As the Hugo nomination period draws to a close, here are the items that will appear on my final ballot. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the items, I highly encourage you to check them out. 2014 was a wonderful year for genre fiction and art.
Note: If a category doesn’t appear or is incomplete, it’s because I either a) did not make any nominations, or b) will be undecided on some of the final inclusions until the final hour.
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Even as I was startled by its twisted depth, I adored every moment I spent with City of Stairs. Colonialism lies at City of Stairs‘ centre, and RJB handles it with equal parts boldness and delicacy. The ruined beauty of Bulikov and its fallen gods haunted me long after I turned the final page.
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Review — Will Ancillary Sword be able to recapture its predecessor’s lightning-in-a-bottle success? Probably not, but it’s one of the year’s best novels and, due to its more focused storyline, smoother narrative, and introspective thematic elements, I actually liked it better than Ancillary Justice. No sophmore slump for Leckie.
The Eternal Sky Trilogy by Elizabeth Bear
Review — Calling on the Wheel of Time rule, I’m including Bear’s trilogy here as a bit of a self-indulgence and pie-in-the-sky dream scenario. The Eternal Sky trilogy — Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky — is a fascinating epic fantasy that eschews the tired medieval tropes the genre is known for and replaces with a vivid world based on the Turkish-Mongolian khanates of 13th century Asia.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
In a modern fantasy landscape that is littered with the broken corpses left in Grimdark’s wake, Katherine Addison (a pseudonym for Sarah Monette) is a shining light, a beacon of nostalgia and hope on the horizon.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Review — A quiet, riveting post-apocalyptic tale that succeeds because Mandel avoids playing prophet of the apocalypse and shifts focus to the intense personal relationships of the novel’s various protagonists. Beautiful.
Best Related Work
Rocket Talk, hosted by Justin Landon
Landon’s podcast for Tor.com has become the defacto standard for all science fiction and fantasy podcasts to measure up against. Because of Tor.com’s professional status, Rocket Talk is ineligible for nomination in the Best Fancast category, but competes handily with the other nominees in this category.
The big, bad genre site that is slowly subsuming all of the blogosphere’s best writers. It’s impossible to ignore the contribution that this behemoth (which is ineligible for Semi-Prozine) makes to SFF.
Speculative Fiction 2013, edited by Ana Grilo & Thea James
This follow-up to 2014 Hugo nominee Speculative Fiction 2012 is ripe with interesting conversation about science fiction and fantasy. It continues to be an important archive of online SFF fandom. (Note: I have an essay in this collection.)
Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: Women as Background Decorations by Anita Sarkeesian
Sarkeesian’s video series ignited discussion about the portrayal of women in video games and is one of the most important and riveting social events of 2014.
Shadows Beneath by Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal
This wonderful volume is a writing class disguised as a short fiction anthology. Each story is presented alongside extensive editorial notes, transcripts of brainstorming sessions, the first draft, and so much more. A clever idea, wonderfully executed.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Game of Thrones: Season Four
- The Legend of Korra: Season Three
Best Professional Editor (Short Form)
Best Professional Editor (Long Form
- Devi Pillai, for Orbit Books
- Anne Perry, for Hodder & Stoughton
Best Fan Writer
(Note: Good lord, this was a tough category to narrow down this year!)
Best Fan Artist
What made your ballot? What did I miss on mine?