The Astounding Award

With admirable swiftness, what was the John C. Campbell Award for Best New Writer has been re-named The Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

Named for Campbell, whose writing and role as editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog Science Fiction and Fact) made him hugely influential in laying the groundwork for both the Golden Age of Science Fiction and beyond, the award has over the years recognized such nominees as George R.R. Martin, Bruce Sterling, Carl Sagan, and Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as award winners like Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, and John Scalzi.

However, Campbell’s provocative editorials and opinions on race, slavery, and other matters often reflected positions that went beyond just the mores of his time and are today at odds with modern values, including those held by the award’s many nominees, winners, and supporters.

The full statement can be found here. Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech, which sparked the change, can be found here. It began something like this: Continue reading “The Astounding Award”

The Hugos

The internet being what it is, even a post as marginally belated as this one feels a little redundant. Still, it would feel stranger not to set down my thoughts on this year’s winners at all, if only because I can’t agree with Cory Doctorow that these are “some of the best results in recent memory”; they seem to me, as usual, a mixed bag, and perhaps more than usual an inconsistent bag.

The only explanation I can come up with for, say, the two Best Dramatic Presentation results – setting the immensely pleasing recognition for the low-key, nuanced Moon against the downright distressing award for the bombastically nonsensical The Waters of Mars, not just the worst nominee and bad by the standards of all TV, but bad by the standards even of the Doctor Who specials – is that completely separate groups of people won the day in each category. (This is just about possible, although not very likely, based on the voting statistics [pdf]: from 1094 ballots cast, after redistribution of preferences Moon won its category with 418 ballots, while The Waters of Mars won with 350.) More seriously, Jonathan Strahan, who worked on two of the nominees for Best Novellette, loses out in Best Editor: Short Form to Ellen Datlow, who didn’t work on any nominees this year; and Juliet Ulman, who edited two of the Best Novels, only got as many first-preference votes as No Award in Best Editor: Long Form. You can, of course, say that the Best Editor categories are for consistency over a body of work, rather than acquiring a few standouts, but that doesn’t seem to explain the continued overlooking of Sheila Williams, whose Asimov’s has in recent years dominated the short fiction categories – 10 of 15 nominees in 2007; 7 of 15 in 2008 and 2009; and while 3 of 15 nominees this year looks like a slump, it’s still more than any other single publication managed – yet who has never won in her category.

It was satisfying to see a new Best Semiprozine – that is, the voters neither went back to their old Locus habit, nor settled into a new pattern with Weird Tales – and Clarkesworld certainly had a good year. (Although as Mark Kelly notes, it is a bit odd that Weird Tales dropped so far down the ranking.) I can only hope the award continues to move around, since I, like Abigail Nussbaum, am starting to feel a little bothered by the number of recusals. (My suggestion? The New York Review of Science Fiction, which is long overdue and having a good year.) Best Related Book was not a surprise, although This is Me, Jack Vance! is the only nominee in the category I haven’t sampled; neither was Best Graphic Story, to the point where it’s quickly becoming clear that voters don’t really know what to do with the category as it’s currently constituted. I’d be in favour of Liz Batty and Nick Honeywell’s proposal, in The Drink Tank [pdf], to change the category to Best Graphic Novel.

The winner of Best Fanzine, meanwhile, and for the second year running, is a winner within the letter of the rules rather than what I consider to be the spirit of them. Contra Jason Sanford, the only boundaries that StarShipSofa pushes for me are the ones I don’t really want to see pushed: ‘zines that publish fiction may be eligible within the current wording, but I don’t want to see them become the norm; ditto podcasts, if only because I’m too much of a written-word junkie; and nor do I want to see it become common for eligible ‘zines to campaign for their nominations. As Mike Glyer points out, however, the voting statistics don’t yet suggest that these two winners represent a sea-change in how the category is treated; and it’s good to see ‘zines like Journey Planet and group blogs like SF Signal bubbling under, not to mention Steam Engine Time, which I’d have dearly loved to see on the ballot.

And looming over everything else there’s that improbable tie for Best Novel, only the third in the history of the Hugos. As others have noted, it’s hard not to feel there’s a certain cosmic rightness in it, either because, like Jonathan McCalmont, you take it as a reflection of the fact that neither is quite polished enough to merit a full Hugo, or simply because these are the two novels that have been sharing out awards between them all year, and it’s appropriate to have that competition captured in this way. I tend to the latter view.

Final Hugo Ballot

So, deadline time at last. Here’s what I just submitted. And here are some other ballots.

Best Novel (“A science fiction or fantasy story of 40,000 words or more that appeared for the first time in 2009.”)

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
Flood by Stephen Baxter (Roc)
The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday)
Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)
In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield (Del Rey/Jonathan Cape)

Depending on your point of view, it’s either a sad comment or a testament to greatness that Baxter’s on my ballot again this year, for the same novel as last year. But if nothing else, reading Ark reminded me how much I liked Flood. And I’ll be looking out for the voting stats when they’re released after the Worldcon, to see how many nominations In Great Waters picks up. I’m hoping at least ten.

Best Novella (A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

To Kiss the Granite Choir” by Michael Anthony Ashley (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Earth II” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s)
Wives” by Paul Haines (in X6, ed. Keith Stevenson)
Crimes and Glory” by Paul McAuley (Subterranean)
“Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Pyr/Gollancz)

Completing this ballot was something of a struggle; I don’t think it’s been a terribly strong year for novellas. But I do think each of these has something to recommend them: the energy of “To Kiss the Granite Choir”, the ending of “Earth II”, the intensity of “Wives”, and the moments of flair in “Crimes and Glory” that set off a fairly meat-and-potatoes setting to good effect. “Vishnu at the Cat Circus” is the one I hope wins, however.

Best Novelette (A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone)
A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby” by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons)
“The Long, Cold Goodbye” by Holly Phillips (Asimov’s)
Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)
“The Island” by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2, ed. Dozois/Strahan)

I’m pretty happy with this selection, though I particularly hope the Swirsky and Keeble stories make the ballot.

Best Short Story (A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan (Interzone)
Turning the Apples” by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons)
All the Anne Franks” by Erik Hoel (Strange Horizons)
Spar” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld)
“Useless Things” by Maureen F McHugh (in Eclipse Three, ed Jonathan Strahan)

Of the fiction categories, probably the one where I feel least informed; but I like all these stories a good deal. (I seem to be out on my own with respect to the Hoel, but never mind.)

Best Related Work (Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2009 or which has been substantially modified during 2009, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.)

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan, 2008 with extended eligibility)
Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics by Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct)
Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
On Joanna Russ ed. Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)

Still several books that, frustratingly, I haven’t been able to get to in time; but all of these deserve attention.

Best Graphic Story (Any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in 2009.)

Don’t Split the Party by Rich Burlew (Giant in the Playground)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during 2009.)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Moon
Up
Torchwood: Children of Earth
Where the Wild Things Are

If, twelve months ago, you’d told me I would be nominating Torchwood for a Hugo, I’d have looked at you like you were crazy. But credit where credit is due. Speaking of crazy: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is bonkers, but very well done.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during 2009.)

“Season Two, Episode One”, Ashes to Ashes
“Epitaph One”, Dollhouse
“Born to Run”, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“Pilot”, Caprica
“The State of the Art” by Iain M Banks, adapted by Paul Cornell (Radio 4, 5 March 2009)

Best Editor, Short Form (The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which was published in 2009.)

Susan Marie Groppi, Strange Horizons
Jonathan Strahan, various anthologies
Scott H Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Andy Cox et al, Interzone
Sheila Williams, Asimov’s

Best Editor, Long Form (The editor of at least four (4) novel-length works primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy published in 2009 that do not qualify as works under Best Editor, Short Form.)

Jo Fletcher
Jeremy Lassen
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Simon Spanton
Juliet Ulman

Best Professional Artist (An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during 2009. If possible, please cite an example of the nominee’s work. Failure to provide such references will not invalidate a nomination.)

Raphael Lacoste (The Windup Girl, The Caryatids)
Adam Tredowski (Interzone covers)
Stephan Martiniere (Desolation Road)

Best Semiprozine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in 2009, and which in 2009 met at least two (2) of the following criteria: Had an average press run of at least 1,000 copies per issue; Paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication; Provided at least half the income of any one person; Had at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising; Announced itself to be a “semiprozine”.)

Ansible
The Internet Review of Science Fiction
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Clarkesworld
Interzone

Best Fanzine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.)

Banana Wings
Asking the Wrong Questions
Coffee and Ink
Journey Planet
Punkadiddle

Best Fan Writer (Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during 2009.)

Claire Brialey
Martin Lewis
James Davis Nicoll
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Plummer

Best Fan Artist (An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during 2009.)

Kate Beaton

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) (A writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy appeared during 2008 or 2009 in a professional publication. For Campbell Award purposes a professional publication is one for which more than a nominal amount was paid, any publication that had an average press run of at least 10,000 copies, or any other that the Award sponsors may designate.)

Jedidiah Berry
Lauren Beukes
Kristin Cashore
Patrick Ness
Ali Shaw

And there we are. Roll on Easter, and the shortlists.

Draft Hugo Ballot

A little later than advertised, here’s my working draft Hugo ballot. As with Joe Sherry’s draft, at this stage I plan to definitely nominate anything marked with asterisks (***), and am considering the other items listed. I’ll post some thoughts on each category as a comment to this post [ta-da!], and I’ll be posting further comments and probably updating the post as I read more; recommendations welcome, although I’m probably not going to get through many more eligible novels.

Best Novel (“A science fiction or fantasy story of 40,000 words or more that appeared for the first time in 2009.”)

***The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
***The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday)
***Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)
***In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield (Del Rey/Jonathan Cape)
Flood by Stephen Baxter (Roc)
UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus)
The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness (Candlewick/Walker)
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (Nan A Talese/Canongate)

Best Novella (A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

***”Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Pyr/Gollancz)
Starfall by Stephen Baxter (PS Publishing)
“Earth II” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s, July 2009)
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough (PS Publishing)
“Sublimation Angels” by Jason Sanford (Interzone)

Best Novelette (A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

***”Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone 220)
***”A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby” by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons, 1 and 8 June)
***”Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com, March)
***”The Island” by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2, ed. Dozois/Strahan)
“Problems of Light and Dark” by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)
“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
“Seventh Fall” by Alex Irvine (Subterranean)
“Black Swan” by Bruce Sterling (Interzone 221)

Best Short Story (A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan (Interzone 222)
“Turning the Apples” by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons, 30 March)
“All the Anne Franks” by Erik Hoel (Strange Horizons, 23 November)
“Useless Things” by Maureen F McHugh (Eclipse Three);
“Unexpected Outcomes” by Tim Pratt (Interzone 222)

Best Related Work (Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2009 or which has been substantially modified during 2009, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.)

***Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
***The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan, 2008 with extended eligibility)
***Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics by Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct)
Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
On Joanna Russ ed. Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)

Best Graphic Story (Any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in 2009.)

***Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during 2009.)

***Moon
***Up
***Where the Wild Things Are
Monsters vs Aliens
The Road
Torchwood: Children of Earth
The Time-Traveler’s Wife

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during 2009.)

***”Season Two, Episode One”, Ashes to Ashes
***”Epitaph One”, Dollhouse
***”Born to Run”, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“Pilot”, Caprica
“The State of the Art” by Iain M Banks, adapted by Paul Cornell (Radio 4, 5 March 2009)

Best Editor, Short Form (The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which was published in 2009.)

***Susan Marie Groppi, Strange Horizons
***Jonathan Strahan, various anthologies
Scott H Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Andy Cox et al, Interzone
Sheila Williams, Asimov’s

Best Editor, Long Form (The editor of at least four (4) novel-length works primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy published in 2009 that do not qualify as works under Best Editor, Short Form.)

L Timmel Duchamp
Jo Fletcher
Jeremy Lassen
Betsy Mitchell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Simon Spanton
Juliet Ulman

Best Professional Artist (An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during 2009. If possible, please cite an example of the nominee’s work. Failure to provide such references will not invalidate a nomination.)

***Raphael Lacoste (The Windup Girl, The Caryatids)
***Adam Tredowski (Interzone covers)
Stephan Martiniere (Desolation Road)

Best Semiprozine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in 2009, and which in 2009 met at least two (2) of the following criteria: Had an average press run of at least 1,000 copies per issue; Paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication; Provided at least half the income of any one person; Had at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising; Announced itself to be a “semiprozine”.)

***The Internet Review of Science Fiction
Ansible
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Clarkesworld
Futurismic
Interzone
Locus
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The SF Site

Best Fanzine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.)

***Banana Wings
***Asking the Wrong Questions
Coffee and Ink
Everything is Nice
Journey Planet
Punkadiddle

Best Fan Writer (Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during 2009.)

Claire Brialey
Karen Burnham
Paul Kincaid
Martin Lewis
James Davis Nicoll
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Plummer
Adam Roberts
Micole S

Best Fan Artist (An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during 2009.)

Kate Beaton

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) (A writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy appeared during 2008 or 2009 in a professional publication. For Campbell Award purposes a professional publication is one for which more than a nominal amount was paid, any publication that had an average press run of at least 10,000 copies, or any other that the Award sponsors may designate.)

Jedidiah Berry
Lauren Beukes
Kristin Cashore
Patrick Ness
Ali Shaw
Kari Sperring [eligibility expired]

Out with the old …

Oh, I had such plans. As a member of Anticipation (even if it’s not certain that I’ll actually be attending) I get to nominate in the Hugos; given that, why not wait until I nominate before writing any kind of best-of-2008 list? I get a couple of extra months to catch up on 2008 books and stories that I missed, and plenty of time to write a detailed summary of my reading.

Well, so much for that idea. Instead, here’s my Hugo ballot, mere hours before the nominating deadline, with some abbreviated commentary.

Best Novel

Flood by Stephen Baxter [discussion]
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway [review]
Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin
Song of Time by Ian R MacLeod [review]
Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell [review]

I am nothing if not quixotic. I thought it might be hard to fight the temptation to nominate books I liked but also thought had a chance of getting enough nominations to be shortlisted; I also thought I’d have a much harder time actually narrowing it down to five books, because my overall feeling is that 2008 was a year with many good genre novels, but few if any great ones. As it is, the process was relatively straightforward. These are books that (a) I want to read again, and (b) I want other people to read, even if the result will only be that more people tell me Dreamers of the Day isn’t really a fantasy, and even if only Lavinia is a real shortlist prospect (Flood might have a shot next year, I suppose, because the US edition will be out). Ironically, I’m actually pretty ambivalent about Lavinia; I only finished it today, but the problem might be that Cecelia Holland and Gary Wolfe are both right, which I didn’t reckon on being possible. But like my other nominees it’s a book that provokes me to think about it, and that at least is a good thing.

Best Novella

“True Names” by Cory Doctorow and Benjamin Rosenbaum (Fast Forward 2)
Gunpowder by Joe Hill (PS Publishing)
“The Surfer” by Kelly Link (The Starry Rift) [review]
“Truth” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, October/November 2008)
Distances by Vandana Singh (Aqueduct)

This category, on the other hand, I thought would be a struggle, and it was, although in the end I’ve got five nominees I’m happy with. The standout, though, is “True Names”, which as Abigail says combines its authors’ strengths to brilliant effect.

Best Novellette

The Gambler” by Paulo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2)
“The Ice War” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s September)
“The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” by Daryl Gregory (Eclipse 2)
“Special Economics” by Maureen F. McHugh (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy) [review]
“Legolas does the Dishes” by Justina Robson (Postscripts 15) [review]

As for novella, I have a clear favourite here — “The Gambler” — but unlike novella, winnowing myself down to only five nominees was tricky.

Best Short Story

“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse 2)
“The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy) [review]
“An Honest Day’s Work” by Margo Lanagan (The Starry Rift)
The Small Door” by Holly Phillips (Fantasy Magazine)
“Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment” by M. Rickert (F&SF October/November [review]

I spent quite a while going back and forth between “An Honest Day’s Work” and “The Goosle”; I’ve read enough good short stories this year that I felt I should only nominate one by any given author. But in the end I decided that was a silly rule; they both deserve their nominations.

Best Related Book

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon (McSweeny’s) [review]
The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan)
What it is we do When we Read Science Fiction by Paul Kincaid (Beccon)
Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)

I’m missing a book in this slot, and in fact these are the only four books of related non-fiction I read in 2008; but they all deserve nominations.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Hellboy 2
Mongol
Wall-E

Mongol is only just touched by the fantastic; Hellboy 2 is beautiful but flawed; and I’ve watched Wall-E three times. (And The Dark Knight isn’t science fiction or fantasy.)

Best Dramatic Presentation — Short Form

Battlestar Galactica, “The Hub” (4×09), by Jane Espenson
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon and Zack Whedon
Pushing Daisies, “Frescorts” (2×04), by Aaron Harberts, Gretchen J. Berg, and Lisa Joy
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, “Alpine Fields” (2×12), by John Enbom
The Middleman, “The Sino-Mexican Revelation” (1×03), by Javier Grillo-Marxuach

There’s a certain amount of closing my eyes and sticking a pin in it going on here. Let’s see: I think Galactica‘s fourth season was a big step back up in quality, and wanted to recognise that, but those first ten episodes are essentially serialised; so I’ll go for the one with the big space battle. I haven’t caught up with Pushing Daisies, and all the episodes I’ve watched so far have been good, but “Frescorts” is probably the best, narrowly. And there are half a dozen episodes of The Middleman I could have nominated, but this was the one that fully won me over to the show. “Alpine Fields”, though, I feel pretty sure about; although Sarah Connor had a lot of good episodes, that’s the one I feel works best as a showcase, and aside from the pilot, it’s the one I’d pick to show someone why they should watch.

Best Editor (Long Form)

Pete Crowther (PS Publishing)
Jo Fletcher (Gollancz)
Simon Spanton (Gollancz)

Alas the SF Editors wiki isn’t even close to being up to date. So Fletcher and Spanton get nods because I think Gollancz had a good year, and Crowther gets one for publishing Song of Time.

Best Editor (Short Form)

Lou Anders (Fast Forward 2)
Ellen Datlow (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy)
Susan Marie Groppi (Strange Horizons)
Jonathan Strahan (Eclipse 2, The Starry Rift)
Sheila Williams (Asimov’s)

As ever, short fiction editors are easier to judge. Most of these follow on from my short fiction nominations; the exception, Susan Groppi, gets a nod because what I read of the Strange Horizons fiction this year was good, even if none of it made it to my ballot.

Best Semiprozine

Interzone, ed. Andy Cox et al.
The New York Review of Science Fiction, eds. David Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer and Kevin Maroney
Foundation, ed. Graham Sleight
Strange Horizons, ed. Susan Marie Groppi, Jed Hartman and Karen Meisner

Interzone had a definite uptick in quality in 2008 compared to the previous couple of years, I thought, so I’m happy to give them a nod; and the other two were reliably good. Locus misses out on a nomination for the way they handled their awards, and a couple of other bits of bad behaviour.

Best Fanzine

Asking the Wrong Questions by Abigail Nussbaum
Banana Wings, ed Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Coffee and Ink
The Antick Musings of GBH Hornswoggler, Gent
The Internet Review of Science Fiction, ed. Stacey Janssen

Best Fan Writer

Claire Brialey
Graham Sleight
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Plummer
Micole S.

These two categories go together, for obvious reasons. With the exception of Antick Musings and IROSF (which does say it’s a fanzine, for now), they’re also stuffed with people I know personally as well as admire. I make no apology for that; fan writing, so far as I’m concerned, is to a large extent about personal connection, and most of the people I’ve nominated are people I know either first or best (or both) through their writing. But, you know, they put out some damn good writing last year.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo)

J. M. McDermott
Patrick Ness
Gord Sellar

This one, thankfully, does have an up-to-date website to help you out, although of course it’s not fully comprehensive. Annoyingly, I believe that Mr Harkaway’s eligibility got burned by a couple of stories published in Interzone in the mid-nineties (although Interzone is no longer a qualifying market, it was then).

And that’s your lot (except that I’ll also be nominating Stephen Martiniere for Best Professional Artist). Tomorrow: 2009 begins.

Hugo Award Winners

Here they are, then:

NOVEL: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)

I called it! I totally called it. Is this the end of the squandered promise of sf? Well, no; but probably not insignificant, either.

NOVELLA: “All Seated on the Ground”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec 2007; Subterranean Press)

NOVELETTE: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”, Ted Chiang (F&SF Sep 2007)

SHORT STORY: “Tideline”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Jun 2007)

Novella and novelette are as expected, and I’m pleased about the Chiang and less pleased about the Willis. Bear beating Michael Swanwick and Mike Resnick is a bit of a surprise, but not an unwelcome one.

RELATED BOOK: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)

Well, I thought this was a two-horse race between Barry Malzberg and Shaun Tan. Apparently not! I thought Brave New Words was an admirable project, though, so this is ok with me.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: LONG FORM: Stardust (Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Paramount Pictures)

Interesting that it managed to beat out Heroes S1; I look forward to the voting stats on this one.

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: SHORT FORM: Doctor Who: “Blink” (Written by Stephen Moffat. Directed by Hettie Macdonald. BBC)

Hardly an undeserving winner, although I was rooting for “Human Nature”.

EDITOR, SHORT FORM: Gordon Van Gelder

EDITOR, LONG FORM: David G. Hartwell

I hope Long Form isn’t just going to oscillate between Hartwell and PNH.

PROFESSIONAL ARTIST: Stephan Martiniere

SEMIPROZINE: Locus, Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong & Liza Groen Trombi

FANZINE: File 770, Mike Glyer

FAN WRITER: John Scalzi

I called this, too, and am not unhappy about it. Although hopefully he’s not going to go on to win for the next twenty years straight …

FAN ARTIST: Brad Foster

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo): Mary Robinette Kowal

Wow. Another surprise — not just that Scott Lynch didn’t win, but that the only short fiction writer on the ballot did — and, again, not an unwelcome one.

So: a decent set of winners for the most part. Cheryl Morgan has a few notes about finishing positions; interesting to see that Scalzi came second in Best Novel (apparently, by nine votes).

Further reactions here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

So long, semiprozines

No, we haven’t had the actual Hugo Awards yet , but SF Awards Watch reports on some changes to the award categories which were passed at the WSFS Business Meeting yesterday – notably, the proposal that the semiprozine category be eliminated, and that a category of Best Graphic Story be added, which I believe will cover online publications as well as paper ones.

I am wholeheartedly in favour of the Best Graphic Story category, as competing with the biographies and critical works which get nominated in Best Related Book always seemed a strange fit, although books which are art collections and not stories will still go there. A category to recognise some of the excellent SF&F graphic novels seems overdue, and hopefully the Montreal shortlist will be filled with some of these. (Sadly, there will be no eligible volumes of Scott Pilgrim for me to nominate.)

Removing the semiprozine category I am less in favour of. It’s true that in recent years (UK Worldcons excepted), it has been dominated by Locus, but there are an increasing number of online venues for short fiction, critical articles, and reviews which fit into this category and don’t fit anywhere else, and under the current proposed change they won’t be eligible as fanzines either. I don’t know the proposers of this change, so I’m not sure what it was about the category they felt was terminally broken and I’ll be interested to hear what happened in the business meeting – it seems strange to me that you remove a category entirely, and then make everything eligible for the now-defunct category specifically ineligible for the one award they might now conceivably fit.

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.