2020 Hugos: Other Individual Works

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards, the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.  You can watch a video of the announcement on CoNZealand’s YouTube channel or view the complete list on the Hugo Awards website.  JJ at File 770 has put together a post on Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online.

This is the second of four posts with my initial thoughts.  I’m dividing the nineteen award categories into written fiction works (novel, novella, novelette, short story, young adult book), other individual works (related work, graphic story, long form dramatic presentation, short form dramatic presentation), people categories (short form editor, long form editor, professional artist, fan writer, fan artist, new writer), and serial categories (series, semiprozine, fanzine, fancast).

Best Related Work

  • Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski (Harper Voyager US)
  • Joanna Russ, by Gwyneth Jones (University of Illinois Press (Modern Masters of Science Fiction))
  • The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, by Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square)
  • The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn (Unbound)
  • “2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, by Jeannette Ng
  • Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, produced and directed by Arwen Curry

I nominated the Heinlein book and the Le Guin documentary.  I watched Jeannette Ng’s speech during the livestream of last year’s Hugo Awards Ceremony.  While I appreciate the changes it helped catalyze, I don’t think compares to the other finalists.

I’ll be able to access the other three books through three different digital resources from my library.  Becoming Superman is available through Hoopla, but I’ve also put a hold on the physical copy as well.  While Hoopla’s interface works well for comics, it’s not so great for ebooks.  Plus, I’d like to save my Hoopla checkouts for the next category.  If my library doesn’t reopen in time or if the book isn’t provided in the Hugo Voters Packet, the Hoopla version will do.  Joanna Russ is available through the EBSCOhost ebook collection as a PDF file.  I’m not crazy about reading PDF files, but it isn’t bad on a tablet.  Finally, The Lady from the Black Lagoon is available through OverDrive which works seamlessly with my ereader.

Best Graphic Story or Comic

  • Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)
  • LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)
  • Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)
  • The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

LaGuardia was the only one here which I nominated.  I decided I would wait to read the latest entries in the Monstress and Paper Girls series.  I figured they were likely to make the ballot without me and looked at other things for my nominations.

I don’t remember hearing about Die or Mooncakes before now.  I see that Mooncakes is a redone and revised print version of an ongoing webcomic.  It doesn’t currently seem to be available digitally at all.  Pre-release reviewers mention receiving an eARC through NetGalley so perhaps the publisher will do that for the Hugo Packet as well.

I’ve been meaning to read The Wicked + The Divine series since it first began, but haven’t gotten to it.  Luckily the entire thing is available at Hoopla both as nine volumes and in the four omnibus editions.  So I’ll be able to save some checkouts for the other finalists I need to read.  All of them are at Hoopla except Mooncakes.  I’ve put a hold on my library’s print copy in hopes they reopen in time for me to read it before voting ends.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Avengers: Endgame, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Studios)
  • Captain Marvel, screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios/Animal Logic (Australia))
  • Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios/Narrativia/The Blank Corporation)
  • Russian Doll (Season One), created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, directed by Leslye Headland, Jamie Babbit and Natasha Lyonne (3 Arts Entertainment/Jax Media/Netflix/Paper Kite Productions/Universal Television)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, screenplay by Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams, directed by J.J. Abrams (Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot)
  • Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Monkeypaw Productions/Universal Pictures)

I nominated Good Omens, but I still need to watch everything else here.  I don’t usually see superhero movies until they become Hugo finalists.  Horror isn’t my thing, but I was pleasantly surprised by Jordan Peele’s previous Hugo finalist Get Out.  I just didn’t have any desire to see the latest Star Wars in the theater.  And I haven’t really heard enough about Russian Doll to compel me to check it out until now.

I’ve signed up for Disney+ to watch the Marvel movies and The Mandalorian episode which was nominated in short form.  Apparently The Rise of Skywalker isn’t there yet so I’ve put the DVD on hold at the library (position 33 once they reopen!).  Good Omens I saw via Amazon Prime, Russian Doll is from Netfix, and Us is currently on HBO.  Stream all the things!

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal Television)
  • The Expanse: “Cibola Burn”, written by Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Breck Eisner (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, written by Jeff Jensen and Damon Lindelof, directed by Nicole Kassell (HBO)
  • The Mandalorian: “Redemption”, written by Jon Favreau, directed by Taika Waititi (Disney+)
  • Doctor Who: “Resolution”, written by Chris Chibnall, directed by Wayne Yip (BBC)
  • Watchmen: “This Extraordinary Being”, written by Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson, directed by Stephen Williams (HBO)

My only nominee here is the episode of The Expanse.  I didn’t start catching up with my recorded episodes of The Good Place or Doctor Who until after nominations closed.  I haven’t reached this episode of The Good Place, although I have since watched the Doctor Who New Year’s Special.  I didn’t think it was particularly special, but I guess we’re required to have a Doctor Who episode on the ballot even when only one aired in the qualifying year.

I’ve started watching The Mandalorian, and I finally get the appeal of Baby Yoda.  He’s cuter in action.  I’ll be going into Watchmen having never seen any other incarnation.

Tell me what you’ve read or watched here.  Is there anything else you were hoping to see on the ballot?

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Related Work

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.]

[Update 2/26/18:
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?