Sunday, January 28, 2018

First Hugo Recommendations: Dramatic Presentation, Fan Writer, Fanzine

Dramatic Presentation

I think this was a pretty strong year for SF movies – at any rate, there are five movies I can nominate without feeling bad. And, I should add, I don’t watch enough movies to say that there aren’t some even better ones out there. Ask Matthew Foster! (But don’t ask him about Logan – he’s just wrong about that! <g>)

My five nominees:

1.       The Shape of Water – clearly, of those I’ve seen, the best SF/Fantasy movie of the year. (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the best movie of the year, if you’re asking.) This is a delicious hommage to – and improvement on – The Creature From the Black Lagoon and its sequels. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, and starring Sally Hawkins as a janitor who encounters the creature in a military installation, and falls in love with him. It’s a visually impressive film, and a very moving film. Some of the plot machinations are a bit creaky, sure, but the whole thing hangs together and comes to a powerful conclusion. Also features strong performances from Richard Jenkins, Olivia Spencer, and Michael Shannon.

2.       Logan – Possibly my favorite superhero movie ever, but I’ll concede that’s not my favorite genre. Kind of a passing the torch movie, from the “original” X-Men to a new and different generation, and with a really powerful ending. Stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen and more …

3.       Blade Runner 2049 – I thought this movie was a really strong sequel to a truly great original. The future seemed a plausible future to Blade Runner, and the story was – with a couple of bumps – exciting and affecting. Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Ryan Gosling, etc.

4.       Wonder Woman – Hey, I liked this movie. It was fun. It was cool to have a female superhero as the lead, and Gal Gadot did a good job. But it also had the things that annoy me about superhero movies – the abilities that always seem to scale to just what the plot requires at a given time – the exaggerated plot with exaggerated sneering villains (and, yes, Michael Shannon’s character was a bit of an exaggerated sneering villain in The Shape of Water, but his performance, and the way his character was written, transcended that) … So, fun, fine, but it’s really getting overpraised. Also starred Robin Wright (again), Chris Pine, etc …

5.       The Last Jedi – Fun as well, but, well, I recommend Adam Roberts’ review in Strange Horizons, which details pretty convincingly the overly silly aspects that make it just a bit too stupid. I did like Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, and Laura Dern as Admiral Holdo – it also features, of course, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, etc. etc. – and some cute aliens.

I think The Shape of Water very clearly the best of these. There’s a gulf after that, and then Logan and Blade Runner 2049, then another gulf, and Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi. I saw a few more that weren’t as good (Guardians of the Galaxy 2, for example, was disappointing though not awful), but I’m certain I missed some interesting stuff.

As for Short Form, I watch relatively little TV. I did see the Black Mirror episode “U. S. S. Callister”, and I think it is definitely worthy of a Hugo nomination. I'm still on Season 1 of Stranger Things, so I don't yet have a 2017 nominee.

Best Fan Writer

The two fan writers I want to promote the most this year are a couple I mentioned last year as well: John Boston and John O’Neill. John Boston’s most publicly available recent stuff is at Galactic Journey, where he reviews issues of Amazing from 55 years ago, month by month. (It will be noted, perhaps, that I also review issues of Amazing from the same period, at Black Gate.) John’s work there is linked by this tag:

As for John O’Neill, of course his central contribution is as editor of Black Gate, for which he writes a great deal of the content, often about “vintage” books he’s found on Ebay or at conventions, and also about upcoming fantasy books.

Time for just a bit of obligatory self-promotion. 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 (and other SF) at my blog Strange at Ecbatan ( (and often linked from Black Gate.) My blog also includes the occasional Convention Report (I did a long one on this year’s World Fantasy), and other newsy things such this exact article!  I also contributed a piece to the special Journey Planet Programmatic ( issue guest-edited by Steven Silver. I would be greatly honored if anyone thought my work worthy of a Best Fan Writer nomination.

Best Fanzine

As I did last year, I plan to nominate Black Gate, Galactic Journey, and Rocket Stack Rank for the 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 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 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 past.

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. 2018 is their 40th Anniversary! Happy Birthday!

It's worth noting that there are a ton of other fanzines/blogs out there, and I know a lot of them are excellent. I just don't have time to check them out regularly.

My Recommendation Posts:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your support, Rich. The most gratifying thing about the Journey for me (aside from the opportunity it gives me to meet wonderful people) is that it has reopened the world of classic SFF to a whole new audience.