Monday, February 6, 2017

Hugo Nomination Thoughts -- Other Categories

Other Categories

In the remaining categories (as, really, with all the categories except short fiction) I do want to emphasize what may be obvious – these are people and things that I personally enjoyed, but I know there’s a lot of excellent work I’ve missed. I’ll be nominating things that impressed me, but I’ll be glad to check out the stuff other people nominate.

Best Fan Writer

The first thing I’ll do here is mention myself. I am a fan writer (at least my blog writing and my stuff for Black Gate qualifies, if perhaps not my work for Locus, which I guess is now officially professional). I would note in particular my reviews of old magazines at Black Gate, particularly Amazing and Fantastic in the Cele Goldsmith Lalli era, and my various reviews of Ace Doubles here at Strange at Ecbatan (and often linked from Black Gate.) I would be greatly honored if anyone thought my work worthy of a Best Fan Writer nomination.

But of course there are many wonderful fan writers out there. For years I have been nominating Abigail Nussbaum, especially for her blog Asking the Wrong Questions ( ), and I see no reason not to do so again this year. I will note in particular her review of Arrival, which captured beautifully the ways in which the movie falls short of the original story, but still acknowledges the movie’s strengths.

Another fan writer who has attracted my notice with some interesting posts is Camestros Felapton ( Some of the most interesting work there regarded (alas) the Puppy Kerfuffles, and I was quite amused by this Map of the Puppy Kerfuffle: But the blog is much more than Puppy commentary – indeed, it’s much more than SF commentary. In the more traditional fanwriting area, I can point to the most recent entry (as I write), a well-done review of Greg Egan’s Diaspora.

Another possibility is Greg Hullender at Rocket Stack Rank ( ). The site is run by Greg along with his partner Eric Wong, and both deserve a lot of credit – I mention Greg in particular because of article like his analysis of the effect of slate voting on the 2016 Hugos ( )

One of my favorite fan writers does a lot of his stuff in a place relatively few people see, but he has begun to review Amazing Stories for Galactic Journey. This is John Boston, and his work can be found at this tag: The conceit at Galactic Journey is that magazines from 55 years ago are reviewed, with an attempt to make the reviews reflect only knowledge up to the point of publication of the magazine. (It will be obvious to anyone who reads my stuff at Black Gate that this sort of thing is right up my alley, and in particular that reviews of Amazing from the early ‘60s are of special interest, as I am (in a somewhat less disciplined fashion) trying to look at  and write about as many issues of Amazing and Fantastic edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli as I can.)) A couple of years ago John (along with Damien Broderick) published a series of books reviewing every issue of New Worlds and Science Fantasy from the Carnell era, which gives another look at his credential as a fan writer.

And finally I think there are a number of people at Black Gate worthy of a look. Too many to mention, perhaps, but one who definitely deserves recognition is the editor, John O’Neill, who also does a great deal of writing for the site.

Best Fanzine

Mentioning sites like Black Gate, Galactic Journey, and Rocket Stack Rank immediately brings to mind the Best Fanzine category. I plan to nominate each of these sites for a Best Fanzine Hugo. I’m particularly partial in this context to Black Gate, primarily of course because I have been a contributor since the print days (issue #2 and most of the subsequent issues). Black Gate was nominated in this category each of the past two years, but we declined the nomination due to the taint of (unwanted) presence on the Rabid Puppy slates. (I had suspected, and Greg Hullender’s analysis mentioned above suggests that I was right, that Black Gate would have been nominated even without the slates last year, but John made the principled decision to withdraw anyway.) Anyway, Black Gate is notable for publishing a lot of content on a very wide variety of topics, from promoting new book releases to publishing occasional original and reprinted fiction to Sherlock Holmes to reviewing old issues of Galaxy (Matthew Wuertz) and Amazing/Fantastic/etc. (me) to intriguing posts about travel and architecture by Sean MacLachlan. 

Rocket Stack Rank and Galactic Journey are a bit more tightly focused: the former primarily reviews and rates short fiction, as well as assembling statistics about other reviewers (myself included) and their reactions to the stories; while the latter, as I mentioned above, is reviewing old SF magazines from 55 years ago. (On a personal note, I was surprised to find that Greg Hullender credits me for some of the impetus towards starting Rocket Stack Rank, in a conversation we had when we met at Sasquan.)

Finally, I’ll mention the other SF-oriented site I read and enjoy regularly – File 770 ( ), which is (deservedly) very well known, having been nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo numerous times and having won some as well, including just last year. I think they continue to be worthy of a Best Fanzine nomination.

Best Editor

When I wrote about this category last year I especially recommended Sheila Williams (Asimov’s), Jonathan Strahan (the Infinity series and other anthologies (including a Best of the Year series), plus stories for, and John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, numerous anthologies, a Best of the Year series). I haven’t changed my mind – a look at my story recommendations shows how many good stories each of them published in 2016. Jonathan Strahan, besides the anthologies Bridging Infinity and Drowned Worlds, was the acquiring editor for one of the very best novellas of the year, The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe. John Joseph Adams edited one original anthology, What the #@&% is That?, a horror-oriented book, plus Lightspeed, from which I chose three stories for my anthology; and Nightmare, a horror e-zine. And Sheila Williams, of course, continues to edit Asimov’s with remarkable distinction – every year that is the magazine with the most stories I consider for my book, including four that made my book this year, all of which will likely be on my Hugo nomination ballot.

So once again I’ll nominate all three of those folks. The other two editors of Big Three magazines are certainly worthy as well – C. C. Finlay at F&SF and Trevor Quachri at Analog (which to my mind continues to improve). And Andy Cox’s work at Interzone and Black Static is impressive as well. And then of course there is Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace. Neil is also editing a Best of the Year book, and he has been doing original anthologies as well (though none appeared in 2016). Sean is also co-editor of a very strong horror e-zine, The Dark. Clarkesworld in particular had a very strong year indeed in 2016. The other e-zine that really stood out in 2016 was Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews, from which I chose 3 stories (and could have chosen K. J. Parker’s excellent “Told by An Idiot” as well.) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Beneath Ceaseless Skies is I think indisputably the best Fantasy-oriented ezine there is. To mention one more name – Ian Whates, at NewCon Press. He published two original anthologies this year, Crises and Conflicts and Now We Are Ten, from both of which I chose a story for my book. (Now We Are Ten, in particular, is a first-rate book from top to bottom.) And he is also the acquiring editor for one of the best novellas of the year, Alastair Reynolds’ The Iron Tactician.

I haven’t even mentioned the two most decorated contemporary editors, Ellen Datlow and Gardner Dozois. And they of course remain exceptional editors. This year I didn’t see as much original short fiction from either of them (though both put out Best of the Year books), but Datlow was the acquiring editor for one of the best novellas of the year, Victor LaValle’s “The Ballad of Black Tom”, as well as other work for Gardner’s 2016 work was mostly reprints – his landmark Best of the Year series, as well as his role as reprint editor for Clarkesworld.

In Best Editor, Long Form, I bow out. Between the fact that I just haven’t read enough 2016 novels, and that even if I have, I’m not always sure who was editorially responsible, I really can’t speak with any authority.

Other Hugos

I’m going to bow out of the rest of the Hugo categories as well. This doesn’t mean I don’t think highly of those categories – I do! But I just can’t say much intelligent about any of them. I have my favorite artists, but I forget, sometimes, what they’ve done lately. I don’t read graphic novels (and please don’t take that as a dis – it’s more a matter of “so many books, so little time”.) For Best Semiprozine, give me a list of the currently eligible Semiprozines, and I’ll have more to say – Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one, for sure, and definitely worthy of nomination; as is Uncanny, and Interzone. I am more or less clueless on podcasts. I don’t know what’s been good this year in related work – please enlighten me! UPDATE: A couple of Related Works did occur to me later as worthy of recommendation: Alvaro Zinos-Amaro's TRAVELER OF WORLDS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG, and Chris Offutt's MY FATHER, THE PORNOGRAPHER (about SF writer Andrew J. Offutt).


Finally, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is given to the best writer whose first professional publication in the SF or Fantasy field appeared in the past two years (2015 or 2016). Writertopia has a page, not guaranteed to be complete, with a list of eligible authors: .

From that last, a couple of names stand out for me. One is Charlotte Ashley, whose story “A Fine Balance” is in my upcoming Best of the Year book, and her first pro sale, “La Heron”, was pretty close to being in last year’s book. The other is Ada Palmer, for her impressive first novel,Too Like the Lightning, which I have already discussed. Other new writers who have particularly impressed me include Nin Harris, Malka Older, T. R. Napper, Steve Pantazis, Sunil Patel, Laurie Penny, Eric Reynolds, Tamara Vardomskaya, and Benjamin C. Kinney.


  1. "give me a list of the currently eligible Semiprozines, and I’ll have more to say"

    Ask and ye shall receive...

    The three you mention are all strong contenders for me. I think the most interesting addition to the category is Mothership Zeta.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I should have mention MOTHERSHIP ZETA, which I agree is an excellent new magazine. (Alas, apparently it's also an excellent possibly defunct magazine!) Definitely a potential Hugo nominee in Semiprozine. I will mull the list further ...

    2. I note that the list at includes BLACK GATE, which is not a semiprozine. (It neither pays its contributors nor staff, nor is it offered for sale, and John hasn't declared it a semiprozine.)

      I recommended BLACK GATE as a fanzine, and I believe it definitely is one.

      I suspect the list at was created back when BLACK GATE was a print magazine, and paid its contributors, and was offered for sale (and when I nominated it as a semiprozine every year). That's hasn't been the case for 5 years.

    3. The site was updated very recently (e.g. to add MSZ), so I suspect it's a matter of missing that change rather than the whole list being out of date. I was about to say I'll leave a note on the front page but I see you've beaten me to it :)

  2. For Related Work: Here's the wikia:

    I'm self-interested; I'm an author of one of the works on that list. But here's some thoughts nonetheless.

    This is a tough category to vote in, because it all-too-often involves comparing apples to oranges. Essays, fandom-specific reference works, a memoir, a paper on voting theory; how do you measure these things against each other? But I think that those same factors make it relatively easy to nominate in this category; just take a "one of each" philosophy.

    As to specific things on the list:
    I think Carrie Fisher's memoir will probably win easily. I haven't read it but I expect that it's deserving.

    "AGFR" is a compilation that includes a previous Hugo winner in this category. I think that if it were a finalist, it would have little chance of winning a repeat Hugo, so I think it's best not to nominate it.

    Of the other feminist stuff, my ordering is Elliot, Gailey, Wong*, Rusch. But I wouldn't nominate all of those; I'd cut it off after the first three at most. (*Already has won Hugos and/or Alfies.)

    I haven't read the other single-work-specific stuff, either the academic ones or the fandom ones; but something that specific would have to be really great
    to be Hugo-worthy.

    I think it's worth having the EPH paper as a finalist, even though I suspect it would be unlikely to win.

    The remaining work is Speculative Blackness, which I also haven't read.

  3. Thank you for the kind words, Rich! I think the best way to dispel any taint that remains is to reclaim the Hugos. I wish you the best of luck, and if you're coming to Condor, Wondercon, or San Diego Comic Con, I'd love to meet you. Drop me a line in that event. :)