Monday, August 24, 2015

My Thoughts on the Hugos

Although I bought a supporting membership for WorldCon this year and voted, I didn't stay up to catch the livestream of the Hugo Awards. You can get a sense of what it was like by reading io9's liveblog of the event. It sounds as if some of the skits and special award presenters (especially the dalek) made quite an impression. However, what many of us were wondering and worrying about was whether the Puppies' nominees would win. You can find the list of nominees and winners on the official site for the awards, and only one Puppy nominee (Guardians of the Galaxy) won. "No Award" took five categories, especially the ones stuffed with Puppy nominations. Here are my thoughts on the other winners:

Best Novel--The Three-Body Problem--I discussed this book in my previous post about reading the Hugo nominees. Although the intellectual heft of the science ideas in this book are worthy of the Hugo, I didn't feel they worked well in the story. To me, the way the aliens use these ideas during their invasion of Earth are James-Bond-villianlike in their being over-the-top. Surely aliens with this level of technology (and I was surprised they had it because they were initially portrayed as being behind humans) could come up with more efficient and effective ways of dealing with humans. I would have preferred The Goblin Emperor on a story level for the win. However, The Three-Body Problem is the first translated novel to win a Hugo and thus makes this award more accessible to foreign novels.

Best Novella--No Award--I didn't care much for the works in this category. Some of them felt like excerpts of longer works and probably shouldn't have been in this category to begin with.

Best Novelette--"The Day the World Turned Upside Down"--The central metaphor was overbearing in this story, but it was the best of the finalists and the one I voted for. As in the Novella category, some of the nominated works felt like part of longer stories and didn't belong on the ballot, IMO.

Best Short Story--No Award--Another category dominated by Puppy nominees. I did vote for "Totaled," as I thought that story the best of the nominees.

Ms. Marvel #1--I had a hard time picking between this one and Saga for the Graphic Story category. In the end, I thought the characters in Saga were more complex and interesting, so I voted for that one. To me, some of the characters in Ms. Marvel seemed to be a bit one-note, such as the very religious friend or the clueless blonde concern troll. (The main character, however, did do a good job of questioning her identity and what it meant to be a Muslim-American superhero.) I did like how the parents tried to talk to their daughter to find out what was going on, as it seemed as if they were growing beyond the way they first appeared. Giving the Hugo to this graphic novel is a big step forward for diversity.

Editor Categories--No Award--I was a little surprised that these categories got "No Award," as some of the nominees are well-known professionals. Unfortunately, it appeared both categories were also compromised by ballot stuffing. I will admit that one of the nominees for the Long Form turned down the early draft of Day of All Seasons, my first attempt to tell the Season Avatars' story. I ranked him lower not so much for rejecting me (I had very little writing experience when I wrote that one, and it showed despite my revisions), but for promising to give me feedback and never following up on that. I did rank him above "No Award," though.

I don't follow the other categories and therefore didn't vote in them.

If the nomination process hadn't been messed up this year, the final ballot would have had more diverse works (see here for an analysis). The important thing now is to continue to read widely and think of possible works to nominate for next year. One thing I am trying to do is read more short fiction. I should track the stories somewhere so I remember them in 2016. I'm also open to nominating indie works, so we'll see if any of them make it to the final ballot.

How much did you follow the Hugo controversy this year? What works have you read or seen so far that you think deserve a nomination?


Pat Dilloway said...

Since I'll never be nominated for any literary awards I don't pay much attention to them but it sounded like this was all pretty ridiculous.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't put much stock in the Hugos because the winning books are never really that good. The first few winners you described sound like more of the same. A prestigious award for books most people don't really like.

Sandra Almazan said...

Pat, I hope we don't have to deal with this again next year!

Alex, just because I didn't like it doesn't mean everyone else hates it. But the way the rules currently are written, it doesn't take a lot of votes for a book to get nominated. Maybe that needs to change, or maybe more people need to nominate more popular works. (One of the Dresden books was also nominated, but as part of the Puppy slate. I wonder how it would have fared without their backing.)

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