Speaking of recommendations, a very good source is the Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom, a crowdsourced recommendation document that anyone can read and edit. I found a lot of ideas for the artist categories there, for example.
Previous entries in this series:
- Strange Horizons - This is the last year that nominating this magazine counts as voting for myself, but even leaving aside the reviews department I think that Strange Horizons has had an excellent year, with fiction, columns, articles, and roundtables (including the new Strange Horizons book club).
- GigaNotoSaurus - I remain wowed by the accomplishment of this magazine, whose unassuming appearance and modest publishing rate belie the exceptional work that editor Rashida J. Smith does in soliciting and editing stories, creating a magazine that can hold its head up among behemoths like Tor.com and Clarkesworld.
- Lackington's - This new arrival, edited by Ranylt Richildis, has been a revelation. Two stories from it ended up on my Hugo ballot, which is even more impressive considering that it only publishes quarterly issues. The emphasis on weird fiction means that I tend to have love/hate relationships with most of the stories published here, but that's impressive in itself--very little here feels like more of the same.
- Lightspeed - Last year's winner probably doesn't need my help to get back on the ballot, but Lightspeed had a very good 2014 (and I say this without having read their much-heralded anthology Women Destroy Science Fiction). With great stories from well-loved names like Sofia Samatar, Carmen Maria Machado, and Theodora Goss, and newer writers like Sam J. Miller and Jessica Barber, the work being done by the editors deserves to be recognized.
- SF Mistressworks - Ian Sales's SF Mistressworks project continues to be a great example of how to use the internet to crowdsource a greater engagement with the genre that emphasizes neglected areas. Still going strong after four years, the blog features reviews of classic SF by women by a variety of reviewers.
- Lady Business - The group blog edited by Renay, Ana, and Jodie continues to examine pop culture and genre from a feminist perspective.
- People of Color in European Art History - The genre connection for this project, which collects depictions of people of color from art throughout history, might initially seem tenuous. But the purpose and ultimate usefulness of the blog (aside from being a great tool for learning about art and history) is to act as a response to people who believe that historical art shouldn't portray people of color because "they weren't around back then." That's an argument that you see a lot coming from fans of quasi-historical fantasy, and the mountain of counter-examples is not only proof that they're wrong, but a reminder that fantasy should only wish to be as vibrant and multifaceted as reality.
As I did last year, I took advantage of the Hugo Eligible Art(ists) project in finding nominees in a field that I'm not very knowledgeable about.
- Anna and Elena Balbusso - The Balbussos continued to contribute illustrations for stories in Tor.com this year, and their work continues to be playful and evocative. They also illustrated the cover for Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor.
- Jeffrey Alan Love - Love's cover illustration for Simon Ings's Wolves was one of the more striking images I've seen this year, and he's gone on to design covers for Ings's entire back catalog, as well as for Peter Higgins's Wolfhound Century trilogy. He's also been illustrating stories for Tor, in his inimitable cutout style.
- Victo Ngai - I'm wild for Ngai's illustrations, which combine elaborate inkwork with playful compositions. He's illustrated several stories for Tor.com this year.
- Yuku Shimizu - Another artist whose work is both elaborate and playful. Shimizu has drawn several book covers (for The Melancholy of Mechgirl and the anthology Monstrous Affections), as well as posters, such as this promotional piece for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is surely better than the film.
- Sam Weber - I like the idea of recognizing designers as well as painters, and Weber's book covers and story illustrations are clean and witty.
- Sascha Goldberger - A little uncertain that he belongs in this list, since Goldberger is a professional artist. But the project for which I think he should be recognized, Super Flemish, was a fan work that was made freely available. These photographs of superheroes dressed and posed in the style of Old Masters were not only a funny idea, but beautifully and painstakingly executed.
- Mandie Manzano - Repeating this selection from last year because I still find Manzano's pop-culture-as-stained-glass work funny and well done.
- Autun Parser - Parser's Fantastic Travel Destinations series continues to go strong, and to be a perfect combination of fannishness and artistry.
- Kuldar Leement - A last-minute addition to this list based on Aiden Moher's recommendation. Leement's paintings are striking in both composition and execution, with subject matters that recall beloved SF tropes while still being strikingly original.
- Nina Allan - Still one of the best book reviewers around even as her own writing career heats up, Allan is also a gifted blogger (check out her project to review all the stories in The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women) and commentator on the state of the genre. She deserves recognition in several Hugo categories, and this one not the least.
- Liz Bourke - Liz's reviews and her column, Sleeps With Monsters at Tor.com, continue to be smart and entertaining, with a strong feminist sensibility.
- Natalie Luhrs - The science fiction community did not stint on scandals and slapfights in 2014, and for each one, the tireless Luhrs was there to report on it with links and commentary. Hers is a much-needed voice and deserves to be rewarded.
- Sarah Mesle - This is probably not a name that many of you recognize, but Mesle's reviews of Game of Thrones for the Los Angeles Review of Books are, bar none, the best writing on the show out there. She was the only reviewer to grasp the full import of the infamous "Breaker of Chains," and her humorous takedown of the tedious "The Watchers on the Wall" was a welcome respite from the episode's lack of tension. And check out her responses to LARB's year-in-television poll.
- Genevieve Valentine - Most of Valentine's nonfiction work is in pro venues, where she continues to be one of the smartest critics of SF and fantasy filmmaking around. But if you've been reading her blog, in which she comments on movies and trashy TV shows, you know that she's invaluable. And to my mind, her essay in Strange Horizons, "A Thing That Lives on Tears: Goodness and Clarice Starling," is one of the most essential pieces of pop culture writing from 2014, even if it's only genre-adjacent.