Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

A lot of my nominations in these categories this year are going to be repeats of stuff I nominated in previous years.  These are the categories that got hit hardest by puppy interference, and a lot of people and institutions that should have had a chance to win Hugos in the last five years were pushed out of nomination entirely.  There's a backlog, in other words.  On the other hand, this is also the grouping where I tend to nominate the least (I'm not alone in this--that's why these categories were so vulnerable to the puppies).  Joining the editor categories and Best Fancast in ballots I'm probably going to leave blank this year is Best Fanzine--I'm sorry, but I just don't read enough eligible sites (much less paper zines) to nominate in this category.

Previous posts in this series:

Best Semiprozine:

  • GigaNotoSaurus (editor: Rashida J. Smith) - This continue to be the little magazine that could, publishing a single story each month on a simple blogging platform, and giving space to some of the most interesting writers in the business, often at greater length than other online magazines offer.

  • Lackington's (editor: Ranylt Richildis) - I love that this weird project is still going strong for the fourth year, delivering themed issues with stories that are experimental or surrealist.  Alongside the more blockbuster magazine, Lackington's deserves to be recognized for striking its own path.

  • Strange Horizons (editors: Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Niall Harrison) - Strange Horizons continues to move from strength to strength, launching projects like Samovar to promote translated fiction, featuring Geoff Ryman's 100 African Writers of SFF series, dedicating a special issue to the topic of resistance on the week of Trump's inauguration.  It's also one of the best magazines for insightful criticism and commentary on genre, featuring (among other great writing) Dexter Palmer's long meditation on Alan Moore's Jerusalem, Vandana Singh's conflicted reaction to Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement, and, of course, "Kirk Drift".

Best Professional Artist:

  • John Coulthart - If you're like me, there's been one particular piece of Coulthart's art that you've been unable to escape all year, and each time it's looked just as fresh and exciting as the first time.  I'm speaking, of course, of the cover for Jeannette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun, easily the most eye-catching genre book cover of 2017, and one that perfectly captures the mood of the book and the things that make it remarkable.  A look through Coulthart's gallery reveals that he's illustrated several other interesting covers this year.

  • Kathleen Jennings - I didn't recognize Jennings name when I saw someone recommend her for this category, but when I looked through her gallery, I realized that I'd been seeing her illustrations all year.  Jennings produces cut-paper and line illustrations, and in 2017 you'll have seen her work adorning the second season of Ellen Kushner's Tremontaine, and Kij Johnsons Wind in the Willows sequel The River Bank.

  • Victo Ngai - Unlike the previous two names, Ngai should need no introduction, and certainly not if you've been following my Hugo nominations for the last few years.  She continues to be one of the most exciting, talented artists working in SFF illustration.  In 2017, her work has included the covers to stories by JY Yang and Christopher Caldwell.

  • Yuko Shimizu - Shimizu is another name that I've been nominating for years for consistently great work, but in 2017 she delivered some of the most effective, gorgeous covers in the business with her work on JY Yang's twinned novellas The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune.  I usually read Tor novellas in ebook format, but Shimizu's work made me desperately jealous for the physical object.

  • Christian Ward - It would be impossible to overstate the importance of Ward's art to the success of Saladin Ahmed's Black Bolt.  His psychedelic illustrations perfectly convey the irrationality of the prison in which the Inhuman leader has been trapped, and the turmoil of his and the other prisoners' souls.  It's unlike anything I've seen before in a comic, and deserves to be recognized in its own right.

Best Fan Artist:

This is a category whose boundaries always flummox me.  A lot of the people brought up as prospective nominees are professional artists who also do personal work, and then the question becomes, when do they cross the line into the pro category?  Two people I'd like to nominate this year are Brian Kesinger, a professional illustrator and animator whose Calvin & Hobbes-inspired Star Wars drawings were all over the internet after The Last Jedi.  And James Davies, a children's book illustrator whose genre-themed illustrations (see his recent series of Lord of the Rings characters) are delightful.

  • Likhain - You're probably familiar with Likhain's colorful, fantastical drawings, and in 2017 as in the previous year she combined professional work with her own personal drawings.  But the bulk of her work has been in the latter category (which explains why she was nominated here last year).  Her drawings continue to be evocative and rich in details.

  • Liv Rainey-Smith - I'm a little uncertain about this nomination.  Rainey-Smith's woodcut illustrations are delightfully weird, but I'm not sure they answer the requirement of being a "fan"--most of them seem to draw on folklore and religious imagery rather than genre subjects, though there are the obligatory Lovecraft drawings.  Still, I like what I see here enough to let someone else sort out the minutiae.

  • Vacuumslayer - Still making mixed-media works, Vacuumslayer's focus this year seems decidedly Alice in Wonderland-ish.  These two pieces are my favorites.

Best Fan Writer:

(A brief reminder here that I have announced that I would decline a nomination in this category if I received enough votes to qualify this year.)

  • Nina Allan - Nina had a great 2017, with her second novel The Rift gaining wide acclaim and attention.  She also continued to do good work as a critic and reviewer, on her personal blog, at Strange Horizons, and in the Shadow Clarke project.

  • Vajra Chandrasekera - We didn't see as much of Vajra's nonfiction writing in 2017 as I would have liked--his focus these days seems to be on his own fiction and on being a fiction editor at Strange Horizons.  But his writing at the Shadow Clarke site was some of the most insightful writing that project offered up, in particular this review of Aliya Whitely's The Arrival of Missives.

  • Erin Horáková - After nominating Erin's magnum opus for Best Related Work, you're probably not surprised to find me nominating her in this category.  As well as that magnificent essay, Erin did other writing for Strange Horizons in 2017, covering movies, plays, and board games.

  • Samira Nadkarni - A lot of Samira's best work is happening on twitter, where in 2017 she made some incisive comments about works like Star Trek: Discovery or Thor: Ragnarok (she had some equally interesting things to say last month about Black Panther).  In longer writing, some standouts include her review of Deserts of Fire, an anthology about "modern war" whose project Samira argues with vociferously, and of the Netflix show Crazyhead, in which she discusses the genre trope of conflating mental health problems and superpowers.

1 comment:

Greg Machlin said...

Thanks for your recommendations, Abigail! Many of your artist picks are great, and made it onto my ballot.

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