The 2013 Hugo Award Nominees…

have been announced. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the Hugos and for me, they have hugo awardsgotten worse and worse in the last years. But it’s decided by popular vote and that’s that. I don’t have a membership, so I didn’t nominate nor will I be able to vote but I’ve told my boyfriend that he can get me a supporting membership for next year, so I can add my vote to an award I follow, while I may not always approve.

Here’s the list (minus a few categories that I personally never know what to do with – best editor, best fan artist, etc.). Let’s talk about this below each category.

BEST NOVEL

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Tor)
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

What do I think?
You know I have to start with Redshirts, right? I know Scalzi is wildly popular and I can see the appeal in his Old Man’s War books. But Redshirst was such a lazily written book (Scalzi admits that on io9) with so many flaws that its good idea just didn’t merit a good rating from me, let alone an award nomination. Then again, the internet has prepared me for seeing this on the ballot.
A positive surprise is the latest instalment in Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. While I still haven’t read any of those books, it’s heartening to see that volume 13 (or what is it?) of a series can still excite enough people to get nominated. Makes me want to read the series even more.
I doubt I’ll manage to read 2312 before the awards are nominated (Hugo or Nebula), and I’d have to start the Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) series at the beginning. But again, I’m happy to see two women on the ballot.
Throne of the Crescent Moon was a fun read that made me want to read Ahmed’s next book, but it wasn’t good enough to get an award. I’m missing Caitlín R. Kiernan on this ballot because even though it has only sublte sff elements, it was one of those books that just defy categorisation and blow minds.

BEST NOVELLA

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Stars Do Not Lie (PDF) by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

What do I think?
Shame on me, I read only one of these. But I heard great things about Aliette de Bodard’s novella from Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. And I am coming across Nancy Kress’ story all the time on the internet. It seems to garner endless amounts of praise. As for the one novella I have read: Brandon Sanderson is one of those authors that I can get behind. I’m still only partway through the Mistborn trilogy, but he is so fresh and original that – please, give him a Hugo already. Depending on the other novellas listed here, maybe not this particular Hugo (although I very much liked The Emperor’s Soul), but… come on. He deserves one.

BEST NOVELETTE

The Boy Who Cast No Shadow by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)
Fade To White by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
In Sea-Salt Tears (PDF) by Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
“Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)

What do I think?
I have started listening to “Fade to White” but then work got in the way. I will finish that one and, seeing as she’s on the ballot twice, read at least one of Seanan McGuire’s novelettes. Cat Valente would be my blind choice, just because she is SO GOOD, but I’ll get back to you once I can make an informed decision.

BEST SHORT STORY

Immersion by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
Mono no Aware by Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)

Note: category has 3 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.

BEST RELATED WORK

The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature Edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge UP)
Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis (Mad Norwegian Press)
Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who Edited by Deborah Stanish & L.M. Myles (Mad Norwegian Press)
I Have an Idea for a Book… The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg Compiled by Martin H. Greenberg, edited by John Helfers (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)
Writing Excuses Season Seven by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

What do I think?
There’s Brandon Sanderson again. I have been listening to Writing Excuses for a good while now and would definitely throw a Hugo their way. Then again, the Chicks dig… books have been on my radar for a while. Must check out. Soon.

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL

Grandville Bête Noire written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Saga, Volume One written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics) (my review)
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)

What do I think?
I just orderer Saga Volume One and hope it will arrive early next week. That’s a graphic novel on which I haven’t found a single negative review so far.
Sadly, I must admit, I haven’t even haerd of any of the others. Joe Hill writes comics? Awesome, I’ll put book 1 in that series on my to-buy list. And I do like Paul Cornell (if mostly for his recommendations on the SF Squeecast).
EDIT (April 3rd): I have bought and read Saga Volume 1 and, at the moment, can not think of many other comic books that made me this happy. It combines so many awesome things I love about genre and stories in general and I am utterly in love.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (Long Form)

The Avengers Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
The Cabin in the Woods Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
The Hunger Games Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Looper Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)

What do I think?
Alright, let’s go through this list. I have seen all of these and The Avengers is the one my boyfriend and I watched more than once. It is so much fun, Joss Whedon is the king of dialogue and I would happily watch this movie again, right now. That said, Cabin in the Woods did something that I think is important for awards. Its metaness, the way it takes the horror movie genre and turns it on its head, while still having engaging moments of fun and terror – it’s just awesome. I would probably give this one the Hugo.
Everything that needs to be said about The Hobbit has already been said by people far more eloquent than I am. It was too long, it was too much of everything. I loved that the dwarves got more backstory (and yes, I am a squeeing Thorin fangirl because Richard Armitage was Mr. Thornton in North & South and I will always love him) but there was NO NEED to turn this story into a trilogy. The book was more lighthearted, more fun, with not nearly the stakes of The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson should have known that he can’t reproduce the success the epic story had. Why try?
The Hunger Games? No. The movie had its good elements but it is basically another case of taking a nice book and putting the Hollywood-veil on it. None of the really important or good parts of the books were there, both Katniss and Gale (while nice to look at) were incredibly miscast – seriously, there is one story that requires the protagonist to look like the anorexic beauty ideal and you manage to find a girl who looks healthy and well fed? And where did Gale get all that muscle when the entire district is starving? I have more issues with the movie than the characters’ looks, mind you, but it lacked almost all of the thrill and intrigue of the novel. So no.
Looper was kind of lame. Am I the only one in thinking that? Apart from the fact that it was riddled with logical mistakes, I had trouble engaging with the story. So yeah, didn’t much care for it, and even Joseph Gordon Levitt couldn’t save it for me.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (Short Form)

Doctor Who:“The Angels Take Manhattan” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who:“Asylum of the Daleks” Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who:“The Snowmen” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
Fringe:“Letters of Transit” Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
Game of Thrones:“Blackwater” Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

What do I think?
Other than People, there are things other than Doctor Who!, there isn’t much to say. I loved the “Angels Take Manhattan” episode and I loved the “Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones. It’s meager pickings on this ballot because what if you don’t like Doctor Who? If I had to make a choice, I’d vote for “Blackwater” just because I like HBO and how they don’t bleep out cuss words or boobs. (I’m Austrian, there are boobs and swear words on TV constantly and the bleeping really only draws attention to something that is part of our every-day language, or points human anatomy out as a Bad Thing. I see boobies every day (being a woman), they’re not a bad thing and I don’t see why we have to pretend women don’t have boobs (or a butt) on TV. Who are we protecting? Anyway, this went off on a tangent, but it’s another reason why I’d give the Hugo to Game of Thrones.

BEST FANZINE

Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
SF Signal edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester

What do I think?
I am thrilled to so Elitistit Book Reviews on here. They were the first blog I followed. Ever. Their reviews are insightful, short and to the point, and they have this brilliant feature called The University of Fantasy. You take their “classes” by starting with the classic SFF books and work your way up to more complex books, etc. The only downside to their blog is that they don’t update as frequently as, say, SF Signal.
Never having heard of the other nominees, I will go check them out right now. I see this as a good thing, awards are also supposed to show you new things, after all.

BEST FANCAST

The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

What do I think?
I’d give it to the SF Squeecast all over. Not only are these girls (and guy, of course, Paul Cornell is awesome) charming and eloquent, they have recommended a good mix of well-known books and very obscure or older titles that I would never have discovered on my own. I have listened to many of their episodes multiple times because whenever Seanan is there, they also manage to have wonderful moments of silliness and friendship. I get the feeling that they actually like each other and don’t just get together for the podcst.
The SF Signal Podcast is another one I listen to regularly. But their episodes can go either way. I love their panel discussions, but some of the interviews aren’t as well done. It’s kind of a gamble with them. And since they already have a Hugo for their website, I’d go with the Squeecast.
I believe I’ve listened to the other nominees at least once, but for some reason didn’t listen to more episodes. That could be either because they’re not up my alley or because I didn’t have time. I can’t make a truly fair judgement but the SF Squeecast is my favorite out there and should thusly win the award.
I am missing one fantastic podcast – The Writer and the Critic – that I’ve been listening to religiously lately. Maybe they didn’t get nominated because both the presenters are Australian or because not enough people know about it (or because they say “fuck” on the show). But if I had voted, they would have been my number 2 choice.

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Zen Cho *
Max Gladstone
Mur Lafferty *
Stina Leicht *
Chuck Wendig *

What do I think?
I can’t say much here. I didn’t like the only Chuck Wendig book I’ve ever read (Blackbirds) and I have books from Stina Leicht sitting on my TBR pile that sound very intriguing. I’ve heard good things about Mur Lafferty and Max Gladstone. I hadn’t heard of Zen Cho but I just took a look at her webpage and one of her novellas immedately interested me. I hope I can get it anywhere other than Amazon.
It also makes me happy to see three women on the ballot.

Now I have rambled long enough. I want to hear what you think! Did you nominate anyone? Who would you vote for, what did you think of the books, novellas, movies and TV episodes nominated? Let me hear your opinions, people. Also, I am always happy for recommendations so if among the many nominees I haven’t read, there is one you want me to read, let me know.

4 thoughts on “The 2013 Hugo Award Nominees…

  1. kamo says:

    I like the fact you feel ashamed at having only read one of the nominated novellas. I’ve read none. And none of the novels or short stories, either. In fact it’s only once you get down to the fanzines that I start having any sort of experience at all.

    I just looked at Elitist Book Reviews for the first time the other day (through your blogroll, in fact). Not so sure. The hated The Outcast Blade, which I enjoyed but fair enough. But the fact they seemed to completely miss that it’s a straight lift from the first act of Othello rather undermines the ‘elitist’ angle, I feel. If you’re gonna play the literature snob you’ve got to get the basics right, eh? 😉

    Plus they loved Blackbirds, and my feelings on that are far more in line with yours. Unappealing, try-hard, and safe. http://fightstart.blogspot.jp/2013/03/blackbirds.html

    Zen Cho has an interesting web presence, so I’ll probably be looking closer at her stuff before too long.

    Like

    • Nadine says:

      Ah, that “elitist” bit also bummed me out at bit at first. But if you read their reviews you’ll see they are actually all nice guys who don’t think they are better than us – even though that is their catchphrase.

      I generally read too little short fiction. Having read one novella and half a novelette is already great progress. But I intend to discover that part of SFF more.

      Like

  2. Two Dudes in an Attic says:

    I have to post everywhere that kamo does. I enjoyed your comments on everything; also it is heartening to know that I’m not the only one who has no time for short fiction right now. I’d love to read the stuff, but when?? Though I automatically assume that any Aliette de Bodard stories are the best.
    For novels, I’m surprised that Existence didn’t make the cut. Less surprised that Redshirts did, but I’m not sure how many people reasonably think that’s the best thing written last year. For me, 2312 wins it going away and I heartily recommend you read it RIGHT NOW.
    For podcasts, I love Coode Street and hope it wins. Probably not for everyone, but I love listening to two old guys who know more than I ever will about SF ramble on about whatever they think of. It’s kinda like eavesdropping on WWII veterans swapping stories about Normandy or something.
    Just my two cents. (or pence, or yen, or pesos)

    Like

    • Nadine says:

      Hahaha, thanks for the comment. I listened to Coode Street Podcast a little and I did enjoy it. But while it’s interesting, it doesn’t have that squee factor that both SF Squeecast and Writing Excuses have for me.

      2312 is on my TBR-pile and now that you’ve praised it so much, it is looking at me with big puppy eyes.

      Like

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