I made some waves earlier this year when I posted my thoughts on the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards. Bottom line, it’s an old men’s club that rewards the same people too consistently, doing the entirety of the genre an injustice. The awards are exclusionary in their ruling (just look at some of the changes being made to force StarShip Sofa out of the ‘Best Fanzine Award’). In any case, here are the winners, plus some thoughts on a few of the sections.

Best Fan Artist

Winner: Brad W. Foster
Randall Munroe
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne

No comment.

Best Fanzine

Winner: The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon
Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Challenger, edited by Guy H. Lillian III
File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
StarShipSofa, edited by Tony C. Smith

Don’t recognize any of these names? That’s because they’re almost all (with the exception of the aforementioned StarShip Sofa) print or pdf ‘zines’ that you probably didn’t even know existed. Since my first complaints a few months ago, I’ve followed File 770’s blog with regularity, but none of the other publications have held my interest. Yeah, there’s some good writing there, but this category needs to change in a way that encourages people to also include online only publications (like this blog, for instance) in the voting. ‘Fanzine’ is an outdated term. If the ‘zine scene is afraid of the online/blog scene, perhaps we could all agree to create a new category at the Hugos that encompasses ‘Online Fan Publications’. This category needs to grow up and become more inclusionary, to celebrate all reaches of fandom regardless of whether it falls under the umbrella of ‘fanzine.’ Unfortunately, the old men’s club wouldn’t even know where to begin. The Drink Tank hasn’t won a Hugo before this year, which at least shows some progress being made, but perhaps it’s time for some of the mainstays (File 770, 6 wins, 28 nominations; Banana Wings, 5 nominations; Challenger, 14 nominations; though a case can be made for those with several nominations and no wins) to follow in the steps of John Scalzi and Clarkesworld Magazine (in 2012) and consider withdrawing themselves from nomination in favour of exposing new and exciting fan publications. There’s no harm in spreading the love, is there? But, hey, what do I know? I’m just a blogger.

Best Fan Writer

Winner: Claire Brialey
James Bacon
Christopher J. Garcia
James Nicoll
Steven H. Silver

Again, I don’t think this list is properly representative of where ‘fan writing’ has grown in the past couple of years. Add to that the fact that writers like Jo Walton and Brit Mandelo (both of whom I’d a huge fan of) are included on the ‘long list’ for the award based quite heavily on the writing they do for Tor.com (like myself) that pays its contributors. Is Tor.com a ‘semiprozine’ (which would allow it’s writers to be nominated for the ‘Fan Writer’ award) or is it a publisher (being an imprint of Macmillan Ltd., one of world’s largest publishers, which I’d think would disqualify that work from being considered for the ‘Fan Writer’ award). I’d love to see writers like Walton, Mandelo or Butler be recognized for the wonderful ‘fannish’ work that they do for Tor.com, but under the current rules it seems like they aren’t eligible (according to Mandelo herself), despite appearing in the final tally. A bit of a mess, yah?

On the plus side, looking at the full results, Adam Whitehead (of The Wertzone), Abigail Nussbaum and Niall Harrison (all writers who would appear on my ballot and who I mentioned by name in my original post) were all represented by at least 11 votes. Progress, however small.

Best Semiprozine

Winner: Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace; podcast directed by Kate Baker
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi and Kirsten Gong-Wong
Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen H. Segal

Good choice. Clarkesworld is the best-of-the-best. As mentioned earlier, a very classy move in announcing that they’ll be withdrawing voting eligibility in favour of allow further exposure to other ‘semiprozines’ worthy of the award.

Best Professional Artist

Winner: Shaun Tan
Daniel Dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio

Shock. This was clearly Tan’s year (with an Oscar nomination). Well deserved.

Best Editor, Short Form

Winner: Sheila Williams
John Joseph Adams
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder

I like John Joseph Adam’s work on Lightspeed and Fantasy Magzine.

Best Editor, Long Form

Winner: Lou Anders
Ginjer Buchanan
Moshe Feder
Liz Gorinsky
Nick Mamatas
Beth Meacham
Juliet Ulman

Many times nominated, first time winner. About damn time.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Winner: Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis; directed by Jonny Campbell (BBC Wales)
Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, written by Rachel Bloom; directed by Paul Briganti
The Lost Thing, written by Shaun Tan; directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan (Passion Pictures)

No comment.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Winner: Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner)
How to Train Your Dragon, screenplay by William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (DreamWorks)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright; directed by Edgar Wright (Universal)
Toy Story 3, screenplay by Michael Arndt; story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich; directed by Lee Unkrich (Pixar/Disney)

I enjoyed Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon more, but whatever, Inception‘s fine.

Best Graphic Story

Winner: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
Fables: Witches, written by Bill Willingham; illustrated by Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode)
The Unwritten, Volume 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

No comment.

Best Related Book

Winner: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)
Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001, by Gary K. Wolfe (Beccon)
The Business of Science Fiction: Two Insiders Discuss Writing and Publishing, by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg (McFarland)
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 1: (1907–1948): Learning Curve, by William H. Patterson, Jr. (Tor)
Writing Excuses, Season 4, by Brandon Sanderson, Jordan Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells

I’d’ve picked Writing Excuses, but it’s not a book.

Best Short Story

Winner: “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com, November 17, 2010)
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)

A fairly uninteresting field. I like Kowal, though.

Best Novelette

Winner: “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010

No comment. Haven’t read any of them.

Best Novella

Winner: “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)

Of these, I’ve read Swirsky’s (REVIEW) and Reynold’s (REVIEW) offerings. Both of them were interesting, but flawed. Chiang’s Chiang.

Best Novel

Winner: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

The Hugo voters need to watch Sesame Street and learn how to count on their fingers again. Willis’ ‘novel’ was published in two volumes, each of which, in fairness to the competition, should have been judged separately. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (REVIEW) and its sequel were both published in 2010, why not judge them as one entity? Because it’s stupid and doesn’t make sense.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Winner: Lev Grossman
Saladin Ahmed
Lauren Beukes
Larry Correia
Dan Wells

I really wanted Ahmed to win this, but I can’t argue with Grossman (or Beukes or Wells, for that matter. Haven’t read Correia). A very strong field this year.

So, what did you think of the 2011 Hugo Award Winners? Were you as ‘meh’ as me? The full list of nominations and statistics has been gathered together in this PDF.

  • Adam Whitehead August 23, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Something worth a mention is that the DOCTOR WHO win was ineligible, since Short Form works must be a maximum of 90 minutes in length and these two episodes come to about 102. It appears to be a genuine mistake, so it might just be written off and allowed to stand.

  • Natasa August 23, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Most of these names are so unknown it makes me wonder why the Hugo Awards are still so popular. >_<

  • Doug M. August 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I love Clarkesworld to death, but what, exactly, does “semipro” mean? Can someone be a semi-virgin? ;)

    But yes, the “Fan *” categories need a major face-lift. The “old guard” doesn’t need to be replaced, but they definitely need to stop being such an old-school, exclusive club. “Fans” have embraced the digital age… shouldn’t Fan “Writers” (and their awards) do the same?

  • Niall August 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Adam — as I understand it, that’s not a problem because there’s a 20% leeway on the length limits for the dramatic presentation categories (and for the short fiction categories, come to that). So if everyone nominates a 102-minute dramatic presentation in short form, the award administrator is liable to let it stay there. (And equally if everyone nominates an 89-minute film in long form, which I seem to recall has happened in the past, it will probably be allowed to stay there.) That said, I agree with you in principle, I’d prefer it if long TV episodes and short films crossed over between the categories more than they do.

    Doug — See here, and in particular the changes to the category here. The rationale is that there is a category of periodical publication that sits somewhere between fanzine and professional magazine, and that those publications deserve their own Hugo. People have argued back and forth on this one for several decades now. :-)

    (And flattered as I am by Aidan’s inclusion of me on his list of suggested fan writers, I should say that I’ve read a fair amount of words published last year by all of the writers on this year’s ballot, and I don’t begrudge any of them their spots, and I think Claire Brialey is an excellent and long-overdue winner, even if most of her words were published on paper. So there.)

  • Justin August 23, 2011 at 7:36 am

    After looking at the voter breakdown, I can’t believe how many ballots Dervish House ranked on the bottom of. It was my favorite of the four I read (didn’t get to Willis).

  • Andrew August 23, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I’ve a lot of mixed feelings on this year’s Hugos: felt like a very off year, honestly. I was thrilled Chiang’s novella won – I loved the book to death, thrilled with Grossman’s win for the Campbell, and for Inception, because it’s one of the better SF/F films out recently.

    For short story, I was rooting for Carrie Vaughn – I really enjoyed that one, but hadn’t read any of the others. Also, I was sad that Lightspeed and JJA lost out (but then, I’m biased).

    But, for novel, Blackout/All Clear? I understand that they’re really a single book in two volumes (Blackout just ends, and picks up in the next book, so it’s one continual story, not two seperate ones, which is why they should be together), but The Dervish House really should have walked away with that one. It’s one of the best SF novel that I’ve read in a while, but it ranked low amongst all the winners consistantly. Blackout was just a meh read for me. It’s too long-winded, with a lot of annoying characters that are seeminly unable to accomplish the most basic tasks.

  • Weirdmage August 23, 2011 at 7:39 am

    While researching my article about the ineligibility of the winner in the Dramatic Presentation Short Form (http://weirdmage.blogspot.com/2011/08/hugo-scandal-ineligible-doctor-who.html), I read the Hugo rules.
    Blackot/All Clear is clearly eligible, the rules for Best Novel just specifies it has to be a story of over 40,000 words. Unfortunately they neglect to specify anything else, meaning in principle that any book that is a part of a series is ineligible since it is not a full story. Or else, since the rules are the same for all the fiction categories (they just specify a story and length), that chapter 5 of book X is eligible for Short Story.

    What I came away with after reading the WSFS constitution, that the Hugo rules are part of, is that it looks like the informal rules of a group of friends written down verbatim. Almost nothing is specified. This are not the rules of a professional organisation, they are barely adequate for a small group who meets face to face regularly.

  • neth August 23, 2011 at 8:18 am

    While I’ll admit that the Hugos are making progress, this year is still just another example that shows that the Hugo is a dated, niche award with little reflection of fandom as a whole – even though the Hugos seem to think they are way more relevant.

  • Adam Whitehead August 23, 2011 at 8:28 am

    “as I understand it, that’s not a problem because there’s a 20% leeway on the length limits for the dramatic presentation categories (and for the short fiction categories, come to that). ”

    Interesting. I thought the 20% rule came into effect only when moving categories? So if WHO had been nominated in longform, then someone said, “Well, it’s over the limit, but it’s a TV show and TV shows generally should be Short Form and it’s within the 20% leeway”, then it could have been moved?

    I agree that there’s no real point to changing anything in this case (since removing DOCTOR WHO from the top spot means that, erm, DOCTOR WHO wins anyway), but if a different series was in 2nd place, I can imagine this being a bigger deal.

  • Wash Jones August 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I get that the Hugos are a relic of a dead age, but the tone of this post is petulant to such a degree that it’s unlikely to change any crotchety old minds. I read this blog frequently, and enjoy it for the most part, but there seems to be a sense of entitlement coming into play. I remember thinking the same thing after the last ‘wave-making’ Hugo post, too. Not trying to pick a fight, just callin’ ’em like I see ’em.

  • aidan August 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    A fair observation, Wash. My frustration can often get in the way of my good sense.

  • Wash Jones August 23, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Like you suggest, I think the simplest route might be to make an online or blog-specific category to acknowledge the importance of these sites. Let the oldsters have their old categories, and add at least one for the new blood. Still won’t mean any better books win the big prize, though. Not sure how to remedy that one.

  • aidan August 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Start raising funds so that some of the newer authors can start attending World Con every year and rubbing elbows with the regulars?

  • Patrick Scaffido August 23, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Apart from the films I was largely unfamiliar with a number of the works. Which just shows I suppose that I should catch up and stop reading old Jack Vance novellas.

  • Fabio August 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Aidan, I won’t delve deep into details but I tend to agree with most of what you wrote in your post. I think the Hugos deserve an extreme makeover, but the thing is, they reflect the voting of the fans, and, lo: most of the voting fans seem to be (I’m deducting here) people who simply switch to automatic pilot and vote on whatever is available in their fairly closed universes. The Best Fanzine and Best Fan Writers are the epitome of this – the Internet made SFF a *global* fandom, but unfortunately we don’t see this tendency reflected in the votes. I’m all for bringing more people from all over the world to vote so we can add to the mix.

  • Jon August 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I’ve got several problems with this year’s Hugos, but on the subject of blogs being included: just look at the WSFS website. Unlike this blog, or others I could mention, it’s disorganized and cluttered. It shows a lack of interest in the internet in general, which is straight up ridiculous when you consider that some NOVELS may eventually be published in “online only” form.
    Also, the horrible website combined with Dr. Who’s winning 50% of the short-form dramatic presentation shows a lack of desire to really change and adapt.
    Just my two cents worth.

  • […] Comment: Thoughts on the 2011 Hugo Award Winners, posted by A Dribble of Ink […]

  • Bets Davies August 29, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Hugos are an old white dudes club. Took them long enough to put in fanzines. They are worn out, so why are you pouting your lip that they won’t catch up and let the blogs in? If we want a fresh face to reviewing, we should pull our acts together and create the contest blog series. For blogs. Of blogs.

  • Christopher J Garcia September 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

    The Drink Tank is an online only publication. There’s no paper version (well, once in a while I’ll print a few copies and hand them out at BASFA, but it’s rare) and it’s only available on eFanzines.com. Emerald City was the first winner of the Best Fanzine Hugo to be primarily an online pub back in 2004. I think the problem is that enough people don’t nominate from outside the traditional Older American WorldCon Regular bloc. If they did, well, I doubt I’d still be on the ballot, no less winning a Rocket.

    I think zines are where the best stuff is going on, but I understand that I’m in the minority on that point. Just as you hadn’t heard of any of us on the ballot, most of the folks you mentioned I’d never heard of (except for Abigail and Niall, who are two of my faves but I know more from zines than any of their other writing). Even so, having looked them up, there’s none of them that came close to Claire as far as being the Best Fan Writer. I think we all have our niches and like to stick to them. If more of the those in specific niches nominated and voted, then the awards would be more reflective.

  • aidan September 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

    We can definitely agree on that final statement, Christopher. Thanks for dropping by with your thoughts and congrats (genuinely) on your shiny new Hugo Award!

  • SF Signal: The Hugo Award As Cultural Object September 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    […] tradition unblemished by any successful linkage to probing evaluations, personal reflections, or interrogations. In this and his Twitter exchange with Damien Walter over his characterization of the critics, the […]

  • Adrienne Foster September 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Why would you think Starship Sofa is being pushed out of eligibility? It won last year. WSFS is on the verge of creating a fan podcast category, which might even begin next year, if Chicon 7 decides to go with it. Don’t you think Starship Sofa can hold its own against appropriate rivals?

    You don’t mention whether you were a member of Worldcon or if you voted. If not, I recommend getting involved in the process. I’m tired of non-participants who whine about the results when they can just easily join in. I am not an old man.

  • aidan September 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    @Adrienne — My comment re: StarShip Sofa was in regards to the best fanzine category, from which it’s being pushed out of eligibility. I’m was not a member of this year’s Worldcon and did not nominate or vote; my grievances didn’t formulate themselves until after the cut-off for the memberships had been passed. I will be joining/nominating/voting in 2012, because, you’re right, I should put up or shut up. ‘Old Men’s Club’ is a figure of speech indicating a group that’s too insular and tied up in its own identity/tradition/reputation to properly asses its own faults; it has nothing directly to do with being old and/or male.

  • Adrienne Foster September 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Starship Sofa was never disqualified. It was nominated in the Fanzine category for lack of a better place to put it. If it passes ratification at Chicon 7, the Fancast category is where it belongs. When it won the Hugo last year, it actually forced WSFS to acknowledge the a new medium.

  • Adrienne Foster September 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Starship Sofa was never disqualified. It was nominated in the Fanzine category for lack of a better place to put it. If it passes ratification at Chicon 7, the Fancast category is where it belongs. When it won the Hugo last year, Starship Sofa forced WSFS to acknowledge the new medium.

  • […] is a subject that I’ve written about on a few occasions (like this, or this, or this). I think it’s integral to keeping the Hugo Awards relevant in the industry and […]

  • […] to the party here, but a few people have asked for my thoughts on this year’s Hugo ballot. A similar article last year inspired much conversation, particularly with regards to “Best Fanzine” and “Best […]