Earlier today I submitted my ballot for the Hugo Awards, which are annual awards for the best works of science fiction and fantasy, given out every year at the World Science Fiction Convention. I made a concerted effort to read as many of the nominated works as I could, and I’m glad I did, because there were many fabulous stories, authors, and artists nominated. By and large, I enjoyed the works of all the nominees, and will offer my hearty congratulations to whoever wins.
But, because these awards are still about choosing winners from among the best, here’s what I picked.
Best Novel: Feed, by Mira Grant. It’s a zombie novel, which makes a lot of people groan these days. (Har.) But Feed isn’t really about the zombies– here, the zombies have already come, and they’re now part of daily life as humanity struggles to adapt to a changed world. In Feed, the zombies are the backdrop for a near-future political thriller. And it’s probably the best near-future, “realistic” science fiction book I’ve read in years.
Best Novella: Troika, by Alastair Reynolds. This was a tough category to pick; all of the stories were great, and each had a unique hook that drew me in. But Troika, a near/alternate future story about the discovery of an alien object orbiting the Sun, and set amidst the backdrop of a second Soviet Union, won me over. I suspect The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, about artificial intelligences being raised as “pets,” will end up winning the category– no complaints there, either.
Best Novelette: The Jaguar House, by Aliette de Bodard. Another tough category to pick– there were three or four stories I could have easily voted for, but I went with The Jaguar House because I really liked the Mexican flavor to the story, and also because kick-ass female assassins have a special place in my heart (those who’ve read parts of my novel will understand).
Best Short Story: Amaryllis, by Carrie Vaughn. I liked the depiction of family life in a near-future world, and also the happy ending. Happy (or at least, satisfying) endings seemed kind of few and far between amongst all the short fiction categories; many just had a hanging ending that left me feeling kind of haunted. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I felt a bit beaten down by the time I read all the stories, even though my reading was spread over a couple of weeks.
Creating a satisfying ending that doesn’t feel orchestrated or sappy is very difficult to do in short fiction. And I wanted to encourage it, because those are usually the stories I like best.
In the end, it was a tough call between Amaryllis, or For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal. I suspect the latter is going to win, so my top choice went to the former because I’m like that.
Best Related Work: Writing Excuses Season 4. Regular blog readers will have seen my previous posts raving about Writing Excuses, a writing podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal. They’ve already won two Parsec Awards, and I was pleased to be able to vote for them in the Hugos.
Best Graphic Story: Schlock Mercenary. If you haven’t been reading the webcomic, you should start. Epic space opera, with a deep story, great characters, and still manages to be funny every day.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Inception. It was a tough call between that and Scott Pilgrim; in the end, I went with Inception. Most sci-fi that Hollywood churns out these days is along the lines of Franchise: The Reboot-ening, Superhero Movie #37, or Lousy Film Version of Great Novel. Inception was none of these, and while Scott Pilgrim was quirky and fun, Inception was my favorite film last year, hands down.
Also, I’m a total Christopher Nolan fanboy.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury. If the title offends you, don’t watch the video. It will most likely give you a fatal aneurysm, and I don’t want that on my conscience.
Best Editor, Short Form: John Joseph Adams. A really tough call here, but I went with my gut on this one. John Joseph Adams edits two magazines, Fantasy and Light Speed, and has also put together a ton of great anthologies.
Best Editor, Long Form: Moshe Feder. I’ll admit some potential bias here, since Moshe Feder edits two of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, both of whom have put out several awesome books in the past year. (They’re both also Writing Excuses podcasters.) It was a tough call between Moshe Feder and Lou Anders, but I suspect Lou has a better chance at winning the category, so I voted for Moshe. (Did I mention I’m like that?)
Best Pro Artist: Dan Dos Santos. All the artists in this category are great, but I’ve been a big fan of Dan Dos Santos ever since he did the cover art for Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker. Check out the video below to see him at work. I’m not an artist, but it’s still inspiring to watch.
Best Fan Artist: Randall Munroe. Randall draws the popular nerdy webcomic XKCD, and I don’t really consider him so much an “artist” as a “commentator”. That said, he has a gift for visually conveying information in really neat ways. And even after familiarizing myself with the other artists in the category, Randall still gets my vote.
Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Dan Wells. In addition to being a Writing Excuses podcaster, he’s also put out a great trilogy of psychological thrillers over the past year or so, told from the point of view of a teenage sociopath. If you haven’t yet, you should totally read I Am Not a Serial Killer.
I can’t wait for WorldCon in two and a half weeks! Hopefully I’ll get to meet and congratulate most of the nominees and winners in person. Is it possible to increase the awesomeness of one’s own work via osmosis? I hope so.