Welcome to my 2013 Hugo nominations and recommendations. Here I will be collecting the novels, writers, films and videogames that I believe are deserving to win a Hugo award. I have not filled out every category, for one reason or another, but there is a nice variety here, all of which entertained me in 2012. Also included in these nominations and recommendations are other notable items for your consideration. These are generally items that I’ve not read or experienced yet but come well-recommended by people I trust and are on my plate to do so before the nomination process.
This list is still a work-in-progress and can (and will change) before the nomination period ends on March, 10th. I hope you find something of interest here. Enjoy.
If you look at the list of 2012-published novels I read last year, it might be no surprise that, as of now, I do not have enough novels to fill my ballot in this category. Between now and the nomination deadline I will be doing some catch-up, and I’ve included those novels in the ‘Other Notables’ section, but it 2012 was not a particularly strong year for me. The novels I include below, however, I believe in fully.
Geder Palliako’s star is rising. He is a hero of Antea, protector to the crown prince, and darling of the court. But storms from his past are gathering, and with them, a war that will change everything.
Cithrin bel Sarcour founded a powerful bank on stolen wealth, forged papers, and ready blades. Now every move she makes is observed, recorded, and controlled. Unless Cithrin can free herself from her gilded cage, the life she made will be for naught; war may provide just the opportunity she needs.
An apostate priest sees the hidden hand behind all: a long-buried secret of the dragon empire threatens everything humanity has built. An age of madness and death approaches, with only a few doomed heroes to stand in its way.
Last year, I chose to nominate Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path over Leviathan Wakes, his SF collaboration with Ty Franck, published under the name ‘James S.A. Corey.’ Leviathan Wakes made the ballot, The Dragon’s Path did not. I still believe in that nomination and that Abraham is behind some of today’s most interesting and exciting Fantasy. The Dagger & The Coin takes the comfortable, adventurous Fantasy built by Terry Brooks, David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist and imbues it with an intelligence and depth that sets it apart from the rest of the field. The King’s Blood is an improvement on The Dragon’s Path on every level and continues to prove Abraham’s worth the genre. As I said in my review, “It’s about time we stop comparing Abraham to other authors, and start comparing other authors to him.”
The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
Since first arriving with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Jemisin has become one of my favourite authors and one of the most important people in the fan community. Her novels are diverse and tense, feature interesting world building that often pushes the expected boundaries of tradition Epic Fantasy, and are written with a clear, evocative prose that few other authors can match. The Killing Moon is wonderful for all of these reasons.
Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermin Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. His appearance plunges Fermin and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the dark early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies.
Alongside J.R.R. Tolkien, Zafon wrote my favourite novel. The Shadow of the Wind is a classic novel that captures my imagination any time I begin to think of it. After a disappointing follow-up, The Angel’s Game, Zafon returned with The Prisoner of Heaven. The third volume in the cycle, The Prisoner of Heaven is at once chilling and amusing. It is a near pitch-perfect novel.
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks (REVIEW // Buy: Book/eBook) — Brent Weeks is not, perhaps, a prototypical Hugo Award nominee, and his novel is not genre-defining or trendsetting enough to earn a spot on my nomination list, but I’ll be damned if there was a book I had more fun with last year than The Blinding Knife.
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (Buy: Book/eBook) — I’m reading this one at the moment and, as long as it doesn’t derail by the end, this will appear on my final ballot. Like Jemisin’s The Killing Moon, Range of Ghosts is a daring Fantasy that steps outside of the genre’s general comfort zones and features a world that brings to mind the steppes of Mongolia, and introduces characters to vivid, emotionally resonant characters. A winner and exactly the type of Fantasy that excites me.
Redshirts by John Scalzi (Buy: Book/eBook) — I run hot-and-cold on Scalzi. I love Old Man’s War, but find that his more recent novels are too samey, recycling the same characters, ideas and plots. What I hear of Redshirts however, appears to be a novel that takes risks and, through its unusual structure, attempts to deconstruct and analyze some of Science Fiction’s most established tropes.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente (Buy: Book/eBook) — A sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, this is Valente back and creating modern myths. I’ve not read Valente, but hearing nothing but tremendous things about this novel, I will be squeezing it in before nomination deadline. Just browsing through it at a local bookstore filled me with a sense of wonder and magic.
The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (Buy: Book/eBook) — In his review, Justin Landon said, “ot and character driven, set against a vaudville background, Bennett’s novel calls to mind the stylings of Neil Gaiman and lives up to the comparison. [...] I dare a parent to finish [The Troupe] without a few tear-stained pages.” Gaiman and emotionally resonant storytelling? Sign me up.
Best Short Story/Novelette/Novella
Every year, I promise myself that I will read enough short fiction to make a meaningful contributions to these categories, but I never end up making it there. Instead, I will direct you to lists compiled by Rachel Swirsky and Ken Liu, both of who I trust implicitly.
There is an unfortunate lack of diversity in this category, and few new prozines that I’m aware of. I’m not even going to describe these, assuming that most people reading A Dribble of Ink are also aware of the virtues of these sites. If not, all of them provide a good mix of short fiction and non-fiction (except Daily Science Fiction, which is entirely fiction.)
- Pornokitsch — Jared Shurin and Anne Perry continue to put together one of the most diverse and interesting publications on the ‘net. There’s always something interesting going on here.
- World SF Blog — Lavie Tidhar and co. continue to do a fine job of opening communication for the worldwide Speculative Fiction scene. A must read.
- SF Signal — Though the quality of content is varying, SF Signal can’t be beat when it comes to the quantity and breadth. I expect they will again walk away with this award in 2013.
- SF Mistressworks — As World SF Blog does for cultural and ethnic diversity, SF Mistressworks does for female-authored speculative ficiton.
- The Speculative Scotsman — Niall Alexander, the eponymous Scotsman, is a vibrant voice in the review community. He engages novels with fairness and articulates his opinions with intelligence and humour. I’m rarely let down when the Speculative Scotsman appears in my RSS reader.
Best Fan Writer
- Jared Shurin — His work on Pornokitsch, the Kitschies and Jurassic London continue to push the boundaries of what is expected of bloggers.
- Justin Landon — New to the scene, Landon is a fresh voice in the community, reads and reviews with a voracious appetite. His work on Debut Authorpalooza was particularly impressive.
- Liz Bourke — Her review of Theft of Swords provided some of the best genre commentary (and, subsequently, a furor of interesting discussion) in years. One of online’s best reviewers. We don’t always agree, but I respect every word she writes.
- N.K. Jemisin — As much as I love Jemisin as an author, I believe her contributions to the fan writing community are as or more important to the overall genre discussion. She is constantly brilliant and entertaining.
- Niall Alexander — As mentioned above, Alexander is a clear, well-reasoned critic and often makes me think in new ways about the novels he writes of. A good diversity to his writing, too, as he observes on Videogames and film.
- Adam Whitehead
- Daniel Abraham
- Abigail Nussbaum
- Jo Walton
- Christopher J. Garcia
- Sarah Chorn
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – A wonderfully creative and stirring dystopian film with an unforgettable performance from young Quvenzhané Wallis
- The Hobbit — Though not without a long list of issues, this is a big, fun romp of a film. It didn’t change my life like Lord of the Rings, but the more time that passes, the more I look back fondly on this film.
- The Dark Knight Rises — It’s better than The Dark Knight. Yeah, I said it.
- Journey — Without a single of dialogue, this is a perfect example of the power that videogames can have as interactive storytelling.
- Game of Thrones — Not quite as strong as Season One, but some of the best Fantasy television ever produced. Tremendous performances.
- The Secret World of Arrietty
- The Legend of Korra
Best Professional Artist
I think the art, found by following the links below, speaks for itself, so I will say nothing more. IT can, though, be difficult to discern art produced by these artists for 2012 works. Notable works by Kotaki include in work for Guild Wars 2, Dillon has done wonderful work for Tor.com, and Olly Moss consistently produces fine work for many different venues and companies.
- Daniel Dociu
- Jason Chan
- Todd Lockwood
- Alan Lee & John Howe (legends, never nominated, worked heavily on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.)
The nomination for the 2013 Hugos closes on March 10th, 2013. For more information about the awards and the nomination process, visit the Hugo Awards website. My previous Hugo nominations and recommendations: 2012.