Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Hugo Ballot Pre-Ranking -- A Very Preliminary Review of the Ballot with a Touch of Self-Promotion

This may surprise many of my readers, or at least one of the two people who read my infrequent posts, but I have never been to a WorldCon nor voted for the Hugos before. This is slightly embarrassing for me, since my mentor and dear friend Susan Palwick was one of the organizers for Reno in 2011. At a minimum, that should have been my first WorldCon. But my wife and I were busy in 2011 with 3 year old twin daughters and unable to make the trip up to Reno.

That WorldCon marks an interesting demarcation in the history of the convention. It was the last convention before the creation of the Sad Puppies coalition that is now in its third year. I'm not going to comment about Sad Puppies in this post, but I will say that if they did one thing positive it was informing me that I could be a part of the process without attending the event. I had assume, and we all know what happens when we assume, that one had to attend to vote. I thought it was like the Origin Awards where a committee selects the nominees and then the attendees vote. I was wrong, and so this will be my first time voting for the awards. 

I wish that I could attend this year, as I am a big fan of this year's presenters and my mentor will likely be in attendance as well. It has been too long since I have spoken with Susan in person, and the fan boy in me giggles with glee at the chance of chatting with David Gerrold (whom I interviewed on Geekerati) and Tananarive Due. I had the great honor of interviewing Tananarive and her husband Steven Barnes at a library event in Glendora.

I haven't received my packet from Sasquan yet, but I am eager about participating and I wanted to share my Pre-Rankings. There will be a lot of "No Award" votes pretty high on the lists. This is solely because I haven't read the material and not a statement.

Best Novel
  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
  • The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
I've only read Skin Game and Ancillary Sword so far, so I don't know what my final vote will be. The lack of Frostborn by Lou Anders is highly disappointing, as is the lack of Steelheart. So far, my ranking would be:

1) Skin Game

2) Ancillary Sword
3) No Award -- because I haven't read the rest.

Best Novella
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)
I haven't read any of these yet, but will when they come out in the packet.

1) No Award -- because I haven't read any.

Best Novelette
  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014)
  • “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014)
  • “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014)
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014)
I'm not a IGMS or Analog subscriber, so I've only read one of these stories.

1) "The Day the World Turned Upside Down"
2) No Award

 Best Short Story
  • “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
  • “Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)
  • “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
I've read the Big Book of Monsters, because monsters, and most of Riding the Red Horse (because Pournelle). I haven't read "Turncoat" yet, it's a couple of stories down. Outside of the Burnside article and the Pournelle writings that anthology has been mixed.

1) "A Single Samurai"
2) No Award -- still have to read the other material.

Best Related Work (1150 nominating ballots, 346 entries, range 206-273)
  • “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  • Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
  • Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts (
  • Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)
"The Hot Equations," while in a mixed bag anthology is a pretty radical piece of writing. Not radical in the sense that it is political, but radical in the way that it changes the way you read something. By focusing on Thermodynamics in space ship combat, Burnside revolutionized the way I think about the genre. I'm going to be much more critical of star ship combats in the future, and writers will have to find ways to get me to suspend my disbelief when writing about "stealth" in space. Haven't read the others.

1) "The Hot Equations" -- Which you really should read. It would be a shame for Ken Burnside to be overlooked because of politics. He's been an active member of the table top gaming community for years, and his Attack Vector game is remarkable.
2) No Award

Best Graphic Story
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
  • Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
  • Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics))
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
  • The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)
1) Rat Queens -- Because it's great.
2) Ms. Marvel -- Because it's very good.
3) Saga --  Because it's also really good.
4) No Award.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
  • Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
  • Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)
  • The Lego Movie, written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, LEGO System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation (as Warner Animation Group))
This is a remarkably strong category. I might add a film or two, but I wouldn't take any away. It's much better than last year's list which left off About Time a slight that demonstrated that the community doesn't watch enough movies. Probably because they are doing so much reading.

1) Edge of Tomorrow -- This was not only a very good movie, but it was directed by one of this generation's great directors. Doug Liman inserts a touch of magic into everything he works on.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy -- One of my daughter's favorite movies, and a testimony to how Space Opera still matters.
3) The Lego Movie -- This film is amazing.
4) Captain America: Winter Soldier -- Another fantastic film.
5) Interstellar -- A film I really liked, but have you seen the competition?

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Doctor Who: “Listen”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
  • The Flash: “Pilot”, teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, story by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, directed by David Nutter (The CW) (Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves ((HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”, written by Alan DiFiore, directed by Steven DePaul (NBC) (GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, Universal TV)
  • Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, ” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)
A good list, to be sure, but my own biases are going to show here.

1) The Flash -- I cannot praise this show enough. It's hard to capture the tone of this character, especially in an era of GrimDark. Leave it to Geoff Johns, one of the best writers in the comic book run of the character, and Greg Berlanti to get it right. This just demonstrates how TV writers have more control than movie writers. 
2) Game of Thrones -- Great episode.
3) Grimm -- A wonderful episode from a show that alternates between brilliant and "what the?!" episodes.
4) Orphan Black -- Very good show.
5) Doctor Who -- It's won enough don't you think? Still a good episode.

Best Editor, Short Form
  • Jennifer Brozek
  • Vox Day
  • Mike Resnick
  • Edmund R. Schubert (Withdrew after ballot finalized)
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Jennifer Brozek both gave me the honor of participating in a Geekerati interview discussing their Shattered Shields anthology for Baen. The lack of Johnathan Strahan in this category disappoints me.

1) Jennifer Brozek -- Not only has she long been an editor of fiction, but she's a great editor in the rpg industry too. Her gaming connection puts her over the top for me.
2) Bryan Thomas Schmidt -- His and Jennifer's selections in SS were strong and he has a long history in the genre. Besides, I did mention I got to interview him right?
3) Mike Resnick -- Hasn't he won everything?
4) Edmund R. Schubert -- What are you doing withdrawing?
5) Vox Day 

Best Editor, Long Form
  • Vox Day
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Jim Minz
  • Anne Sowards
  • Toni Weisskopf
1) Sheila Gilbert -- She's never made the ballot before? What?!
2) Toni Weisskopf -- David Drake, Lois McMaster Bujold, Eric Flint, and a list of other reasons.
3) Anne Sowards
4) Jim Minz
5) No Award -- I haven't read any long form fiction edited by Vox Day.

Best Professional Artist
  • Julie Dillon
  • Kirk DouPonce
  • Nick Greenwood
  • Alan Pollack
  • Carter Reid
There was a time when two people would alternate this award, so it's nice to see some new artists.

1) Julie Dillon
2) Nick Greenwood
3) Kirk DouPonce
4) Alan Pollack
5) Carter Reid 

Best Semiprozine
  • Abyss & Apex, Wendy Delmater editor and publisher
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Association Incorporated, 2014 editors David Kernot and Sue Bursztynski
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
  • Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison, editor-in-chief
I subscribe to Lightspeed and none of the others.

1) Lightspeed
2) No Award

Best Fanzine
  • Black Gate, edited by John O’Neill (Withdrew after ballot finalized)
  • Elitist Book Reviews, edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie, and Helen J. Montgomery
  • The Revenge of Hump Day, edited by Tim Bolgeo
  • Tangent SF Online, edited by Dave Truesdale
I'm a big fan of Black Gate and have even been given the honor of writing a post there in 2013. I'd like to write more, but PhD studies and work conflict. The others I don't know about. I do know John withdrew, but I don't recognize his withdrawal as I disagree with his reasoning.

1) Black Gate
2) No Award -- but I'll check the others out.

Best Fancast (668 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 69-179)
  • Adventures in SciFi Publishing, Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
  • Dungeon Crawlers Radio, Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • The Sci Phi Show, Jason Rennie
  • Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newman and Peter Newman
Since Geekerati was never nominated in this category, I'm going to be totally sour grapes and Nuclear No Award this category. I couldn't event get 100 fans? Jeez.

Just kidding. I just haven't listened to any of them yet. I may end up as a huge fan of one of them.

1) No Award

Best Fan Writer
  • Dave Freer
  • Amanda S. Green
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Laura J. Mixon
  • Cedar Sanderson
Don't read any of their writings, but will before I vote.

1) No Award

Best Fan Artist
  • Ninni Aalto
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
Will have to check them out.

1) No Award.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (851 nominating ballots, 220 entries, range 106-229)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2013 or 2014, sponsored by Dell Magazines. (Not a Hugo Award, but administered along with the Hugo Awards.)

  • Wesley Chu*
  • Jason Cordova
  • Kary English*
  • Rolf Nelson
  • Eric S. Raymond
Wesley Chu stopped by my Geekerati podcast, and I enjoyed his debut novel. The others I will have to read.

1) Wesley Chu
2) No Award

Any and all "No Awards" are preliminary. I want to vote for those I think best represent the SF/F field that are on the ballot. Looking at past ballots, like last year's film category for example, none are a "perfect" ballot of things I would have nominated. But I've used the nominee process to inform my future reading in the past and will continue to do so. Those things I am familiar with on this ballot, with some small exceptions, are things I respect and enjoy.

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