My Hugo Picks and Predictions

Voting for the Hugo Awards closed a little while ago, and I thought I’d go ahead and share my thoughts on the ballot and some guesses at where the trophies will go. As I’m always pretty disconnected from the fan community, I expect my predictions to be wildly off base, but let’s see!

Note that while I say “I voted for” below, the Hugos use a preferential ballot where you rank multiple works and “no award”, so this isn’t quite the full story, and those preferences become significant in the actual counting of votes.

Best Novel

First off I will be honest, I did not read Warbound by Larry Correia. Anyone who supports Vox Day loses my support. Furthermore, when I realised there was no way I could read the entire Hugo ballot before the deadline, I made the decision to disregard the entire so-called “sad puppy slate” of works put onto the ballot by Correia and Day’s supporters. This may have been unfair to some writers on the ballot who were selected for the slate but not involved in its promotion – I don’t know.

As for the remaining Best Novel ballot, I had already read all but Neptune’s Brood and the last few Wheel of Time novels. I was disappointed that my favourites didn’t make the shortlist, and feel like the ones that did instead don’t quite match up.

I bought Charles Stross’ Neptune’s Brood and gave it a go, but it never really grabbed me, and in the end I only made it through 30%. It has some strong SF worldbuilding but just wasn’t my thing.

So in my mind, this award is Ann Leckie’s to lose. It’s already picked up a bunch of awards and has a lot of support behind it; it’s also by far the best novel on the ballot. I see its main competition being the Wheel of Time fans, who mainly seem to want to honour the importance of the series and the memory of its creator rather than the quality of the work (entirely valid choice, I say, though I disagree). I’m not sure how large that segment of voters is, and how it will fare against Ancillary Justice’s momentum.

I voted for: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
I think will win: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Best Novella

I read three of the novellas on the ballot, the other two being from the Correia/Day slate.

Equoid is probably the best of the few pieces of Charles Stross’ fiction I’ve read. It makes a rather interesting – and gruesome – (literally) Lovecraftian horror out of the form of the unicorn, and offers a decent story around that, but I felt that this novella was a step behind the other two.

Wakulla Springs, by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages, is excellent. A story on race, history, cinema, relationships, swimming, superstition, and the natural beauty of that part of Florida, it really dug into me. It is only marginally SF, however, which did weigh into my thinking when I had to choose between it and Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White. A very different kind of story, a retelling of Snow White as a western, it is beautifully written, and touches (in part) on themes of race and beauty and the emotional damage of being held to the standards of such. I’m not sure about the way it ended, but in the tough call between these two, I went with Valente’s prose.

I voted for: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M Valente
I think will win: I honestly have no idea.

Best Novelette

This category was one of the toughest calls on the ballot for me. It was between Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Ted Chiang’s The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling, and Aliette de Bodard’s The Waiting Stars; all different, all excellent. I took a day or two to consider, then came down in favour of Kowal’s story, for its honest depiction of the relationship between two aging people, one of whom is dying. This was a marginal decision, and I could have easily gone another way.

Kowal’s story was the subject of a little controversy last year when it missed out on a Hugo nomination because it was published in audio form, and the administrators chose to move it out of this category; with that feeling of a need to redress a wrong out there, I’ll tentatively pencil it in as my guess for the win.

I voted for: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
I think will win: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal (but I’m by no means certain)

Best Short Story

This is the one category where I read the entire ballot, and it was all very good. But I also found it surprisingly easy to rank: I had a clear preference for the stories by John Chu and Sofia Samatar.  They were similar, both being relatively mundane stories about relationships and family, with a speculative element that provides an interesting way to approach the issues. Chu’s story struck me deeper, though, so Samatar’s Selkie Stories Are For Losers was ranked second on my ballot. (Rachel Swirsky’s If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love I placed in third.)

I voted for: The Water That Falls on you from Nowhere by John Chu
I think will win: I have no idea

Best Related Work

This category was by far the hardest to vote for – I changed my rankings three times in the last half hour before voting closed. How do you compare two collections of essays, a blog post, a podcast, and an illustrated book on writing? I couldn’t do it. In the end, personal biases had to be the main deciding factor, rather than attempting to determine what is “best”.

Kameron Hurley and her essay, ” We Have Always Fought”, have the momentum behind them to have a good shot here. But Speculative Fiction 2012 has strong content and – to this outsider, at least – seems the more obvious “fannish” choice. And then there’s Queers Dig Time Lords, which might get the considerable weight of the Doctor Who vote behind it. I can’t quite tell where this will go.

I voted for: “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley
I think will win: “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (but I’m by no means certain)

Best Graphic Story

I expect this is Saga‘s award. Yes, we have the Doctor Who contingent, and George RR Martin’s name is in the category, but this adaptation of Martin’s “Meathouse Man” is not that strong, and I think Saga is a popular enough series it will manage to take the award. Although to be honest I’m not sure how large the Girl Genius fandom is – they’ve been pretty popular in this category in the past. I may be completely wrong here.

I voted for: Saga volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I think will win: Saga volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Gravity was the standout for me in this category. Even though it’s not really science fiction (unless the speculative element is that all the stations and satellites are orbiting at the same height), I nominated it and I voted for it. I have a sneaking suspicion that Pacific Rim might sweep up a lot of the votes here, though.

I voted for: Gravity
I think will win: Pacific Rim

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

Also known as the Doctor Who award. I voted for Orphan Black first, because of course I did.

What usually happens in this category is that the Doctor Who fandom splits their votes between the multiple nominees, and the in the runoff counting those votes all converge on a single episode. What matters then is whether the votes for one of the better other nominated works can beat that mass of votes.

Doctor Who has been rather poor quality in the last few years, and its continued popularity here makes me think the votes are more for the show than the episode on the ballot. This year however there is a Doctor Who-related nominee that was actually good, An Adventure in Space and Time, so it will be interesting to see if that’s where the votes converge and maybe pick up some non-Whovian voters on top.

It’s contending with one of the more anticipated episodes of Game of Thrones this year, and that might give it a tough challenge. After last year’s win, and the poor selection of Who episodes this year, I’m leaning that direction.

I voted for: Orphan Black, “Variations Under Domestication”
I think will win: Game of Thrones, “The Raines of Castermere”

Best Editor Long Form/Short Form

I don’t know enough about editing and what editors have done to vote or comment on these categories.

Best Professional Artist

I’m not all that up on art and artists, but after looking through online portfolios I went with Julie Dillon here, with Fiona Staples and Galen Dara behind. The buzz I see now and then on Twitter suggests Julie Dillon as the favourite, though maybe Saga fans will wield their power here.

I voted for: Julie Dillon
I think will win: Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine/Fanzine/Fancast

More categories I was not equipped to vote on.

Best Fan Writer

I was already familiar with Foz Meadows and Kameron Hurley, having nominated both. Abigail Nussbaum turned out to be equally good, and I intend to start following her blog. This vote was another tough call.

Mark Oshiro seems to have a pretty large following; not sure how that will translate into votes. My guess below is based in my preference and the fact Hurley seems to be a rising name right now.

I voted for: Kameron Hurley
I think will win: Kameron Hurley or Abigail Nussbaum

Best Fan Category

A category of unfamiliar names, but I went through the packet samples and some online portfolios and settled on Sarah Webb. Some nominations I didn’t understand on a quality basis, but they appear to have done work for fannish purposes, which might explain it. I don’t know how Worldcon people approach this category. I feel like Spring Schoenhuth is going to lose out simply for being a crafter in a field of painters and illustrators.

I voted for: Sarah Webb
I think will win: No idea

John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Unfortunately I did not have the time to read novels for three of the nominees here, so I did not feel comfortable placing a vote. I will say that I would not be at all disappointed to see Benjanun Sriduangkaew take home the award for her excellent short fiction.

I voted for:
I think will win: No idea

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