Following the fiction categories on the Hugo Ballot is Best Related Work:
Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2017 or which has been substantially modified during 2017, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.
This category first appeared in 1980 as Best Non-Fiction Book. In 1999, it became Best Related Book. Finally in 2010, it was given its current title.
At last year’s Business Meeting, there was a proposal to split the category into its old title of Best Non-Fiction Book and a new category for Best Art Book. It was given to a committee which will be studying all the current categories and offering suggestions at this year’s Business Meeting.
I personally like the more catch-all nature of the current category, and I’m not in favor of narrowing it back to its original form. It does sometimes making ranking in the final voting a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. But it’s not that difficult, and I think it’s nice during the nomination period.
As much as I’d like to, I don’t think I could feasibly participate in an art book category. Looking at those listed on this year’s Locus List, my library doesn’t have them, I haven’t seen them at the bookstore, and naturally they’re often pricey. As with the idea of splitting Best Novel into separate fantasy and science fiction categories, I hope that clarifying and redefining current categories takes precedence over adding more.
Here’s what I’m planning to read for this category:
Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Francesca T Barbini
One of the essays in this collection is on the 2017 British Science Fiction Association Awards shortlist for Best Non-Fiction. The subject should be engaging and topical. [Update 3/16/18: added to my ballot.]
Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings by Rob Latham
This was one of the non-fiction items on the 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List. It touts itself as “a comprehensive introduction to the study of this enduringly popular genre.” [Update 3/15/2018: added to my ballot.]
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin has been one of my favorite writers (of both fiction and non-fiction) for almost my entire life. I was very happy to see her win in this category last year while she was still with us. Since this collects writing from her blog and I’ve been following her website for many years, I’m probably already familiar with a lot of it. But it will be nice to revisit and remember. [Update 3/16/18: added to my ballot.]
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal
From the same publisher, from one of the same editors, and in the same format as Letters to Tiptree (winner of the 2016 Alfie Award for Best Related Work). This time dedicated to the ongoing influence of Octavia E. Butler. [Update 3/3/2018: added to my ballot.]
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoë Quinn
Not something I would have thought to consider for this until I saw JJ’s review over at File 770’s Recommended SF/F List. Sounds like it will be pertinent and helpful.
Don’t Live For Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017 by John Scalzi
Another one from the Locus List. Obviously intended for fellow writers, but I still find that sort of thing fascinating even as a reader without ambitions to write fiction. And speaking as someone who’s probably read more of his blog than his fiction, Scalzi’s usually pretty entertaining on whatever topic he chooses. [Update 3/15/2018: added to my ballot.]
This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy
I saw this suggested on the Hugo Nominees 2018 Wiki and picked it up from the library today. The book’s only relation to “science fiction, fantasy, or fandom” is that it includes some thoughts on libraries from a few SFF authors such as Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and George R. R. Martin. Not sure that’s enough for me to consider for nomination, but it sounds like a good read anyway.]
Any other suggestions?