Awards to come

This weekend’s awards were the Hugos. (See the survey of initial reactions at Strange Horizons.) The UK and the UK SF community did fairly well out of them, even if this country-as-setting was, by many accounts, the weak point in the best novel winner of Blackout/All Clear. Still, between Claire Brialey, James Bacon, Dr Who episodes, and relatedly Chicks Dig Time Lords, Britain would not have done half badly, if this were a country contest. Which it is not.

But the BSFA awards are to some degree, and, although BSFA members can nominate year-round for them, we are coming up to that time of year when nominations are officially open for the awards: the beginning of September.

In the meantime, the rules and guidelines for the 2012 BSFA awards have just gone live over on the BSFA website.

The Hugos

The internet being what it is, even a post as marginally belated as this one feels a little redundant. Still, it would feel stranger not to set down my thoughts on this year’s winners at all, if only because I can’t agree with Cory Doctorow that these are “some of the best results in recent memory”; they seem to me, as usual, a mixed bag, and perhaps more than usual an inconsistent bag.

The only explanation I can come up with for, say, the two Best Dramatic Presentation results – setting the immensely pleasing recognition for the low-key, nuanced Moon against the downright distressing award for the bombastically nonsensical The Waters of Mars, not just the worst nominee and bad by the standards of all TV, but bad by the standards even of the Doctor Who specials – is that completely separate groups of people won the day in each category. (This is just about possible, although not very likely, based on the voting statistics [pdf]: from 1094 ballots cast, after redistribution of preferences Moon won its category with 418 ballots, while The Waters of Mars won with 350.) More seriously, Jonathan Strahan, who worked on two of the nominees for Best Novellette, loses out in Best Editor: Short Form to Ellen Datlow, who didn’t work on any nominees this year; and Juliet Ulman, who edited two of the Best Novels, only got as many first-preference votes as No Award in Best Editor: Long Form. You can, of course, say that the Best Editor categories are for consistency over a body of work, rather than acquiring a few standouts, but that doesn’t seem to explain the continued overlooking of Sheila Williams, whose Asimov’s has in recent years dominated the short fiction categories – 10 of 15 nominees in 2007; 7 of 15 in 2008 and 2009; and while 3 of 15 nominees this year looks like a slump, it’s still more than any other single publication managed – yet who has never won in her category.

It was satisfying to see a new Best Semiprozine – that is, the voters neither went back to their old Locus habit, nor settled into a new pattern with Weird Tales – and Clarkesworld certainly had a good year. (Although as Mark Kelly notes, it is a bit odd that Weird Tales dropped so far down the ranking.) I can only hope the award continues to move around, since I, like Abigail Nussbaum, am starting to feel a little bothered by the number of recusals. (My suggestion? The New York Review of Science Fiction, which is long overdue and having a good year.) Best Related Book was not a surprise, although This is Me, Jack Vance! is the only nominee in the category I haven’t sampled; neither was Best Graphic Story, to the point where it’s quickly becoming clear that voters don’t really know what to do with the category as it’s currently constituted. I’d be in favour of Liz Batty and Nick Honeywell’s proposal, in The Drink Tank [pdf], to change the category to Best Graphic Novel.

The winner of Best Fanzine, meanwhile, and for the second year running, is a winner within the letter of the rules rather than what I consider to be the spirit of them. Contra Jason Sanford, the only boundaries that StarShipSofa pushes for me are the ones I don’t really want to see pushed: ‘zines that publish fiction may be eligible within the current wording, but I don’t want to see them become the norm; ditto podcasts, if only because I’m too much of a written-word junkie; and nor do I want to see it become common for eligible ‘zines to campaign for their nominations. As Mike Glyer points out, however, the voting statistics don’t yet suggest that these two winners represent a sea-change in how the category is treated; and it’s good to see ‘zines like Journey Planet and group blogs like SF Signal bubbling under, not to mention Steam Engine Time, which I’d have dearly loved to see on the ballot.

And looming over everything else there’s that improbable tie for Best Novel, only the third in the history of the Hugos. As others have noted, it’s hard not to feel there’s a certain cosmic rightness in it, either because, like Jonathan McCalmont, you take it as a reflection of the fact that neither is quite polished enough to merit a full Hugo, or simply because these are the two novels that have been sharing out awards between them all year, and it’s appropriate to have that competition captured in this way. I tend to the latter view.

Final Hugo Ballot

So, deadline time at last. Here’s what I just submitted. And here are some other ballots.

Best Novel (“A science fiction or fantasy story of 40,000 words or more that appeared for the first time in 2009.”)

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
Flood by Stephen Baxter (Roc)
The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday)
Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)
In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield (Del Rey/Jonathan Cape)

Depending on your point of view, it’s either a sad comment or a testament to greatness that Baxter’s on my ballot again this year, for the same novel as last year. But if nothing else, reading Ark reminded me how much I liked Flood. And I’ll be looking out for the voting stats when they’re released after the Worldcon, to see how many nominations In Great Waters picks up. I’m hoping at least ten.

Best Novella (A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

To Kiss the Granite Choir” by Michael Anthony Ashley (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Earth II” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s)
Wives” by Paul Haines (in X6, ed. Keith Stevenson)
Crimes and Glory” by Paul McAuley (Subterranean)
“Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Pyr/Gollancz)

Completing this ballot was something of a struggle; I don’t think it’s been a terribly strong year for novellas. But I do think each of these has something to recommend them: the energy of “To Kiss the Granite Choir”, the ending of “Earth II”, the intensity of “Wives”, and the moments of flair in “Crimes and Glory” that set off a fairly meat-and-potatoes setting to good effect. “Vishnu at the Cat Circus” is the one I hope wins, however.

Best Novelette (A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone)
A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby” by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons)
“The Long, Cold Goodbye” by Holly Phillips (Asimov’s)
Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)
“The Island” by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2, ed. Dozois/Strahan)

I’m pretty happy with this selection, though I particularly hope the Swirsky and Keeble stories make the ballot.

Best Short Story (A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan (Interzone)
Turning the Apples” by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons)
All the Anne Franks” by Erik Hoel (Strange Horizons)
Spar” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld)
“Useless Things” by Maureen F McHugh (in Eclipse Three, ed Jonathan Strahan)

Of the fiction categories, probably the one where I feel least informed; but I like all these stories a good deal. (I seem to be out on my own with respect to the Hoel, but never mind.)

Best Related Work (Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2009 or which has been substantially modified during 2009, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.)

Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan, 2008 with extended eligibility)
Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics by Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct)
Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
On Joanna Russ ed. Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)

Still several books that, frustratingly, I haven’t been able to get to in time; but all of these deserve attention.

Best Graphic Story (Any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in 2009.)

Don’t Split the Party by Rich Burlew (Giant in the Playground)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, 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 2009.)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Moon
Up
Torchwood: Children of Earth
Where the Wild Things Are

If, twelve months ago, you’d told me I would be nominating Torchwood for a Hugo, I’d have looked at you like you were crazy. But credit where credit is due. Speaking of crazy: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is bonkers, but very well done.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, 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 2009.)

“Season Two, Episode One”, Ashes to Ashes
“Epitaph One”, Dollhouse
“Born to Run”, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“Pilot”, Caprica
“The State of the Art” by Iain M Banks, adapted by Paul Cornell (Radio 4, 5 March 2009)

Best Editor, Short Form (The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which was published in 2009.)

Susan Marie Groppi, Strange Horizons
Jonathan Strahan, various anthologies
Scott H Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Andy Cox et al, Interzone
Sheila Williams, Asimov’s

Best Editor, Long Form (The editor of at least four (4) novel-length works primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy published in 2009 that do not qualify as works under Best Editor, Short Form.)

Jo Fletcher
Jeremy Lassen
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Simon Spanton
Juliet Ulman

Best Professional Artist (An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during 2009. If possible, please cite an example of the nominee’s work. Failure to provide such references will not invalidate a nomination.)

Raphael Lacoste (The Windup Girl, The Caryatids)
Adam Tredowski (Interzone covers)
Stephan Martiniere (Desolation Road)

Best Semiprozine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in 2009, and which in 2009 met at least two (2) of the following criteria: Had an average press run of at least 1,000 copies per issue; Paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication; Provided at least half the income of any one person; Had at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising; Announced itself to be a “semiprozine”.)

Ansible
The Internet Review of Science Fiction
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Clarkesworld
Interzone

Best Fanzine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.)

Banana Wings
Asking the Wrong Questions
Coffee and Ink
Journey Planet
Punkadiddle

Best Fan Writer (Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during 2009.)

Claire Brialey
Martin Lewis
James Davis Nicoll
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Plummer

Best Fan Artist (An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during 2009.)

Kate Beaton

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) (A writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy appeared during 2008 or 2009 in a professional publication. For Campbell Award purposes a professional publication is one for which more than a nominal amount was paid, any publication that had an average press run of at least 10,000 copies, or any other that the Award sponsors may designate.)

Jedidiah Berry
Lauren Beukes
Kristin Cashore
Patrick Ness
Ali Shaw

And there we are. Roll on Easter, and the shortlists.

Draft Hugo Ballot

A little later than advertised, here’s my working draft Hugo ballot. As with Joe Sherry’s draft, at this stage I plan to definitely nominate anything marked with asterisks (***), and am considering the other items listed. I’ll post some thoughts on each category as a comment to this post [ta-da!], and I’ll be posting further comments and probably updating the post as I read more; recommendations welcome, although I’m probably not going to get through many more eligible novels.

Best Novel (“A science fiction or fantasy story of 40,000 words or more that appeared for the first time in 2009.”)

***The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
***The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham (Doubleday)
***Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager)
***In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield (Del Rey/Jonathan Cape)
Flood by Stephen Baxter (Roc)
UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus)
The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness (Candlewick/Walker)
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (Nan A Talese/Canongate)

Best Novella (A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

***”Vishnu at the Cat Circus” by Ian McDonald (in Cyberabad Days, Pyr/Gollancz)
Starfall by Stephen Baxter (PS Publishing)
“Earth II” by Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s, July 2009)
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough (PS Publishing)
“Sublimation Angels” by Jason Sanford (Interzone)

Best Novelette (A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

***”Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster (Interzone 220)
***”A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby” by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons, 1 and 8 June)
***”Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com, March)
***”The Island” by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2, ed. Dozois/Strahan)
“Problems of Light and Dark” by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)
“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three, ed. Jonathan Strahan)
“Seventh Fall” by Alex Irvine (Subterranean)
“Black Swan” by Bruce Sterling (Interzone 221)

Best Short Story (A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2009.)

“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan (Interzone 222)
“Turning the Apples” by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons, 30 March)
“All the Anne Franks” by Erik Hoel (Strange Horizons, 23 November)
“Useless Things” by Maureen F McHugh (Eclipse Three);
“Unexpected Outcomes” by Tim Pratt (Interzone 222)

Best Related Work (Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2009 or which has been substantially modified during 2009, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.)

***Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
***The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan, 2008 with extended eligibility)
***Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics by Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct)
Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
On Joanna Russ ed. Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)

Best Graphic Story (Any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in 2009.)

***Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, 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 2009.)

***Moon
***Up
***Where the Wild Things Are
Monsters vs Aliens
The Road
Torchwood: Children of Earth
The Time-Traveler’s Wife

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, 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 2009.)

***”Season Two, Episode One”, Ashes to Ashes
***”Epitaph One”, Dollhouse
***”Born to Run”, The Sarah Connor Chronicles
“Pilot”, Caprica
“The State of the Art” by Iain M Banks, adapted by Paul Cornell (Radio 4, 5 March 2009)

Best Editor, Short Form (The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which was published in 2009.)

***Susan Marie Groppi, Strange Horizons
***Jonathan Strahan, various anthologies
Scott H Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Andy Cox et al, Interzone
Sheila Williams, Asimov’s

Best Editor, Long Form (The editor of at least four (4) novel-length works primarily devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy published in 2009 that do not qualify as works under Best Editor, Short Form.)

L Timmel Duchamp
Jo Fletcher
Jeremy Lassen
Betsy Mitchell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Simon Spanton
Juliet Ulman

Best Professional Artist (An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during 2009. If possible, please cite an example of the nominee’s work. Failure to provide such references will not invalidate a nomination.)

***Raphael Lacoste (The Windup Girl, The Caryatids)
***Adam Tredowski (Interzone covers)
Stephan Martiniere (Desolation Road)

Best Semiprozine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in 2009, and which in 2009 met at least two (2) of the following criteria: Had an average press run of at least 1,000 copies per issue; Paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication; Provided at least half the income of any one person; Had at least 15% of its total space occupied by advertising; Announced itself to be a “semiprozine”.)

***The Internet Review of Science Fiction
Ansible
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Clarkesworld
Futurismic
Interzone
Locus
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The SF Site

Best Fanzine (Any generally available non-professional publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of 2009 has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, and which does not qualify as a semiprozine.)

***Banana Wings
***Asking the Wrong Questions
Coffee and Ink
Everything is Nice
Journey Planet
Punkadiddle

Best Fan Writer (Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during 2009.)

Claire Brialey
Karen Burnham
Paul Kincaid
Martin Lewis
James Davis Nicoll
Abigail Nussbaum
Mark Plummer
Adam Roberts
Micole S

Best Fan Artist (An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during 2009.)

Kate Beaton

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) (A writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy appeared during 2008 or 2009 in a professional publication. For Campbell Award purposes a professional publication is one for which more than a nominal amount was paid, any publication that had an average press run of at least 10,000 copies, or any other that the Award sponsors may designate.)

Jedidiah Berry
Lauren Beukes
Kristin Cashore
Patrick Ness
Ali Shaw
Kari Sperring [eligibility expired]

Awards Awards Awards

1. BSFA Awards

For anyone who didn’t see the note buried in the comments of the shortlist post, Hal Duncan has withdrawn his essay “Ethics and Enthusiasm” from consideration for the Non-Fiction Award.

With that in mind, now, admittedly I don’t think it has a hope in hell of winning, but then I didn’t think it had a hope in hell of making the shortlist, so on the off-chance that it does… I think it would be criminal for my exploration of modes of critique to be accorded more status and attention than the exploration of issues of representation and diversity carried out by Deepa D, especially when those issues are precisely born of a disparity of status and attention. It would, I feel, be validating the very situation that requires redress if the BSFA Awards were to valorise abstractions that bear only a passing relevance to the field over a commentary that bears directly on its practical, political realities, not least because of the disparities of privilege at play here. It’s awesome to have people take note of what I say from my platform, but in this case I’m going to use that platform to say, there are other voices you should be listening to first.
[…]
So, with the utmost gratitude to those who put it there, and more than a little reticence because of course I’d fucking love a BSFA Award for non-fiction, I’d like to respectfully withdraw “Ethics and Enthusiasm” from the running, and leave the contest to those works which bear directly on the field.

The Guardian has noted the shortlists here — “After Booker snub, Adam Roberts in running for SF honour” — with a soundbite from me, in which I say I think it’s hard to pick a front-runner in the Best Novel category. All four books have been well received: Yellow Blue Tibia seems to have a critical mass of momentum behind it, Ark is a consecutive nomination for a previous winner of the Award, Lavinia is considered by many to be a masterwork by a multi Hugo- and Nebula-winner, and The City & The City has tremendous word-of-mouth. If you put a gun to my head I’d probably pick Mieville as the winner (I think it may be his year for a Hugo, too), but I wouldn’t want to put a lot of money on it. Nader Elhefnawy also has some thoughts on the shortlists here, and there’s an io9 post here.

2. Hugo Awards

Speaking of Hugo Awards, nominations are now open, until 13th March. Cheryl Morgan has a guest post at the Feminist SF Blog about “Hugo voting on the cheap” — which sadly means how to become an informed voter without having to buy a lot of books, rather than actual cheap voting memberships — with lots of recommendations for potential nominees. Joe Sherry has posted a draft of his Hugo ballot. I think this is a good idea, and will probably follow suit later this week.

3. The David Gemmell Legend Award

Nic Clarke reviews last year’s inaugural Legend Award shortlist for Strange Horizons. Part one of the review can be found here:

What do they mean by “in the spirit of David Gemmell”? According to the same web page, what they are looking for is something that grabs the reader immediately, with pace (“you know, books that you’re STILL reading at three in the morning!”), characters to root for, and convincing world-building. Stories, in other words, that take hold and won’t let go until the final page—the reason we all started reading fantasy in the first place.

Quality of prose goes unmentioned, but I’m afraid it won’t in this review; writing that makes me want to stab my own eyes out tends to interfere with my desire to still be reading at three in the morning. I’m fussy like that.

Part two is here, and there’s a related post by Mark Charan Newton here:

This, it seems, is one of the only actual comparisons of the fantasy titles that were shortlisted. I made noises at the time that no one was talking about the content of the books, and so here we go at last.

I must admit to finding it bizarre that any award can have a shortlist where titles are barely compared to each other. How can you call a book the “best” without such an analysis? Getting as many people to vote online seems a spurious way to go about this, when clearly no one could have read so many titles.

I’m not being grouchy here – please don’t misunderstand.

This is where my arguments lie: we bitch and moan about why we – the fantasy genre – are not taken seriously. But when we’re not going to compare and contrast, and dig into the content of some of the big fantasy titles of the year, how can the fantasy genre expect to better itself year on year? How can it expect to gain more respect? (If you don’t care for respect, then I guess that’s the end to my argument.) But we all know that we posses rather self-conscious moments, we fantasy readers, if we’re honest.

4. The William L. Crawford Award

Press release at Locus Online:

Jedediah Berry has been named the winner of the 2010 William L. Crawford Award for first novel The Manual of Detection. The Award, presented annually at The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, is for a new fantasy writer whose first book appeared the previous year. This year’s conference will be March 17-21, 2010 in Orlando FL.

The award committee shortlisted Deborah Biancotti’s collection A Book of Endings, Kari Sperring’s novel Living with Ghosts, and Ali Shaw’s novel The Girl With Glass Feet, and wanted to commend two other authors whose works were ineligible this year but were highly regarded: Robert V.S. Redick, whose The Red Wolf Conspiracy appeared in 2008 and whose The Ruling Sea appears in 2010, and Michal Ajvaz, whose The Other City originally appeared in Czech in 1993 but was first translated into English by Gerald Turner in 2009.

A good winner, and a strong shortlist, I reckon.

On Hugos

A quick post this morning, since I’ve got to catch a train to York (to visit two-thirds of Eve’s Alexandria). So I leave you with two perspectives on this year’s Hugo Awards. Abigail Nussbaum writes about the Best Novel shortlist here (Zoe’s Tale and Saturn’s Children) and here (Little Brother, The Graveyard Book, and Anathem). Her final judgment?

In the end, I placed Anathem above The Graveyard Book in my Hugo ballot. Though both novels are flawed, I think that The Graveyard Book‘s flaws would come to seem more irksome in later years if Gaiman were to win. It’s the better novel from a technical standpoint, but Anathem is the one that does something new and different and uniquely SFnal, as well as being the novel that engaged me emotionally when I first read it. If I had managed to read all five nominated novels before July 3rd, I still would have voted No Award in the third slot (followed, in case you’re interested, by Zoe’s Tale, then possibly another, more emphatic No Award vote, then Little Brother and Saturn’s Children). I think Anathem has a good chance of winning, though Doctorow and Gaiman also have strong fanbases among Hugo voters, and both of their novels have had a lot of buzz (Scalzi, meanwhile, is a long shot, and Stross probably doesn’t have a chance). It’s hard to work up much pleasure at that thought, however, as this year’s ballot has me rooting against the nominees I dislike rather than for the ones I like. I think it’s safe to say that my first experience reading all five Hugo nominated novels has not been a positive one. I’m going to hold on to the hope that 2008 was an aberration, both in the quality of books published and in the tastes of the Hugo voters, but I’m suddenly very pleased that this experiment in being a Hugo voter is unlikely to recur for some time.

Adam Roberts, meanwhile, has written an open letter to sf fandom:

Dear Science Fiction Fandom

I wanted to have a word about the Hugos. Science Fiction Fandom, these are your awards: the shortlists chosen and voted for by you. And because I too am a fan (though without Hugo voting privileges) they are my awards. They reflect upon us all. They remain one of the most prestigious awards for SF in the world. These lists say something about SF to the world.

Science Fiction Fandom: your shortlists aren’t very good.

I’m not saying the works you have shortlisted are terrible. They’re not terrible, mostly, as it goes. But they aren’t exceptionally good either. They’re in the middle. There’s a word for that. The word is mediocre.

The 2009 Hugo Short Fiction Nominees

Links to our previous discussions, for my ease of reference, and for anyone else who’s interested. And for members of Anticipation, you have until midnight tonight to vote; so go vote.

Best Novella

Best Novellette

Best Short Story

Concluding thoughts? Not many; I think I’ve said pretty much everything I could say at some point along the line. I’ve used No Award on all three of the above ballots, but there’s a potentially excellent set of winners in there, and I don’t even think it’s a terrible slate, all told, just a middling one; and I’m feeling quite trenchant tonight about what I do and don’t want to win, so No Award gets used. The novella category is probably the most interesting to me, the short story category the least; and as ever, it will be interesting to see what didn’t make the ballot.

All that aside, though, I’ve rather enjoyed the discussion process — not that there was much discussion in all cases, but when it did happen it was good! So I’m tempted to keep on reading short stories and rounding up discussion of them here, possibly on a bi-weekly basis, probably focusing on new, online stories (after all, there are next year’s Hugo nominations to think about). Good idea? Bad idea? And if the former, does anyone have suggestions for stories they’d like to put on the slate? I’ve been mulling posting something about Rachel Swirsky’s “Eros, Philia, Agape” since I read it, for instance, and I keep meaning to read more of Futurismic‘s fiction. Thoughts?