Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Final Hugo Ballot Thoughts

Here, at last, is my summary post about the Hugo shortlist, with my tentative voting plans in many of the categories. I'll include links to the various posts I've already made about the novels, and about each of the short fiction categories.

Best Novel

My view is that this ballot has two halves -- three strong candidates at the top, and three solid and enjoyable novels behind the top three -- good work that I'm glad to have read, but not quite at the level of the top three.

I intend to vote in this order. Each title will link to my review of the novel in question.

1. New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson
2. Raven Strategem, by Yoon Ha Lee
3. The Stone Sky, by N. K. Jemisin
4. Provenance, by Ann Leckie
5. Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty
6. The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

Best Novella

In this case, I think there are three novellas that are close to a dead heat at the top of the ballot, two further pieces that are nice enough but not really in the same league with the best stories, and one quite weak, quite disappointing story. My discussion of the stories is here.

My ballot order:

1. "And Then There Were (N - one)", by Sarah Pinsker
2. All Systems Red, by Martha Wells
3. Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire
4. River of Thieves, by Sarah Gailey
5. The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang
6. Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Novelette

Unlike the first couple categories, I think this one has three divisions: two stories, very close in quality, that are clearly the best; two more that are also quite strong, but a step behind; and the last two which are also decent work, just one further step behind. Probably, in that sense, a fairly typical ballot -- and, it should be said, a pretty strong one. My post on the novelettes is here.

And my ballot order:

1. "Extracurricular Activities", by Yoon Ha Lee
2. "The Secret Life of Bots", by Suzanne Palmer
3. "Wind Will Rove", by Sarah Pinsker
4. "A Series of Steaks", by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
5. "Children of Thornes, Children of Water", by Aliette de Bodard
6. "Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time", by K. M. Szpara

Best Short Story

In this case I'd say there's a kind of even distribution of quality from top to bottom. Again, a strong ballot, with no bad stories, but one, in my view, severely harmed (as was the novel ballot, and inded the novella ballot as well) by omitting a few of the clear cut very best stories of the year. My detailed comments are here.

Ballot order:

1. "The Martian Obelisk", by Linda Nagata
2. "Fandom for Robots", by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
3. "Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand", by Fran Wilde
4. "Carnival Nine", by Caroline Yoachim
5. "Sun, Moon, Dust", by Ursula Vernon
6. "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM", by Rebecca Roanhorse

In the other categories, I'm generally less informed, and while I will vote where I have a preference, I mostly won't discuss things at length. There are a couple categories where I'm pretty well informed, but I won't discuss my ballot here, for partly personal reasons, and partly because I think the choices here are based on razor thin margins -- these are the Editor categories. But I'll say a couple of things about a couple of the categories.

To begin with, Best Related Work. Here I will just say that I hope that sentiment in the wake of Harlan Ellison's death doesn't promote votes for Nat Segaloff's hagiography A Lit Fuse, surely the weakest by far of the nominees. (My vote is for Paul Kincaid's Iain M. Banks, but all the other books beside A Lit Fuse seem worthy.)

In Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, I really think it's a three horse race, between my choice (The Shape of Water), Get Out, and Blade Runner 2049. The others are, honest, kind of in the "there are things on this list not like the others" category. Enjoyable movies in their way, but seriously not in the same league as the top three.

In Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, I'll won't vote -- I liked "USS Callister" a lot, but I haven't seen (nor heard) the other nominees.

In Best Professional Artist, my top slot goes to Kathleen Jennings, on merit, and because I recommended her for nomination and was very pleased to see her on the ballot. The rest of the nominees, to be sure, are all fine artists.


  1. A very good year for Sarah Pinsker, then.

    1. Oh, indeed. But she's a very good writer, period!

  2. Hey Rich,

    I am just this week reading as many of the Hugo nominees as I can before voting closes. Fascinated by "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM", by Rebecca Roanhorse; do you think it's in any way a gloss on Silverberg's "Sundance"?

    1. --This is from Mark Kelly. I think my Blogger profile must be obsolete.

    2. Hi, Mark, sorry I didn't get around to seeing this for a while. I will have to reread "Sundance", I don't remember it well enough to be sure.

  3. Rich:
    I'm enjoying your back-and-forth with Gardner Dozois in Jo Walton's "Informal History of the Hugos" -- itself a fun book. It's fun to see you two short-fiction experts strut your stuff!

    Which makes it even sadder that he's gone, gone gone. I just met him once, and I'm sorry I never really got to know him. Except through his Year's Best anthologies, which are his lasting legacy. Monumental, even.

    He was almost exactly a year younger than me, which is, well, sobering.