Hugo Thoughts, 2009

Some early thoughts for you about the Hugos this year:

* So, uh, as it turns out, I have three Hugo nominations this year: Zoe’s Tale is in the Best Novel category, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded is in Best Related Book, and perhaps most remarkably, METAtropolis, which I edited, is in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category for its audio book form. My feeling about this all: Wow. Just, you know, wow. I’m still a little shell-shocked about that, so let’s table that for now and move on on some other points:

* First, the Best Novel Category, about which could be said: This is a good year. Doctorow, Gaiman, Stephenson and Stross: You’ve just pretty much named off my list of favorite contemporary authors. To be in their company, and specifically to have Zoe’s Tale in the company of Anathem, The Graveyard Book, Little Brother and Saturn’s Children, well. This most emphatically does not suck. I am especially delighted to be on the same ballot as Cory and Charlie; we are all good friends and to some extent have been coming up in science fiction together, and I’d often hoped we’d get to share a ballot at least once. That we three happen to share that ballot with Neal and Neil, well, that’s just extra topping on the sundae, if you know what I mean. I am extremely happy with this category, and I feel pity for you Hugo voters, because this is a hell of a slate to choose from.

I do want to say I think of the three Best Novel nominations I’ve been entirely floored to receive, this is the sweetest, for the simple reason that I worked so very hard on the voice and character of Zoë, and in doing so, I fell a little bit in love with her, like she was a second daughter to me. To see her story honored by fans like this makes me a very proud papa. Thank you. This really made my year.

* Second, I am absolutely freakin’ delighted that METAtropolis is on the ballot. My understanding is this is the first audio book ever to make any Dramatic Presentation ballot, and I believe the first audio performance on the ballot in close to 40 years 30 years, so there’s some history being made here, and I’m humbled to be part of it along with Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder and Steve Feldberg, who was the project’s producer at We’re up against some tough competition, what with the Joker, Wall-E, Hellboy and Iron Man, but you know what, I think we just might surprise them all.

* Third: Hate Mail? A Hugo nominee? Double-plus awesome. This one is particularly cool to me, since I’ve always wanted a nomination in this category, possibly because I got my start as an author in non-fiction, so this feels a little bit like a homecoming to me. No, I don’t expect this will make sense to anyone but me. Just know this particular nomination makes me happy in a very giggly way, and I am pleased as the proverbial punch. Also, you know. It’s got a picture of me as a devil on it. How cool is that.

* Fourth, this really is a spectacular ballot all the way around, in all the categories, and I’m not just saying that because so many of the writers I admire and count as friends are on it. I’m saying it because everything’s good enough that I suspect most voters will have less hair coming out of the voting than they had coming in, because it’s so hard to choose. But, then, isn’t that what you want out of a ballot? Seriously, if anyone was under the impression our little genre isn’t at the top of its game right now, I invite you once more to look at the ballot. These are fine times for science fiction and fantasy; very fine times indeed.

* As I know it’s something some of you will ask: Yes, I intend to put together a Hugo Voters package again this year. It will feature at least my nominated work, although if I can convince the other nominees to go in on an overall package as we did in 2006 and last year, so much the better. It will take me a couple of days to get it squared away, though, since I’m off tomorrow to Millennicon. Patience for the next few days, please.

* Finally, why yes, I will be in Montreal for this year’s Worldcon, Anticipation. When you get nominated for three Hugos, if you don’t show up, I believe the Worldcon committee sends someone to kick your ungrateful ass. This will not be happening to me. I will be there. Oh, yes.

I will no doubt have more to say on all of this over the next few days, but for now, once again: Thank you everyone who nominated these works of mine. This is a good day. I am humbled by your generosity. Thank you.

56 Comments on “Hugo Thoughts, 2009”

  1. Congrats, John! I think it’s safe to say it’s an honor to be nominated, especially in this company!

  2. Congratulations, John!
    What awesome goodness!
    I’ve read 3 of the best novel nominees and agree with you that this year’s field is very strong indeed.
    WAY TO GO!

  3. I think the more significant achievement is that you’re not on the ballot for Best Fan Writer. I imagine Dave Langford is going to be flying over and knocking on your door pretty soon. I hear he’s been trying to get off that ballot for some time.

    On a more boring, yet serious note, congratulations to yourself and everyone. I think you’re entirely deserving for each nomination. I also feel good that I’ve read all but one of the best novel nominations. (You can safely say “not it!”, I had Zoe’s Tale as soon as it hit the shelves)

  4. Very, very nice. Congratulations. Is it true that it is an honor just to be nominated or is that just loser talk? :)

  5. Congratulations! You do realize that when you get to Montreal, you need to take a picture of yourself with a bottle of Maudite along with your Hate Mail book, noting the character at the bottom of the beer label, then photoshop your picture appropriately. Cheers!

  6. Richard:

    “I think the more significant achievement is that you’re not on the ballot for Best Fan Writer.”

    Well, I made clear I thought I should not be nominated in the category this year, so I am happy people believed me.


    “Is it true that it is an honor just to be nominated or is that just loser talk? :)”

    It’s not just loser talk. It is an honor to be nominated, and to be nominated in particularly strong fields.

  7. This is really awesome news and major congratulations are in order. Here’s hoping you nail all categories, though as you already mentioned, the list is all-round awesome as well, making voter choices very difficult indeed.

    Still, awesome. Very, very cool.

  8. Congratulations.

    You’re right — it is a great slate.

    Also worth noting that none of the nominees is a sequel (yours is in the OMW universe, but (a) I understand it’s readable without reading the rest, and (b) I actually have read the rest). Add in the fact that 3 of the 5 are YA or children’s books, and I think this is the most accessible list I’ve seen in a long time.

    Anathem, with its 900+ pages, still looks daunting, but reading all the nominees seems much more feasible than in previous years.
    [The first WorldCon I attended (MilPhil), most of the nominees were series books. Including prequels, it took over a dozen books to cast an informed ballot.]

  9. Well, nothing personal, but I hope Little Brother takes the novel Hugo. I’ve read all of them but Anathem (I don’t have time for books that can be dropped in a pillow case and used as a murder weapon) and Little Brother blew my mind the most.

    The Neils both have enough rewards heaped on their heads already anyhow.

  10. The last audio nominee was, I think, only 30 years ago, with the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series.

    Before that, though, it was 1971 and 1972, with Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire and two classic Firesign Theater albums, I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus and Don’t Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.

  11. Congratulations to you and your nominees, even Hate Mail. Especially that one, actually. Yes, that’s one’s just lovely. Hm. Yes.

  12. Awesome, great list, and many, many congratulations to you and the other nominees! It’s a good year for us readers, and I’m sure it’s a particularly sweet year for you. Again, well done.

  13. Dude. Dude. Congratulations! I haven’t had a chance to pick up METAtropolis yet, but it’s on my purchase list.

    What a way to start out 2009!

  14. Hey, what’s the best way to pick up METAtropolis these days? I was looking at Audible and all I see is that I can get the first story for free.

  15. It was that picture of BaconCat on the back jacket that got you the one for Hate Mail. ;) Congrats!

  16. Congratulations! That’s pretty kick ass. I have no idea who I’m rooting for. Um, I mean, that is, since it’s your blog, CLEARLY rooting for you. Root root. *grin*

  17. Um…Scalzi, I’ve really enjoyed your Old Man series, a lot!But Amazon reviews led me to think the Zoe was a rehash, so I didn’t read it. And I’ve been harboring a grudge against you since! :) For rehashing.
    But a Hugo nomination? I guess I should reconsider.
    But still…
    Well, congrats! That is a huge honor!

  18. おめでとう, and see you in Montreal! (I’ll be the very short person jumping up and down in an effort to see over the heads of the average-sized, while claiming that I read your blog.) It’s a very fine vintage for SF, and I can’t wait to be there and see it all pan out. I’m seriously crossing my fingers for METAtropolis. Congratulations again!

  19. Congrats!

    Very interesting that the majority of the best novels are YA/Children’s. Happenstance or the sf community tipping the hat to YA bringing in a new generation of readers?

    And I agree about Maudite, the only beer I know with a backstory.

  20. Wow, I guess I should be pleased that I very recently started to become aware of your work, with the timing working out just so that I finished Zoe’s Tale yesterday, and had bought METAtropolis from Audible at the same time as I picked up Zoe’s Tale so I know what I’ll listen to next. So, um, hi! Congrats!

  21. I am especially delighted to be on the same ballot as Cory and Charlie; we are all good friends and to some extent have been coming up in science fiction together,

    Clique! Clique! (or should I say, CONSPIRACY!)

    But…hot damn…that’s some high falutin’ company there….

  22. Congrats on all three, but especially on METAtropolis, which I especially enjoyed =)

  23. Zoe’s Tale – a rehash ?! No,no,no,no,no!
    Plotwise, it overlaps a lot with ‘Last Colony’, but from a different perspective (and I buy the notion it was *harder* to write because it had to dovetail with the earlier book, while augmenting it (and in some ways, reinventing it)). I loved it dearly (my 24-year old daughter, who turned me on to Scalzi’s work originally, also loves it). Zoe’s voice was _so_ right … I was in awe. And in tears, at times.
    Yeah, ok, I’m a fan. So sue me.

    I’ve been giving sets of these books to friends/families for a while now. _Nobody_ has been disappointed.

    And many grats to John! Much deserved!
    – Jim

  24. John- you are the MAN!! Never read something you wrote (that I have read so far) that was not just the best!!!
    I do have an idea though that maybe other fans will like…..
    You write a colaboration with some more conservative guys like Travis Taylor or John Ringo. Maybe something like we have never seen. Nuetral universe, you write a story in it, John writes something, you write afer that, etc. etc. I have been at the bar all day watching B ball, but I do think we have the outilne of a truly great series….

  25. It was Chapter 14 did it, wasn’t it? I mean, c’mon. Pages 152-156 are hands-down some of the strongest storytelling in science fiction in five, 10, 15 years! The characters!! The plot!1! The setting. Omigod, the setting!!&!

    Seriously, congratulations and good luck. That is indeed heady company, but you’re up to it. (For all of which, though, if you can only have one, I hope it’s for Hate Mail.)

  26. Multiple Congrats!

    I also strongly agree with you about the current state of awesome in the field today.

  27. Huh. I’m having trouble finding it through iTunes. I did a search for “METAtropolis” on the search function, and “Scalzi,” and neither came up.

    Is this just me being stupid?

  28. Actually, the best novel list has a nice bunch of authors, very underwhelming list of books. Not remotely spectacular, that part. (Haven’t read Anathem, that could be, possibly).

    Rest is fairly reasonable.

  29. My word, it’s a good time for dead-tree sci-fi. That line-up is luvverly (even if I did need oxygen and pitons to get through bits of Anathem, it was worth it for the view from the top).

    I know the praise of some random internet weenie might not carry that much weight, but bloody good on you – on all of you, for that matter. I feel all proud and emotional that this little genre is in such spectacular condition. And not so little, either.

    Wow. Well done you. And gh0d, what a decision…

  30. Congratulations!

    I notice that 4 of the 5 best novel nominees have 4 of the most popular writer’s blogs on the internet. I wonder if this is a coincidence? Not that I am saying anyone on the list in undeserving at all. Like everyone else here, I think this is an incredibly strong category this year. I just find it interesting. It will certainly be the best year ever for getting the nominees’ perspective on the evening.

  31. Congratulations!! You’re right, this is quite a slate, and it’s going to be bloody difficult to make the choices. I’m starting to read what I haven’t yet read….

    I’m going to be in Montreal myself, for my first WorldCon, and I wish you the best of luck! (I live in Ottawa… no way am I missing a WorldCon that’s a 2hr drive away!)


  32. Awesome work Scalzi. Here’s hoping your prolificity continues. And to think just a few years ago, I only knew you as the OPM movie review guy….

  33. I think it’s a crazy ballot, that’s for sure. I was really surprised with some of the nominees, though I could have called that Best Novel slate with my eyes closed (and I did on one of my blogs!)

    I’m hoping that instead of getting to say I came in fifth twice like the last two years, I’ll get to say that I came in fifth for fanwriter and sixth for fanzine!

    By the way, if you want to comment on who you think should win or who you hope will win, I’m doing the Handicapping the Hugos issue next week.


  34. Congrats! I’ve been trying to figure out whether I can get to WorldCon, and now that I actually know people in for awards (I’m not counting you, even though you’re kind enough to let me play at your blog, so don’t worry about that ‘doesn’t know boundaries’ thing!), I feel like I really should… or at least buy the cheaper membership to vote.

  35. Chris Garcia:

    “if you want to comment on who you think should win or who you hope will win, I’m doing the Handicapping the Hugos issue next week.”

    I’m gonna hold back on that until the vote is all in, I think.

  36. I think that this is the first time I’ve ever had all five nominees for Best Novel already on my shelf when the final ballot came out. And I’ve already read three of them!

  37. @Garcia

    “I could have called that Best Novel slate with my eyes closed (and I did on one of my blogs!)”

    Now see, I’ve always said you wrote this way but didn’t expect to hear you admit it.

  38. Re: comment 43 – could it be because they all love being writers? And it comes out in their pores? And they’re compulsive about it? ;-)

    Mr. Scalzi – many, many congratulations. Being selected as a nominee is indeed a sweet honor; when you respect the other contenders, knowing who they are makes it better. Apparently, some of the others feel similarly. One of you guys will be very happy in a short while, and the others will be happy for him, knowing he made a great contribution to SF. Best kind of contest.

  39. One of my stock suggestions, for someone relatively new to science fiction altogether, is to look up the lists of Hugo nominees, not just the winners. It’s a better way to see what was going on in the field, and to find the authors you will be happy you did.
    Yeah, this is a good year!