This was the year Coart & I decided we’d take the plunge and pay our membership fee to WorldCon so we could vote in the annual Hugo Awards.
So of course this was also the year the Hugos exploded in a brilliant display of obnoxious politicization.
The Hugo Award is distinctive in being a fan-determined award with long roots. Named for Hugo Gernsback, an editor of an early and seminal sci-fi story magazine (which is still where most sci-fi material gets published before “getting famous”), the awards have existed since the 1950s and generally point to good quality writing in sci-fi and fantasy. (Mostly sci-fi.)
I don’t need to rehash the year’s controversy.
I recommend reading a good overview of the drama – the Daily Kos published a great one.
Basically, the Tea Party of Male Sci Fi Writers Who Miss The Past got together and incited both the naive sheeple of the Internet and the worst trolls to game the system together in the name of preserving their values from the “social justice warriors” who are nominating all kinds of ridiculousness from female writers, foreigners, and *gasp* non-Christians.
The Hugo Awards are based on a ballot of nominees that garner enough collective nominations to make it onto the actual voting ballot. So if one group decides to organize themselves into a voting block, they can throw the vote.
It’s not really rocket science (haha) or even illicit, but it’s galling when the people shoving nominees down my throat a) have an obvious political and moral agenda that’s just as oppressive as the liberalism they hate so much; and b) they nominate a lot of shitty stories that I then had to wade through.
The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (yes, that’s what they call themselves) are welcome to their personal viewpoints, but preachy literature is always bad literature. And I’m wondering if the leaders of these mobs have any good sense when it comes to literature in any form, because geez, this is really lame stuff.
For those of you who might care, my Hugo ballot decisions are listed below.
The TL;DR version is this: You should try reading Three Body Problem by Liu and definitely read the Ancillary Justice / Ancillary Sword series by Ann Leckie. Leckie’s first novel won the Hugo last year and it’s a great piece of fiction. By contrast, John C. Wright may be one of the worst writers published today. Bleh. Utterly lacking in nuance or artistry; relies on crass sexism and religious overtones in lieu of actual storytelling prowess or skill. Yet he was on this ballot 4 times in 3 categories. and almost squeezed out my novelette vote from even making it onto the ballot.
Few of the shorter works were worth my time, but I commend a couple as noted below.
To explain the listings here: I’ve listed my votes in ranked order. The NO AWARD line indicates the point in the list where I think any further nominees do not deserve a Hugo.
Hugo 2015: Best Novel
- The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books) great book! read this!
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK) great book! read this!
- —–NO AWARD—-
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books) solid book and interesting work of steampunk-fantasy; but the ridiculous names pissed me off. It reads like a first novel, but this is an established author. The underlaying idea is a good one.
- Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books) – fun!
- The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
Hugo 2015: Best Novella
This whole category was crap, IMO. Wright’s “Plural of Helen of Troy” is a decent idea but as badly executed as the rest of this stuff, and offensively misogynistic in his attempt to be “retro.” That’s the best I can say about this group.
- ——NO AWARD————
- “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)
- “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
- Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
- One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
- “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
Hugo 2015: Best Novelette
Generally poor writing and story telling, but Heuvelt’s little story is a bright spot.
- “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014) A neat little tale that was unexpected, though it didn’t bowl me over in writing style. Got on the ballot only because Wright’s nomination was disqualified. Another reason to despite John C. Wright.
- —– NO AWARD ——–
- “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014) – a decent story here, just not very original
- “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014) – a lot of promise but fails to deliver at the end
- “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014) –
- “The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014) I got tired of the pseudo caveman speak real quick
Hugo 2015: Best Short Story
I was so so disappointed. I *love* short stories. They are my favorite literary form. It’s usually easy to find a good one, even within mediocre collections. So there’s no excuse for the unoriginal bullshit that ended up nominated for this category.
- A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books) – the writing style fit the story and it’s kind of a neat premise. A weak winner, though, I’ll admit.
- ——-NO AWARD————
- “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014) I almost nominated this one, but in the end, I was drawn more to the philosophy questions embedded in it than the story itself. To me, the Hugo winner should be worth reading, both for content and for the writer’s craft. I do recommend reading this story, though.
- “Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)
- “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
- “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House) in which Wright tries to be CS Lewis but fails miserably
Hugo 2015: Best Related Work
Essays and other non-fiction. I love this kind of writing. For example, John Scalzi’s collected blog posts in the book Whatever is a recent “favorite read.” This pile? Not so much.
- Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press) – an interesting ramble between thoughts about writing and Antonelli’s process and the short stories he’s recently published. Cool enough to merit a vote from me in what is admittedly a scattered and weird category.
- ——-NO AWARD———
- “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House) – an argument to sci-fi writers not to mess up their thermodynamics science. *salutes* Noted.
- Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts (Baen.com) – Yawn. Why was this even on the ballot?
- Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House) in which Wright declares that he hates Flannery O’Connor. I can’t even.
- Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press) – oh look! something so narrow-minded and offensive, it bumped Wright up a notch!
Hugo 2015: Movies [Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form]
- Lego Movie
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- —-NO AWARD—-
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
Hugo 2015: TV [Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form]
Tough category. How does one judge a TV episode when you have to be watching the entire season for it to make sense? Moffat’s writing for Dr Who shines brilliantly as always, but this whole category is a stretch IMHO.
- Dr Who – “Listen” (by Moffatt)
- Game of Thrones – “The Mountain and the Viper”
- Grimm – “Once We Were Gods”
- Orphan Black – “By Means Which….”
- The Flash – pilot
I didn’t really vote in the other categories, except to try to push Vox Day (the leader of the Rabid Puppies) lower in the Editor categories. And I didn’t get a chance to read the Graphic Novels or the new writers for the Campbell Award, or listen to the podcasts. It’s a long ballot.
There you have it. Give the novels a shot. And definitely grab some of the past years’ Hugo winners. They’re usually quite good.