Friday, July 1, 2016

Hugo Voting (Part One)

It's July 1!  That means lots of things.  It's Canada Day.  Summer is in full swing in the northern hemisphere.

And Hugo voters have until the end of the month to submit their choices for awards ranging from Best Novel to Best Fanzine.  This is my first time voting for the Hugos.  I've been meaning to do so for years, but this year I finally got it together.

Click here if you're interested in purchasing an attending or supporting membership, either of which entitles you to vote for the Hugos and allows you to download a Hugo packet that includes digital versions of most of the nominated works.  Here's the list of this year's nominees (see also this helpful version on File 770, also a nominee for Best Fanzine!).

I'll also be attending MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon) in Kansas City in August.  I'll be giving a talk on the academic track (the title will be “The Meaning of Life Among the Stars: Nolan’s Interstellar, Robinson’s Aurora, and Butler’s Earthseed," part of which will be based on this post).  Maybe I'll see you there!

How should I discharge my awesome responsibility as a Hugo voter?  I still haven't completely decided.  Here's some of what I'm thinking right now.  I'll write more later as I get through more of the lists.

Best Novel

  • 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)

The high profile category!  I've already read Stephenson's Seveneves, about which I had complicated feelings (see my review).  I'm hoping to get through Jemisin's The Fifth Season soon (I've liked some of her other work).  Leckie's Ancillary Mercy is a sequel to her Hugo-winning Ancillary Justice, which I reviewed here.  I read part of the excerpts of the others from the Hugo packet, and none of them grabbed me.

I'm not sure what to think.  Unless I fall in love with The Fifth Season, I can't say I think any of these books were the best novel of 2015, although I ranked Seveneves as #6 (you can see my list of 2015 favorite books here).

Best Novella

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky (
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

I haven't finished any of these yet, although I just started Okorafor's Binti.  I've really enjoyed some of her other work (see my review of Lagoon).  I've also enjoyed some of Reynolds's other work and Bujold is of course a giant in the field, but I have yet to read any of these novellas.  More work to do this month!

Best Short Story

  • “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (, 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)

The good thing about short stories is that they're, well, short.  I was able to read most of these in one sitting.  Let's set aside the Chuck Tingle story for now (it deserves special note - see below).  I really enjoyed Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please" (benevolent AI loves cat pictures!), but I didn't care for any of the others.  I admit I didn't read the story on Vox Day's blog, because Rabid Puppies and other LaRDoFs are obnoxiously trying to ruin the Hugos for everyone.

If you haven't heard of Chuck Tingle, his work is like the Matrix: nobody can be told what what it is. You must experience it for yourself.  Sure, you may think that sci-fi gay dinosaur erotica isn't your thing, but that's before you read Tingle's "Space Raptor Butt Invasion."  This story is entertaining in ways you didn't think you could be entertained.

Does "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" deserve a Hugo?  Does it matter that it was probably nominated by Puppies and NRCs as a lame and wrong-headed attempt to undermine the integrity of the Hugos?  I'm not sure how to answer these questions.  But I do know that Chuck Tingle is a magnificent genius.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • 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)

Lucky for me, I already decided on this category when I discussed my favorite movies of 2015.  See my post, "2015 Movies: the Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre," where I ranked all these except for Age of Ultron (which I did see, but I'm not really on board with the current mind-numbing domination of superhero movies so I won't be voting for it).

Best Semiprozine

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • 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)

I admit I'm only familiar with Sci Phi Journal, which will be publishing the winning story of an upcoming philosophical short story contest. So, although it would be hard for me to not vote for a philosophy and science fiction journal, there's more work for me to do, I guess.

Best Fanzine

  • Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
  • File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • Lady Business edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
  • Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
  • Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale

I will probably be biased on this one, too, especially since Glyer's File 770 has occasionally linked to posts here on my humble blog. But out of fairness, I should consider the rest, although I can probably safely say I won't be voting for the Vox Day-affiliated Castalia House Blog.

What Do You Think?

There are plenty of other categories for artists, editors, and more, including the Campbell Award for best new author. There's plenty more for me to discuss in a future post, "Hugo Voting (Part Two)."

In the meantime, I want to know what you think! Any advice from new, long-time, or alternate-reality Hugo voters? Am I completely wrong so far? On the right track? What say you, denizens of the internet?

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