Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Graphic Story

Thursday, May 28, 2015 0
Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)
Saga, Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
Time will bear this out, or not, but I think I will have had a much more difficult time ranking the nominees for Graphic Story than I will for any other Hugo category this year. There is just so much excellence here and the comics are all great in very different ways.  I will, however, hold to this ranking and this vote and live with it. But ask me tomorrow and I could reorder the whole thing and be equally comfortable with that order. I choose to draw the line today.

Sex Criminals: Sometimes I read a comic at home and my wife looks over at me with a slightly confused and bemused shake of her head. Add in the title of the book and she asked me, curious, what exactly I was reading. I told her I was reading a friggin awesome and exciting and completely batshit insane comic where two characters figured out that they have the ability to stop time when they orgasm. There's a chance she'd like the book. At the very least, she'd demonstrably see that comics are far more than just super heroes wearing costumes (which will also be addressed when I talk about Ms Marvel). But, besides the massive "what the hell am I reading" level of shock and admiration, Sex Criminals is, thus far, a fascinating and excellent comic telling what initially feels like a heist tale with an interesting quirk. That itself, with the quality level of the writing and the art, is enough to move Sex Criminals to the top of my ballot.  I'm very curious where Fraction is going to take this story and if he can keep it together long enough to tell a complete story, but we'll see. This first collection was exciting.

Saga: I'm glad it was the third volume of Saga which was nominated and not the fourth, because as much as I enjoy Saga and think that it is one of the better comics running today, Volume 3 was a significantly stronger collection. I have perhaps less to say about Saga because I read it much longer ago than the rest of the nominees, but Saga sets a very high bar and Volume 3 is the best of the collected editions.

Rat Queens: I am so glad Rat Queens was nominated for a Hugo Award. It had been on my radar for a while, but it was the nomination which pushed me to read it. Holy crap. It is awesome. On a different day I could shuffle my ranking and Rat Queens could be my top pick, the lines between these nominees are so narrow. This is Sword and Sorcery with foul mouthed and ass kicking semi-anti-heroines - a small four woman mercenary company.  I love it. I want more. More!

And, if I might make a very rare digression because I have mostly elected to not talk about any of the controversies surrounding this year's Hugo Awards when I am talking about the nominees: Rat Queens feels like it should be the exact sort of ass kicking heavy on story light on message comic the Sad and / or Rabid Puppies have said they are agitating in support of. It is this exact sort of work. That being the case, I hope this is something many of them who enjoy comics are able to hold up as being truly excellent regardless of who created it. Because it is.

Ms. Marvel: I made a crack in my brief commentary on Sex Criminals about comics being more than superheroes wearing costumes, and despite my love of comics I sometimes fall into that very simply and reductive trap. Hell, as much as I love very non-superhero works such as Queen and Country or Y: The Last Man or DMZ or a much longer list than I want to make right here, I am also a reader of some Batman and a range of more "traditional" Marvel comics as I work my way through various series and the overall Marvel 616 Universe. Some are much better than others. Matt Fraction's run on Invincible Iron Man and Ed Brubaker's Captain America are two standout works.  I have mostly been reading in order, so I wasn't going to get to Ms Marvel for several years most likely.

That would have been a damn shame. Ms Marvel is a fresh new take on the character, with Carol Danvers having taken on the Captain Marvel mantle, Ms Marvel was left vacant. It has now been taken up by Kamala Khan, a 16 year old from Jersey City. Also notable is that she is Pakistani-American, and while I don't think it is necessary to continually talk about Khan's race, her family's religion, or similar issues when discussing Ms Marvel, it is worth pointing out at least once because it is a significant step for Marvel comics to take in having a potentially major character not be white. But that is the window dressing which also serves as the underlying character of Kamala Khan because it is who she is and it is her background. But it allows G Willow Wilson (the writer, and also creator of the excellent series Air) to tell different stories in the Marvel universe as the new Ms Marvel works through her own origin story and eventually interact with the greater Marvel universe. While I am only through the first collection so far, a character taking the Ms Marvel mantle does not stay in Jersey City and only deal with the local issues. Ms Marvel has to become more than that, otherwise why tell the story?

The important thing here is that the story itself of a young woman, a teenager, acquiring power but not knowing how to best use it or how to navigate her family life with the new great power / great responsibility that she has, that story is a well told, well written, and an excellent piece of comics writing and storytelling. Somewhere in there I was redundant, but Ms Marvel demands to be read.

No Award: I could not figure out which particular strip from The Zombie Nation began the Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate collection, and when I asked Carter Reid he didn't seem too sure himself. So, I did what any other absolutely insane person would do: I read them all. I started with the very first comic Reid posted and I continued on through the end of 2014 because I figured that had the collection been published in 2015, it wouldn't have been eligible. I just didn't know where the line was. I put stronger weight on the late 2013 and all of the 2014 work, as that is where the collection would have most likely been pulled from. It's...fine.  The Zombie Nation is mildly amusing, occasionally funny, but ultimately nothing special. Nothing I would hold up and say is one of the best comics of the year. Excuse me, nothing I would hold up as one of the best "graphic stories" of the year.  The Zombie Nation simply does not compare with any of the other nominated comics.

My vote:
1. Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick
2. Saga, Volume 3
3. Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery
4. Ms Marvel: No Normal
5. No Award


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Related Work

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 0
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
Why Science is Never Settled by Tedd Roberts (Baen.com) (Part I & II)
Wisdom from my Internet by Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)

This may be the first year I have actually read all of the nominees for Related Work. As a general rule, I am less interested in the nonfiction category.  Further, I often have less time / patience to wade into Related Work than I do the rest of the fiction categories. This year is different. I have the time and I have the inclination. We'll see if that holds for next year.

The Hot Equations: While some of the math / formulas involved here ran right over my head, I appreciated Burnside's look into what combat in space might look like from a scientific perspective of what is actually possible based on technology and physics. If I were a writer of hard science fiction, I would keep Burnside's article in mind. Of course, if I were a writer of anything, it wouldn't be hard science fiction because of the technical depth required to do so. That's a different conversation, though. The main point here is that Burnside's essay is worthwhile, especially to those interested in hard SF.

Why Science is Never Settled: Here Tedd Roberts has a two part essay that, well, discusses exactly what the title of the essay says it does. It deals with scientific consensus, how it can come about, and some of the issues surrounding that. I've seen some commentary online suggesting that what Roberts is doing here is very entry level stuff, nothing deep or award worthy. I may agree about the entry level work, but what it also does by that very nature is make these ideas about science very accessible and understandable and I think that is something to be commended. There are just as many English majors reading science fiction as there are from the sciences. Probably more. I think The Hot Equations is of an overall higher quality and more valuable in this category, but Why Science is Never Settled is the next best here.

Letters from Gardner: Lou Antonelli's collection is an interesting one. It's part memoir, part short story collection, part writing advice, part I have no idea. It shows Antonelli's development as a writer, some of the revision progress, and how influential some of those early rejections from Gardner Dozois were. It's not necessarily my cuppa, but it's not bad.

No Award: No Award continues to rear its ugly head. I read half of Wright's Transhuman and Subhuman collection (approximately), and I bounced off of it. His essay on fiction writing directed at a nonfiction writing friend was fairly solid, but I had issues with the rest of what I read - mostly in that I disagree with much of what Wright has to say and his essay writing style does little to encourage me to continue reading even despite my disagreement. I can't get into specifics here because each time I bounced off an essay, I moved onto the next. That said, he's not wrong that Ulysses is a terrible book.

On the other hand, Wisdom from my Internet is truly a terrible book that has no place anywhere near this ballot. I can understand, more or less, why people may have enjoyed / appreciated Wright's collection. I'm not his audience, but many people likely are. Michael Williamson's collection of non-sequiturs and jokes is sort of organized by topic, but most are not at all entertaining and what, exactly it has to do with the field of science fiction and / or fantasy is completely beyond me. But it isn't so much the lack of relation to SFF that gets me, it's how bad the jokes are and how disinteresting the whole thing is. I may not think that Wright's collection is worthy of an Award, but I don't think Williamson's should have been considered for nomination. I may never understand how or why it was.


My vote:
1. "The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF"
2. "Why Science is Never Settled"
3. Letters from Gardner
4. No Award


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Professional Artist

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 10
Julie Dillon
Kirk DouPonce
Jon Eno
Nick Greenwood
Alan Pollack
Carter Reid

John Eno was found to be ineligible and was replaced on the ballot with Kirk DouPonce.


There is a lot of quality art being produced by the 2015 nominees. Julie Dillon, last year's winner for Professional Artist, continued to produce excellent work. Based on their work included in the Hugo Voter's Packet, Greenwood, Pollack, and DouPonce have also produced good work. As a point of personal preference, Greenwood is my top choice here, but it was very close between Dillon and Greenwood. While referencing the Voter's Packet is a touch unfair because unless you're also a voter, you can't see that work. Unfortunately, except for Dillon, none of the other nominees have work posted at the Hugo Eligible Artists tumblr (a great reference for both fan and pro work, by the way), but you should be able to browse the various websites I've linked above to get a feel for their work.

Sadly, I am using No Award again here in Professional Artist. Carter Reid is the writer and artist behind the Zombie Nation webcomic and while his art style fits the work he is doing with that particular comic quite well, it doesn't stand well next to the other nominees.


My vote:
1. Nick Greenwood
2. Julie Dillon
3. Alan Pollack
4. Kirk DouPonce
5. No Award


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fancast

Thursday, May 21, 2015 2
Adventures in SF Publishing Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
Dungeon Crawlers Radio Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
The Sci Phi Show Jason Rennie
Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman & Peter Newman

It is quite obvious to me that I am not the intended audience for most podcasts. I tend to only listen to one when the subject or the guest strongly interests me, and even then, I seem to be limited by just how much I can take. I do listen, semi-regularly, to Rocket Talk (one of my Hugo nominees for Related Work), occasionally a sports or wrestling related podcast, and then even yet more rarely, stuff like Star Talk, the Agony Column, or the other one I listen to which completely escapes me. 

So, "fancasts". 

As a general rule, for me, shorter is better. I listened to each of the works included in the Hugo voter's packet and am judging solely on that. If there were better examples of each podcast, that's unfortunate, because while all of them have their merits, none are ones I intend to return to.

But listening to two hours of Dungeon Crawlers talking about building role playing campaigns is just too much for me. It's not my thing. It is reasonably competent, but the podcast seemed to be too busy with too many people trying to speak. 

The Sci Phi show should be commended for simply having a very different and specific topic, which is the melding of science fiction and philosophy. Again, not my thing, but except for the really awful fake laughs that are used as transitions (or markers for jokes), Jason Rennie has a decent thing going with this show.  Added bonus, this was a very short episode, less than 30 minutes.

Adventures in SF Publishing is a bit more up my alley, though it ran a full hour, but was otherwise unremarkable.  Galactic Suburbia was a bit better, but still neither truly could grab my interest. It's not you, folks, it's me. Listening to podcasts are just not my thing, but I don't wish to ignore the category completely and some of the work being done here is rather good - for those who appreciate it.

Tea and Jeopardy appears to be in a class by itself. It is very slickly produced and seems to take place in the midst of a proper tea party. Again, this was one of the shorter episodes included and the limited run time accentuates what is cool and quirky about it while never letting what works run for too long.  It is the most worthy of the nominees, I think.

My vote:
1. Tea and Jeopardy
2. Galactic Suburbia
3. Adventures in SF Publishing
4. The Sci Phi Show
5. Dungeon Crawlers Radio


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

I may re-post this message on each article I write about the nominees, just so that we're clear in such a contentious year.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fan Artist

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 6
Ninni Aalto
Brad Foster
Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Please see my Hugo disclaimer at the conclusion of this article.  Let us instead jump right into my thoughts on the nominees.

Elizabeth Leggett: Leggett was on my final Hugo nominating ballot and I very much stand behind that nomination and I am quite glad she was able to pick up a Hugo nomination this year.  Check out the link of her work at the top of this article, it's fantastic stuff.

Spring Schoenhuth: Schoenhuth's art is not the same sort of drawing / painting / art that we think about when we think of Hugo art. Schoenhuth does much more of the metal sculpture / jewelry style of art. What she does is excellent, though it isn't completely to my taste for genre art. It's not that I'm a traditionalist, it is more that I more appreciate cover art as science fiction and fantasy art.

No Award: While Foster and Stiles have been perennial nominees, and I had a very nice e-mail exchange with Foster last year when I was looking to highlight the art of all of the nominees (something I do not plan to do this year), I don't feel this art is truly among the best. It is art of a particular style, and I think it has fit the fanzines they have often been published in, but when you compare to Elizabeth Leggett, well, there is no comparison. I appreciated Ninni Aalto's work more than those of Foster and Stiles, but it still doesn't quite rise above and meet the levels of Leggett and Schoenhuth.



My Vote:
1. Elizabeth Leggett
2. Spring Schoenhuth
3. No Award


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and letting my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

I may re-post this message on each article I write about the nominees, just so that we're clear in such a contentious year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Short Story

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 0
Goodnight Stars by Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
On A Spiritual Plain by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
The Parliament of Beasts and Birds by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
"A Single Samurai", by Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
Totaled by Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2014)
Turncoat by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Annie Bellet declined her nomination after the ballot was announced and was replaced with the Steven Diamond story.

In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and letting my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such. 

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

I may re-post this message on each article I write about the nominees, just so that we're clear in such a contentious year.

"On a Spiritual Plain" / "A Single Samurai": One thing that I found very interesting about reading through the nominated short works is that they pair very closely in my head in how I would rank them. Antonelli's story of a faith (of sorts) on an alien world and a man trying to lead a human spirit to wherever "moving on" turns out to be. It's a simple story, but cleanly told. The comparison between human faith and that of the alien is interesting. "A Single Samurai", on the other hand, is a story of action, of one samurai taking on a kaiju about to terrorize the samurai's land. There is a certain spirituality to the samurai's thoughts and actions and an economy to the movement and pacing of the story. On a different day, I could flip my ranking of these two stories.

"Totaled" / "Turncoat": While "Totaled" slid down my ballot a bit, Kary English is another writer I want to keep an eye on.  "Totaled" has a slight feel of Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun in that we have a scientist surviving as nothing more than a disembodied brain due to an accident, which ties into the research she was already doing but now can only try to respond to stimulus in a hope to communicate. "Turncoat" is the story of an artificial intelligence of a space ship in the middle of a war, so there is something of a symmetry to "Totaled", though the stories are quite different in tone and style.

No Award: I use No Award reluctantly, and I use it surgically. It is a scalpel, not a scythe.

"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds": I bounced very hard off of this story, which tells of a time after humanity has finally died out and the animals (or a representative from each species) have gathered outside man's final city and they find that they can talk, and they are discussing the very real possibility of redemption after having been kicked out of Eden so many thousands / millions of years in the past. I think it is intended to be a parable or an allegory, but what it is is remarkably heavy handed on the Christian theme with rather poor / oddly formal writing and it really doesn't deserve to be anywhere near this ballot. As such, it will not remain on mine.

"Goodnight Stars": It is worth noting that had Annie Bellet's story remained on the ballot, it would have quite easily been my top pick for Short Story. Bellet is a writer to watch. I would have loved for the opportunity to have voted for "Goodnight Stars".

My vote
1. "On a Spiritual Plain", by Lou Antonelli
2. "A Single Samurai", by Steven Diamond
3. "Totaled", by Kary English
4. "Turncoat", by Steve Rzasa
5. No Award

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hugo Nominee / Voter's Packet Available

Monday, May 18, 2015 0
Via File 770, the Hugo Voter's Packet has been released by Sasquan, the host of 2015's Worldcon.

From the press release:

A digital file of many of the Hugo Award nominees is now available for members of Sasquan to download at http://sasquan.org/hugo-awards/packet_download/. This free download is supplied by the creators and publishers of works that are nominated for the awards. It is free to all current Supporting, Attending and Young Adult members of Sasquan, and those who become members before 31 July 2015. Its purpose is to allow those who are voting on the Hugo Awards to be able to make an informed choice among the nominated works.

All of the short fiction and graphic novels are included in their entirety (((assuming Zombie Nation comes through!))). The packet contains the full text of three of the novels: The Dark between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, amd The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Skin Game by Jim Butcher and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie are represented by extensive excerpts. One of the five finalists in the Related Work category is represented by an excerpt: Letters from Gardner, by Lou Antonelli. There is some material in each of the other categories except the Dramatic Presentations, but not everyone wanted us to include their work in this packet.

Many of the shorter nominated works had already been made available online (find links here), as is the custom, but not all. The packet appears to have covered all of the short fiction, three of the novels (with excerpts of two), four of the five graphic novels with hope for Zombie Nation, and four of the Related Works (with an excerpt for the last).

So, there may be an addition to the voter's packet (which is slightly annoying to potentially download some stuff twice to get it all, but I'd rather they release as much as they can early and then fill in the holes later as it comes out - that way the maximum amount of reviewing can be done of the nominated works. 

You can find Zombie Nation online, but there's no way to tell what is included in the nominated collection. I've been boldly reading the comic from the start, powering through, but I'm only up to 2013 strips, so it's taking a while. But, you can look at any 2014 work from Zombie Nation and use that to evaluate Carter Reid for Fan Artist if you don't want to wait for Zombie Nation to hit the voter's packet (or attempt to read five years of strips).

Happy reading, y'all.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Books Read: April 2015

Monday, May 04, 2015 2
The beginning of a new month brings with it the opportunity to look back at the month gone bye and to give one last glance at what I most recently read. The below listed books are what I read during the month of April, and the lone link is to the one review I wrote last month. 

1. Dept of Speculation. By Jenny Offill
2. Coming Home, by Jack McDevitt
3. Fool's Fate, by Robin Hobb
4. The Fire Sermon, by Francesca Haig (unfinished)
5. Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold
6. 1632, by Eric Flint
7. God Stalk, by P. C. Hodgell (unfinished)
8. Prayers for the Stolen, by Jennifer Clement
9. Ready Player One, by Ernst Cline
10. Persona, by Genevieve Valentine

Best Book of the Month: It is difficult to beat a Robin Hobb novel when it comes to pure quality. Fool's Fate closes out the Tawny Man trilogy, sets up the next stage of Fitz's life and I wish I didn't know there was another set of novels dealing with Fitz and the Fool, because this was a perfect of a place to leave them as we could hope to find. Which is why it cannot possibly last.

Disappointment of the Month: This month's disappointment has to be God Stalk, a novel which for which I received numerous twitter recommendations, but which left me cold, disinterested, and confused as to what was actually happening in the novel. I gave it a fair shake, and now I'm out.

Discovery of the Month: If not for all of the fracas over the Hugo Awards, I may never have read Eric Flint's 1632, which was a fairly enjoyable romp taking a group of twentieth century Americans back into seventeenth century Europe. I already have the next book, Ring of Fire, coming in from the library.

Worth Noting: Ready Player One is 80% my thing, what with all of the older video game nerdery and the overarching online game and the 1980's imagery. That percentage could absolutely increase had the novel been more of a 90's NES / SNES era conversation, but overall, I liked the nerd novel. Not perfect, but entertaining.

Gender Breakdown: For the second month in a row, seven out of the ten books I read were written by women.  Now, it is worth noting that two of them were works that I did not finish, but since I track those books as I do any other, they are being included here in my overall count for the month.  This brings me to 28 out of 44 so far for the year, or 63.64%.  So far I have been doing a great job at sticking with my goal of reading more books written by women than those written by men during this calendar year.


Previous Months:
January
February
March
 
◄Design by Pocket Distributed by Deluxe Templates