The OF Blog: What to make of the 2011 Hugo Award nominees?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What to make of the 2011 Hugo Award nominees?

The 2011 Hugo and Campbell Award nominees were announced earlier today.  If you haven't seen the list posted elsewhere, just take a moment to glance through the linked page above.  Now for some thoughts:

  • Interesting to see that 4 out of the 5 finalists in the Novel category are women.  Yet what struck me more about that list was the mixture of newer and more established authors.  N.K. Jemisin and Mira Grant appear on the Novel finalist list for the first time this year, while Connie Willis, Lois Bujold, and Ian McDonald have appeared separate times.  I haven't read the Grant (zombies don't interest me), Bujold (I sampled one of her earlier nominated works and was left feeling meh about it), or Willis (more of a personal reading blind spot than any explainable lack of interest) and it is uncertain if I will read these works by the summer (or ever).
  • The Novella category interests me the most here.  I likely will make an effort to read the Swirsky (who I think is an outstanding writer) and Chiang (ditto) in the near future (maybe downloading them onto my iPhone).  Same likely for Hand's story.  Uncertain if I will get around to reading the others.
  • The Novelette category is much less intriguing.  It seems to be dominated more by the established names and publishing venues.  Had a vague hope that Peter Beagle's "Dirae" would have made the list here (I think it's Novelette length at roughly 20 printed pages from the Martin/Dozois anthology, Warriors)
  • Short Story category is a mixed bag to me.  Might read the nominees and comment, or I might not.  Undecided at the moment.
  • Related Works category seems designed more for the aging Baby Boomer group; Heinlein does not float my boat at all.
  • Graphic Story category seems to be dominated by sequels of previous nominees.  I can't claim to have read the works in question, but from what I have gathered second-hand, this might not be a very adventurous group of nominees.
  • Dramatic Presentation, Long Form pretty much confirms my belief that SF film sucks ass.
  • Is it telling that the Dramatic Presentation, Short Form has the cutesy "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" paean as a nominee?  I guess Dr. Who is a default option that reinforces the dearth of anything approaching explicit SFnalness on television?
  • Best Editor, Short Form might as well be a carbon copy of the past decade of nominees, more or less.
  • Best Editor, Long Form is slightly better, with some newer names emerging.
  • Professional Artist nominees are fine, albeit most of those names have appeared in years past.
  • Best Semiprozine nominees are solid, although there is only one new nominee (and market)
  • Best Fanzine has me puzzled, as some of these have no online presence and outside of Hugo time, I never really hear of these people.  Must be different seas, different schools of fish swimming about.
  • Best Fan Writer - see what I just said above.
  • Best Fan Artist - who the hell are these people?  
  • Campbell Award for Best New Writer - amused to see what qualifies as "new" for one particular case, although I am familiar with the works of Ahmed, Beukes, and Grossman and think each would be a deserving winner (despite questioning Grossman's not qualifying until 2009).  Uncertain if I'll read the other two.
  • Seems to be an admixture of newer, more Gen-X (and Y) voices with the greybeards, yet there doesn't seem to be anything outre about any of the nominations.  Just a middle of the road sort of nomination, which might be the best to hope from a fandom-selected awards shortlist.


Anonymous said...

The short story category is the one I really care about, as that should be the place where the pulse of the genre is taken. With this year's nominees, the genre might as well be a cold corpse. The Things is really the only decent story of the bunch. Amaryllis is okay for a light afternoon read. Ponies is straight horrible, but will probably win anyway. Whatever.

Larry said...

Well, I suspect part of the issue might be those who nominate are, to some degree, divorced from those who are actively involved in the short fiction scene. When so many nominees come from the nearly-moribund "big three," one does wonder.

For the record, I think some of the best "fantastical" stories come from cross-genre publications like Conjunctions or Ninth Letter or Redivider, just to name three whose publications I enjoyed when I was reading 2009-10 fictions in prep for the aborted Best American Fantasy 4.

James said...

As I pointed out on Twitter, the thing that surprised me the most about the nominees this year was Charles Stross not appearing on the ballot for the first time in a decade.

Just about everything else I wanted to say about the list was said on my blog, but...

- Zombies are a ridiculous fad that needs to go away.
- The nomination of Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury is a sad moment for the genre and whoever is voting really needs to watch something other than Doctor Who.
- I have not read those nominated for Best Graphic Story, but apparently Fables, Girl Genius, and Schlock Mercenary are the best in the biz since they are the only ones to have been consistently nominated since the category's inception.
- Speaking of Inception... *sigh*
- Am I the only one who thinks that the Professional Artist category should be a list of art pieces instead of just a list of names?
- Hope to see BullSpec on the ballot for semiprozine next year.
- Glad I wasn't the only one who hadn't heard of the fanzine noms...
- Alas, I wasn't nominated for Best Fan Writer. :(
- Randal Munroe does xkcd, but I wasn't aware he was a fan artist...

Peter Ahlstrom said...

I loved How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, and Scott Pilgrim. I'd be happy with any of those three winning. I also loved Toy Story 3 but don't think of it in the same way.

Adam Whitehead said...

"I guess Dr. Who is a default option that reinforces the dearth of anything approaching explicit SFnalness on television?"

No. It more reinforces the notion that Hugo nominators don't watch much TV and are extremely US-centric. ASHES TO ASHES and BEING HUMAN were as good as (and frequently better than) DOCTOR WHO last year, but perhaps as UK-only shows with little US profile they didn't register. LOST's spiritual-hippy ending probably pissed a lot of hard SF fans off. STARGATE UNIVERSE, V and CAPRICA just didn't seem to excite voters. The real surprise is that FRINGE, which actually does seem to be delving more into hardcore SF territory, didn't manage to score a nomination.

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