Saturday, August 22, 2015

Puppies were harmed in the making of these Hugos

As I stated when reporting on my Hugo voting, I chose the semi-nuclear option of ranking no Puppy slate nominee above No Award, as a principled statement of my opposition to slate nominations. Rather to my surprise, voters of like mind dominated the Hugo voting, and with only one exception, no nominee on either slate won a Hugo. And if that meant "No Award" where there was no other option, then No Award it was, in five categories, which I think doubles the number of "No Award" winners in the entire history of the Hugos. So now we know who it was who bought supporting memberships in such numbers after the nominees were announced. It was outraged loyal fans like me. I was one of them. I'm proud to have played my part in scrubbing this stigma off the history of the Hugos.

Comments on the winners:
Novel: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. As I noted before, after the opening section it rapidly dropped off in interest for me, though I still think this was the most Hugo-worthy of the nominees in this category.
Novella: No Award. No comment.
Novelette: "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. This was the only short fiction nominee on the entire ballot not to be a Puppy, so, perforce, it was the only one to win a Hugo, and the only one I voted for in first place, though I thought it too whimsical to even be a good fantasy story. That shows, alas, the weakness of a Puppy-filled ballot. It also means that both this year's fiction winners are translations. I'm not sure if the Hugos has ever had one of those before.
Short Story: No Award. No comment.
Related Work: No Award. If any of the categories deserved that result, it was this one.
Graphic Story: Ms. Marvel. The last time I read finalists in this category was in 2011, and while I found some (well, one) of them amusing, the writing quality was amateurish. This year's are much better, and this one is really of professional quality, a thoroughly deserving winner I put in first place. It's about a teenage girl who’s secretly a superhero, but she finds it difficult to go out and perform super deeds because her parents have grounded her. Though she's a Muslim immigrant to the US from Pakistan, rather than a Hindu immigrant to the UK from India, she reminded me of the girl in Bend It Like Beckham, who similarly was sneaking around to pursue her indigenous passion behind the backs of her conservative old-country parents. As the story of this girl's practical life problems, I found it fascinating. When a super villain shows up near the end, I could feel my interest rapidly dwindling, but that's just my lack of interest in superhero comics showing up.
Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Guardians of the Galaxy. The only nominee appearing on a Puppy slate to take the Hugo. I didn't vote in this category; I haven't seen anything in it.
Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Orphan Black season 2 finale. I have at least bit and piece familiarity with all the nominees here, and voted in first place for this one, with misgivings. I've seen the first two seasons of the show. Despite the terrific quality of the acting, I'm reluctant to proceed any further, because the plots of the second season seemed to me to be devoted to jerking the viewer around. I wrote about this, and specifically my problems with the finale, here. Nevertheless, I think the series deserves at least a career award for Extreme Cleverness, and this is the only way to get one, though I'm also thinking that the "single episode" Hugo rule for TV shows is due for retirement in this age where an "episode" no longer stands alone but is merely an hour-long chunk of a greater continuity.
Best Editor (Short Form and Long Form): No Award. Well, well. That's what I voted for, because all the nominees were from Puppy slates, but I really expected a couple of the several worthy editors on the ballot, who were in no sense responsible for their Puppy endorsements, to take the award.
Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon. Her work is good, and she was the only non-Puppy on the ballot, so she gets the nod from me, and the Hugo.
Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine. In this category there was a choice of non-Puppies, and I put Lightspeed in first place largely because I was impressed with their "Women Destroy Science Fiction" issue, which was the Book of Honor at the last Potlatch.
Best Fanzine: Journey Planet. There were two issues of this zine in the Hugo packet, one about Doctor Who and the other about sports. I'm not very interested in either. Still, they're legitimate topics for fanzines (anything is a legitimate topic for fanzines), and they feature a lot of reliable fanwriters. And it's the only non-Puppy nominee, so it gets my nod and the Hugo.
Best Fancast: Galactic Suburbia Podcast. Three chatty women from Australia natter randomly about SF for a bloody hour and half in each episode. I wish you could browse podcasts; I took to skipping ahead in this one. I listened to the (then) latest episode, hunting for the part where (according to the printed summary on the website) one of the hosts would discuss the Hugo short fiction nominees. Mostly she didn't discuss them, but what really arrested my attention was her description of Gray Rinehart's novelette about humans dying on an alien planet, because the story she was talking about was actually Lou Antonelli's short story about humans dying on an alien planet instead. Oops! Has anybody told her she goofed up? I put this second, and gave my first-place vote to the other non-Puppy fancast, Tea and Jeopardy, which at least is scripted and not so rambling, though the preciously cute premise for the author interviews - that the interviewer is having the guest over for tea, with calling cards and a butler - wears thin after a while, and its plausibility crumbles when the guest's voice is obviously on the phone.
Best Fan Writer: Laura J. Mixon. I put her immediately below No Award. As I noted before, yes, Mixon performed a public service and all, but it's not an achievement I feel like celebrating, nor do I find there's anything about the quality of the writing as such that's award-worthy. Maybe not Mixon's fault, because she had a complex story to untangle, but it was a slog to get through.
Best Fan Artist: Elizabeth Leggett. I've nothing against pretty pictures of horsies, but it's not my own idea of fannish. Possibly she won because she's associated with Lightspeed, which seems generally popular. I gave my first-place to Ninni Aalto, whose work I thought fresh, clever stuff.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Wesley Chu. His novel in the Hugo packet, The Deaths of Tao, is a sequel and makes no sense if you haven’t read the precursor. Fortunately, I attended his reading at Borderlands which included an excerpt from the first book, which I found amusing enough. And, sigh, he's the only non-Puppy nominee.

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