Thoughts on This Year’s Hugo Award Nominees…

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Okay. The slate of nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards was just announced. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the list of nominees.)

Since I’m a SFF fan and aspiring SFF writer (and I won’t lie; it would be REALLY cool to win a Hugo one of these days), I thought I might share some of my thoughts on the nominees.


Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor), A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra), Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit), Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey), Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Okay. My first impression of this Best Novel slate is that it’s lacking Wise Man’s Fear. Which makes me rage. It makes me burn with the fire of a thousand suns deep within, because WMF is such an incredibly beautiful book. But maybe that’s me.

Now, for the other nominees: I haven’t read DeadlineEmbassytown, or Leviathan Wakes. (I’ve heard nothing but good things about the last two, though, so maybe I should check them out.) There was a kerfuffle last year about Mira Grant’s novel Feed, which was a zombie apocalypse novel. A lot of Hugo voters last year seemingly thought that a zombie apocalypse novel was too, you know, undignified to be on the ballot for Best Novel. (Again, I will say something that is my fervent belief: there are no bad genres; only bad stories.) So many people had problems with that novel. Now, I haven’t read either Feed or Deadline. But I do think that zombie novels, even if they are overdone, aren’t completely exhausted of their potential. There’s still a lot to be done with the genre, and from what I’ve heard, Feed and Deadline do interesting things with the conception (they’re about political bloggers in a zombie-ridden future, and are more about what humanity does after the zombie apocalypse, rather than surviving it.)

Now, about the books I have read…

Among Others: YES. This book was one of my favorites that I’ve read from the last year. Beautifully written, an interesting main character, magic, faeries, and a lots and lots of SF… PURE CANDY. (For those of you who want it, here’s a link to my review of Among Others.)

As for A Dance With Dragons… meh. It’s not one of the best in the series, and it feels more like this nomination for ADwD is sort of a “lifetime achievement” for  GRRM. Maybe it’s an acknowledgement of how long it took to bring out Book Five of ASoIaF. Maybe it’s a consolation prize for A Storm of Swords getting robbed of the Hugo by Goblet of Fire in 2001. I don’t really know. Whatever the reason, I’m guessing that ADwD will win the Hugo, even if it’s not Martin’s best work.

(I’m really going to have to put the other three books on my reading list…)


Short Fiction: It’s cool seeing “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City” on the Hugo ballots. For one thing, the whole story originated as an April Fool’s joke on For two thing, it’s funny, and funny fiction is uncommon on the Hugo ballots. For three thing, it’s by Scalzi. And Scalzi’s books are basically candy.

Other than that, I have no thoughts on the fiction.


Best Related Work: I LOVE the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, Third Edition. I read through the online edition all the time. And I really should check out Writing Excuses sometime: I love Sanderson’s books.


Best Graphic Story: I’m really glad that the irrepressible Foglio duo have stepped down for a year to let another graphic story other than Girl Genius win. Not only are the Foglios some of the most creative webcomic creators around, they also have a lot of class. Which makes them even more awesome.


Best Dramatic Presentation: GAME OF THRONES!!!!!!1!!111!!!!eleven!!one!!!!!


Anyway, the Hugo nominators chose an interesting tactic here: nominating Game of Thrones‘ first season in one gigantic lump, letting it fall under the category of Long Form Dramatic Presentation, and freeing up the Short Form category to let Doctor Who dominate. As usual– since 2006 the Short Form category has pretty much been “Best Doctor Who“.

That being said, I think it would be really cool to see Gaiman’s episode win the Hugo. I know– Gaiman has been awarded the Hugo enough for several lifetimes. But you know what? He deserves it. And “The Doctor’s Wife” is honestly an incredible episode. He should be incredibly proud.

Of course, he’s Neil Fucking Gaiman. That should be enough of an excuse for pride in its own right.


Best Professional Artist: I hope John Picacio wins this award. He’s an incredible illustrator, and there’s been a case of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” with him at the Hugos so far.


Best Fan Artist: Randall Munroe!

There was, again, a debate at the last Hugo Awards, because Munroe does, in fact, make a living from his work (he’s the creator of xkcd) and thus some people thought that he shouldn’t qualify for the Hugos. But, you know, Frederik Pohl and John Scalzi have both won Best Fan Writer Hugos, and they’re hardly amateurs. So I think it’s fine that Munroe has been nominated for a Best Fan Artist Hugo.

Of course, last year, he was defeated by one vote. So let’s see what happens this year. At the very least, it should be interesting.


John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: I haven’t heard of any of these people. So I don’t have any comment.

But I will admit, if you want to see where the future of SFF is going, then looking at the Campbell isn’t a bad place to start…


So yeah. Those are my thoughts. Now let’s see how many of you disagree with me!

(Like always, comments are encouraged.)

~ Ian

  1. Michael says:

    Why is it that virtually every blog I read about these nominations has a dig at Doctor Who being repeatedly nominated? Is there some crime about being good and POPULAR that the sci-fi community find hard to accept? Oh well, I agree that The Doctor’s Wife would be a fully deserved winner in it’s category, although personally I’m rooting for The Girl Who Waited…a superb piece of genre TV.

    • Ian Johnson says:

      I actually don’t have a problem with Doctor Who being repeatedly nominated. It’s honestly the smartest, funniest, and (dare I say it?) best SF on TV at the moment.

      Be aware, though, that not everyone shares my beliefs. And there are a LOT of genre snobs out there who hate fun. This is probably the most important thing to know about the Hugos: too many SF fans take themselves way too seriously.

      And yes, “The Girl Who Waited” is a beautiful episode. It would be a worthy winner– but I’m pretty sure “The Doctor’s Wife” will win. If I had the money, and I wasn’t slightly disgusted with gambling, I’d bet money on the Gaiman winning the Hugo.

  2. Will Forest says:

    OK, Ian, this is not a comment on the post at all — I just don’t have your e-address handy, so I’m sticking it here.

    Check out the Fibonacci talk I mentioned today:

    Let me know what you think.

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