A Dribble of Ink's 2013 Hugo Nominations & Recommendations

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.

Best Novel

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.

THE KING'S BLOOD by Daniel AbrahamThe King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham
(REVIEW // Buy: Book/eBook)

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 Killing Moon by N.K. JemisinThe Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
(Buy: Book/eBook)

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.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
(REVIEW // Buy: Book/eBook)

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.

Other Notables

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.

Best Semi-Prozine

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.)

Best Fanzine

  • 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.

Other Notables

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.

Other Notables

  • 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.

Other Notables

  • 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.

Other Notables

  • 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.

Discussion
  • Odo February 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Nice list!

    No suggestions for the John W. Campbell Jr. Award?

    Also, I’d like to point you to Alejandro Colucci’s work, an artist that will be on the top of my Best Professional Artist ballot: http://sentidodelamaravilla.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-i-think-that-alejandro-colucci.html

  • Paul (@princejvstin) February 25, 2013 at 5:25 am

    One could rightly say, of course, Aidan, that you belong on the Best Fan Writer shortlist yourself.

  • Aidan Moher February 25, 2013 at 9:32 am

    @Odo — Anything missing from the list is because I:

    a) Don’t have strong opinions about it;
    b) Don’t feel qualified to nominate for it;
    c) Am entirely undecided and hoping for suggestions.

    Specifically regarding the Campbell, and looking at this list as a guideline, I expect the following authors will appear on my ballot, but I’m not sure:

    • Stina Leicht
    • Mark Lawrence
    • Max Gladstone

    @Paul — I appreciate your confidence in that, Paul! ;)

  • Mihai A. February 26, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Very nice suggestions, Aidan! And since I am terribly behind with some things I still need to catch on some of them.
    But I wonder why did you put Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “The Prisoner of Heaven” on the list? I have no problem with it, but it seems a bit odd considering the genres Hugo Awards are recognized for. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an awesome writer, one of the best of modern days. But “The Prisoner of Heaven” doesn’t fit the genres of Hugo Awards. I am not much of the fan of labeling fiction, but I doubt it would make anyone else consider it for the Hugos.
    Also, I love the choices you make for best semi-prozine, four of them are some of my favorite places for excellent short fiction. But I must ask, without any offence, what supports these choices since you said at best short fiction that you do not read enough of it? And the non-fiction sections of these sites has far fewer representation than the fiction sections.

  • Renay February 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

    So, I’m a little concerned about SF Mistressworks being on your ballot where it is. Not that the project isn’t worthwhile or useful, but this is pretty much a case of “man spearheads project about women’s work and voices; is celebrated.” which I was hoping the SFF community was moving away from. I’m just wondering why you’re choosing to nominate a man talking about /collecting women’s writing rather than a woman actually writing…? Pairing with the lack of sole voices of women (not part of group projects clearly dominated by men) on the rest of your fanzine ballot…

    #confused

  • Ana February 26, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Some great picks there, Aidan (although we will probably forever argue on the Carlos Ruiz Zafon love) . We are still thinking about our own ballot (seconding Liz Bourke’s nomination, she is probably one of my favourite reviewers right now) which will probably include more female bloggers and fan writers in the Fanzine and Fan Writers categories (Foz Meadows, Fantasy Cafe, The Mary Sue, Ana Mardoll all come to mind).

    I admire Jared very much – another favourite of mine – but how exactly do you separate his work from Anne’s on Pornokitsch, the Kitschies as well as Jurassic London in order to nominate only him for best fan writer?

  • Dave Thompson February 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Wow. I’d never seen that Theft of Swords review before. That comment thread was epic. Makes me even more curious to bump it up in my audiobook queue…

  • Aidan Moher February 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

    @Mihai — Both are valid questions.

    Re: The Prisoner of Heaven, I felt that there are enough thematically elements and ‘otherliness,’ and mysticism in Zafon’s writing to qualify it as a falling under the umbrella of Fantasy and general Speculative Fiction. These elements are more apparent in The Shadow of the Wind and, especially, The Angel’s Game, but I believe they stand true for the series as a whole. In a way, it’s like Batman. There’s nothing mythical or magical about him and many of his enemies, but the themes, plots and world building are clearly based in Fantasy. This falls under the same category as The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, which I nominated last year. It might be argued that it didn’t belong on the Hugo Ballot, and, clearly, other Hugo voters agreed, but it met all of my personal criteria for nomination.

    Re: Semi-Prozines, In addition to the non-fiction on Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld, and despite not feeling comfortable nominating for short fiction, I still read and follow the output of all of those magazines, enough to understand and appreciate their value to the community. When I cast my final ballot, I do expect to include a handful of short stories, most of which will likely come from these five sources.

    @Renay — I’m sorry you feel that way. I think that SF Mistressworks does a good job of promoting the writing of female authors, and I won’t hold Ian Sales’ gender against him. I’m unfamiliar with any similar fanzines that fill this niche and are female-edited, though I’d love to be pointed in the right direction and am willing (and happy) to amend my nomination list if I find other fanzines that are more suitable for the nomination than the one’s I’ve chosen above. This is one of the reasons that I’ve released my nomination list early.

    As for female presence in the Fanzine category, SF Mistressworks, The World SF Blog, SF Signal and Pornokitsch (though, admittedly, Anne has been taking a back seat recently, due to other commitments, as I explain below) all feature female writers and, I feel, are strong representations of the blogosphere. These are, of course, group-authored publications, but it wasn’t my prerogative to reach out and reward individuals with this category, I’ve saved that for the ‘Best Fan Writer’ category. For female-run blogs, I was inches away from including Fantasy Cafe on my list (and I see I’ve forgotten Kristen in my ‘Other Notables’ section, which I’ll correct), and The Book Smugglers (who I love dearly, but feel that they don’t focus closely enough on Fantasy/Science Fiction to earn a spot on my ballot.)

    @Ana — Thanks. At some point we’ll have to hash out our Zafon debate over a pint (or four) of beer. We’ll get there eventually.

    :)

    I’d not thought of The Mary Sue, for inclusion, but I think you’re making a good choice there. As I mentioned above to Renay, I’d meant to include Kristen and Fantasy Cafe among my ‘Other Notables,’ but forgot. I’m going to go back an scour her 2012 archives to refresh myself on her ‘Women In Fantasy’ series, which I am a big fan of. I’m not familiar with Foz Meadows or Ana Mardoll, but I’ll certainly go hunting down their work.

    As I understand it (based on this post by Anne), Jared is more involved in Pornokitsch’s discussion of literature, and this seems to bear true when looking at their archive of 2012 Reviews. Though I mention Jurassic London and the Kitschies, which I respect them both for, they don’t really fall under the ‘Fan Writer’ umbrella, so it’s Jared’s work on these reviews, largely, that make me nominate him over Anne.

    @Dave — It’s something else, isn’t it? Nobody can get people talking quite like Liz.

  • Liz Bourke February 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for thinking of me, mate – though I think you’re cracked not to be nominating Martin Petto or Maureen Kincaid Speller instead. *g*

    Nobody can get people talking quite like Liz.

    That’s not necessarily a good thing, y’know…

  • Aidan Moher February 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I enjoy Martin’s writing (when I’m not in his crosshairs, at least!) Maureen is somebody that I’ve only recently become aware of (since the end of the summer), but I’m enjoying reading and catching up on her writing. I could certainly see nominating her in the future, when I’m more familiar with her body of work. In fact, that reminds of me that I need to follow-up on an email with her. Thanks for dropping by, Liz.

    Too many good writers, too few nomination slots…

    :S

  • Stefan (Far Beyond Reality) February 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    You *have* to read The Shadowed Sun, sequel to The Killing Moon, Aidan. It’s hard to believe, but it’s actually even better.

    I guess I need to put together my nominations at some point, too…

  • Ian Sales February 27, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Renay – I curate SF Mistressworks, and in the absence of reviews volunteered by others, I provide reviews for it – because I think it’s important the site keeps to a schedule. I’ve already had to drop from two reviews a week to one. I constantly need new reviews, and I have an open policy in that regard – providing the book meets the site’s criteria: 20th century science fiction written by women.

    If a woman had set up SF Mistressworks, I would be among the first to celebrate it. As it is, the site came out of an online discussion on women sf writers among a number of people in late 2010 / early 2011, and I only picked up the baton and set up the site because no one else did.

    Finally, any celebration of SF Mistressworks belongs not to me but first and foremost to the writers of the books the site reviews, and secondly to those who provide the reviews.

  • Neil Clarke February 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for the Clarkeworld nod in Semiprozine!
    Would love to see Julie Dillon get a nomination for Best Artist. Definitely on my list this year.

  • Chris February 28, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Good list Aidan!

    Ah, Abigail Nussbaum. She writes good articles but I got fed up with the constant negativity in her reviews. =/

  • Mad Professah March 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    I really don’t get the N.K. Jemisin love. I simply could NOYT finish her first book (One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) even though I got it for Xmas from my husband’s brother 2 years ago. I am horrified that you thought that The Dragon’s Path was better than Leviathan’s Wake, which was really one of the best books of the year. (I do agree with you that King’s Blood is better than its predecessor just as Caliban’s War is not as good as it’s predecessor.

    I’m apprehensive that the Hugos will go the way of the Nebula’s, nominating books I have either never heard of or have no intention of ever reading. I thought the Hugos should reflect where the fan community is? In that case (even though it’s not MY thing) one would have to expect Memory of Light to be on the list.

    Thanks for the links to Best Semi-Pro Zine. I didn’t know ANY of those sites, so I will go check them out right now.

  • Aidan Moher March 2, 2013 at 2:20 am

    A Memory of Light was published in 2013 and will be eligible for next year’s Hugo Award. I’m also interested to see if it hits the ballot.

  • […] like, tomorrow.  Interested in some suggestions?  Here’s what The Wertzone, Fantasy Cafe , A Dribble of Ink, Calico Reaction,  podcasters and fans over at SFSignal are nominating / suggesting as […]

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