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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Comments on the Hugo Short Lists

Last night the Hugo Awards announced their shortlists for 2012. I find myself fairly disappointed across the board, which is unfortunate and expected. In fact, of all the nominations I myself made, only a small handful made the short lists -- Stina Leicht for the Campbell, Patrick Nielson Hayden for Editor (Long Form),  SF Signal for Best FanZine, and SF Signal Podcast for Best Fancast. I'm going to go through each category, offering my thoughts on the choices, and occasionally opining where there may be some missteps.

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 (
"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 (
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)
Why bother? Game of Thrones in a walk. Captain America sucked, by the way.
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)
Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky
Anne Lesley Groell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Betsy Wollheim
[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
Neil Clarke
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams
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
Bob Eggleton
Michael Komarck
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio
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
Randall Munroe
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne
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)
James Bacon
Claire Brialey
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)
Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
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.

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At April 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

I expected Among Others and Embassytown to make the list.

I expected this too. Not surprised by Martin, highly surprised by the Grant and Leviathan Wakes.

At April 8, 2012 at 3:52 PM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

Quick question, and one I'm legitimately curious about, why hasn't Joe Abercrombie or Steven Erikson caught on more among the voters?

Erikson? I think its a case of "TL;DR" Not sure why Abercrombie doesn't get award love though.

At April 8, 2012 at 4:04 PM , Anonymous Jared said...

Abercrombie picked up a lot of love at EasterCon this weekend (DGLA and "Fantasy Clarke" appreciation), but just doesn't seem to have made it overseas to the same degree. Odd.

I think Among Others is Hugo catnip - nostalgia for a type of bucolic fandom that predates the internet era (if it existed at all). I'm not surprised to see it. I don't understand how mid-series books (Martin or Grant) qualify - how can the best book of the year not stand alone as a text? Pretty fond of Leviathan Wakes, but, as Justin notes, it isn't even the author's best book of the year, and it is, again, quite nostalgic. In my eyes, Embassytown is in a league of its own.

I am, however, shocked by the absence of Zoo City and The Magician King (especially since being mid-series doesn't seem to be a barrier to Hugo voters). How can they both do so well in the Campbell but not in the Hugos?

Oh, and Captain America? Really?!

At April 8, 2012 at 4:09 PM , Blogger odo said...

I know how you feel. I felt exactly the same way last year. Maybe I've come to terms with the fact the Hugo Awards ARE a popularity contest (yes, that's what they are) or maybe more of my own nominees mademthe cut this time, but I'm happier with this list than with the one of 2011. There are some things that I don't get (Leviathan Wakes and Deadline, for instance) but all in all I think is not a bad set of nominees.

And about Liu, if you'd read my interview with him you'd know that he IS working on a novel :)

At April 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM , Blogger Justin said...

That does seem to be a problem with Erikson. I would prefer to think otherwise.

At April 8, 2012 at 5:26 PM , Blogger Justin said...

I did read, collaborating with his wife, I believe? But, it's more funny if I don't know ;)

At April 8, 2012 at 5:26 PM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

Blackout/All Clear might be the longest "book" to win the Hugo award by a country mile. And that was two books counted as one.

At April 8, 2012 at 5:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hugos are getting consistently...inconsistent. Last year a series won for Best Novel, and this year there is a surprisingly amount of mid-series novels (ie, novels that can't stand by themselves). Also, this is the first time a season of a TV series got nominated for Best Long Form, which I disagree w/ as it is a multi-volume work. I guess, though, if they didn't make the whole season one nom in Best Long form, it would have clogged the short form, being a battle b/t Dr. Who and GoT. And of course, Scalzi's joke turning the short fic category into a joke.

In the end, I find it best to view the Hugo's as the MTV Movie awards or Teen Choice Awards: fandom blinded by its own biases. The Nebulas would be considered the NAACP awards, and Clarke=Booker wannabe.

--Sassy Steve

At April 8, 2012 at 5:47 PM , Blogger Journey Planet said...

It's funny, but the members of the "Old Boy Club" are some of the folks who are complaining the loudest about the Speech being on the ballot!

Still, I expect to be beaten by Gaiman, though there could be hope that my pick, Community's Remedial Chaos Theory, will walk off with the rocket.

I read Jar Jar Binks Must Die (a great read), and would rank it above the Encyclopedia. DOn't know the rest of the Related Works save for teh Steampunk Bible, which was pretty good!

At April 8, 2012 at 5:53 PM , Blogger Justin said...

I saw Mike posted that on File 770. Do you happen to have a link to a video of the speech? I'd love to watch it. I'll be fascinated to see the actual vote breakdowns, that isn't available yet is it?

At April 8, 2012 at 7:21 PM , Blogger RedEyedGhost said...

"Sadly, I don't even think it's the best novel Daniel Abraham worked on this year (Dragon's Path)."

And you're wrong about that :P

Abraham's best book last year was Killing Rites

At April 8, 2012 at 7:27 PM , Blogger Elfy said...

Actually nothing I nominated this year for best novel this year even made the list. It does surprise me that writers like Abercrombie, Erikson and Rothfuss don't get nominated. I think it's who reads you and who votes really, although I nominated The Heroes. I'm very tempted to vote for Chris Garcia's acceptance speech last year for Best Short Form, I was there and saw it, it was truly epic.

At April 8, 2012 at 8:59 PM , Anonymous Stefan (Far Beyond Reality) said...

I need to formulate my thoughts about the finalists too, at some point, but it probably doesn't come as a surprise that I agree with most of what you wrote.

To your last paragraph: I believe this will change, and I believe people like you will be a big part of that. Yes, it's an old boys club, and yes, the newer fans who aren't part of it increasingly feel like the Hugos don't represent their tastes, but having an ongoing discussion about it will continue to get more and more people interested. It's amazing how many people are still unaware that they can be part of the process, but thanks to these discussions each year new, motivated, knowledgeable fans learn that they can get involved. I feel the same kind of frustration as you do, but I also feel that, as genre commentators, it's important to continue to be part of the discussion.

At April 8, 2012 at 10:11 PM , Blogger James said...

A Dance With Dragons making the ballot is no surprise at all. Does it belong there? No clue, as I fell out of love with that series and the subgenre during the five year wait for it to be released. From the reviews I have read, it would appear not.

Embassytown was a sure pick, too. I thought it had a few too many issues to be considered anything more than decent and especially not award-worthy, but I appear to be in the minority.

I loved Leviathan Wakes, but wouldn't nominate it for an award. Still, it is the one I am rooting for to win.

Captain America did indeed suck.

You can't have a Best Dramatic Presentation (short form) list without Lord Who taking up residence. This is probably blasphemy to some, what with the power of Gaiman behind it, but "The Doctor's Wife" was one of the worst episodes of this past series. It had to be nominated though, I suppose, because it is Doctor Who and Gaiman and the combination of the two forced people to change their pants. "A Good Man Goes to War" was better, but my pick is Community's "Remedial Chaos Theory".

At April 8, 2012 at 10:27 PM , Blogger Journey Planet said...

Breakdown comes out right after they announce the winners. is one that I know of. I think you have to wait through an ad to see it, though. I'm hoping I can get a better video copy from the folks who ran the show at Renovation.

At April 9, 2012 at 4:24 AM , Blogger Kathryn said...

I'm hoping "A Good Man Goes to War" wins the short form, but I have to say I was very surprised that Doctor Who was entered as episodes whereas Game of Thrones was a series. It might be due to DW largely being standalone episodes and GoT being a consistent narrative, though.

I've been criticised for this over the weekend, but I honestly believe YA needs its own category. It's just too different from adult fiction to be measured in the same way.

As for the artists - Santos won't win, but I love his work. I was surprised to see no mention of Jason Chan, who is one of *the* best artists currently working on genre fiction.

At April 9, 2012 at 4:32 AM , Anonymous Jared said...

Also a time travel book-series filled with hideous historical anachronisms. The UK fans were pretty displeased, to put it mildly.

At April 9, 2012 at 4:40 AM , Anonymous Jared said...

As someone that voted for the first time, I actually feel *more* disenfranchised by the process. Nothing like paying to play, then feeling... not underwhelmed by the results, but completely alienated. The Hugo definition of "fan" just doesn't reflect my existence at all. I guess I'm disappointed, but that isn't the award's fault - we're just on two very different pages, and I suspect the Hugos will continue very happily without my involvement.

2014 will certainly be interesting as more UK fans vote, but I just don't feel like my vote mattered. Like bringing my lucky dice to a poker game.

At April 9, 2012 at 4:43 AM , Blogger Tburger said...

Justin you card! All I know is that my fourth novel (just completed) is non-genre literary and this weekend was decision time for me: my next novel will be non-genre literary, and all my short fiction in the works is non-genre literary. Science fiction has always been what I wanted to write. On the other hand, putting together literary fiction has a cleansing quality to it, which is what the doctor's ordered at this moment - kind of like an enema. I really appreciate all the shout outs from your blog my brother and start taking a look at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. THey're doing some print books there that rock and I think I'll write a novella for them just so I can publish in that format. Wild stuff, works of art.

Nothing is ever 100% fair; I say rock-on and good luck to all the shortlisters and long live the rest of us assholes.

At April 9, 2012 at 4:45 AM , Blogger Tburger said...

I keep forgetting that my profile says Tburger. That's me, T.c. McCarthy.

At April 9, 2012 at 5:09 AM , Blogger Justin said...

I realize this is heathenish to admit, but I don't watch Dr. Who!!! Will the UK disavow knowledge of me?

At April 9, 2012 at 6:30 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I stopped paying serious attention to awards programs (literary or otherwise) years ago. It seems to be popularity, not quality, that wins the day, and far too often it seems to be the media darlings that get the most attention.

I gave Among Others a chance and didn't like it. A Dance With Dragons I'll probably read eventually, but A Feast For Crows left such a horrible taste in my brain, I'm in no hurry. No interest in Deadline, and Embassytown I really tried to like but just couldn't get into. That leaves Leviathan Wakes, which is at least on my TBR list.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:09 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

The Hugos are a popularity award. Feature, not bug.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:33 AM , Blogger RobB said...

This is the first year since 2009 where I've read the majority of the novels on the Hugo Shortlist.

The books I read on the list, I enjoyed a great deal. I'll say that even though Deadline is a mid series book, it _can_ work on its own merits. I expect Among Others to win, though, since books about books tend to get a fair amount of recognition just like films about films get a lot of recognition. Though I wouldn't mind seeing GRRM get the 'payback' for A Storm of Swords

It seems the same 3 or 4 artists appear on the list every year, hopefully this is the year John Picacio brings it home, though Swanland not being on the list is a HUGE omission, IMHO.

There is a disconnect, though, between the LONG FORM editors and the 5 books on the shortlist - two books from Orbit yet no Orbit editor - where's Devi Pillai or Tim Holman? Shouldn't there be a bit more connectivity between the long form editors and the books making the shortlist?

Kudos to SF SIGNAL, hopefully they'll win.

You'd think Doctor Who is the only SF show on TV nowadays.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:37 AM , Blogger RobB said...

Is providing a barrier to entry ($50 membership fee) a sensible way to nominate work?

I know *I'm* not willing to cough over $50 to nominate.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:39 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Good point on the editor Rob. I nominated an Orbit editor on my short list, and Devi would have been a great choice too.

I think part of the problem might be Orbit not listing their editors in the books metadata. Some publishers just don't do that making it hard to identify who edited what. The end result is Editors in Chief/Editorial Directors getting the nod and/or ones who've got huge reputations in the field.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:49 AM , Blogger RobB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:49 AM , Blogger RobB said...

"I think part of the problem might be Orbit not listing their editors in the books metadata. Some publishers just don't do that making it hard to identify who edited what. The end result is Editors in Chief/Editorial Directors getting the nod and/or ones who've got huge reputations in the field."

Fair point, but if voters are paying $50 just to vote for the books, shouldn't checking back with the publishers regarding who edited each book be a matter of course?

At April 9, 2012 at 7:54 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

A suggestion on Coode Street, which I think is a good idea, is to bind the Long Form nominees with the editors. That is to say, if Among Others gets a Long Form nomination, the editor for it should get a nomination as well. (And it acknowledged as such)

At April 9, 2012 at 8:15 AM , Blogger Kameron Hurley said...

Jeremy's an acquiring editor more than an editing editor. So it depends on if that award's given for acquiring a book (openness to new writers/voices) or for actually editing books (God's War was actually edited by David Pomerico back when it was sitting with Bantam. Marty Halpern and K.M. Lord did the copyediting).

/2 cents.

At April 9, 2012 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Right. My point was I don't know how we can judge someone on the quality of their "editing" when we didn't see what the original looked like. Editorial direction though is something we score without context.

That said, I nominated David for best editor myself with God's War in mind. ;)

At April 9, 2012 at 8:28 AM , Anonymous Stefan (Far Beyond Reality) said...

Funnily enough, your vote probably matters more here than in other awards where anyone can vote, because there is that membership threshold. I really do feel that there's a possibility to be a factor in the outcome, not just by voting by also (and more importantly) by getting other people involved. The final novel list is made up of less than 1,000 ballots, which is a fraction of the amount of people who regularly read what you write on PK. I'm just as frustrated as you are by the insularity of this award, but I also feel that with some gentle advocacy, it's possible to change what you call the Hugo definition of "fan" to something that's more inclusive -- not by barnstorming, just by raising awareness.

At April 9, 2012 at 8:35 AM , Blogger odo said...

Individual votes certainly matter. I voted for the first time three years ago when The City & The City and The Windup Girl tied on the Best Novel category. I voted for The Windup Girl, thus my vote counted a lot :)

At April 9, 2012 at 9:57 AM , Blogger Kathryn said...

I wouldn't, anyway, but some might.

I can understand not watching it, it's a massively inconsistent show. Ridiculously so, in fact.

At April 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM , Anonymous Mark Lawrence said...

evasive? :p

At April 9, 2012 at 1:06 PM , Blogger GunMetalBlue said...


See, and I feel that A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR is easily one of the worst episodes since DW relaunched in 2005. It's an absolute mess and has the most hackneyed, easy to guess, shoehorned in twist in the history of TV.

That said, being the diehard DW fan I am...even I can only acknowledge THE DOCTOR'S WIFE (easily the BEST ep of Series 6) as being even close to worthy of a Hugo nod...meanwhile the rerst of the season doesn't pop out least not on par with brilliance like BLINK or THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE in years past.

At April 9, 2012 at 1:18 PM , Blogger GunMetalBlue said...


I agree with most of what you said here. Especially things like ADWD getting nominated. Seeing as the general consensus of those of us who are ASOIAF fans and have read it was that it was about 600 pages of mindless bloat in which GRRM attempted to get himself out of the corner he'd painted himself into...and then 300 pages of the best stuff he's written since ASOS. I'd call that a return to form, but it damn sure shouldn't win any awards. I think it was nominated because the wait for it and it's subsequent reception in sales boosted it into nomination. Which I think is sad.

LEVIATHAN WAKES is a great book, and I don't mind it being nominated at all.

CAPTAIN AMERICA getting nominated is where I think we have to look for the flaws in the "old boys club" voting. It just shows you that some of the votes lay with people who like their aesthetics and that's it. CA looked phenomenal throughout, but as a story it's an almost irredeemable mess.

The fact that the "fanzine" portion is the way it is...that's something I truly expected. Even though blogs are a heavy quotient for the review-quarter, big member-based awards like the Hugo's simply have too many folk (again, the old boys club) who refuse to come into the present. To them fanzines aren't blogs. Meanwhile they are all too blind to see that is what fanzines have mutated into. Other than SF Signal I've not even HEARD of the other noms...has anyone else?

I like the notion that Stefan mentioned. We ARE the future of this, but we aren't going to be "allowed" in as easily as all that. It's going to be an uphill battle to be heard, but I think the longer blogs and bloggers are around the more of a force we can produce to be heard. It's going to be a numbers game plain and simple. So in that vein even the vote that someone puts in and feels doesn't count, will count...just not yet. If we keep at it from year to year, eventually the numbers will tip in our favour.

Just my opinion.

At April 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM , Blogger katster said...

The first season of Heroes was nominated in Best Long Form in 2008. So it's not entirely unprecedented.

At April 9, 2012 at 7:05 PM , Anonymous C.D. said...

I agree with your complaints about the best editor category. Something needs to change there, particularly with Long Form. Orbit Books has two novels on the best novel shortlist, but no editors on the Long Form shortlist? Wait, what?

I was also disappointed by the Best Novel shortlist - not necessarily by an of the individual works, but more because there weren't any that were a surprise. It was all very expected - George R.R. Martin, China Mielville, nostalgic works like Among Others, throwbacks like Leviathan Wakes... where is the innovation? The border-pushing stuff? Where are the works we can point to to go "we've never seen anything like that before?" It's not that I think all the Best Novels should fulfill that criteria (hey, I loved Among Others and Embassytown), but it's sad when none of them do. Deadline does to a certain extent (postmodernism and zombies!), but it's still an expected choice, since Feed was nominated last year. For me, the three most innovative novels from last year were Kameron Hurley's God's War, N.K. Jemisin's The Kingdom of the Gods and Catherynne Valente's Deathless - and I was sad that not one of them got a nod. Although I would have been quite happy if something equally... unsettling was on the ballot.

Having said that, I was absolutely ecstatic to see Galactic Suburbia get a nod for Best Fancast. I thought the fact that it was an Australian, Feminist podcast would lock it out of the shortlist (because it would be viewed as too "marginal" for a nomination). Which would have been a shame, because it's one of the, if not the, best podcasts in the speculative fiction field. They're certainly the podcasters I turn to for my news and opinions. So I can't be too mad at the voting public.

Also, apparently one cannot nominate both the series as a whole and individual episodes. So if GoT got the nod for best series, it could not also get a nod for individual episodes - which explains why there aren't any GoT episodes on the short form shortlist. I'm not sure who decides, but I imagine the administrators make a decision on which way to go based on the nominations...

At April 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM , Blogger John D. said...

Thanks for the kind words, Justin. :)

At April 9, 2012 at 8:42 PM , Blogger Elfy said...

You don't pay $50 just to nominate. You get all of the printed work for that fee. It's $50 for a fair bit of reading material that you would pay more to get otherwise. It's also had the added benefit of introducing me to authors I wouldn't have otherwise read.

At April 10, 2012 at 4:53 AM , Anonymous Jared said...

You are both, of course, right. It just feels like it'll be a loooooong process. As part of the young-fangled interwebs generation, I prefer my changes to be immediate.

At April 10, 2012 at 4:55 AM , Blogger Joe said...

Editor - Long Form: I've already said this, but

You know what I’d like to see? Some sort of centralized database or listing where you can look at an editor’s output for a given year. What did Lou Anders edit from the 2011 slate? Well, with Pyr, I believe it would be everything. But that’s not the case with Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Tor published a LOT in 2011. How much awesomeness was Liz Gorinsky responsible for? Honestly, if you’re not checking the editor of every book you read (assuming that information is even available inside the cover), making a list, and compiling it throughout the year – how do you really get a sense for it?

I remember a couple of years ago there was a big push for Juliet Ulman's nomination, but unless there is a quick and easy way to see who, exactly, nominated a given work (and a list of work) - you're going to keep running into this problem with the category. It's a problem I share because you have to do a lot of work to really get a sense of who edited what that was published in a given year.

At April 10, 2012 at 8:08 AM , Blogger Justin said...

It's a great idea, Joe. Maybe something we should consider putting together next year. I'm sure the publishers can easily share that information.

At April 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM , Blogger odo said...

You mean something like this?

At April 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM , Blogger Justin said...

Yes, exactly. Although that doesn't appear to be very current. At least for the few editors I checked on/for.

At April 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM , Blogger odo said...

It's a wiki, so... ;)

At April 10, 2012 at 6:34 PM , Blogger Joe said...

Exactly that! Though, I think I saw an earlier version of it that was still out of date two years ago.

Justin: I was afraid you were going to suggest doing it ourselves. I've been noodling that recently - that if there's something that I would like to see and nobody is doing it...

If the publishers are forthcoming and willing to provide lists, it could probably be done on a quarterly or biannual basis to make things easier. If it's done right, there's going to be a LOT of updating.


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