Awards

So after being cheered by Ian. R Macleod’s Sidewise Award for the wonderful The Summer Isles, and wryly amused that Ken Macleod picked up a third Prometheus Award with Learning the World, I woke up this morning (absurdly early, considering what time I got home last night) anticipating the main event: the Hugo Award results.

It’s not as satisfyingly rightheaded a slate of winners as we got last year. The short fiction categories are a bit of a mess—the idea that Connie Willis’ “Inside Job” and David Levine’s “Tk’tk’tk” are better than, respectively, Kelly Link’s “Magic for Beginners” and Margo Lanagan’s “Singing My Sister Down” is, without wishing to offend, ludicrous; Peter S. Beagle’s novellette win is defensible, but it wouldn’t have been my pick—but other than that it’s not too bad. Serenity‘s win in Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form is well-deserved, and Steven Moffatt’s Doctor Who two-parter was the best thing on its ballot. Kate Wilhelm’s Storyteller wasn’t (I was rooting for Gary K. Wolfe’s Soundings), but it is a good book—and perhaps more impressively, it beat a book by The Mighty Langford.

Actually, it seems to have been a year for results that go against the common complaint that Hugo voters are swayed by name recognition, at least in some categories. Sure, Locus and Langford picked up their annual awards, but David Hartwell, editor of everyone from James Tiptree Jnr to David Marusek, finally converted a nomination to a win, and in doing so became the first second non-dead book editor to win a Hugo (somewhat ironically, given that his omission from the winners’ list was one of the reasons behind the motion to split Best Editor into two categories).

More refreshingly still, the Best Novel winner is impossible to snidely dismiss as having gone to the author with the biggest publicity campaign, or the most vocal fanbase, or the most popular blog, as has become somewhat de rigueur when discussing recent winners, or when trying to predict this year’s (I was not immune to this). The award has gone to a book that I haven’t read, but which I have heard almost exclusively good things about from people I trust who have; which is to say that it seems to have gone to a book that (get this) can only have won because a population of informed voters liked it best. Whether or not I end up agreeing that Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin was the most deserving book on the shortlist, it strikes me as, at the very least, a good result for the health of the Hugos as an institution.

EDIT: the nomination and voting stats. Headlines: Neil Gaiman declined a nomination for Anansi Boys; World of Warcraft and Lego Star Wars were the top nominees in the ‘Interactive Video Game’ category that was dropped due to lack of interest; in the final vote, “Magic for Beginners” ran “Inside Job” pretty darn close, but Spin had a comfortable lead from the start and John Scalzi wasn’t far off winning the Campbell Award outright; and Andrew M. Butler’s last year on Vector got six nominations for Best Fanzine, which is nice to see. Further commentary here and here.

Posted in Awards, SF. Tags: , . 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Awards”

  1. Ian Says:

    I must admit I am somewhat surprised by the general lack of wrongheadedness in the results; I may not agree with them all, but then why should I?

    (BTW it’s de rigueur.)

  2. Niall Says:

    Oops. Typo fixed. I blame trying to post while half-asleep, obviously.

    But yes. Even the categories I don’t agree with aren’t embarrassing in the way that, say, Mike Resnick winning is.

  3. Abigail Says:

    even the categories I don’t agree with aren’t embarrassing in the way that, say, Mike Resnick winning is.

    That’s true enough, but it doesn’t make me any happier with the results. But then, I’m the only person I know who is primarily interested in the short fiction categories. I haven’t read any of the novel nominees and the dramatic presentation categories weren’t nail-biters. So, concentrating on those categories, I see a lot to complain about (which I have, of course, done at great length).

    By the way, I was thinking about the short dramatic presentation category and what a strong shortlist it was. I agree that the right nominee won, but there are three other names on that list that, in a weaker year, could easily and deservedly have taken the award. The reason I’m pointing this out is that it looks like next year’s shortlist is going to be a great deal weaker. Granted, the US fall season hasn’t started yet and there’s a chance that BSG’s third season will return to the show’s old form, but right now we’ve got “Downloaded”, “The Girl in the Fireplace”, and… what? The Life on Mars pilot?

  4. Niall Says:

    Don’t misunderstand me: I think the wrong stories won in all three short fiction categories, and we’ve ended up with a bland, unambitious set of winners (particularly the Willis). If they were my primary interest, I’d be frustrated too. Where have you been complaining at length (other than your original reviews)?

    By the way, I was thinking about the short dramatic presentation category and what a strong shortlist it was.

    Ha! I look at it and think how weak it is. “Pegasus” was a poor episode of Galactica, “Father’s Day” was deeply flawed, “Jack-Jack Attack” is minor, and as much as I enjoyed the Interaction events when I was there, I don’t think they’re Hugo-calibre (though I wouldn’t have minded seeing the McAuley/Newman script pick up the Sidewise shortform award). “Dalek” is the only other nominee I wouldn’t have been disappointed to see win.

    On the other hand, you’re right that next year is looking a bit thin. I would imagine that “School Reunion” has a decent shot at nomination, as well as either of the late-season Who two-parters, but we already know I don’t much rate any of those. On the other hand, we have the US fall season to go, plus Torchwood, about which I am vaguely optimistic–and don’t forget that this time around a big chunk of the nominating population will be Japanese.

  5. Abigail Says:

    Where have you been complaining at length (other than your original reviews)?

    What, you didn’t think my original reviews were lengthy enough?

    “Pegasus” was a poor episode of Galactica

    Really? I thought it was one of the stronger entries in the season – which episode would you have preferred to see in the slot?

    don’t forget that this time around a big chunk of the nominating population will be Japanese

    True. That could make for an interesting ballot.

  6. Niall Says:

    What, you didn’t think my original reviews were lengthy enough?

    Well, just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything …

    which episode would you have preferred to see in the slot?

    Any of the first four, or possibly “Home” (both parts). Weren’t some episodes from the end of season one eligible as well? I’m not sure what the airdates were.

  7. Abigail Says:

    I could see “Home” on the ballot, because it does work as a self-contained story (although I still think it’s weaker than “Pegasus”) but the first four episodes are too dependent on one another. They pretty much tell a single story – or, more precisely, three or four stories that go on concurrently and each take the foreground in their turn – and I can’t see singling out just one of them.

    According to TV.com, the last four episodes of the first season were aired in the UK in January 2005 (in the US, the entire first season was aired in 2005). Which means that “Kobol’s Last Gleaming” was eligible for a Hugo this year.

  8. Niall Says:

    They pretty much tell a single story

    Ah, so Long Form nomination instead, then? :)

    (in the US, the entire first season was aired in 2005)

    If that’s right, how did “33” end up on the ballot last year? Am I just confused? (But if “Kobol” was eligible, that should have been up there.)

  9. Abigail Says:

    If that’s right, how did “33″ end up on the ballot last year?

    I assume that the UK airdate took precedence (as it obviously did this year for Doctor Who) – possibly because the convention was UK-based. I know that extended eligibility was invented to address this problem in the case of books, but I’m not sure that the issue of television episodes has been dealt with.

    And yeah, I agree about “Kobol”.

  10. Carl V. Says:

    I’m reading Scalzi’s book right now and am really enjoying it. If it continues this good until the end I will be more than happy with his win.

  11. Mark Says:

    ‘I assume that the UK airdate took precedence (as it obviously did this year for Doctor Who) – possibly because the convention was UK-based.’

    Right on the first point, I think, although I don’t believe the fact that the convention was UK-based had anything to do with it. The applicable rule simply says:

    3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Any production in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less.
    —Mark


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: