For the past few years I have avoided the sorts of posts I used to routinely make, listing my favorite stories of the year and making suggestions for Hugo nominations. There are several reasons – one is simply that I thought my Best of the Year Table of Contents served such a purpose by default, more or less, another is time. And a third, of course, is a feeling of skittishness about the controversy that has arisen, from several directions, on the appropriateness of nomination lists, or, Lord preserve us, “slates”.
But hang it all, almost all I’ve been about for my time writing about SF is promoting the reading of good stories. Why should I stop? Why should anyone? I don’t want people to nominate based on my recommendations – I want people to read the stories I recommend – and lots of other stories – and nominate the stories they like best. I don’t want to promote an agenda. I don’t want to nudge the field towards any set of themes or styles. (Except by accident – I don’t deny that I have conscious and unconscious preferences.) In fact, I’d rather be surprised – by new ideas, by new writers, by controversial positions, by new forms, by revitalization of old forms.
I’ll begin on a somewhat personal note, and I apologize in advance for a tiny bit of self-promotion that might result. I have, as part of the editorial team at Lightspeed Magazine, won Hugos each of the past two years, for Best Semiprozine. We’re very proud of that – I’m quite confident I can speak for my co-conspirators, John Joseph Adams (our leader), Wendy Wagner, Stefan Rudnicki, and Christie Yant, in that sense. But we’re not going to win one this year: we have graduated from the ranks of Semiprozines. I might add that in a crowded field for Best Professional Editor (Short Form), I’ll be rooting for John – I truly think his work at Lightspeed and as editor of numerous anthologies, is fully worthy of a Hugo. (It would be remiss of me not to mention the many other worthy possibilities: Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Trevor Quachri at Analog, C. C. Finlay at F&SF, Sheila Williams at Asimov’s, Andy Cox at Interzone and Black Static, Neil Clarke at Clarkesworld, Sean Wallace at Clarkesworld and The Dark, Scott H. Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, anthologist Brian Thomas Schmidt, ). In long form I would mention book editors like Toni Weisskopf of Baen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor, though there are many further worthy possibilities. And in a too little too late sense, the great David Hartwell, who died in January, has been worthy of a Hugo both as an acquiring book editor and as an anthologist for many years.
(For myself, I can gingerly note that I am eligible as a fanwriter, for my work at Black Gate and at this blog (Strange at Ecbatan), not to mention my Locus reviews (for which last I should add I am paid). (I’m technically eligible as an editor, but I would not mention myself, particularly as an editor of reprint anthologies only, in the company above.))
Indeed, mention of Black Gate lets me segue to a brief discussion of the Best Fanzine category. Black Gate was controversially nominated last year, largely because they were placed on the Rabid Puppies slate. Black Gate withdrew from consideration for that award in protest, as did one of their best contributors, Matthew David Surridge, who was nominated for Best Fanwriter. But the whole process highlighted something I had not even thought of – Black Gate, in its current incarnation, really is a fanzine. And in my admittedly very biased opinion, a fanzine worthy of consideration for a Hugo. Of course it’s not the only worthy site, or print ‘zine. File 770, edited by Mike Glyer, comes immediately to mind. Unfortunately Steven Silver’s excellent Argentus (to which I contribute regularly) didn’t publish a 2015 issue, so it’s not eligible this year.
From fanzine to semiprozine makes sense, eh? Previous Hugo nominees Apex and Lightspeed are no longer eligible as of this year. Who’s worthy? In all honesty, any controversy over some nominations aside, I thought all the ‘zines that made last year’s Hugo Ballot worthy, including the withdrawn Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. The others were Abyss and Apex, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Right below the nomination borderline were The Book Smugglers, Interzone, and Pornokitsch. All are fine ‘zines. Neil Clarke maintains a fairly comprehensive list of eligible ‘zines here: http://semiprozine.org/semiprozine-directory/. Of that list, I’d particularly like to direct people’s attention to Giganotosaurus, which has been publishing intriguing longer form fiction for a few years now; Kaleidotrope, which has been consistently featuring fine stories, first in print, now online, for a while as well; and a new entry, Uncanny Stories, which has really had an impressive first year.
I have little enough to say about Dramatic Presentation. I think we all suspect that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will win easily. I enjoyed the movie, but with severe misgivings. My choice for best SF movie of the year is The Martian, and I haven’t yet seen Deus Ex Machina or Mad Max: Fury Road (both are on the Netflix queue) – by all accounts, both are excellent.
As for the other categories (besides the fiction), I either have only a couple of longtime favorites (as with Best Artist), or I am simply ignorant (as with Best Graphic Story and Best TV Episode – er, sorry, Dramatic Presentation, Short Form).
And perhaps that’s enough for now – I’ll get into the fiction next time.