Predicting the Unpredictable: The 2008 Hugo Awards

It’s that Worldcon time of year again, and while I won’t be in Denver and I didn’t vote on them that isn’t going to stop me giving my opinions and speculating wildly on who might get a Hugo this Saturday night. Feel free to question my judgement and attempts to second-guess the voters in the comments; if you are equipped with Livejournal, you can vote in this Hugo poll as well.

Best Novel

  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald
  • Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi
  • Halting State by Charles Stross

I hear that Rollback may be one of the best things that Sawyer has ever done I’m not convinced it can actually be good. Based on Old Man’s War, Scalzi certainly has the potential to write great books, but I haven’t read The Last Colony. My vote would go to Brasyl, probably the finest SF book I read last year, and a worthy successor to River of Gods, with the very different but still often great Yiddish Policemen’s Union in second place.

Best Novella

  • “The Fountain of Age” by Nancy Kress
  • “Recovering Apollo 8” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • “Stars Seen Through Stone” by Lucius Shepard
  • “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis
  • “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe

I confess I haven’t read any of these due to lack of time, and it seems unlikely that I will manage to do so before Saturday evening. My wild stab in the dark for this category is Connie Willis, based on her previous Hugo wins.

Best Novelette

  • “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham
  • “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang
  • “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan
  • “Glory” by Greg Egan
  • “Finisterra” by David Moles

I like Greg Egan when he manages to write stories which combine hard science with emotional resonance (see “The Cutie” and ‘Reasons to be Cheeful” for examples), but both of these stories are too filled with science I don’t fully understand and characters I don’t really care about for me to like them. “The Cambist and Lord Iron” and “Finisterra” are both good stories, and only lose out because even a Ted Chiang story which is not his best work is still a very good story. So “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” gets my vote, and I think it’s going to win.

Best Short Story

  • “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter
  • “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod
  • “Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick
  • “A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick

See previously; I would go for “Tideline”, but I think it’s going to go to Swanwick.

Best Related Book

  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer
  • Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry Malzberg
  • Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz, introduction by Carol Emshwiller, forward by Alex Eisenstein
  • Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Even if I had read all these books, I have no idea how I would make a comparison between a book of critical essays, a biography, a dictionary, and a piece of sequential art – if the proposal to creat a sequential art category passes the business meeting, that would take away part of the problem. The only one I have read is Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, which is absolutely gorgeous and wonderful and should be read by everyone, and I think it would be a worthy winner. My actual prediction is the Malzberg, based on it winning the Locus Award.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Enchanted
  • The Golden Compass
  • Heroes, Season 1
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Stardust

I’m torn between Heroes and Harry Potter on this one (Stardust was good but not that good, The Golden Compass was not very good). Order of the Phoenix is a bloated book made into a surprisingly good film, but I don’t know if I’m giving it extra points for being a much better film than I thought it was possible to make out of that book. Heroes season 1 I don’t mind being in long form, but I would have much less trouble voting for some of the specific really good episodes than trying to judge the season as a whole with all the ups and downsagainst a two hour film. In the end, I think Heroes might edge it for me. Predicting what will actually win is difficult, as I don’t know if the unexpected presence of Heroes in the category will affect the voting. I think Harry Potter might win it, and I won’t be too upset with that.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Battlestar Galactica “Razor”
  • Doctor Who “Blink”
  • Doctor Who “Human Nature” / “The Family of Blood”
  • Star Trek New Voyages “World Enough and Time”
  • Torchwood “Captain Jack Harkness”

Two-horse race, I suspect for the voters as well as for me, between the two finest episodes new Doctor Who has produced. “Human Nature” / “The Family of Blood” wins for me because David Tennant does a stellar job, but in the end I think this might be a third win for Moffatt, unless the inexplicable Torchwood love is more widespread among Hugo voters than I think.

Best Semiprozine

  • Ansible, edited by David Langford
  • Helix, edited by William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
  • Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, and Liza Groen Trombi
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by Kathryn Cramer, Kristine Dikeman, David Hartwell, and Kevin J. Maroney

Ansible remains one of the best and funniest newsletters I’ve seen in any field, but this is the Locus category and I see no reason why this will change this year. I would prefer it if Helix didn’t win, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some recognition for NYRSF.

Best Fanzine

  • Argentus, edited by Steven H Silver
  • Challenger, edited by Guy Lillian III
  • Drink Tank, edited by Chris Garcia
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Plokta, edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies, and Mike Scott

I like Plokta, particularly the Facebook-parody cover of their latest issue , but this category is defined for me by the lack of several excellent fanzines, like Banana Wings, Prolapse, and Chunga, which all deserve to be on the ballot. I predict a victory for File 770, because I have a completely unfounded feeling it might be a US ‘zine winning this year and File 770 has past form.

Best Fan Writer

  • Chris Garcia
  • David Langford
  • Cheryl Morgan
  • John Scalzi
  • Steven H Silver

Sure, Dave Langford has won this award many times, but I still think there are very few fan writers to match him. I predict this is the year that John Scalzi swoops it, and I won’t be too disappointed with that even though he wouldn’t be my first choice.

4 thoughts on “Predicting the Unpredictable: The 2008 Hugo Awards

  1. Brasyl, probably the finest SF book I read last year, and a worthy successor to River of Gods, with the very different but still often great Yiddish Policemen’s Union in second place.

    I agree. Mind you, there’s a UK SF award called the Clarke award: don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but I’m sure you’ll be as boggled as I was that the judges this year omitted both of these titles from their shortlist. Tch! Judges, eh?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s