Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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 suggestions in the comments I'd be happy to see them.

Previous entries in this series:
Best Semiprozine:
  • Strange Horizons - This is as close as I'm going to come to nominating myself, and the reason I can justify it is that Strange Horizons is far more than just my work (which is anyway also the work of dozens of reviewers and several associate editors).  To my mind, it remains one of the best all-around sources for speculative fiction, non-fiction, and reviews.

  • Giganotosaurus - Two of the stories on my short fiction ballot were published in this magazine, which is all the more impressive when you consider that they represent a sixth of the magazine's output in 2013.  Embodying the triumph of quality over quantity, Giganotosaurus is a stripped-down operation that publishes one story a month in the most unassuming format imaginable.  But those stories are always worth reading, and in addition the magazine is to be praised for being a venue for long-form works, publishing at least two novellas in 2013.
Best Fanzine:

This category gives me pause.  The original fanzine format is one that I don't read or participate in, and in recent years the category has become the home of blogs.  I'm all for recognizing how important blogs have become to the conversation surrounding genre, but I'm not sure that every blog suits this category--two-time winner SF Signal, for example, suits my idea of a fanzine because it features multiple forms of content, from news to reviews to essays, and covers books and all forms of media.  I'm less persuaded, however, that single-author blogs belong here, as I've seen several people suggest in their ballot posts.  Nevertheless, I might change my mind, so the list I have here should be considered extra-provisional.
  • SF Mistressworks - This project, begun in 2011 by Ian Sales as a response to the paucity of women in Gollancz's SF Masterworks series, is an excellent resource for people looking for discussion of older, less well known (and sometimes out of print) SF by women.  Featuring reviews of multiple authors by multiple reviewers, it's a great example of the online community coming together to provide a new and vital resource.

  • The Book Smugglers - Excellent group blog covering mostly YA but also other genre works--see for example their excellent recent discussion of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

  • Ladybusiness - Another group blog that covers a wide range of books and media from an explicitly feminist pespective.

  • Pornokitsch - You have to stand up and respect a blog that has turned its own award into a major media event, and even more so for highlighting art as well as novels.
Best Professional Artist:

This category, as well as the fan artist category, is one that in years past I've tended to ignore for lack of any knowledge about the field.  So I'm grateful to the organizers of the Hugo Award Eligible Art(ists) tumblr for organizing this ambitious and useful project this year, and to the many people who have noted their favorite artists in their Hugo ballots (I'm also grateful to Aidan Moher for collecting these ballots into a handy, single post).
  • Anna & Elena Balbusso - I don't know whether it's possible to nominate a team for this award, but the Balbusso sisters' work is too lovely to ignore.  The piece that most people will probably be familiar with is the illustration for Veronica Schanoes's "Burning Girls" at Tor.com (and this is a good time to commend the site's editors for commissioning original art to go with each of their stories), but the entire gallery is worth paging through.

  • Sarah Anne Langton - The person who designed the Hodderscape dodo surely deserves recognition, but Langton has also designed several lovely, boldly graphic covers (most recently for SpecFic 13, which is wonderful).

  • Olly Moss - It's a sign of Moss's talent that when I looked through his gallery while compiling this list, I kept stopping to say "wait, he did that piece?"  (It's also a sign of how much attention I pay to art and the people who make it during the year.)  I don't doubt that you've seen Moss's work--his movie posters and infographics--but seeing it all together makes it clear what an impressive body of work it is.

  • Victo Ngai - Ngai has drawn illustrations for several Tor.com stories, as well as the covers for several Tor novels, and all combine elaborate detailing with bold colors and settings.  I'm particularly fond of his illustration for Jedediah Berry's "A Window or a Small Box," which captures the story's surrealism and its characters' sense of running through a maze.

  • Fiona Staples - I'll have a bit more to say about Staples when I write about the Best Graphic Story category (and maybe whenever I get around to writing up my recent reading), but Saga wouldn't be what it is without her clean but wildly imaginative illustrations, which make the comic's vivid, varied world the delight that it is.
Best Fan Artist:
  • Mandie Manzanano - Manzanano's style--stained glass style illustrations of everything from Disney cartoons to Adventure Time--seems a little twee at first, but it's impeccably done and gorgeous to look at.

  • Autun Purser - The Fantastic Travel Destinations series is precisely what fan art should be--original, irreverent, and of course beautifully done.

  • Angela Rizza - Rizza's gorgeous, meticulously detailed illustrations of fan favorite as diverse as The Lord of the Rings and Breaking Bad are stunning and often quite funny.  I'm particularly fond of her Harry Potter illustrations, which I actually like better than some of the official artwork.

  • Sara Webb - This was one of the names I picked out from Hugo Award Eligible Art(ists).  In a field full of artists producing gorgeous, luminous, lushly colored fantastic landscapes, Webb's stood out.
Best Fan Writer:
  • Nina Allan - On top of being a fantastic writer of fiction, Nina is an exceptional reviewer, thoughtful and insightful and most of all curious about fiction from all walks of life--I can't count the number of books I added to my TBR list because of her reviews.  As well as writing reviews for places like Strange Horizons, Nina blogs at The Spider's House, where she is predictably smart and worth reading.

  • Liz Bourke - Another Strange Horizons reviewer, Liz also blogs at Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and reviews for Tor.com.  In particular, it's worth noting her Sleeps With Monsters series at the latter venue, where she covers books, films, and games from a feminist perspective, and has made me note several names for later reading.

  • Natalie Luhrs - I became aware of Luhrs this year because of her coverage of the SFWA petition brouhaha, which was incisive and to the point.  Her blog, The Radish, is well worth reading.

  • Sofia Samatar - The second time that Sofia appears on this ballot, but by no means the last.  On top of writing excellent reviews for Strange Horizons, Sofia also blogs at kankedort, where she offers her unique perspective on writing, teaching, poetry, and Arabic literature.

  • Genevieve Valentine - I'm not sure that Valentine is eligible in this category because a lot of her writing is for professional venues like The AV Club or The Philadelphia Weekly, but I would be remiss not to mention her fantastic column Intertitles at Strange Horizons (a recent example: her trenchant and necessary discussion of Clarice Starling in light of some of the character choices made by Hannibal), or her wonderfully snarky reviews of trashy fantasy films at her blog.

12 comments:

Aidan Moher said...

I'm glad you found the round-up useful, Abigail.

:)

salty-horse said...

Olly Moss is now working on a new video game, Firewatch, as part of Campo Santo: http://www.firewatchgame.com/

Kate Nepveu said...

Unfortunately Tor.com has paid full time staff which if I understand the rules right means it is a professional publication and therefore writing for it cannot count towards a Fan Writer nomination.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Kate: what does that mean, though? Liz Bourke is eligible for the fan writer category because most of her work last year was in semiprozines or her own blog. And the category is for a person, not a particular work. Should I ignore the existence of Sleeps With Monsters when deciding who to nominate? That's leaving aside, of course, that while Tor.com may be a professional publication, I know what they pay their contributors and balk at describing it as a professional rate - as opposed, as I say, to Genevieve Valentine, whose personal finances I'm obviously not privy to but who writes for the kind of places that I suspect make it possible to be at least a part-time freelance writer.

Kate Nepveu said...

Hey, I don't make the rules! But "pays its contributors a professional rate" is not the rule on whether you consider something a publication professional or not: "3.2.11: A Professional Publication is one which meets at least one of the following two criteria: (1) it provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or, (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner."

Kate Nepveu said...

Sorry, a link would be useful: http://www.lonestarcon3.org/wsfs/constitution.pdf

memphismaniac said...

The 1971 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist was awarded to Leo & Diane Dillon, so there is historical precedent in nominating a team for the Hugo Awards. I may need to revise my ballot to include Anna & Elena Balbusso. Thanks for this post!

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Kate: yes, but the eligibility requirement for fan writer is "Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year." Which doesn't exclude people who have written for both non-pro and pro venues. I'm objecting to the notion that I should perform some sort of mental subtraction that excludes, for example, Sleeps With Monsters from my evaluation of Liz Bourke's writing. I mean, I can see situations where that makes sense - if someone writes exclusively for pro venues and only updates their blog with links to those venues, for example - but in most cases I don't think that's a reasonable expectation. (This is not to mention the general dodginess of the whole "fan writer" concept, which assumes that non-fiction is award-worthy only if it isn't done for profit.)

Kate Nepveu said...

Did my comment get eaten? I think my comment got eaten.

Anyway, the short version in case it didn't get eaten:

I see what you're saying now; I think the WSFS Constitution as a whole is ambiguous about that; so I will revise my earlier comment to say that a cautious nominator would consider whether the nomination was still strong absent any pro work.

Jodie said...

I remember this debate about Tor from last year and am pretty sure a lot of people indicated that writers for Tor are eligible but the publication is not. I've got a feeling though that I saw something from Strange Horizons about not being eligible this year, even though their writers are - might be confusing it with another publication though.

And thanks tons for considering LB :D

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Jodie: you might be thinking of Clarkesworld, who this winter announced that they've moved out of the semiprozine category (a function of how many people receive the majority of their income from the magazine, I think). Strange Horizons is still eligible as a semiprozine.

Aidan Moher said...

As an addendum to this conversation, Tor.com is eligible for the "Best Related Work" category, where I'll be nominating it.

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