The Puppies lost the Hugos. Again.

The Hugo Award winners:

  • Best Novel: Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translation by Ken Liu (Tor Books).
  • Best Novella: No Award
  • Best Novellette: “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translation by Lia Belt in Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014
  • Best Short Story: No Award
  • Best Related Work: No Award
  • Best Graphic Story: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (Publisher).
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Guardians of the Galaxy written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Orphan Black “By Means Which Have
    Never Been Tried” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett [Space/BBC America] (Temple Street Productions)
  • Best Editor, Short Form: No Award
  • Best Editor, Long Form: No Award
  • Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon
  • Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Wendy N. Wagner, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton and Christie Yant
  • Best Fanzine: Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Colin Harris, and Helen Montgomery
  • Best Fancast: Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • Best Fan Writer: Laura J. Mixon
  • Best Fan Artist: Elizabeth Legget
  • The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Wesley Chu

Like last year, it has once again been proven that slate nominations can succeed but cannot win the Hugo Awards, yet do poison and disrupt them. We’ve had five No Awards votes previously; this year doubled that as voters rejected slating and the inferior works forced on the ballots that way. But it still meant that deserving people like Eugie Foster, for whom it would’ve been her last shot at a Hugo, were cut from the ballot to make way for assholes and chancers not good enough to get nominated on their own merit.

It also makes for mixed feelings about the first ever win of a Dutch person, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, whose story was …not good… to put it politely and somewhat on the sexist side and who won by default as the only non-Puppy nominee in that category. I wish i could celebrate his victory with a clear conscience and I’m happy for him, but going up against real competition there was no way he could’ve won.

Last year when the results had been made known i was convinced that the Puppies would’ve learned to leave well alone, to have realised that slating could get them nominated but not win the Hugos. This year I know there will be more shit, but fandom is mobilised now. Hopefully this means next years nominations are less of a trainwreck.

UPDATE: looking at the nominations data (PDF) makes clear what a waste the Puppies made of the Hugos. Just scroll through the short story, novelette and novella categories to see what could’ve been. For one thing, they cost Eugie Foster her last possible nomination.

Juniper Time — Kate Wilhelm

Cover of Juniper Time

Juniper Time
Kate Wilhelm
296 pages
published in 1979

This got easier to read after the rape, which happened on page 88 but I could see coming from almost the first page. A late seventies science fiction novel, with a female protagonist and a near future setting in which America is suffering a long term hypertrophied economic depression, in a stalemate with the Russians and sliding off to an autocracy (aka standard seventies dystopia #1)? Yeah, there’s going to be a rape. It’s depressingly predictable and while it’s not the worst sort of plot motivating rape I’ve ever read and you could even argue that this time it’s truly essential to the plot, it’s still disappointing to see it used. But once it was out of the way it was much easier to enjoy what is otherwise an extremely interesting novel.

Juniper Time is a novel I first read sometime in the eighties, in Dutch translation, because of the recommendation in an old issue of the Holland SF fanzine. I remember liking it well enough at the time, but also that after I’d discovered cyberpunk, it struck me as the poster child of everything in science fiction the cyberpunks revolted against, as per Bruce Sterling’s introductions to Burning Chrome and Mirror Shades. It’s a political novel, a feminist novel that’s more focused on Earthbound matters than the conquest of space, slow moving and presenting a world that’s Disco Era America writ large, depressed, crime ridden and worn out. I can well understand how dated it superficially must’ve looked after Neuromancer came out. Thirtyfive years on, cyberpunk is just as dated, the glamour has worn off and it’s easier to see Juniper Time‘s strengths.

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Final Hugo Ballot 2015

Less then a week to go to Hugo voting closes, so here’s my final ballot. First, to recap, the categories I’ll be no awarding for Puppy-related reasons:

  • Best Novella
  • Best Novelette
  • Best Short Story
  • Best Related Work
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Best Editor, Short Form
  • Best Editor, Long Form
  • Best Professional Artist
  • Best Fanzine
  • Best Fancast
  • Best Fan Writer
  • John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo)

Which leaves Best Novel:

  1. The Goblin Emperor — Katherine Addison.
  2. The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu
  3. Ancillary Sword — Ann Leckie

Best Graphic Story:

  1. Ms. Marvel, v1 — Adrian Alphona, G. Willow Wilson
  2. Saga, v3 — Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  3. Sex Criminals, v1 — Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky
  4. Rat Queens, v1 — Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch

Best Semiprozine:

  1. Strange Horizons — Niall Harrison
  2. Lightspeed Magazine — John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
  3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies — Scott H. Andrews

Best Fan Artist (the only category with no Puppy infestation):

  1. Ninni Aalto: cute cartooning, in a mix of Finnish and English
  2. Elizabeth Leggett: gorgeous paintings
  3. Spring Schoenhuth: also nominated last year for her jewelry, a reminder that fan art doesn’t need to be two-dimensional
  4. Steve Stiles: a regular nominee, decent enough but nothing special
  5. Brad Foster: another Fan Artist regular, with the most nominations and wins of everybody. He doesn’t need any more, does he?

And that’s the Hugo Awards dealt with for another year. Thanks to the Pups, it cost less time than last year, but I’m still filling my ballot in at the last possible moment.

Snowcrash as written by Reddit

MetaFilter has fun kicking around Ernest Cline’s latest nerd pandering novel. To be fair, it does sound awful:

We’re also told the government has been tracking the habits of its elite players, and when they arrive at their virtual battle stations, they find their favorite snacks waiting for them, their favorite songs queued up to accompany their virtual space fights, not to mention a “special strain of weed that helps people focus and enhances their ability to play videogames” that’s been cultivated just for them. In one revealing moment, Zack calls his mom in midst of the alien invasion and says the words that burn in the heart of every gamer who has ever felt demeaned for the hours they lavish on their favorite hobby: “All those years I spent playing videogames weren’t wasted after all, eh?”


But what struck me the most was this:

Armada is a book designed entirely around getting the reference—high-fiving the readers who recognize its shoutouts while leaving everyone else trapped behind a nerd-culture velvet rope of catchphrases and codes.

Now that’s, as both the MeFi discussion and the original article acknowledge, something that’s deeply ingrained in nerd culture, but Cline’s use feels off. It’s not just that he has contemporary teenagers (or future ones, as in his first novel) obsessed with the pop culture, all the pop culture, of their fathers and grandfathers (mothers not featuring so much), it’s the way in which they do so. Cline’s protagonists are consuming pop culture, not creating it, taking pride in collecting it and showing off their skills in doing so by constant name checking and referencing it.

It’s a very pre-internet view of geekdom, from a time when such knowledge was hard to come by, when it was sometimes genuinely difficult to find a piece of pop culture ephemera if you hadn’t picked it up or seen it when it first came out. This is no longer the case and hasn’t been for at least a decade or two, so that attitude in people who supposedly grew up in the internet age jars. Not only their obsessions are too old for them, but the ways in which they express them are too. Ultimately this is what makes Cline a bad writer, this simple failure to understand that 21st century teenagers wouldn’t have the same hangups as him.

(Title courtesy of Artw.)

Best Novel Hugo vote 2015

I don’t have to telly you I won;t be voting for any Puppy candidates, right, so the question becomes which of the three non-Puppy candidates will get my vote. Even diminished, this is a great shortlist:

    The Goblin Emperor — Katherine Addison.

    The Goblin Emperor at heart is a very traditional power fantasy, about the boy of humble origins who becomes emperor by happenstance and now has to very quickly learn how to survive in a world of political intrigue he’s completely unprepared for, filled with people who either want to manipulate him or replace him with a better figurehead. It’s one of those fantasy scenarios other writers can write multiple trilogies about to get to that point, but Katherine Addison has her goblin hero confirmed as the emperor within five pages, the rest of the novel being about him getting to grips with his new job, woefully inadequate though he feels.

    The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu

    What makes The Three-Body Problem almost missing out on the Hugo shortlist deeply ironic, is that it’s exactly the kind of oldfashioned hard science fiction the people behind this year’s vote rigging were supposed to be all in favour of. It revolves around the mystery of why all those physicists are killing themselves, the answer to which seems to be that fundamental principles of physics are broken… There are some great moments of sense of wonder, of conceptual breakthrough in it, as well as some characters Asimov would think were a bit two-dimensional.

    Ancillary Sword — Ann Leckie

    Ann Leckie’s debut novel, Ancillary Justice, won about every major science fiction award going: the BSFA, the Clarke, The Nebula and the Hugo, the first time any author won the four most important awards in the field with the same book, let alone with their debut novel. Anticipation has therefore been high for the sequel, not least on my part. Would Leckie been able to keep up the high standard of her debut? Would Ancillary Sword build up on it or be more of the same? Is Ann Leckie really the major new sf talent she seems to be or just a flash in the pan?

    I will be happy to see any of these three novels win, but this will be my voting order. Ann Leckie has had such a good year already I’d rather see either Addison or Liu win, but Addison slightly more just because how much fun The Goblin Emperor was.