Monday, April 05, 2010

The 2010 Hugo Awards: The Hugo Nominees

Coming to you straight from Eastercon 2010, piping hot Hugo nominations--unless you've already got them from one of the people who were tweeting or liveblogging or webcasting the event, which I considered doing before deciding that that would just not be the AtWQ thing, and that I'd much rather add my thoughts about the nominees to the lists.

It has been confirmed that there will be a Hugo voter packet again this year, but I promised myself to cut back on my emotional involvement with this award, and decided I'd only purchase a supporting membership of Aussiecon if there were nominees I truly wanted to see win.  As you'll see in a moment, this has not been the case.  As usual, I will review the short fiction nominees (assuming the ones I haven't read are made generally available).

For those keeping track, there are eight female nominees out of 23 nominated works in the four fiction categories.

Best Novel:
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  • The City & The City by China Miéville
  • Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
  • Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
I certainly can't complain about this shortlist given that three of nominees were on my ballot (though I must say I'm surprised that Palimpsest got on).  The City & The City, incidentally, won the BSFA award earlier this evening, and at Eastercon's famous Not the Clarke Award panel it was the panelists' choice for both the book they thought should win the award and the one they one they thought would win it, and of course it is also on the Nebula ballot.  It is thus positioned to make a clean sweep of 2010's genre awards--of the other Hugo nominees, it seems to me that only Boneshaker represents a serious threat.
Best Novella:
  • "Act One" (PDF) by Nancy Kress (Asimov's, March 2009)
  • The God Engines by John Scalzi
  • "Palimpsest" by Charles Stross (Wireless)
  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
  • "Vishnu at the Cat Circus" by Ian McDonald (Cyberabad Days)
  • The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker
"Vishnu at the Cat Circus" was on my ballot, but with the exception of Morrow the other nominees are all writers whose previous work has left me cold, so I can't say that I'm thrilled by this ballot.  It's interesting to note that only one of these nominees came from a magazine, and that three were published as individual volumes.  I noticed a paucity of novellas in my reading of short fiction venues, and it seems that other nominators ended up going further afield for their choices.
Best Novelette:
I'm very pleased for "The Island" and "It Takes Two" (though not quite as pleased as I would have been if Helen Keeble's story had gotten on the ballot), and though I've loved neither the Swirsky or Foster stories as well as others, both are interesting and well written.  So even though the Stross story isn't much to write home about, if the Paul Cornell is decent this will turn out to be quite a strong category.
Best Short Story:
  • "The Bride of Frankenstein" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's, December 2009)
  • "Bridesicle" (PDF) by Will McIntosh (Asimov's, January 2009)
  • "The Moment" by Lawrence M. Schoen (Footprints)
  • "Non-Zero Probabilities" by N.K. Jemisin (Clarkesworld)
  • "Spar" by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld)
I didn't even know Mike Resnick had an eligible story out there--I was sure this was the year the Hugo nominations would finally be clear of his name.  Oh well.  "Bridesicle" and "Non-Zero Probabilities" are good stories, and I'm planning to reexamine "Spar," whose ecstatic reception had left me rather baffled.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:
  • Doctor Who, "The Next Doctor"
  • Doctor Who, "Planet of the Dead"
  • Doctor Who, "The Waters of Mars"
  • Dollhouse, "Epitaph One"
  • FlashForward, "No More Good Days"
Sweet lord.  Given what a poor showing genre TV gave in 2009 this was never going to be a strong ballot, but I hadn't expected it to be quite this bad.  It's really hard to decide what's most depressing about this shorlist: that "Epitaph One" is up there despite being a mediocre hour of television worthwhile mainly for its (by now spoiled) promise, the three Doctor Who specials, only the first of whom was even marginally enjoyable, or the fact that the field was so barren this year that something as bland and unremarkable as the FlashForward pilot gets a nod.  Upon further reflection, what's most depressing about the short form ballot is that the awards administrator took care to stress that the last Doctor Who special, "The End of Time"/"Journey's End," will be eligible for this category next year.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:
  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • Moon
  • Star Trek
  • Up
I can't decide whether it's a cruel irony or divine retribution that the only worthwhile bit of writing Russell T. Davies did in 2009, Torchwood's Children of Earth, got locked out of a Hugo nomination by one of the most predictable slate of nominees in quite some time.  I'm please to see Moon and Up, but suspect that both will lose to either Star Trek or District 9.

Best Related Work:
  • Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute
  • Hope-in-the-Mist by Michael Swanwick
  • The Intergalactic Playground by Farah Mendlesohn
  • On Joanna Russ, edited by Farah Mendlesohn
  • The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick
  • This is Me, Jack Vance by Jack Vance
This is quite a remarkable slate of nominees.  I haven't read any, though several intrigue me, but what's fascinating about it is that after several years of leaning in this direction the category has shifted entirely into non-fiction writing, with no art books in sight.  There's also a dominance of critical work (and I suspect that Michael Swanwick's Mirrlees biography also shades into critical writing).  Which is exactly what I'd like this category to be--a place for non-fiction about the field, and an opportunity to recognize excellent critical writing about the genre.

Best Graphic Story:
  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
  • Captain Britain and MI3 Volume 3: Vampire State
  • Fables Volume 12: The Dark Ages
  • Girl Genius Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse
Best Professional Artist:
  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Stephen Martinière
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan
Best Semiprozine:
  • Ansible
  • Clarkesworld
  • Interzone
  • Locus
  • Weird Tales
Best Fanzine:
  • Argentus
  • Banana Wings
  • CHALLENGER
  • Drink Tank
  • File 770
  • StarshipSofa
Best Fan Writer:
  • Clare Brialey
  • Christopher J. Garcia
  • James Nicoll
  • Lloyd Penney
  • Frederick Pohl
Best Fan Artist:
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Dave Howell
  • Sue Mason
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne
Best Editor, Long Form:
  • Lou Anders
  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Juliet Ulman
Best Editor, Short Form:
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Gordon Van Gelder
  • Sheila Williams
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer:
  • Saladin Ahmed
  • Gail Carriger
  • Felix Gilman
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Lezli Robyn

11 comments:

Catherynne Valente said...

I'm pretty surprised Palimpsest made it on there, too.

I wonder if C & C will win the Neb and Hugo though, given how non-genre it really is, and the popularity of Wilson, Priest, and Bacigalupi. I couldn't call a winner right now.

Alexander said...

Don't forget that Mieville's is also on the Clarke shortlist. I liked the novel quite a lot, but would find it a bit tedious if it took everything.

Concerning the novelist shortlist it's one of the stronger years--Mieville's, Bacigalupi's and Valente's, the last of which is a surprise to see here. For the others I was a bit underwhelmed by Julian Comstock, though Boneshaker was quite formulaic and found Wake simply terrible, the worst in a long line of simplistic Sawyer productions. Yet still, a decently strong year.

For the Dramatic Presentation short form---yes, that is a uniquely poor list. I don't regard Epitaph One as being bad, but the Dr. Who struggled at subpar. I'm also surprised that, quality aside, Flashforward got in, I didn't think that had nearly enough popularity. I would have thought Caprica or Stargate Universe were more unlikely, and both would be about as unexciting.

And another Resnick piece. Sigh. And "Bride of Frankenstein" no less. If this is as unironic and uncreative as is his norm, this is going to be painful.

chance said...

I'd have put Paolo as the early favorite for the novel award - I think Mieville will be a bridesmaid again. (And I'm really surprisd you think Priest is the main competition - don't you know Boneshaker has girl cooties on it?)

Jonathan M said...

The Kij Johnson story is, in a word, sophomoric.

Beneath the lack of structure and the juvenile obscenity there lurks a meditation on the tail end of a physical relationship and relationships as a whole : The point at which you ask yourself "Why am I even doing this?" but sadly it contains no real insight or commentary on that subject matter so what you have is a rather crude literalisation of some rather pedestrian ideas. In a word : Sophomoric.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Chance:

don't you know Boneshaker has girl cooties on it?

Yes, but it's gotten so much attention that I think that might counteract these. I just can't imagine Bacigalupi having a serious chance of winning.

chance said...

Yes, but it's gotten so much attention that I think that might counteract these.

Silly, Abigail -there's no cure for girl cooties. I do find it interesting that two of Campbell nominees are writers of girl-cootie fiction. Perhaps girl cooties are poised to take over the Hugos (and thus, ruin SF forever.)

Mike Taylor said...

Holy blap. I say this as a BIG Doctor Who fan, but ... what one Earth is ONE of those specials doing on the ballot, let alone all three? Planet of the Dead in particular represented all that is worst and least interesting about RTD-era Doctor Who. We've come a long way since Blink won this category.

Alexander said...

Abigail: Pardon, my comment above suggested the Clarke would be news--when you clearly mention it in the post. Careless reading on my part.

In other matters, why did you find 'The Next Doctor' even faintly enjoyable while Waters of Mars wasn't? Clearly they were both weak even by the standards of RTD Specials, but I saw the last as at least doing something new and sort of interesting, while The Next Doctor had such a sloppy plot I couldn't put down disbelief for any period. Plus all the issues with gender and its main villain....At least Waters of Mars just had slow moving monsters that were far less scary than the script thought they were.
The less said about Planet of the Dead the better.

Jonathan: Concering Spar--Juvenile obscenity? Really? It's certainly a graphic exploration of the theme, but given that theme the language plays out the main premise. It's an engaging piece of writing, deals with a cliched and apparently prurient concept in a unique way, it does what a genre story should.

Not a story I'm completely enthusiastic about, and not one I voted for, but it's somewhat deserving. Certainly a lot more substantive than Johnson's "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" from last year. Personally I'm a lot more bummed that "The Island" made it, although I seem to be about the only person familiar with the Watts that didn't love it.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Alexander: I appreciated the zaniness of "The Next Doctor." I liked the title character and though his story was moving, and thought the plot contained mostly the right amount of total bollocks overdrive. And though you're right that there are gender problems with the main villain, they're nothing compared to alleged heroine of "The Waters of Mars," who is supposed to be an inspiring leader but can't seem to motivate her own crew without barking 'that's an order!' (at which they habitually grimace and roll their eyes) when asking for the simplest thing. A comparison with the captain in "The Satan Pit" is, I think, quite telling. I agree that the last ten minutes of the episode contain the seeds of some interesting ideas, but these a) don't make up for the preceding 50 minutes of familiar and by now tedious running about and b) are undone with no comment in the first few minutes of the next story.

ecbatan said...

I count nine women on the ballot: Priest, Valente, Kress, Baker, Swirsky, Griffith, Foster, Jemisin, and Johnson.

Mike Taylor said...

(b) is the killer -- the horribly, horribly disappointing lack of consequences in the final two-parter after having set up (what seemed to be) some real game-changing stuff at the end of The Waters of Mars. I've been watching Buffy for the last few months, and very struck by how almost without exception the choices that the characters make have consequences -- sometimes very profound ramifications. I'd like to see a lot more of that in a lot more show ... and I've not yet given up hope that New New Who, with Stephen Moffat at the helm, might just do it.

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