Hugo Thoughts, 2010

Do I have thoughts on this year’s Hugo nomination slate? Boy, do I!

* First, of course, hugely thrilled that The God Engines made the ballot in the novella category. This is the first fiction nomination for me outside of the novel category, and it is really very gratifying. The fact of the matter is that writing shorter work is in many ways harder for me than writing a novel, and TGE is so different than most of my other work that it was bound to provoke some “wtf?” reactions. To be blunt, I was expecting lots of people to flat-out hate it. So for it to get a nod really really really makes my day. Any Hugo nomination is special, but this one is, shall we say, especially special. If you nominated me, thank you.

Also, inasmuch as I believe that one is known by the company one keeps, I’m delighted to see that the novella category is packed with extraordinary talent this year: Charlie Stross, who continues his impressive streak of sequential Hugo slate appearances (he’s nominated in the Novelette category as well); James Morrow, who is as delightful a person as he is impressive a writer; Ian McDonald and Nancy Kress, both short fiction Hugo winners (Nancy most recently last year, in fact); and the late and lamented Kage Baker. This is as strong a category as I’ve been in; I suspect voters are going to have trouble trying to make up their minds which novella to vote for. This is as it should be.

* The short fiction nominations this year are interesting as much as where they come from as for their content. Consider that last year, nine of the nominees in the short fiction came from the “Big Three” SF magazines (with Asimov’s alone responsible for seven of those), while only one nomination came from an electronic publication (Jim Baen’s Universe). The year before that, there were 11 short fiction nominees from the “Big Three” and none electronic; the year before that, 11 “Big Three” short fiction nominations, and two electronic media nominations.

This year, Asimov’s is the only member of the “Big Three” represented in short fiction, with three nominations, while and Clarkesworld, two online publications, are responsible for two each, and the rest of  the nominees are spread out among anthologies, collections, stand-alone book editions and smaller print markets; it’s the most diverse group of nominees, in terms of publisher, that the short fiction categories have seen, in their recent history at least.

What does it mean? Maybe nothing; it could be a blip, since one year does not constitute a trend. However, I would like to think it means something positive for short fiction; namely, that SF/F readers are getting used to looking in a variety of places for short fiction and finding quality work when they go looking. In other words, it’s not that there’s something wrong with the “Big Three,” it’s that there’s something right about the rest of the short fiction field. That’s pretty encouraging, both in terms of the future of short fiction in the genre, and the overall quality of short SF/F at this point in time.

* In the headlining novel category, I think it’s an excellent year, and I think the six nominees are not only fine nominees in themselves but act as a genuine sample of the range of science fiction and fantasy at the moment. From WWW:Wake to Palimpsest to Boneshaker, The City & The City, The Windup Girl and Julian Comstock, it’s difficult to say you don’t get variety, or that there’s not something for everybody there. To be sure, someone will find something to complain about — it wouldn’t be a Hugo slate if someone wasn’t kvetching somewhere about it — but those people are high, and not on the fun kind of drugs. Out here in the real world, this is a fine slate.

* Indeed, overall, it’s hard not to consider this an excellent year in nearly all categories. The weakest category for me is the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form because while, yes, I get that lots of fans really like their Doctor Who, I think having it constitute 60% of the slate might suggest nominators aren’t looking at the whole range of sf/f entertainment options available to them. LIKE STARGATE: UNIVERSE, PEOPLE. Sorry, that just slipped out. But aside from that, this year’s nods are pretty damn good: Good work, good range of work, and good diversity of publishers and writers, however you wish to slice the term “diversity.” Again, someone is sure to complain about something, but remember: They’re high, in a distinctly un-fun way. And I’m stoked that so many of my friends are on the ballot. Hey, I know interesting, creative people. It was bound to happen, you know.

* Incidentally, the nomination I think is the best? Frederik Pohl, for Best Fan Writer (for his genuinely excellent blog). What I also think is excellent? That none of the last three winners of the Fan Writer Hugo are nominated this year, which means we’ll have four different Best Fan Writers in four years, which is something that hasn’t happened in 35 years. I think that’s a very positive thing. Don’t feel bad for those three previous winners, incidentally, as each of them is elsewhere on the ballot. See. Being a fan writer pays off.

* Getting back to me, there are two things I know people are going to ask me about, so let me address them quickly:

Am I Doing a Hugo Reader’s Packet This Year? No, I am not — but that’s not to say one isn’t being planned. I don’t know how much more I can say about it at this point, so I won’t. However, I can say that I do intend to make The God Engines available to Hugo voters for their consideration, one way or another, in the reasonably near future. Update: Aussiecon 4 just put up the following note: “Aussiecon 4 is producing the 2010 Hugo Voter Packet: an online collection of nominee works for the members of Aussiecon 4.  More information about the 2010 Packet will be available here soon.” I’ll be putting The God Engines in that packet for voters to consider.

Am I Attending AussieCon4? I don’t know yet; as many of you may remember I just put down new floors and carpet in my house, and hey, that’s not cheap. That said, if I can manage it, I would very much like to go; I think this will be a fun Worldcon, and I’m keen on finally getting my butt down to Australia.

So: Want to go, have to see if I can. When I know, I’ll tell all y’all.

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