Last September, in the wake of the 2013 Hugo Award announcements, I decided to put together an early draft ballot for 2014, a look ahead at what I’d already enjoyed in 2013 and hoped to see awarded at the next WorldCon. Now, with nomination period open, I am revisiting that list, with revisions.
Below are the writers, books, movies, videogames and other SFF-related goodies that, if I were filling it out today (I won’t be, I’ll fill it out in March, after I’ve had time to digest more work), would appear on my ballot. Tell me why I’m right (or, more likely, wrong), and let me know what is going to make your ballot (or would, if you’re not a WorldCon member.)
Note: New additions to the list have been marked with a red asterisk, like so *.
So, onto the awards.
- The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham (REVIEW — Buy) – 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 — Buy) – Seriously. You like fantasy? You want fantasy to be more than a cliched, quasi-medieval broken record? Go read this series.
- The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (REVIEW — Buy) – 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 (Buy) – I’m still thinking about this one weeks after finishing it. As beautiful, melancholy, and nostalgic as anything Gaiman has written.
- Ancillary Justice* by Ann Leckie (REVIEW — Buy) – A progressive and thoughtful space opera that toys with reader preconception and engagement. Stick through the early pages (I found them difficult to adjust to), and the payoff is mighty fine.
Also/maybe/are these good?
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh, The Golen and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord.
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?)
- 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.
- Galen Dara* — I’m fairly new to Dara’s work, but when I came across this tumblr post about her 2013 eligible work, I knew she had to be on my ballot.
Also/maybe/are these good?
Todd Lockwood, Marc Simonetti*, Richard Anderson*, Joey HiFi*.
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, Adam Whitehead*, Tansy Rayner Roberts*
Best Related Work
- Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary*, edited by Jared Shurin and Justin Landon — It’s funny to be nominating a collection full of 2012 work for a 2013 award, but Shurin and Landon’s work at collecting the best that the online community has to offer is a vitally important piece the growing genre discussion.
- “‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative”* by Kameron Hurley — Kameron’s essay on women fighters was one of the most widely read and discussed pieces in fandom this year. Several other Hugo voters have suggested it be nominated in this category, and I’d be a fool to disagree. If you haven’t read it yet, well… get to it. You’ll learn something.
- Tor.com* — It’s too big to be a Semiprozine, but it’s impact on fandom is undeniable. I’d love to see Irene Gallo an co., and all the writers at Tor.com, awarded for their ongoing contributions.
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.
- Game of Thrones (Season Three)* — It just keeps on getting better.
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.