2020 Hugos: Written Fiction 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 will be the first 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 Novel

  • The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)

Four of these were on my nomination ballot, and I only have one left to read.  The one I’ve read but didn’t nominate was The City in the Middle of the Night.  I went in with high hopes since I loved All the Birds in the Sky.  There’s some interesting worldbuilding, but the main character frustrated the heck out of me.

The one I still need to read is Gideon the Ninth.  I’ve seen a lot of buzz, but it didn’t really sound like my sort of thing.  Although I liked her story “The Deepwater Bride” enough to nominate it a few years ago, and I wouldn’t have thought that was my sort of thing either.  I decide to wait and see if it made the ballot and here it is!

Of the four I nominated, my favorite is The Ten Thousand Doors of January.  I also went into this with high hopes from “A Witch’s Guide to Escape,”  and my expectations were exceeded.  The other three are going to be really tough to rank.  I remember thinking I was glad I didn’t need to for nominations.  Now I’ll have to decide.

Best Novella

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))
  • The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press/Gallery)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)

Of these, I’ve read five and nominated two.  McGuire’s Wayward Children novellas continue to delight me, and this one probably stands on its own the best so far.  I loved To Be Taught, If Fortunate as much as her Wayfarers books, although it’s unconnected to that series.  I’m leaning toward the later, but I may have to flip a coin to decide between them.

The Deep very nearly made my nomination ballot.  I feel like I wanted to like it a little more than I did, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.  The Haunting of Tram Car 015 was good but didn’t stand out from the other novellas I read.  I would love to see more in that setting though.  This Is How You Lose the Time War seemed like it was probably a ton of fun for the authors to write, but it just didn’t do it for me.  I know I’m in the extreme minority here.

The only one I haven’t read is “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.”  Right now I’m number 123 on the waitlist for the six digital copies of Exhalation at my library!  Here’s hoping that this and the Best Novelette finalist from Chiang’s collection are included in the Hugo Voters Packet because I doubt I’ll get it in time.  I also put a hold on the physical copy, but that will depend on when the library is able to reopen.

Best Novelette

  • “The Archronology of Love”, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, April 2019)
  • “Away With the Wolves”, by Sarah Gailey (Uncanny Magazine: Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue, September/October 2019)
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2019)
  • Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection (Amazon))
  • “For He Can Creep”, by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, 10 July 2019)
  • “Omphalos”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))

Here I have two more nominees and two more to read.  It’s dogs vs. cats between my nominees “Away With the Wolves” and “For He Can Creep.”  Sorry cat lovers, I’ve always been more of a dog person.  Really great characterization in both though.

“The Archronology of Love” was on my longlist.  It was moving and has an interesting premise.  “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” was fun, wacky, and horrifying!  But didn’t stand out as much for me as Pinsker’s stories have in previous years.

I still need to read “Omphalos” if I can get my hands on Exhalation.  Fortunately I’ll be able to access Emergency Skin through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Best Short Story

  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
  • “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)
  • “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, 24 July 2019)
  • “A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
  • “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)

I’ve read all of these except the one from Nightmare, but none were on my nomination ballot.  Of the five I’ve read, my favorite is “Do Not Look Back, My Lion” with some fascinating worldbuilding.  They’re all good, but rather brutal.  I look forward to reading the story by Nibedita Sen since she is also a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

  • Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
  • Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan)
  • Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee (Disney/Hyperion)
  • Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
  • Riverland, by Fran Wilde (Amulet)
  • The Wicked King, by Holly Black (Little, Brown; Hot Key)

I nominated four of these, and I have two left to read.  It looks like Deeplight won’t be available here in the US until next week.  I really liked T. Kingfisher’s previous Best YA Book finalist in the first year of the award, so I imagine I’ll enjoy Minor Mage too.  It will be hard enough to rank the ones I nominated here, and I don’t think adding these two will make it any easier.

Have you read any of these?  What did you think?

2019 Hugo Finalists: Best Short Story

In Best Short Story, we have two past Hugo winners, two authors with two Hugo nominations apiece this year, and two stories which have been fellow finalists for four awards.

“The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker is also a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Nebula and Locus awards.  This is Pinsker’s third Hugo nomination; she now has one for each short fiction category.  She has previously won the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial awards.

“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher is Ursula Vernon’s first Hugo nomination under this pseudonym and her fourth overall.  She’s received both Hugo and Nebula awards for her short fiction and another Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.  She’s been a finalist for the World Fantasy and Locus awards as well as the WSFS (now Lodestar) Award for Best Young Adult Book.

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark has already won the Nebula and Locus awards and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award.  His novella, The Black God’s Drums, is also a finalist for the Hugo and World Fantasy awards and was a finalist for the Nebula and Locus awards.

“STET” by Sarah Gailey was also a finalist for the Locus Award.  Gailey has previous Hugo nominations for Best Novella and Best Related Work and won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer.  They have been nominated for the Nebula as well and were a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2017.

“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander is one of two Hugo nominations for the author this year.  Her novelette, The Only Harmless Great Thing, has already won the Nebula and Locus awards, was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson and Theodore Sturgeon awards, and is also currently a finalist for the Hugo, World Fantasy and British Fantasy awards.  She has two previous Hugo nominations for short fiction.

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow is also a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Nebula and Locus Awards.  This is Harrow’s first Hugo nomination.

The only story I hadn’t read before the finalists were announced was “STET” by Sarah Gailey.  Both it and “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark were more intriguing for the way their stories were told than the stories themselves.  Alix E. Harrow’s heartwarming “A Witch’s Guide to Escape” was the one I nominated myself.  Sarah Pinsker told a thought-provoking coming-of-age tale in “The Court Magician.”  “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher and “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters” by Brooke Bolander were both really fun stories with a feminist twist.

Here’s the order I put them on my final ballot:

  1. “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow
  2. “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander
  3. “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher
  4. “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker
  5. “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark
  6. “STET” by Sarah Gailey

Will it be a story with an extremely long title, one with a super short title, or something in between?  What do you think?

2018 Hugo Finalists: Best Short Story

Worldcon 76 announced the winners of the 1943 Retro Hugo Awards on August 16th.  I continue to look at the 2018 finalists.  Next up, Best Short Story.

“The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata was also a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and won the Locus Award.  This is Nagata’s first Hugo nomination.

“Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad was also a nominee for the Nebula, Sturgeon, and Locus awards.  Prasad’s “A Series of Steaks” is a finalist for Best Novelette.  She is one of this year’s nominees for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM by Rebecca Roanhorse was the winner of the Nebula Award.  It was also a finalist for the World Fantasy, Sturgeon, and Locus awards.  She is one of this year’s nominees for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

“Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon is the author’s third Hugo nomination.  She’s won a Hugo for Best Graphic Story and another for Best Novelette.  She is also a finalist under her pseudonym T. Kingfisher for the WSFS Award for Best Young Adult Book.

“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde was also a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy awards.  Wilde has one previous Hugo nomination for Best Novelette.

“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim was also a finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus awards.  This is Yoachim’s first Hugo nomination.

I had read all these before the announcement of the finalists, but none of them were my own nominees.  They were still impressive, making this one of the hardest categories to rank.

“The Martian Obelisk” and “Carnival Nine” were very touching, but didn’t move me as much as I expected.  Both Roanhorse and Wilde’s stories were intense, tough, and important reads.  Prasad’s “Fandom for Robots” was an absolute blast!  Vernon continues to be a favorite who makes ordinary people fascinating and inspiring.

We have two previous finalists, two first-time finalists, and two Campbell Award nominees.  Here’s how I ranked them on my final ballot:

  1. “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon
  2. “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  3. “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim
  4. “The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata
  5. “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM” by Rebecca Roanhorse
  6. “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde

Like the Best Novelette finalists, these are all online.  Go read them, if you haven’t, and tell me what you think!

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Short Story

Fourth and final of the classic fiction categories on the Hugo Ballot is Best Short Story:

A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2017.

The only possible change I can see for this category is splitting out flash fiction.  I haven’t really heard any serious discussion of that though.

 

In this case, I actually have six contenders for my five ballot slots:

I’ll probably end up eliminating one of the Ghost/Bird stories, but we’ll see.  Who knew that was a combo I’d like?  I’m not particularly fond of either individually!  [Update 3/15/18:  I left “If a Bird Can Be a Ghost” off my ballot here, but I nominated Allison Mills for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.]

 

I’m feeling the most prepared for this category because I made a point of reading all the 2017 original short fiction from eight sources:

 

If I have time (ha!), I’d like to read the online stories I haven’t gotten to yet from the 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List and the Year’s Best anthologies.  Asimov’s has now posted their five stories that made the Locus List (all of which also made one or more Year’s Best).  Jason at Featured Futures lists the stories chosen for the Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan annual anthologies in Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!).  The Spacefaring Kitten takes a thoughtful look at which stories Dozois and Strahan picked in Anthologies Answer Questions.

Any other 2017 short stories out there I shouldn’t miss?