ass interviews. These are probably our two top picks in the category.  

We haven’t read all of the Best Novella shortlisted works. That being said, the three we have read have been very strong. China Miéville is always great, and This Census Taker is well-worth voting for. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is like a masterclass in writing a modern Lovecraft pastiche. But surprisingly, we’re likely to vote for Seanan McGuire’s work. Every Heart A Doorway was likeable, and even won over those in our group who have offered disdain and vitriol for McGuire’s previous stories.   

The Hugo Award for Best Series is a bit of an odd beast. Given the number of Hugo awards that individual novels in the Vorkorsigan series has racked up, it would seem to be the favourite. But are we to judge the series on the overall quality, how well the books work together, the long-term story arcs, or on how good the series was in 2016? Since nothing like this category has been awarded since 1966, there's very little precedent on which to judge this category. We're choosing to interpret this category based on how well the books work together, and if the the series is better than the sum of its parts. By that standard, The Expanse is probably the top pick, although there's a case to be made for the Rivers of London books.  

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