Monday, April 2, 2018

Initial Thoughts on the 2018 Hugo Award Finalists

We've known Nerds of a Feather was to be announced as a finalist for the Hugo Award for about ten days before the official announcement on Saturday. It's tough to sit on that sort of news, but it's also important to respect the process. There's a certain amount of stress involved when you know there is a reasonable chance of making the final ballot, but understanding that nothing is remotely guaranteed or promised. We just want to try to do good work here and we're beyond grateful and ecstatic for the recognition.

Again, thank you to everyone who nominated us.

Beyond our excitement over being included on this year's Hugo ballot, the next coolest thing about the announcement of the finalists is that we finally get a chance to see what all is going to be on the ballot and nerd out about the short list and share in the excitement of the day. So let's take a look.

Best Novel
  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor) (our review)
  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) (our review)
  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit) (our review)
  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) (our review)
I've read five of the six finalists, with only the Kim Stanley Robinson as something I haven't yet read. Even before its inclusion here, I've heard fantastic things about it. New York 2140 has a lot to live up to because this is an incredibly strong short list. The Stone Sky is very likely the novel to beat since Jemisin is coming off of two straight Hugo wins for Best Novel and she may have surpassed herself with the excellence of The Stone Sky. It's a potential three-peat, which would be the first time ever for that accomplishment. There isn't a bad book here.

Best Novella
  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells ( Publishing)
  • And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)
  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang ( Publishing)
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.Com Publishing) (our review)
  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey ( Publishing) (our review)
This is the other category I've read five of the six. I haven't read Sarah Pinsker's novella, though I've been meaning to for the better part of last year and just not quite getting to it. I've loved the other short fiction I've read from Sarah Pinsker's and that and all the praise has me pretty excited to finally read it. I would normally say the Seanan McGuire is the novella to beat here (I adore her Wayward Children books and that's a future Best Series finalist when she gets the word count up high enough), but The Black Tides of Heaven was also quite exceptional. This will be tough to call.

Best Novelette

Best Short Story
I'm pretty sure I haven't read any of the nominated stories, but I'm thrilled to see another story from Sarah Pinsker on the ballot. Rebecca Roanhorse's story has been all over the place and there's a bit of overlap here with the Nebula Award shortlist. This is where I'm excited for the opportunity to discover some of my new favorite authors and stories. The four novels I've read from Linda Nagata were fantastic, and while that doesn't necessarily translate to short fiction, I expect very good things from "The Martian Obelisk." After last year, I have high expectations for Urusla Vernon's story. The same with those from Aliette de Bodard and Yoon Ha Lee. This is a ballot of opportunity.

Best Series
  • The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells (Night Shade)
  • The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
  • InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (Tor US / Titan UK)
  • The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US / Gollancz UK)
  • World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency)
This one is tricky because there's a LOT of reading to do to have a reasonable chance to fully evaluate the series - though at least reading the first book of a given series lets us know if it is even something we want to continue with. I've read the first two volumes of the Stormlight Archive and Brandon Sanderson writes top notch epic fantasy. I'm so happy to see Robert Jackson Bennett's Divine Cities represented here. While everyone I've talked to about them thought they were fantastic, I still think they've been somewhat under appreciated as individual novels. Individually, they were spectacular. As a collected whole, they're even better. I've only read the Penric novellas for the Five Gods series from Bujold, which is ultimately the reason they were eligible, but there are novels left to read. Otherwise, I'm unfamiliar with InCryptid, Lady Trent, and Raksura. I had planned to read through more of McGuire's Toby Daye novels this year, but it looks like I might need to switch over to her other long running series.

Best Related Work
  • Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, by Zoe Quinn (PublicAffairs)
  • Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction), by Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press)
  • A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press)
  • Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Liz Bourke (Aqueduct Press)
The real disappointment here is that Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology didn't make the final ballot (though, I would have argued it is a collection not a Related Work) - not because I've read it and thought it was awesome. I haven't. Rather, my wife is getting a Coraline themed tattoo and since we're going to be at the ceremony, we were hoping Neil would pick up a nomination so he would be there and could see it. Because, really, how often does one get to show off a tattoo to Neil Gaiman?

Best Graphic Story
  • Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine DeLandro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
  • Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel)
  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Alcon Entertainment / Bud Yorkin Productions / Torridon Films / Columbia Pictures)
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Productions / Monkeypaw Productions / QC Entertainment)
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro (TSG Entertainment / Double Dare You / Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi (Marvel Studios)
  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Black Mirror: “USS Callister,” written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, directed by Toby Haynes (House of Tomorrow)
  • “The Deep” [song], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
  • Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit,” written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • Star Trek: Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” written by Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander, directed by David M. Barrett (CBS Television Studios)

Best Editor, Short Form
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Lee Harris
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Joe Monti
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist
  • Galen Dara
  • Kathleen Jennings
  • Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Sana Takeda
There is some serious heavy weight art talent here. It's slightly weird to see a shortlist without Julie Dillon at this point, but everyone here has done fantastic work. If anyone remembers back a couple of months to Terry Goodkind acting like an asshole on the internet when he decided it was a good idea to publicly drag the cover artist of his latest novel because he (Goodkind) wasn't happy with the cover and the internet dragged Goodkind right back - the artist in question is Bastien Lecouffe Deharme and the end result was a) folks looked him up and saw that he did fantastic work and b) he is now a finalist for the Hugo Award - and it's well deserved. Unrelated to that, John Picacio is the host for the Hugo Ceremony and I'm really excited to finally meet him after years of online interaction. He has consistently been one of the top artists working in the field, but the Loteria cards he's put out last year are exceptional and are taking his work to a new level of excellence.

Best Semiprozine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • Escape Pod, edited by Mur Lafferty, S.B. Divya, and Norm Sherman, with assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney
  • Fireside Magazine, edited by Brian White and Julia Rios; managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry; special feature editor Mikki Kendall; publisher & art director Pablo Defendini
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Kate Dollarhyde, Gautam Bhatia, A.J. Odasso, Lila Garrott, Heather McDougal, Ciro Faienza, Tahlia Day, Vanessa Rose Phin, and the Strange Horizons staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine
This is us. I'm not going to spend much time talking about the fanzines and I won't be covering this category when I do my annual Reading the Hugos series because that's just not fair. I'm beyond biased. But, as part of my bias - my favorite fanzine that isn't the one you're reading right now is SF Bluestocking. Bridget McKinney is a fantastic writer and as a general rule, if Nerds of a Feather isn't going to win I'd be beyond thrilled if SF Bluestocking does. I'd also love to see McKinney pick up a Best Fan Writer nomination some time in the future. Just keep her in mind, folks.

Best Fancast
  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
  • Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay William
  • Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts; produced by Andrew Finch
  • Sword and Laser, presented by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
  • Verity!, presented by Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Best Fan Writer
  • Camestros Felapton
  • Sarah Gailey
  • Mike Glyer
  • Foz Meadows
  • Charles Payseur
  • Bogi Tak√°cs
Charles Payseur was a member of our flock and we always loved to see what he'd bring us with his Monthly Round. For that alone, we'd consider him for our ballot, but Charles has been crushing the short fiction reviewing game with Quick Sip Reviews. His commentary, voice, and perspective is invaluable and needed. We'll miss him here at the flock, but we're jumping for joy that he's being recognized as among the best of the fan writers. We've known it for a while.

Best Fan Artist
  • Geneva Benton
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Maya Hahto
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

There are two other Awards administered by Worldcon 76 that are not Hugo Awards:

Award for Best Young Adult Book
  • Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)
  • The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf)
  • In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)
  • A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US)
  • Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  • Katherine Arden
  • Sarah Kuhn
  • Jeannette Ng
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  • Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Rivers Solomon

That's the ballot and it looks to be pretty exceptional. We couldn't be prouder for Nerds of a Feather to be a part of it. Let's get to reading and discussing, folks.

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 / 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Writer / Editor of the mostly defunct Adventures in Reading since 2004. Minnesotan.