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2014 Hugo Award Nominations (ver. 0.5)

So, the Hugo awards have come and gone for 2013. People have blogged widely about it, and all that need saying has already been said (see here for my thoughts on this year’s ‘Best Novel’ winner, Redshirts by John Scalzi, for instance). So, instead of recapping the conversation (which, to be frank, I’m a little behind the curveball in catching up on), I thought it would be more interesting to look ahead at next year’s awards, and start the conversation a little early. This way, I can hopefully convince you to check out some of the year’s best works while there’s still time to enjoy and nominate it.

I’ll work through several of the categories, those which I have any sort of opinion of, and discuss the works that I think are most impactful and important, and will, as of right now, appear on my ballot (until they’re replaced by something even more awesome between now and the time nominations are due.) And then, in the ‘Also/maybe/are these good?’ sections, I’ll list off a few choices that I haven’t read/experienced yet, but feel that they deserve to be in the conversation and will likely be considered when I do get around to them.

I’d also encourage you to join me in the comments. Tell me why I’m wrong. Tell me what you’ve read this year that resonated with you. Because, what’s the point of award season if not to encourage people to discover great new books, films, and every other story of art?

So, let’s begin in the most obvious spot:

Best Novel

  • The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham (REVIEW) – Another addition to a series that proves Abraham is one genre’s (he publishes a fantasy, science fiction, and urban fantasy novel each year) most consistent and prolific authors. On top of that, The Dagger and the Coin fills a perfect niche between the sprawling politically-charged fantasy of Martin and the adventurous, 80s-throwback fantasy of Brooks.
  • Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (REVIEW) – Seriously. You like fantasy? You want fantasy to be more than a cliched, quasi-medieval broken record? Go read this series.
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord – A Star Trek-analogue that asks smart questions, introduces readers to genuinely likeable and interesting characters, and quietly explores genocide through the emotional journey of a survivor.
  • The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – Lynch still has it. A big step up from Red Seas Under Red Skies, and proof that he knows how to the evolve the series beyond the heist-a-book style that it appeared to be through the first two volumes.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I’m still thinking about this one weeks after finishing it. As beautiful, melancholy, and nostalgic as anything Gaiman has written.

Also/maybe/are these good?

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente (do short fiction collections count?), River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh, The Golen and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Best Professional Artist

(As always with this category, it can be difficult to tell exactly when artists are producing their work. If they finished a painting for a book cover in 2012, but the book is released in 2013, does that count?)

  • Todd Lockwood – I’ve long been a Lockwood fan, but I’ve never nominated him for this award before. I felt like his work in 2013 was one of his stronger years, and I’d be happy to see this recognized. I’m particularly fond of his work for Marie Brennan’s recent novels.
  • Julie Dillon – Hhngggh.
  • Olly Moss – Double hhngggh.
  • Yeong-Hao Han – I discovered Yeong-Hao Han through Magic: The Gathering and fell in love with the creativity, texture and emotional resonance of his work. His art for Millstone is particularly striking and thoughtful. More of his art can be found on his CG Hub page.
  • Lauren Panepinto – Call me crazy, because Panepinto is, officially, the Art Director at Orbit Books, and not a ‘Professional Artist’ in the same sense as the other folk on this list, but Orbit features some of the most striking and unique covers these days and Panepinto creates many of them herself through composite imagery and photoshop trickery. I think the artistry of her contributions to the look of genre (hooded dude be-damned) deserves some recognition. Panepinto explores her process in several posts on the Orbit Books blog.

Best Fan Writer

  • Kameron Hurley – Can I direct you to this article? Is that too on-the-nose?
  • Foz Meadows – You might recognize her from her writing here on A Dribble of Ink. You might also recognize her from her work on Shattersnipe. What can I say? When I like a writer, I try to publish their work.
  • Justin Landon – Like Foz, I surround myself with people I think are great writers. From his work on Tor.com’s re-read of Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law, to his dismantling of the Hugo Awards, to his coverage of the Nightshade fiasco, Justin’s been doing fine work of late.
  • Liz Bourke – She makes me think about genre, its greatness and its failures, more than anyone else in fandom. Read this, for example.
  • Myke Cole – I’m not sure if he writes prolifically enough to earn a place on the ballot, but his piece on PTSD and its relationship to military science fiction/fantasy is poignant and important to the continued growth and maturation of the genres.

Also/maybe/are these good?

Renay, Jared Shurin, Niall Alexander, Abigail Nussbaum.

Best Editor (Short Form)

  • Neil Clarke – Does he need an introduction? It’s worth also pointing out Gardner Dozois and Sean Wallace for their work as editor and reprint editor at Clarkesworld. Kate Baker does wonderful work, too, but she’s the non-fiction editor, which probably doesn’t count here.
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Liz Gorinsky, Ann VanderMeer, and Ellen Datlow – Though they’re slow as molasses in January (I figure it’s only suitable to use cliches in a conversation about editors), it’s hard to argue that the Tor.com editorial staff aren’t publishing some of the strongest and most consistent short fiction digitally or in print. Too bad it’s difficult to determine who acquired which stories.
  • Jared Shurin and Anne Perry – Can you nominate a duo? The Lowest Heaven is a sublime collection.
  • Brit Mandelo, Julia Rios, and An Owomoyela – Strange Horizons continues to treat SFF fandom with more respect than any other venue, as something to be explored, treasured and analyzed, and to aid in the celebration of SFF’s diversity. Their fiction is no different and these three editors continue to published some of genre’s best stories.

Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • Bioshock Infinite – Yeah, the gameplay is a little tired, especially the combat, but the exploration, art direction (!) and story are stick-with-ya-like-a-ladle-full-of-cinnamon.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness – Somehow manages to be bigger, more energetic, smarter and more fun than its predecessor. Also, many fewer plot holes. From the opening scene, it felt like falling into good company and old friends.

Secret Hugo for Best Novel not Published in 2013, but, damnit, go read it anyway!

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — Good golly. This is one of the best novels I’ve read this decade. I should’ve listened to my wife when she suggested it a few years ago.

Discussion
  • kamo September 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Whether the Melancholy of Mechagirl counts or not, it’s excellent. One of the few books with Japanese elements by a non-Japanese writer that I’ve read that didn’t make be reach for the weaboo/orientalism swatter.

    The other short story collection that’s impressed me this year has been Conservation of Shadows. Again, I don’t know how you’d divvy up the eligibility, but it was very good indeed. Also Jagganath. That was great too. Actually, most of the best new SF I’ve read this year has been short story collections. Dunno if that’s a fluke or the start of a trend.

  • Ursula September 17, 2013 at 2:51 am

    A Stranger in Olondria, surely?

  • Aidan Moher September 17, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Wow. I’d not heard of A Stranger in Olondria before, but, I’ve bought a copy now and it’s going immediately to the top of my pile. It sounds fantastic. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Nerds feather September 17, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski is the best book of 2013 for me. Of course it’s only in English for the first time in 2013–originally published in 1995. Does that still count?

  • Kevin Standlee September 17, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Regarding artists: Year of publication or first public display is what matters, so for the case you cite, a book cover published in 2013 but not previously displayed or published makes the artist eligible for 2014.

  • Rob B September 17, 2013 at 6:19 am

    Interesting grouping, Aidan and nice to see a more forward-looking article rather than lamenting what didn’t happen. Of the books you listed, the one that stands out is the Gaiman. It will be on the shortlist, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it win. I’d like to see either book Daniel Abraham wrote make the short list, I think both are very strong novels. I think Lynch’s was good, but a bit overlong to make it to a best of list. I’d throw Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere on the final five with NOS4A2 rounding it out as the best book I read this year.

    Artist, Lockwood’s been doing great work for years and 2013 did seem to be an especially solid year for him.

    Fan writers – You, Justin, Adam Whitehead, Foz Meadows, and Kameron Hurley would be my final five.

    Long form editor? I’d have to nominate some of the Orbit folks like Devi and/or Tim Holman.

    I really like your nomination of Bioshock for dramatic presentation, it was a stunning artistic achievement. Films, I’d put down The Conjuring as the best genre film I saw this year thought it might skew more to Horror than these things normally do.

  • Kevin Standlee September 17, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Works published in English for the first time get an additional year of eligibility automatically even if first published in another language, so Sapkowski’s book is eligible.

    Also note that the “blanket eligibility” resolution passed again this year, so works first published in the USA in 2013 that were previously published in other countries prior to 2013, even in English, are eligible for the 2014 Hugo Awards.

  • joe September 17, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Karen Tidbeck’s collection Jagganath should get a story or two on the various ballots, in a fair universe.
    Has Guy Gavriel Kay won a Hugo, yet? His latest book was excellent.
    In a fair universe, we’d also see Joyce Carol Oates on the ballot from time to time. There was excellent science fiction in her collection “High Lonesome”, if it is eligible.

  • Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) September 17, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Generally, novels which are part of ongoing series, with a couple of notable exceptions, do not do well at the Hugo’s. So I don’t expect Tyrant’s Law to be nominated, or Abaddon’s Gate, or, most sadly, Shattered Pillars or Republic of Thieves (although Lynch’s long awaited return to novels after a drought might get him enough momentum, here)

  • WHM September 17, 2013 at 6:28 am

    A Stranger in Olondria is the only one that I know for sure would make my short list. But Shattered Pillars is definitely in the running. I’d also consider We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves even though it may not be SF&F in some people’s eyes.

  • Josh Gentry September 17, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I am also a big booster for _A Stranger in Olondria_.

  • Justin September 17, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I don’t feel the comments inthis thread have discussed me enough.

    In other news, I would recommend AMERICAN ELSEWHERE by Robert Jackson Bennett, ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie, LOVE MINUS EIGHTY by Will McIntosh, VIOLENT CENTURY by Lavie Tidhar. SHATTERED PILLARS would also make my list. I’m such a huge fan of Bear’s writing in that series.

    For artist the list has to include Richard Andersen. Are you blind Aidan?

    For fan writer, I humbly submit Renay (although she probably would never reveal her real name!) and Jared Shurin.

  • Brian McClellan September 17, 2013 at 8:04 am

    No thoughts on Best Editor (long form)?

    I’m going to be nominating Devi Pillai. Orbit is a force in the industry now. They regularly have one or even two books on the Hugo short list and much of their success lies in her vision. But she has yet to be nominated. I think that’s nuts.

    The fact that she’s my editor too has only a little to do with it.

  • Lisa Padol September 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Sassafrass’s Sundown for Best Dramatic Presentation, IMAO.

  • Aidan Moher September 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Brian,

    I’ve left off long form editors because, like many people, I find the category confusing and need to do more research before I submit a list of names. But, yeah, Orbit’s been killing it these days.

  • Renay September 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I agree with Brian about Orbit! Several times this year I have sat, consumed with lust, for their upcoming books, and since now I am going to adopt Justin’s view of assessing editor categories, I can actually participate. I also have some feelings about Welcome to Night Vale, but it’s effectively a radio show, so I’m not sure how well it would do in BDP-L.

    re: video games…Tomb Raider? The Last of Us? Both of those were so good, but the last time I suggested Tomb Raider I think someone (I forget who) had to go sit down and breathe into a paper bag and then went “ARE YOU SERIOUS??” so…maybe controversial?

    For my part, I just want to see Justin and Myke Cole jello wrestle for something. That would be really good for me.

  • Michael J Sullivan September 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

    A lot of very good choices. Well done. Out of your list I think I’d go with Ocean at the end of the Lane but I may change my mind once I get a chance to read Republic of Thieves.

  • Dave Thompson September 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    For novels thus far, I’d rec. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and RBJ’s American Elsewhere. I’m guessing Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane is a shoe-in (I thought it was superb). There’s a lot more reading I need to do (Daniel Abraham’s latest, Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty, Elizabeth Bear’s Shattered Pillars, Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls), but thus far, those three are the standouts for me.

  • Lynnet September 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Is Three Parts Dead not on your list because you haven’t read it or you didn’t think it rose to that level? It and The Best of All Possible Worlds were the first two books I thought of when I saw this category. I haven’t read the Bear because the first book of the series is always checked out, and generally think Lynch is overrated, although I haven’t read anything of his other than The Lies of. Locke Lamora

  • Bibliotropic September 18, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I get the feeling that just about everyone liked “The Best of All Possible Worlds” more than I did. It wasn’t a bad book, and it definitely has its merit, but it didn’t engage me the way I was hoping it would. Thought-provoking, but slow, and the episodic way it was told didn’t really do anything for me. I wouldn’t put it on any “best of” lists, even if it was good. But that’s just me.

  • Justin September 18, 2013 at 6:19 am

    THREE PARTS DEAD was a 2012 novel, eligible for the Hugos that just past. It won’t be eligible next year.

  • Lynnet September 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Justin- thanks for the heads up. I read it in January and thought it had come out then. I must have been on the hold list longer than I realized.

  • Mad Professah September 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Glad to see my friend’s book, The Best of all Possible Worlds being recognized? My husband wrote a pretty smashing review of the piece for my blog, at http://buckmire.blogspot.com/2013/06/book-review-best-of-all-possible-worlds.html.

    Though I really liked the third edition of the The Dagger and the Coin series. A lot. I can’t wait to read the Scott Lynch book, I suspect it will quickly become my fave. I will be shocked if it really tuns out to be better than the first two!

    What is the eligibility period we are discussing here, exactly? The best thing I have read in 2013 so far (my taste tends to run to space opera) is the other Daniel Abraham book, Abbadon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey.
    It would probably get my vote (after voting for Karen Lord of course!)

  • Kevin Standlee September 19, 2013 at 5:40 am

    The eligibility period for the 2014 Hugo Awards is generally for 2013 publication, but the full version is:

    1. All works first published in any language anywhere in the world in 2013.
    2. All works first published in English anywhere in the world in 2013, regardless of previous publication in another language.
    3. All works first published in the USA in 2013, regardless of previous publication in countries other than the USA.

  • Justin September 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    A good example of rule 3 was Hannu Rajaniemi’s THE QUANTUM THIEF a few years ago. It was published in the UK in fall 2010, and then in the US in Spring of 2011. It was eligible for the Hugo BOTH years.

    Is that right, Kevin?

  • Kevin Standlee September 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Justin:

    That is correct. Note, however, that Rule 3 (previously published outside the USA in an earlier year but published in the USA in the current year) is subject to year-by-year ratification by the WSFS Business Meeting. There was one year it was not extended since the current process was adopted about ten or so years ago, and because it requires a 3/4 vote, there’s no guarantee that it will be continued every year. There is, however, a WSFS constitutional amendment that passed this year and is up for ratification next year that would make the non-US-publication rule permanent, the same as the non-English-language rule.

  • Kevin Standlee September 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Also, bear in mind that once a work makes the Hugo ballot once, for any reason, it’s not eligible again unless it’s substantially revised. (The short and long versions of Flowers for Algernon being an example of this.) “Substantially revised” is a judgment call by the Hugo Administrators, and they won’t even make the call unless the work gets enough nominations to potentially appear on the ballot. (Just like US law courts won’t make hypothetical rulings.)

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