The winners of the 2021 Hugo Awards, the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer were presented on December 18 during a ceremony at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention.
Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
I was a little surprised by this since it’s the fifth work in a series. On second thought, the earlier novellas have been winners too, and I can see this having the broadest appeal amongst the finalists. Everyone loves Murderbot! I ranked it fourth, but I’m still really happy for this win. It was a very strong category this year. I ranked my own nominee The City We Became first, and it placed second.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com)
This was one of my nominees, and my top choice in the final vote!
Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)
This was a fantastically creepy story and my second choice here. My first choice and one of my own nominees was The Inaccessibility of Heaven which placed second.
BEST SHORT STORY
“Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
This ended up fifth on my ballot although I did like the science fictional twist on Hansel and Gretel. I was still pleased by this win and happy to learn more about slime mold! (This was Kingfisher’s second win for the night. She is known for entertaining acceptance speeches and did not disappoint!) Again my first choice, Little Free Library, placed second.
The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
Here’s where I fully expected Murderbot to prevail! It was one of my nominees, and I ranked it second. I was hoping this might be October Daye’s year, but it placed third.
BEST RELATED WORK
Beowulf: A New Translation, Maria Dahvana Headley (FSG)
I never would have thought to nominate this, but it easily became my top choice as an impressive work of scholarship and artistry. I was stunned to find that I was quite in sync with other Hugo voters in this category this year. My first through third and fifth choices were the same, only flipping fourth and sixth places.
BEST GRAPHIC STORY OR COMIC
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)
This was one of my own nominees although I ended up ranking it fourth. I’ve really enjoyed these adaptations of Butler’s books. My first choice and another of my nominees, Invisible Kingdom Vol. 2, placed sixth. At least it made it on the ballot, unlike the first volume last year.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media)
This was my second choice, and it’s got me interested in checking out the comic it’s based on. Again my top choice, Tenet, finished sixth.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready, written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group)
I liked this show, and this series finale was sweet and funny. But I still don’t get the appeal of it over many other excellent shows. It was my fourth choice. My top spot went to my own nominee The Expanse: Gaugamela which placed second.
BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
Ellen Datlow was my top pick and one of my own nominees. I’m not normally a big fan of horror or dark fantasy, but when I see her name as editor, I know I can trust that I’ll probably really like it anyway. For example, the Best Novelette winner!
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Diana M. Pho
I ranked Diana Pho sixth, but all of the finalists here are excellent. In a bit of symmetry, my first choice and nominee, Nivia Evans, placed sixth.
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
Rovina Cai was my top choice. Many of the books I loved last year were made all the better by her art. Unbelievably, I forgot about this when nominating, but thankfully others took up my slack and she won.
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L. Wiggins, executive editor DaVaun Sanders, managing editor Eboni Dunbar, poetry editor Brandon O’Brien, reviews and social media Brent Lambert, art director L. D. Lewis, and the FIYAH Team.
Somehow I ended up ranking FIYAH sixth. I guess it just goes to show how strong this category was this year. My top pick and one of my nominees was Uncanny which came in second, but I was still pleased to see FIYAH break their streak.
nerds of a feather, flock together, ed. Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, The G, and Vance Kotrla
I’ve been nominating and voting for them for a few years now. I’m extremely pleased to see them win in their fifth time as finalists.
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, producer
This win has been an even longer time coming in their eighth time as finalists. I really enjoyed the “10 minutes with …” episodes they started doing early in the pandemic lockdown. I ranked them fifth, but only because I’m a fan of BookTube and podcasts with transcripts. My nominee and first choice was Rachel’s Kalanadi channel which placed sixth. At least another BookTuber made it up from the longlist and onto the ballot this year!
BEST FAN WRITER
Elsa Sjunneson is an excellent writer, and this was her third time as a finalist. I ranked her fifth as I have some qualms about her work stretching the definition of fan writer. My first choice and nominee, Cora Buhlert, placed second.
BEST FAN ARTIST
Sara Felix creates beautiful 2D and 3D art, and this was also her third time as a finalist. She was one of my nominees, but strangely I ended up ranking her sixth in the final vote. I guess in this case, my idea of fan art veers away from other Hugo voters. My first choice and another of my nominees, Iain J. Clark, placed fourth.
BEST VIDEO GAME
Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)
I didn’t participate in either nominating or voting in this category as video games have started giving me too much motion sickness in recent years. I was pleased to see this get a trial though and pleasantly surprised at how most of the game developers provided evaluation material for the Hugo Voters Packet. It will be interesting to see if this category moves forward.
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK (not a Hugo)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions)
I had every expectation of this winning. I enjoyed it a lot although I ranked it fourth after my own nominees. I also loved the first of what turned out to be two speeches from Kingfisher that night about slime mold! My top choice and one of those nominees was Deadly Education which placed second.
ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW WRITER, SPONSORED BY DELL MAGAZINES (not a Hugo)
Emily Tesh (2nd year of eligibility)
Emily Tesh was one of my nominees, but I ended up ranking her third. This was her second nomination and final year of eligibility so I was pleased to see her win. I was also happy to see the reappearance of the tiara and scepter which go with this award. Although she had someone else accept on her behalf so I hope she does eventually receive them. My top choice was Micaiah Johnson who placed second. This is her first year of eligibility so perhaps she will have another shot at it next year.
All in all a lovely ceremony with pleasing results! Astonishingly five of my top picks took home the prize and eight more finished second! How did your favorites do?