Monday, August 18, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 Hugo Award Winners

Let's just start this out right: I'm very happy with how this year's Hugo Awards turned out.  This was an excellent slate of winners, one which I think we'll be able to look back on and think "yeah, they got that right".  You can quibble, of course, with what was nominated and what was not, but as a whole, I think this was a solid class of Hugo Award winners.

I had greater ambitions to read and watch everything, and I didn't get quite as far along with the various stories as I had planned due to life. The time I would generally have put towards short story reading went to studying for various exams, so I didn't hit the Novellas and Novelettes quite like I planned.  But that's okay.  I still have thoughts and opinions and happiness.

Before I dig into the individual categories, I would like to offer an extra round of congratulations to Ann Leckie for winning everything, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kameron Hurley, Aidan Moher, and John Joseph Adams. I have been reading and following these folks for a number of years and I think they are all extra awesome in their own particular ways and I am super excited that they won. Aidan in particular.

You can find my breakdown of the Hugo Voting here

Best Novel (1595 ballots)
*Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

Thoughts: Ancillary Justice (my review) was really in a class all its own here. I would have understood if The Wheel of Time had won and I probably would have applauded, if only because of my overall love and appreciation of the series as a whole and how good of a job Brandon Sanderson did in finishing Robert Jordan's work, but I wouldn't have agreed with the award. Ancillary Justice was the right call.

Best Novella (847 ballots)
The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
*“Equoid” by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (, 10-2013)

Thoughts: This is one of the categories I missed most of the nominated works. I had copies of everything, I just never quite got around to it. As such, the only two I read were the winner and the runner up (Six-Gun Snow White - my review). I'm not sure I enjoyed "Equoid", but I can see where some people would appreciate it. Without having read the other three stories, I can't say where I would have voted, but right now neither of the two I read would have been it.

Best Novelette (728 ballots)
The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013) (audio)
*“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (, 09-2013)
Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

Thoughts: Another category my reading was delinquent. This time, though, I can say that I adored Mary Robinette Kowal's "The Lady Astronaut of Mars". That was a wonderful and charming and sad story and I am so happy that it won.  I also enjoyed Aliette de Bodard's story, but I think between those two, the Kowal was the correct choice. I did not read the other three. Too much studying, too little time.

Best Short Story (865 ballots)
If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (, 04-2013)
Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
*“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (, 02-2013)

Thoughts: Had I a vote, I would have voted for John Chu's lovely story (my review). I was able to read all four nominated stories and while I loved the Swirsky, I think the Chu is a better representation as a story. Swirsky's was more of a beautiful heart-wrenching semi-narrative poem. It's wonderful, but Chu's story is a worthy winner.

Best Related Work (752 ballots)
Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
*“We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
Writing Excuses: Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

Thoughts: Kameron Hurley's piece was one of the more discussed and shared nonfiction works in the genre this year, and I think it represents a significant part of the conversation this year. The award is also timely in that the writer of the Best Related Work is also the winner of Best Fan Writer. More on that later.

Best Graphic Story (552 ballots)
Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
“The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who” written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
*“Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)

Thoughts: I don't know, man. There's a lot going on with Time, but Saga is something pretty special itself (bonkers, but special). I never quite got to The Meathouse Man, though I'm familiar with the original story, so I imagine it was dark and nasty. Time is a different sort of graphic story, but it works. It's quiet, and sad, but it works. I think it's my impression on what a graphic story is that is messing with me. I think I would have voted Saga over Time, but taking the time (no pun intended) to work through Time is worthwhile.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) (995 ballots)
Frozen screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
*Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
Iron Man 3 screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
Pacific Rim screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

Thoughts: Easily the right choice. The only argument to be made is whether or not Gravity is actually science fiction. Maybe the thought of George Clooney as an astronaut is fantasy, but if you really think about the movie, it's just a straight up story that happens to be in space - but everything is possible with today's technology. It's fiction that uses science, but isn't science fiction. Unless you argue that everything that ventures into space is science fiction. But regardless of that, Gravity is an excellent movie.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (760 ballots)
An Adventure in Space and Time written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Television)
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot written and directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
*Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)

Thoughts: In the category of the Hugo Award for Doctor Who, Game of Thrones won. It's the Red Wedding episode, which I'm not sure I can evaluate fairly because, holy snap, the Red Wedding.  I'm a couple episodes behind on Orphan Black, but I'm glad the Doctor Who didn't win.

Best Editor: Short Form (656 ballots)
*John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow 
Jonathan Strahan 
Sheila Williams

Thoughts: This is the Best Editor category where you can see the editorial hand in play. Compiling an anthology or building a short fiction magazine, the Short Form editor shapes the vision in a way that you can see. John Joseph Adams has been doing excellent work for years, and I'm very happy to see him receive the recognition.  Now, as for this past year, I have no idea. I haven't followed the anthologies and the zines like I used to.  But JJA definitely deserves to have a Hugo on his shelf.

Best Editor: Long Form (632 ballots)
*Ginjer Buchanan (Ace Books)
Sheila Gilbert (DAW)
Liz Gorinsky (Tor)
Lee Harris (Angry Robot)
Toni Weisskopf (Baen)

Thoughts: Long Form is a lot tougher because, depending on the press, the editor is part of a team of editors working for the publisher. So, unless you know exactly what Gorinsky worked on (and this can be tough in a large publisher), it's hard to say that she was the best editor or that she acquired the best work published last year.  When you look at smaller publishers with only a single editor on board, yes, Toni Weisskopf is Baen and Lee Harris is Angry Robot (as I understand it).  Lou Anders is Pyr.  So, if you like the publisher, you know what the editor has been doing.  Ace likely has a number of editors, but Ginjer Buchanan just retired this year, so this was the last chance to recognize her for her decades of work in the genre. I imagine this played a role.

Best Professional Artist (624 ballots)
Galen Dara 
*Julie Dillon 
Daniel Dos Santos 
John Harris 
John Picacio
Fiona Staples

Thoughts: I never did the wrap-up post after profiling all of the artists, but Julie Dillon (my profile) had a fantastic year. I might have voted for Galen Dara for my top choice (my profile), but every one of these produced quality work last year.

Best Semiprozine (411 ballots)
Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
*Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin

Thoughts: I haven't been reading the short fiction of the various zines this past year, but given that JJA also won Best Editor, it shouldn't be a huge surprise that his zine is the Best Semiprozine.

Best Fanzine (478 ballots)
The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
*A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J. Montgomery
Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin

Thoughts:  If I could express just how excited and happy I am for Aidan, I would. I just don't know how to succinctly get that across. Up until recently, A Dribble of Ink has been a single author blog. It was just Aidan pumping out quality work for years. He's been more of an editor these last couple of years, curating his blog and seeking out guest work to post - and curating is an apt term, because from the look of things, this is an active role versus just having guest writers doing whatever they want. He's grabbing writers of quality and expanding his audience and reach and overall doing one hell of a good job.

Also, where I've been previously happy for SF Signal winning for Best Fanzine, it's always been more of a group blog and a bigger and different thing. Those wins were important in helping blogs get recognition, but Aidan's win is the first time I've really felt like "one of us" have won the Hugo. This touches on Fan Writer a bit, but I've been blogging for a decade and Aidan has been right there for most of that time.  This is just a cool and awesome thing. 

Best Fancast (396 ballots)
The Coode Street Podcast – Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast – Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
*SF Signal Podcast – Patrick Hester
The Skiffy and Fanty Show – Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, David Annandale, Mike Underwood, and Stina Leicht
Tea and Jeopardy – Emma Newman
Verity! – Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
The Writer and the Critic – Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond 

Thoughts: I don't listen to many podcasts. I just tend to not have the time or the focus, so while I love the conversations I've been able to hear when I do, as a whole, I've not been able to engage with them. It's a shame. I did enjoy the couple of episodes of Skiffy and Fanty I've listened to.

Best Fan Writer (521 ballots)
Liz Bourke 
*Kameron Hurley
Foz Meadows 
Abigail Nussbaum 
Mark Oshiro 

Thoughts: First, excellent lineup of fan writers. Second, Kameron Hurley very much deserved this win with all of the killer fan writing she's been putting out, whether it is guest blogs, her own blog, or living on Twitter and engaging. Third, it does seem like more prominent writers and published authors are the ones who get the most recognition for Fan Writer. I am not suggesting that published authors are not also fans, and that they do not produce fan writing, but it does seem like Liz, Foz, Abigail, and Mark had a slightly tougher road against the wider recognition of Kameron. Again, not a dig on Kameron's absolutely killer fan writing or the reach of "We Have Always Fought" (published on A Dribble of Ink), but she is a more recognizable name outside of those who follow fan writing and various blogs. 

With all of that said, though - this was an outstanding year for the nominated fan writers. I am aware of Mark through the Mark Reads Stuff that I've seen linked, but I am not familiar with his work. Liz, Kameron, Foz, and Abigail have been just killing it. I've been advocating for Abigail's nomination for several years and I'm very happy to see it here.  Kameron's win is well deserved, as was that of "We Have Always Fought" for Related Work.

Best Fan Artist (316 ballots)
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano 
Spring Schoenhuth 
Steve Stiles
*Sarah Webb 

Thoughts: Like Professional Artist, I highlighted the nominees (except that I never got Brad's spotlight posted - for which I apologize). Sarah Webb (my profile) was easily my favorite of the bunch and I would not be surprised to see her work being nominated in the future for Professional Artist if she continues with it and moves in that direction within the genre.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (767 ballots)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
Wesley Chu 
Max Gladstone*
Ramez Naam*
*Sofia Samatar*
Benjanun Sriduangkaew

*Denotes finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

Thoughts:  I made it halfway through this category (Chu, Naam, Samatar), so I can't speak on Gladstone or Sriduangkaew (yet).  I would have went with Wesley Chu just from reading the first of the Tao novels (my review). I had a blast reading it and was more impressed by it than Naam's Nexus or Samatar's Olondria novel. I do understand, though, that I'm in the minority of A Stranger of Olondria  (my not a review). I've enjoyed her short fiction, but I just failed to engage with Olondria.  Most everyone else truly appreciated the artistry of the novel, though, and so I am not at all surprised by the win. Maybe next year for Chu.


Aidan Moher said...

Thanks for the kind words, Joe. It's been a wild ride we've been through.

Kendall said...

Great wrap-up post! I'm still catching up on blogs after a just-over-two-week England/Wales trip for Worldcon, so my apologies for the very late comment.

EDITOR LONG FORM: The Hugo Voter packet had lists (supplied by the nominees) of works they edited, as did the previous three (at least). There's not one for Weisskopf this year (unsurprising, given her wacky diatribe a while back, and other stuff she's said), but as you said, if you know Baen, you know her work. Anyway, so these days, you can see what editors like Buchanan, Gilbert, and Gorinzky at larger hourses worked on. (There used to be a wiki, but I don't know who maintained it or if it still exists.)

That said, I agree Buchanan's retirement played at least a small part in her win. (I haven't read Locus in several years, so it was news to me at Worldcon, so it didn't affect my voting either way.) Your own comments about JJA for Short Form support the theory. ;-) And there's a history of this in other awards like the Oscars.

But, THAT said, I find it a tough category to vote for, even with lists, and I doubt I'm the only one.

CAMPBELL: You seem to focus on novels here, and that's what the voter packet had, and I'm sure many others do as well. But it's for (in her case) two years of work that includes short stories, so she didn't technically (or IMHO really) win for the novel alone, though I'm sure that played a significant role. Anyway, since you like her short work, if you look at it that way, maybe her win sits better. ;-)

I didn't like her nominated short story at all . . . nor Swirsky's, sorry (though I've enjoyed Swirsky's other storied I've read). Both had that "not really SF" feeling to me, though technically Samatar's, at least, did SEEM to turn out to be SF.

BTW, your post got me curious how often the Campbell's won in the second year of eligibility. 38% of of winners were nominated the year before they won. Samatar wasn't nominated last year but won in her second year, bringing that up to 40%. I suspect the total % winning in the second year of eligibility is quite a bit higher than that.

Kendall said...

Er, that's just one reason I didn't like those two stories, but I mention it since it does affect my voting. I never saw Gravity, but your similar comment there makes me want to, now.