Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2017 Hugo nominations - a rough cut

Here's my first draft of Hugo nominations, at least the ones I care about (read - the fan stuff, because as far as I'm concerned the saving grace of the Hugos is getting to cheer on the people who've made me a better reader).  I haven't yet gone through & reviewed the linkposts I did intermittently this year, the 25 or so links I have saved for future linkposts, or really looked at the Hugo Nom spreadsheet of Doom or Wiki (though I'll try to add some things to them soon, pending move and life and whatnot), so I reserve the right to change these.  I am, however, going to try to stick to 5, in the spirit of how Hugos actually work.

(This is technically also an award eligibility post, since I am nominating myself for the thing* I am eligible for)

Fancast -
Storyological is the best genre podcast out there.  The short story discussions are excellent, Chris and E. G. have great banter while staying close the the topic & getting in and out quickly.  I love it.

Fangirl Happy Hour is appointment listening for me, and I think Renay & Ana have hit their stride this year.  Their chemistry is great, I'm often surprised by the topics they come up with, and I am always delighted by the discussions.  Whether talking about a movie I half-remember, a comic I'm only vaguely aware of, or engaging with a book or story I've read (yes, these are my favorite segments, but I'm glad that they're sprinkled among many others, because I've learned to love and examine what I love by listening to Renay & Ana love and examine what they love), I genuinely enjoy their discussions.  The fangirls are enthusiastic about what they enjoy, honest and thoughtful in their criticism, and willing to examine their own biases.  I aspire to do half as well.

Flash Forward has been a little bit uneven this year as Rose Eveleth got herself a real job making other really good podcasts, but also it's an excellent podcast that shows why she got a real job making really good podcasts.  The imagined futures each episode are delightful & thought-provoking, and Rose always finds guests and angles that I wouldn't have expected to examine further implications.

Cabbages & Kings.  I'm pretty proud of my podcast this year, even if I didn't get out as many episodes as I'd hoped (sorry!).  I'd recommend the Clarke Award discussions, and my interview with Jenn Brissett, in which you can hear her explaining her book to me & me saying "oohhh ... now I get it!" right in the midst of the interview, because I'm a fan, not a professional.  What're your favorites?

Midnight in Karachi - Mahvesh remains the best author interviewer I've listened to.  Her discussion with Indra Das was excellent, if you need a place to start.  (Also, listen to Mahvesh be excited about interviewing Margaret freaking Atwood!) (Hugo neepery - as this is affiliated with tordotcom, it may not be eligible as a "fan" thing.  I think it should qualify, and I'm nominating it.  The judges can correct me if they'd like) (Further neepery - I'm *pretty sure* that the plain meaning** of fancast precludes fiction podcasts.  The community has seemed to agree in the past.  But last year a fiction podcast made the five finalists.  So maybe Podcastle & whatnot should be included and fancast can become a weird second best-editor-short-fiction category, since I'm sure the fiction podcasts would swamp anything else I've mentioned)

A few notes - I have a tendency to look at recommendation lists as white as this with a jaundiced eye, and wonder what wonders the recommender simply ignores.   I'm aware of at least three genres of fancasts that I'm more or less unaware of.  There are a bunch of blerd podcasts - I've enjoyed Nerds of Prey when I listened.  In general, these tend to be a bit longer & heavier on the "friends hanging out" dynamic than *I* like, which is why I don't stick with them.  Your mileage may vary, and I'd suggest trying them.  I don't watch youtube book review people (BookTubers, I think they call themselves), because really if you're watching TV it should be science experiments with kids, DS9 or Gilmore Girls, amirite?  I'm aware of Claire Rousseau and SFF180 because they are also on Twitter, you could start there.  I also don't really do TV recap/discussion shows, so no Down and Safe, no Game of Thrones or Westworld fan theories, no Star Trek discussions for me.  Again, if that's your cup of tea, I am a bad recommender.

Fan Writer -
Vajra Chandrasekara remains excellent.  Here are reviews of Binti & Ballad of Black Tom.

Abigail Nussbaum is also excellent (I'll *read* reviews of TV shows, just not listen).  Here's her reviews of the Clarke shortlist.

Megan of CouchToMoon is my favorite writer out there now, and definitely in the "fan" category.  Her reviews are biting where she's critical, thoughtful where warranted, and she's very good at picking out what she does like.  Plus, she's inspiring me to read much farther afield than I would have otherwise.  (And yes, that's exactly why I invited her on the podcast)

Charles Payseur does excellent and copious short fiction reviews (again, why I invited him to contribute to Cabbages & Kings), and is another who I think sits firmly & deservedly in the "Fan" category

OJ Cade - I'm recommending her based on the Food & Horror series (about which more below).  This may change, but that series was excellent, and I'd be delighted to nominate her on its strength alone.

Fanzine -
LadyBusiness is the best blog going right now.  They've got a strong group of contributors, regular installments that I appreciate, and individual essays and series that pop up & generally delight me.

Nerds of a Feather is also good, and seems to fall well within the "fan zine" intended meaning.

SF In Translation from Rachel Cordasco popped up this year, and I'm finding it really useful as I try to stretch my reading.  There's an essay from Linda Holmes that I think about frequently about what you build and how that can be seen in who and what come out of it.  A host of regular contributors to SFSignal have gone on to other great things, and this is one that I've been particularly pleased to see grow.

I dunno, what else? (I object to File770 for various reasons that have been litigated plenty on Twitter, but otherwise I'm open to suggestions)

Best Related Work -
Speculative Blackness took my understanding of what Science Fiction is, how black authors and artists fit within it, and turned it at a sharp angle in a really helpful way.  Plus, it demonstrated really useful reading techniques that I'm still trying to incorporate into my own thoughts.  I need to reread this and follow up both on the art professor Carrington recommended and the reading methods he encourages.

Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Octavia E Butler.  Gerry Canavan's book is excellent. It's readable, and follows Butler's biography and bibliography, along with insights from the copious journals, rough drafts, and revisions newly available at the Huntington Library.  Nuanced without ever feeling voyeuristic, this made me re-evaluate my picture of Butler and her works, as well as inspiring me to read those I haven't encountered yet.

Food and Horror: This sequence at Book Smugglers by OJ Cade was amazing.  Thorough and thoughtful, Cade has inspired me to want to read horror, and to bring a clearer understanding of the impact of the stories.

Nothing Beside Remains - Jonathon McCalmont's history of the New Weird is really interesting even as I'm mostly oblivious to what the New Weird is/was.  I'd particularly recommend the conclusion, and his ideas about what it means to identify literary movements either in hindsight or as they coalesce.

I'm undecided beyond that.  Maybe Kate Elliott's "Writing Women Characters into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas" or Sarah Gailey's series at tordotcom, or Jared & Mahvesh's reread of Dragonlance? Help me out here people - there must be something better!

I'm still hopelessly at sea for fiction.  "One Way Out", the blog entry is going in my short story ballot.  Ballad of Black Tom, A Taste of Honey, and Bethany will probably all be on my novella ballot.  (briefly on Bethany - it's Adam Roberts writing about traveling back to the time of Christ.  If you're familiar with Adam Roberts, that will tell you whether you'll enjoy this immensely as I did.  If you've not read him yet, I can personally vouch for Jack Glass, and have heard only good things about The Thing Itself).  I liked Obelisk Gate and Wall of Storms.  Neither quite as much as their predecessors, but both of those were on my ballot last year, and these probably will be this year, and I'd guess Everfair will join them.  I didn't read all that many 2016 novels.  Here's my reading log so far if you're so inclined.

Strange Horizons will be on my semiprozine ballot.

I'll leave graphic novels, movies, and TV shows to other people.  I'd nominate series if any of the series that I'm following were long enough, but until then, I'll ignore the category because that's far too much effort to invest for Hugo nomination purposes. I also reserve the right to change everything up there as I'm reminded of or pointed to other good works.  Leave me a note in the comments, or stop by the Cabbages & Kings Imzy page to discuss further!

*I am technically eligible in fanzine because I have text - namely the transcripts, and as a fan writer because I wrote words about SFF in the last year, but whatever nominations I get'll be in fancast. Last year I did not make the longlist of nominated podcasts, a result I don't expect to change, but that's mostly beside the point.

**Section 3.3.13 of the constitution which I can only find here as an ugly PDF says "and that does not qualify as a dramatic presentation." and 3.3.7 & 3.3.8 specify Dramatic Presentation as "Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects" which I think should exclude fiction podcasts, except Tales to Terrify was a finalist, so what do I know?


  1. The Fireside Fiction Report is an obvious Best Related nomination - https://medium.com/fireside-fiction-company/fiction-we-have-a-problem-its-racism-f49c80b7cdbe

  2. Last year (and before) I was pretty firmly on the Rocket Talk / Midnight in Karachi are not fancasts because they are hosted by Tor.com, a professional venue.

    However, given that 8-4 Play made the final ballot last year and the hosting site (8-4) is a professional video game localization company - I'd struggle not to allow that Midnight in Karachi and Rocket Talk should not also be eligible fancasts.

    1. I had t realized that. Interesting.

      I've said elsewhere that fancast is poorly defined & poorly administered, at least in the last couple years. Even more evidence. (Though I'd be interested in seeing a semi-pro fiction podcast make the list this year so it can become a magazine proxy fight & I can stop caring about it)

  3. Also - thank you for the NoaF consideration.

    I'm not nominating File 770 this year because it seemed so much less vital than when the puppy stuff first exploded, but I can understand why some will still nominate. My stronger objection would be for Glyer as a fan writer because I think the strongest value folks are finding right now (and the value I find) is in Glyer's editing of the zine and his compiling of the daily link roundups and not in his actual writing and what I value in fan writing.

    1. You guys are good! [Also I don't follow many fanzines ;) ]

      I agree re: fan writer, but I think the counter is that the sense of the community seems to be "fan writer"="person the community wants to honor" and maybe that's better than reaching for either the definition or "spirit of the award"

      Also I owe you an email. We're unpacking, but I should have a computer in a day or two.

  4. That's definitely how it is used by many, but I'm working with some sort of split between spirit and definition tempered with what / who I enjoy and prefer to read.

    No worries on the e-mail. I think it's a conversation that works any time of the year.

  5. This post from Erin has a strong and clear statement for the Fireside Report, which I wholeheartedly agree with. https://erinhorakova.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/nonfiction-end-of-year-review-award-eligibility/

    Let's remember that in 2015 when the Rapid Puppies began their charge, the consensus choice of the community was the report/hit piece on Benjanun, which did earn Laura Mixon a "best fan writer" award.

    Not only is the Fireside Report presentation "exciting and polyvocal" as Erin points out, it's necessary, and contains within itself both the data and commentary that shows it's necessity. The report landed with a dull clang. I often feel disappointed by Hugo awards, if the Fireside Report isn't acknowledged, I'll feel something a bit stronger (betrayal? A loss of hope? Do I even have hope in the progressive SF online community? I expect that the report won't be nominated, so I suppose it's more that if the community can get its act together, I may find a bit of hope)

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