Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hugo Voting (Part Two)

Today is the day!  The deadline for Hugo voting is 11:59pm PDT.

I began discussing my choices in "Hugo Voting (Part One)."  I'm super excited about attending MidAmeriCon II in a few weeks, where the winners will be announced!

This is my first time voting for the Hugos and the most important thing I've learned is that Hugo voting is pretty much a part time job!  I didn't give the attention to all the works that most of them deserved, and I missed a few categories just because I didn't have time to get to them.  Time management lessons for next year, I guess.

I'll give my full list of choices below, but first a few notes on my voting strategies (see here and here for my voting strategies when it comes to actual politics).

Voting for the Best! (Along with Strategic De-puppification)

Since I oppose both the strategy and motivation of most of the Sad and Rabid Puppies, I wanted to do what I can to minimize their impact on the whole process.  I've been meaning to vote for the Hugos for years, but it was partly the Puppy controversy that motivated me to vote for the first time this year.

But on the other hand, I don't want to vote against deserving nominees just because they were nominated by Puppies.  While we can all be sure Vox Day and some other Puppies would take credit if say, Neal Stephenson, Stephen King, or Neil Gaiman win, we can also be sure that those authors can do just fine on their own.

So here's the strategy I came up with:  I voted straightforwardly for my favorite works at the first run through, but in the event that I couldn't decide between two or more works, only then did I consider whether those works appeared on a Puppy list as a tie breaker (especially the Rabids, who are far worse).  This list from File 770 was extremely helpful there.  A blog called Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens has another attempt to sort out Puppy influence.

Also, since the voting is a ranking of preferences and you are allowed to rank "No Award" as one of the preferences, in a few categories like Short Story and Related Work I ranked "No Award" above most or all of the Rabid Puppy slate.  Still, I didn't rank "No Award" as #1 for anything, because that to me seems to reward the Puppies' bad behavior by ruining the awards for everyone.

A final thought:  A lot of Puppies have been barking about how there's this terrible SJW conspiracy where people only vote for works out of "political correctness" or whatever, but a different story has emerged for me as I voted.  I genuinely found that I tended to prefer those works that the Puppies didn't nominate.  Not in all cases.  I liked most of the Rabid Puppy slate for Novelette more than the one non-Rabid Puppy nominee.  But in categories like Novel, Novella, Dramatic Presentation - Long Form, and Fan Writer, I actually thought the non-Rabid nominees were better due to criteria like artistic merit and philosophical depth.  This makes me wonder to what extent the whole Puppy controversy is at some level more about differing tastes than differing politics.

On to my votes!

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)

In Part One I left off unsure about this one because I had yet to read Jemisin's The Fifth Season.  Now that I've read it, I can say that I loved it and ranked it number one.  See my review.  This was a weird choice for me, since there's a lot to like about Seveneves and I generally prefer science fiction to fantasy, but that just shows what a remarkable book The Fifth Season is.  Still, I'm betting Jemisin will lose to one her massively popular competitors like Stephenson or Butcher, but you never know.

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've been a fan of Okorafor for awhile now, so it's no surprise I'm going with Binti, a touching space opera story about a young woman leaving Namibia for a university in another solar system (see my review).  I also really liked Alastair Reynold's Slow Bullets, so I ranked it #2.

Best Novelette

  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander
  • “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
  • “Obits” by Stephen King
  • “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke

This was a category where I liked most of the Rabid Puppy nominees better than the one non-Rabid nominee.  I found Bolander's novelette, the single non-Rabid nominee, to be heavy on violence and amusing one-liners that are as poetic as they are profane, but light on story and ideas.  I also liked VanDyke's novelette as a sort of mash up of Ender's Game and The Matrix.  "Obits" is pure Stephen King not quite at the top of his game, but pretty close.  I'm giving the #1 spot to Hao's "Folding Beijing" (translated by Ken Liu, who also translated last year's winner for Best Novel).  The plot is subdued compared to most science fiction (nobody's saving the world).  In that regard it's more like literary fiction.  Of course, the idea of the folding city is pure science fiction that serves primarily to interrogate class issues and economics.  The main character seems flat at first but he shows tenderness as he unfolds (pun intended).  See my Goodreads review.

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)

Despite the fact that Chuck Tingle is a magnificent genius (as I discussed in Part One), for the #1 spot I decided to go with Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please," a touching little story about an advanced AI that just wants humans to upload more cat pictures. I am a cat lover, so I may be biased. I ranked Tingle's story as #2 and was sure to rank "No Award" higher than the obnoxious "parody" from Vox Day's blog.

Best Related Work

  • 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 (
  • “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (
  • SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Castalia House)
  • “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland (

This one is a bit of a head scratcher for the purposes of depuppification, since every nominee was on the Rabid Puppies' list.  Even worse, every work is extremely vile and/or directly affiliated with Vox Day.  But I don't want to reward the Rabids with a No Award winner.  Looking at Between Light and Shadow, a quasi-scholarly treatment of the works of Gene Wolfe (an author I've been meaning to read), it seemed like a worthwhile study of an important figure that has nothing to do with the Rabids' nastier ideas.  Although it makes me queasy that it's published by Vox Day's Castalia House, I'm not sure I want to hold that against the author's work in this particular case.

Best Graphic Story

  • 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 (
  • Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (
  • 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)

I'm not a huge graphic novel fan, but I've always loved the Sandman series. I was impressed with Invisible Republic, which takes my #2 spot, but there's no denying the genius of Gaiman and Williams, so The Sandman: Overture has to be #1. If the Rabids think they can take credit for fans loving Neil Gaiman, they're stupider than I thought.

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)

I already ranked this category long before the nominations came out!  See "2015 Movies: the Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre," where I ranked all these except for Age of Ultron (which I did see and enjoyed alright, but I'm ranking it last as a protest against the mind-numbing domination of superhero movies).

Best Editor - Short Form
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jerry Pournelle
  • Sheila Williams

I'll be the first to admit that, as a person with little knowledge of the behind-the-scenes business of publishing, I don't feel especially qualified to vote in the editor categories.  So I tried to judge by the final product.  Williams works on Asimov's, which I've loved since I was a kid, but since Clarke edited my favorite of the short story category, "Cat Pictures Please," I gave him the #1 spot.  Is this a stupid way to judge editing?  You tell me.

Best Editor - Long Form
  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Jim Minz
  • Toni Weisskopf

I feel even less qualified to judge this one.  The samples Gilbert provided for the Hugo packet looked good.  At least she provided samples.  I ranked Vox Day lower than "No Award."  I would rank him a billion places lower if I could.

Best Professional Artist
  • Lars Braad Andersen
  • Larry Elmore
  • Abigail Larson
  • Michal Karcz
  • Larry Rostant

I know even less about the artist categories than the editor categories, but it's a lot easier to look at pictures and decide whether I like them.  Doing that, the artwork of Michal Karcz looked the coolest to me by a pretty wide margin.  If you don't have a Hugo packet, you can see some of his work here.

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 was previously familiar only with Sci Phi Journal, which will be publishing the winning story of an upcoming philosophical short story contest.  I'll be the first to admit that it's hard for someone with my interests not to vote for a philosophy and science fiction journal.  I particularly love that every piece of fiction in the journal comes with a little blurb at the end about its philosophical significance. So that's #1 for me.  Looking through the Hugo packet, however, I was particularly impressed with Uncanny Magazine and Strange Horizons, which are #2 and #3 respectively.

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'm biased since Glyer's File 770 has linked to several of my posts (most recently here), but I can say that its broad and thorough treatment of fandom is unequaled.  I feel good about giving it the #1 spot.  I've got to hand it to Lady Business for consistently tackling important gender issues in fandom.  I'm a little uncomfortable with Superversive SF's complex relationship with the Puppies (more here), which also made me wonder about Sci Phi Journal since Jason Rennie runs both.  However, unlike Superversive SF, I find few Puppy prints on Sci Phi Journal.  I was sure to rank "No Award" ahead of the Vox Day-affiliated Castalia House Blog.

Best Fan Writer

  • Douglas Ernst
  • Mike Glyer
  • Morgan Holmes
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Shamus Young

Mike Glyer, who runs File 770, is my clear choice here for the same reasons I gave in the Fanzine category. The fact that he wasn't on either the Sad or Rabid lists only sweetens the deal.

Best Fan Artist
  • Matthew Callahan
  • disse86
  • Kukuruyo
  • Christian Quinot
  • Steve Stiles

I was unsure about this one.  Nothing in the Hugo packet really grabbed me.  Kukuruyo isn't that great and is apparently a Gamergater, so that's a deal breaker.  I'm going with Stiles, whose work is sort of funny and is on neither Puppy list.

Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Pierce Brown
  • Sebastien de Castell
  • Brian Niemeier
  • Andy Weir
  • Alyssa Wong

  • I would be shocked if mega-popular Andy Weir doesn't win this one (see my review of both his book, The Martian, and the film version).  I really liked Alyssa Wong's work in the Hugo packet.  Since I think Weir is a fine choice and already has this locked up, I'm going to give Wong the #1 spot.  She's also the only nominee not on the Rabid list.

    Concluding Thoughts

    You may have noticed that I left out two categories: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) and Best Fancast (see the nominees here).  I simply didn't get around to viewing/listening to the nominees, so I won't be voting for these categories.  A lesson for next time: don't procrastinate!


    1. Steve Stiles is a long time fan and fan artist. His work has been featured in numerous fanzines and con publications.

      1. Cool! I'm glad to be voting for him then!

    2. That sounds like a lot of work indeed, though I'm glad to hear you put it in. I may join you next year. Thanks for being so diligent in your research and sharing your process; it was really interesting!

      1. Thanks! I didn't even get to everything as it was. It wouldn't have seemed like so much work if I had started earlier, or if I had my finger on the pulse of fandom by reading more new short fiction and knowing who's who. The Hugo packet is really cool, but it is a bit overwhelming. It's a bit of work, but I would recommend it next year if you're able to do so!

      2. Earlier is definitely the way to go!