DonAithnen (donaithnen) wrote,

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2014 & 1939 Hugo Awards: Results and Thoughts

So first, what "everyone" wants to know: The winners![1]

2014 Hugo Awards:

Best Novel: "Ancillary Justice", by Ann Leckie
Best Novella: “Equoid”, by Charles Stross (, 09-2013)
Best Novelette: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best Short Story: “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu
Best Related Work: “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley
Best Graphic Story: “Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long): Gravity
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short): Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere”
Best Editor (Short): Ellen Datlow
Best Editor (Long): Ginjer Buchanan
Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon
Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
Best Fanzine: A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
Best Fancast: SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester
Best Fan Writer: Kameron Hurley
Best Fan Artist: Sarah Webb
Campbell Award: Sofia Samatar

1939 Retro Hugos:

Best Novel: "The Sword in the Stone", T. H. White
Best Novella: “Who Goes There?”, Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)
Best Novelette: “Rule 18”, Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)
Best Short Story: “How We Went to Mars”, Arthur C. Clarke (Amateur Science Stories, March 1938)
Best Editor (Short): The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells. Written by Howard Koch & Anne Froelick; Directed by Orson Welles (The Mercury Theater of the Air, CBS)
Best Editor (Short): John W. Campbell
Best Professional Artist: Virgil Finlay
Best Fanzine: Imagination! edited by Forrest J Ackerman, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke
Best Fan Writer: Ray Bradbury

Now, thoughts!

It's possible that some people who are only vaguely interested in the Hugos may not know that there was a bit of controversy this year.

A moderately(?) conservative writer who felt frustrated by the "liberal bias" of Hugo nominees and winners over the last few years decided to put together a list of works/authors to recommend. This became known as the "Sad Puppy Slate".

A lot of people did not hear about this until about 75% of the items on the slate actually succeeded in getting nominated, at which point the foofaraw started.


There are two aspects to this.

First is the act of a "big name" author recommending a slate. Every year there are a lot of authors who put forth a list of "this is what i have that is eligible this year". Some authors may go so far as actually saying "please nominate my stuff", but i can't recall ever running into that. There are plenty of forums online where people will recommend things that are eligible, sometimes those forums are hosted by authors and sometimes they're entirely independent. "Regular" people will often list what they're voting for, but this is the first time i've ever heard of a "big name" putting out a specific list of what to vote for on their webpage/blog.

(Of course it's possible that i'm just wrong, and other "big names" have done this in the past and i just haven't heard about it because it wasn't so politically charged. In which case at least half the things i'm saying here are probably invalid.)

This rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including me, even though i can't think of a specific reason why it would be "wrong" other than a general "with great page views comes great responsibility" type argument.

Second, the people he recommended were all (as far as i know) at least moderately conservative politically. Because again he felt there's been a liberal bias the Hugos and he wanted to correct it. That is not a fundamental problem, in theory. There are a number of authors with conservative viewpoints whose works i enjoy, and a number of authors with conservative viewpoints whose works i probably would enjoy if they didn't insist on trumpeting those views in their works but i can understand other people liking them. In practice however, the problem was the "at least" part of the description. One of the authors he chose to include in his slate is an infamous racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and all-around disagreeable fuckwad. Which took his slate out of the realm of "maybe you're right and we should be more open minded" and into the territory of "what the fuck were you thinking?"

For those who were aware of the slate the response broke down into about 3 categories:
1: I will read all the works with an open mind and judge them based on their content, ignoring the views of the creator
2: I will read all the works, but i'm going to take a close look the creators from the slate, and any who espouse views i especially disagree with will get penalized or "No Awarded"
3: I disagre with the entire idea behind the slate, and i will "No Award" anyone who was listed on it, with or without reading the work.

I fell a bit between #2 and #3. If Correia had just said "i think we ought to pay more attention to more conservative writers" and suggested several possibilities and had not included Mr Fuckwad, i don't think i would have cared. The fact that he put together a specific list of who and what he thought should be nominated for which award bothers me, and Mr Fuckwad was just insult added to injury (or vice versa?) I don't think it sets a very good precedent, but there's certainly no rules against it and no way of enforcing such rules even if there were. Certainly if the slate had done well we'd be seeing a lot more of it, and even as things are the tactic may still propagate into the future.

So my thoughts on the actual results:

To go out of order, let's consider Novelette first:

Winner: "The Lady Astronaut of Mars"
2nd: "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling"
3rd: "The Waiting Stars"
4th: "The Exchange Officers"
5th: No Award
6th: "Opera Vita Aeterna"

This was the only category in which No Award "won" a spot, beating out Mr Fuckwad's story. It turns out that the reason for this is that Mr Fuckwad, in addition to being a deplorable human being, is also a terrible writer. Outrage against the idea of a slate combined with disagreements about personal politics was not enough to "No Award" any of the other slated works. But not being a good writer will do it. On the one hand i'm a little sad that the rest of the slate escaped the same fate (though none of them did very well) but on the other, this makes it that much harder for Mr Fuckwad to argue that "they" were just out to get him. (I'm sure he'll argue that anyways, but this makes it a little less likely that most people will believe him.)

The other Sad Puppy nominee in this category came in 4th. By a respectable margin compared to No Award, but still 4th.

But other than that, i quite liked "The Lady Astronaut of Mars", it's what i voted for and i'm happy it won :)

So back to the "regular" order, Best Novel:

Winner: "Ancillary Justice"
2nd: "Neptune's Brood"
3rd: "Parasite"
4th: "Wheel of Time"
5th: "Warbound"

Interestingly Ancillary Justice had more than twice as many #1 votes as the runner-up, which was Wheel of Time. Wheel of Time was also the initial runner-up for 2nd place, and the runner-up for 3rd place as well. Every time during the instant run-off however more votes from the "loser" split to other works, and those other works pulled ahead.

Up until "Warbound" came along that is, which is the novel by the person who published the Sad Puppy Slate in the first place. In the race for #5 "Warbound" ended up with 1161 votes, while No Award had 1052, with 924 expressing no preference. (It should be noted that on the balot "No Award" is a specifc choice that you can choose and rank like any other work, and not the same as not expressing a preference.)

Again, i'm not sure if i would have preferred some more of the Sad Puppy works to be No Awarded or not, but i am glad that Warbound did so poorly after the mess this guy caused. Which may be artistically unfair of me, but whatever.

I would have been happy if Parasite had won, however i don't personally feel that Parasite is Seanan McGuire's best work, so i'm not crushed that it didn't win. Likewise i would have been fairly happy if Wheel of Time had won, however even though it's perfectly legal according to the nomination rules i still feel it's a bit weird for the entire Wheel of Time series to have been a candidate in the first place, so i'm not crushed that it didn't win. I think Ancillary Justice was a perfectly good winner, and i may feel more strongly about that once i've had the chance to read the whole thing *cough*


Winner: "Equoid"
2nd: "Six Gun Snow White"
3rd: "Wakula Springs"
4th: "The Chaplain's Legacy"
5th: "The Butcher of Khardov"

This was the category that i knew the least about and have the least investment in. I'm not sure if i've read anything by Charles Stross yet, certainly not anything that's really impressed me. I'm kind of happy that Catherynne Valente didn't win, for entirely personal reasons that i can't go into. I'm also happy that the two Sad Puppy nominees came in 4th and 5th.

So yeah, i'm pretty meh about this category overall.

Short Story:

Winner: "The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere"
2nd: "Selkie Stories Are For Losers"
3rd: "If You Were A Dinosaur My Love"
4th: "The Ink Readers of Doi Saket"

I don't know if it's something about the format or the nomination process or what, but spoilers, the Hugo Short Story nominations are almost always depressing. If i recall correctly the 4 options this year (apparently there weren't enough votes for a 5th nominee) were really depressing, really depressing, somewhat depressing, and actually kinda uplifting. And i am shocked and amazed, and needless to say quite happy, that the rather uplifting one actually won and the only somewhat depressing one came in 2nd.

Best Related:

Winner: "We Have Always Fought"
2nd: "Wonderbook"
3rd: "Writing Excuses Season 8"
4th: "Queers Dig Time Lords"
5th: "Specultive Fiction 2012"

I voted or "We Have Always Fought" and i'm happy it won, though i'm a little surprised that "Queers Dig Time Lords" didn't take it. However "We Have Always Fought" fits in a bit better with the zeitgeist of the last year or so. (Although it is certainly not without problems, as others have pointed out.)

Best Graphic Story:

Winner: xkcd's "Time"
2nd: Saga, Volume 2
3rd: Girl Genius, Volume 13
4th: "The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who"
5th: "The Meathouse Man"

So there are two factors which i think may have played into this category, or at least certainly in my opinions.

The first is that if someone has been nominated for an award a number of times before and always lost there's a tendency to sympathize with and an increased tendency to vote for them the next time they come up. For some awards this is sometimes very explicit. I can't remember the exact examples but i know there have been cases of people getting Oscars for work that really wasn't their best out of the belief that they deserve it for past work.

In this case Randall Munroe has been up for Best Fan Artist twice before due to xkcd, and lost both times. Thankfully "Time" is not a case of sub-par work winning by virtue of past excellent work. "Time" is excellent in and of itself and i'm glad it won, but i still think that tendency helped it here.

On the other hand, this is just the sixth time this award has been given. The first three years Girl Genius was nominated and won all three times. The fourth year they declined to be nominated out of concern that if someone else didn't win the category wouldn't be taken seriously. I'm not sure if they declined the 5th year or just didn't have anything eligible, but in any case this was their first year back on the ballot after declining to be nominated. Girl Genius is great, as is pretty much all of Foglio's stuff. I'm glad that it was nominated and glad that it lost. I think Foglio has won enough Hugos for awhile, and apparently other people agree.

(Arguably that attitude is also unfair, but i would also argue not as unfair as voting for someone due to their failure to win in the past.)

In any case, the one i voted for won, yay! And perhaps because i'd gotten in the habit i voted No Award over the Meathouse. It wasn't on the slate, but it was kind of disturbing. So i'm glad that came in last.

Bonus: Here is the xkcd forums thread about the win, with links to the acceptance speech, as delivered by Cory Doctorow:

Best Dramatic, Long:

Winner: Gravity
2nd: Frozen
3rd: Pacific Rim
4th: Iron Man 3
5th: Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I believe i reluctantly voted for Frozen in this one. I really like Frozen, but it almost seems a little silly how popular it's become. I liked Gravity, but i didn't think it was all that. I think maybe i would normally say that a semi-realistic space movie is a breath of fresh air, but it also seemed over-hyped to me. Obviously my contrary insticts were kicking in. I think that happens more with the dramatic stuff because that gets shoved in your face more, especially for the long form items. I _think_ my vote was either Frozen, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, Gravity, Hunger Games, or Pacific Rim, Frozen, etc. Does anyone know if there's a way to retrieve your vote if you forgot to write it down? =P

I predict that next year will be a knock-down drag-out fight between Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and probably Big Hero 6, which will be a much tougher choice.

Best Dramatic, Short:

Winner: Game of Thrones
2nd: Doctor Who
3rd: Orphan Black
4th: Doctor Who
5th: Doctor Who
6th: Doctor Who

I guess there was a tie during the nominations or something. I forget if i voted for Game of Thrones or Doctor Who. It's kind of tiring the way Doctor Who has taken over this category, but on the other hand i haven't watched Game of Thrones since shelleycat, because reasons.

Best Professional Artist:

Winner: Julie Dillon
2nd: Daniel Dos Santos
3rd: John Picacio & John Harris (Tie)
5th: Fiona Staples
6th: Galen Dara

I thought that Julie Dillon was clearly the best, but that Daniel Dos Santos was pretty good too, so i'm very happy with these results.

Best Fan Artist:

Winner: Sarah Webb
2nd: Brad W. Foster
3rd: Mandie Manzano
4th: Spring Schoenhuth
5th: Steve Stiles

And again i thought Sarah Webb was clearly the best, so this is good. Apparently i'm a good judge of art. Or more likely i just fit in with the main stream consensus for for this medium :)

That's pretty much all i have to say about the 2014 Hugo Winners. However i do have opinions about one of the 1939 Hugo categories.

1939 Hugo Award for Best Novel:

Winner: "The Sword in the Stone"
2nd: "Out of the Silent Planet"
3rd: "Galactic Patrol"
4th: "The Legion of Time"
5th: "Carson of Venus"

So the winner here really should have been E.E. Doc Smith's "Galactic Patrol". I understand that The Sword in the Stone was incredibly influential on later Arthurian storytelling, but Galactic Patrol influenced _so_ much more.

Galactic Patrol was either the Ur example, the Codifier, or the popularizer of:
Space Opera in general
A "good" multi-species Federation in conflict with an "evil" multi-species Empire (or equivalent)
The Federation and Empire each having a powerful, almost god-like, ancient alien races backing them. One benevolent and mostly hands off, the other malign and willing to wreak havoc directly.
A group of "space cops" responsible for maintaining peace and order and fighting the bad guys. In this case the eponymous Galactic Patrol, which contained...
Space Marines, and
An elite corps/order of people with (effectively) magical powers (the Lensmen.)
And of course an opposing group of elite people with (effectively) magical powers in the evil Empire
And the eponymous Lensmen Arms Race, when an arms race gets out of control and goes past ludicrous speed.

So Galactic Patrol was partially responsible for Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, the Green Lantern Corps, the Honor Harrington series, and to a certain degree the far too many things to name that have prominently featured Space Marines. And i'm sure many other works that i'm not thinking of right now.

For anyone interested, here's the TVTropes page for the series:

Because of all that i think Galactic Patrol really should have won. I expect the reason that it did not is that it has not aged as well as others books of the time. By today's standards the Lensmen series is dated by its science, its engineering, its slang, its purple prose, and its politics. It is a truly amazing thing to read because of all that if you're willing and able to put up with those "shortcomings."

But in any case, that sums up my way too long review of the Hugo Awards :)

[1]Clearly not everyone wants to know. And of those that do want to know i expect most of them have already looked up the winners themselves.
Tags: books, sf/f

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