Having spent a pleasant afternoon watching the Hugo Awards live (for once, I was in a time zone where this was easy!), I thought it might be fun to compare the winners to my personal ballot to see how I did…
Best Fan Artist – Geneva Benton.
Hooray! She was my first pick in this category, and I said…
Geneva Benton – I rather like these. They are playful and colourful and sweet. And they feel very fan-art to me, though I couldn’t express why. I like the third one, where she is doing a bit of a riff on Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but with a black woman. Andrew reckons colours and style of art in that particular picture is reminiscent of the 70s soul funk vibe you get in blaxploitation films, and someone is clearly taking this whole section a lot more seriously than I am…
Best Fan Writer – Sarah Gailey
Oh yes, I liked her very much! I think she got pipped at the post by Camestros Felapton, just because he was so much fun and I was feeling so very crappy that day, but I really liked her approach to the fannish things she wrote about, and she made me think differently. I especially liked her piece about American identity being based on alternate history. Here’s a bit from my review of her voter pack:
“Facing Facts: American Identity is Based on Alternate History” is a very compelling piece pointing out that the history we tend to learn in schools is already alternate history – it’s a history where everything was fine, where wars were only fought for good reasons, where exploring the world was about discovery and bringing civilisation, not about greed or gold, where slavery didn’t exist, or where it did, slaves were treated well, where racism was solved in the 1960s. It’s a provocative point of view, and one that will stay with me.
Best Fanzine – File 770
This wasn’t my top pick, but I’m pretty happy with it regardless. Everything in this category was good, and while File770 is not the most fun and exciting thing on there, it is the place I go every time my Twitter feed breaks out in fandom politics to get the breakdown of what is actually going on. And that is worth a lot. Also, Mike Glyer (who is apparently in hospital, poor chap) has said that he is withdrawing from all future nominations, because he gets nominated every year, and doesn’t really need to. He seems like a good person and he definitely provides a very useful service to the fan community, so I’m glad he’s getting some recognition.
Best Fancast – Ditch Diggers
Like File770, this is a good, workmanlike podcast that does good things but does not greatly excite me. It’s a worthy winner, but one year, I want Fangirl Happy Hour to win, drat it!
Campbell Awards – Rebecca Roanhorse.
I have to say, I was a bit sad about this one, because Rebecca Roanhorse was my least favourite of all the options in this category. Having said that, she was a perfectly good writer, and everyone in this category was deserving. I just didn’t like her story very much, and there were several in this category that I really did love.
Rebecca Roanhorse provided a short stroy, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience. It’s hard to talk about without spoilers, but the protagonist works in a VR studio, providing ‘authentic’ Indian spirit guide experiences. The story is told in the 2nd person, which is cleverer than it sounds, given the context. It’s very gritty, and a bit single white female, with a twist at the end that I’m not entirely sure I understood. I’m pretty sure the story is a metaphor for cultural appropriation. It was fine, but didn’t grab me – it’s a bit grim for my tastes.
Best SemiProzine – Uncanny Magazine
I think this came as a surprise to nobody, given how much of Uncanny Magazine turned out to be in the Hugo Voter Pack this year in the form of nominees for all sorts of categories. This was my top vote in the category, so I’m quite happy, too.
Best Related Work – No Time to Spare: Thinking about what matters, by Ursula LeGuin
I’m super happy about this one, too. I honestly can’t remember whether I put this first or second, now – I wanted Crash Override to do well, too, but I have to say, this was worlds more enjoyable. I thought there was a fairly high chance that either this or the Ellison biography would win this year, based on the bereavement vote, and I’m glad this was the way it went, because I found this entire book charming and thought provoking and with very nearly enough cat stories. My review is here.
Best Artist – Sana Takeda
She came third on my ballot and second on Andrew’s and I’m pretty happy with this one. Her work is very beautiful and detailed, and while she wasn’t my favourite in the category, she is still a deserving winner.
Best Graphic Novel – Monstress
Ah, I’m a bit sad about this. I really thought My Favourite Thing is Monsters was excellent, and on a whole different level to the others. And Monstress, while beautifully drawn, turned out to be something I couldn’t read this year, because of the timing and bad things happening to cats.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) – The Good Place: The Trolley Problem
This, on the other hand, absolutely delighted me! I loved The Good Place, and I really thought this was a stand-out episode. Here’s my review:
Best Editor – Short Form – Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas
I didn’t really do this category justice, because I was running low on time by the time I got to the editor sections, but these two are the editors of Uncanny Magazine, so I put them first because they consistently publish stories I like reading. So I’m pretty pleased to see them win, and win twice, at that!
Best Editor Long Form – Sheila E. Gilbert
I didn’t write about this category, because I never really know how to judge this category anyway, but Sheila Gilbert edits Seanan McGuire, so I’m pretty happy about this.
Best Series – World of the Five Gods
I am, obviously, over the moon about this one. I love Bujold’s work in general and the Five Gods books in particular, and Penric is just such a delightful hero. My review of her work is here, but this is probably the important bit:
I think for me one of the great things about Bujold’s work is its kindness. Her characters are, by and large, people who are trying to make the world around them a better place. And she usually lets them succeed. It isn’t all sweetness and light – her preferred plotting style is still ‘what’s the worst thing I can do to this character’, but in the end, hope always wins. And that’s an important thing.
Best Short Story – Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience, by Rebecca Roanhorse
So, the things I wrote above about the Campbell Award? Apply here. Only more so, because I pretty much loved everything else in this category. Roanhorse seems like a lovely person, and she’s an intelligent and thoughtful writer, and I just didn’t like that story, I’m sorry.
Best Novelette – The Secret Life of Bots, by Suzanne Palmer
Again, this was a category where everything was pretty good, but there were three stories I really liked a lot, and three I wasn’t so taken with, and this was in the second category. Andrew liked it a lot more than I did. I am sulking, because if the Hugo voters were going to be all ‘lets vote for sentient robots’, I think they should have voted for the Vina Jie-Min Prasad one, because it was much more fun. But we seem to be very serious this year.
Best Novella – All Systems Red, by Martha Wells
Or maybe not, because this was very pleasing! This came a very close second on my ballot to Sarah Pinsker’s And Then There Were (N-One), and it was pretty charming, so I’m very much OK with it winning. (Also, confirming my musing on this review, it turns out that sentient robots really ARE a thing this year.)
Here’s an extract from what I wrote (full review here):
The Lodestar Award for the Best Young Adult Book – Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
I kind of fell in love with the Frances Hardinge book in this category, and I was also very fond of the Vernon and Brennan books, so I may be slightly sulking about this one too. To be fair, this book was one where I was only able to get hold of an excerpt, and it did make me interested in reading more, and had I been able to do so, I might have voted this one higher (it’s certainly true that several books I’ve read this year and liked a lot would not have got my vote if I’d only read the first few chapters).
Best Novel – The Stone Sky, by NK Jemisin
Look, the internet has been telling me for months that this would be the winning book, and the internet was right. And there were no unworthy books in this category, but I still think this belonged in a Best Series category rather than a Best Novel category, because I didn’t think it stood alone very well, and other books in this category did. On the other hand, everyone I know who has read the whole series has found it life-changingly good, so I’m going to assume that the problem is with me (and the fact that I haven’t read the rest of the series), not with the book.
And it was kind of adorable watching Jemisin trying to read her speech and being unable to do so because her speech was on her phone and her friends kept texting her.
And there you have it! If I do an actual count, it turns out that a lot of the things I put first on my ballot actually received awards – 8 out of 19, plus two more who I placed second – so I really have no cause to complain… but complain I shall, because naturally, my wins were mostly in the categories where I did not have particularly strong feelings, and the categories where I found new authors and really loved them largely went to other books.
I really am very pleased about Lois getting another Hugo, though, and about the Hugos for the Good Place and the Murderbot Diaries, and I’m pleased to see Uncanny Magazine rewarded, but I’m so very disappointed that Vina Jie-Min Prasad didn’t manage to get any of the things she was nominated for, because I really enjoyed everything she did. It’s nice to see so many women of colour as winners this year (and… so many women generally, now I think about it!), but I do wish they had not all been in categories where they were up against things that I enjoyed a lot more!
The memorial bit was nice, too – I’d forgotten they did that, and of course my friend Meg came up about halfway through, which was somehow a shock, though it shouldn’t have been, if I’d thought of it. So that was a sad moment, though she was in very good company (and I can’t decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing…).
On a cheerier note… New Zealand 2020! Now that is exciting. I might finally get to a WorldCon (and to New Zealand)…