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Showing posts from March, 2014

The 2014 Hugo Award: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Campbell Award

With a little over 36 hours left in the Hugo nominating period, we come down to the last two categories on my ballot.  In recent years, I've found the best novel category less and less interesting, partly because I'm not interested in keeping up with novels as they're published (that's a great way to concentrate on a single genre and let all other kinds of books go ignored) so usually don't have an informed opinion when it comes time to make up my ballot.  At the same time, the Campbell award has grown in importance for me, as a reflection of the new voices emerging in the field (usually with short fiction).  So I end up nominating more with an eye towards the genre's (possible) future than on its present--though this year, in at least one cast, I think that they are one and the same.

Previous posts in this series:
The Short Fiction Categories

The Publishing and Fan Categories

The Media CategoriesBest Novel:
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (my review) - The …

The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories

Continuing on to the media categories, which include some of the most popular categories on the ballot, and also the ones that have become the least interesting to follow.  The problem of the Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form category is well-known.  For years the award has belonged to Doctor Who, which routinely receives three nominations on the ballot, all but ensuring its victory due to the Hugos' preferential voting system (only Joss Whedon proved himself more powerful).  And this year, that preordained victory doesn't even sting that badly.  As exasperated as I've become with Stephen Moffat's stewardship of Doctor Who, his 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor," was a genuinely good hour of television, employing Moffat's by-now hoary tics in a way that made them seem new and refreshing, playing with and deepening the revamped series's mythology, and making excellent use of its three stars. Add to that the fact that genre TV remain…

The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

My, how the time has flown.  I had honorable intentions of posting new segments of my Hugo ballot every few days, but here we are with less than a week to the nominating deadline and only three categories covered.  Let's continue swiftly, then, to the publishing and fan categories, an easy choice for the next step through my ballot because I won't be bothering with several of them.  As has been pointed out more than once by more than one person, the best editor categories seek to recognize work that is invisible to the readers--and thus to most of the voters.  One editor might do minimal work on an excellent novel or story, while another turns a passable piece into a good one, and I would have no way of knowing which one is which.  I also don't listen to podcasts, so I'll be leaving the Best Fancast category blank as well.  But to the categories I will be filling--unlike the short fiction categories, I have empty slots in several of these, so if you'd like to make …

The 2014 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

I don't think it will come as a shock to regular readers of this blog that the short fiction categories are my favorites on the Hugo ballot, to the extent that I attach to them an importance that is probably completely out of proportion to how most of the voting base thinks of them.  Yes, I know, the best novel category is the only one most people (and especially anyone outside of fandom, or even Worldcon) actually care about, but to me it always seems reductive.  How do you boil down an entire year's worth of genre to five novels, much less a single winner?  The short fiction categories, with their wider perspective (one of the reasons that I have no problem with the invented term "novelette") and lower stakes, give a better snapshot of the field and its interests.  They also reaffirm my belief in the vibrancy and relevance of the genre short fiction scene.  I don't know another genre in which ordinary readers habitually get excited about short stories the way t…

The 2014 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on Award-Pimping

It might be hard to remember, because there have already been two bigger and more bitter slapfights since, but the first genre kerfuffle of 2014, lo these six or seven weeks ago, was about award-pimping.  More specifically, it was about the increasing prevalence, in the last half-decade, of "award eligibility posts," those lists posted by authors around the beginning of the year and of award-nominating season in which they list their work from the previous year and what categories it's eligible in.  Perspectives on these kinds of posts differ wildly: some people view them as innocuous, as a benign public service, or as a harmless bit of self-promotion.  Others, meanwhile, see them as gauche and unpleasant, and as actively harmful to awards and the genre in general.  Adam Roberts kicked off this year's iteration of the discussion with a post firmly on the anti- side, and though I find his piece smart and thoughtful, it mainly reminds me that this is an issue on which …

Short Fiction Snapshot: "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang

When I introduced the Short Fiction Snapshot series at Strange Horizons, I noted that it wasn't intended just for positive reviews.  Reviewing short fiction at essay length can mean reviewing it negatively as well, and in today's installment I give the series's first negative--or at least mixed--review to Ted Chiang's "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling," from Subterranean Online.  Chiang is, of course, one of the most celebrated names in genre short fiction, but with this story he seems to be punching below his level even as he does some of the things that make his work so remarkable.  Read the story, and my review, and join in the conversation!