Today was the deadline for this year’s Hugo Award nominations, so I finally got down to work and submitted my ballot.
I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable of the field to submit nominations in every category, but I also wanted to talk about what works I did nominate, and why. So here goes:
- The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey – I reviewed this in 2012.
- Westlake Soul by Rio Youers – I also reviewed this in 2012.
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – Surprise! Yet another review in 2012.
- Fade to White by Catherynne M. Valente, published by Clarkesworld Magazine – Valente is one of those authors I desperately want a blood transfusion from, in the hopes that I might absorb and recreate her writerly amazingness. Like the previous year’s “Silently and Very Fast”, this story examines the uneasy ways in which technology and progress affect our bodies and our families, but this time through the lens of 50’s boosterism and Cold War paranoia. The full text is available to read here.
- The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal – A lovely story that blends together The Wizard of Oz; 50’s-era retro futurism; and painful truths about old age, losing the one you love, and balancing your family hopes with your career. You don’t think it would work, but it totally does. The full text is available to read here.
The whole “revisionist look at the 50’s” theme present in both stories is just a coincidence, I swear.
Best Short Story
This is the category I felt most informed about because of all the stories I consume, but even so, the frontrunners were obvious.
- Robot by Helena Bell, published in Clarkesworld Magazine – The thing I love about this story is that it’s written in second person – and God, does Helena Bell make it work. This has to be one of the most jaw-dropping, inventive, virtuoso-like (virtuosic?) stories of 2012. The full text is available to read here, but I honestly think it’s better in its audio form – Cat Rambo’s narration gives it an extra edge of pain and verisimilitude. You can listen to the podcast version here.
- Immersion by Aliette de Bodard, published in Clarkesworld Magazine – This was one of the most heartbreaking stories I heard last year. This is one in a string of stories written by Aliette de Bodard taking place in the future on a series of Vietnamese space stations. She is one of several authors whose writing has forced me to analyze my position as privileged reader and writer of speculative fiction – being that I’m white, anglo, straight, ablebodied, and cis-gendered – and for that I am grateful. The full text is available to read here.
- Spindles by L.B. Gale, published in Lightspeed Magazine – This one is a bit more experimental, but I’m a sucker for stories that reinvent and subvert fairy tale tropes, and this one has a healthy, heaping tablespoon of feminist dissent. The full text is available to read here.
- The Seven Samovars by Peter Sursi, published in Lightspeed Magazine – This one isn’t as “deep” or issues-laden as the nominees above, but there’s something about the breeziness and whimsy of it that I dig. It’s quite dialgoue-heavy, but it works because it sells the otherworldliness of the story’s setting; I would love to work at a coffee shop like the one in the story – either that, or have a cup of Erzebet’s mint, basil, and lemon verbena tea, which sounds delicious. The full text is available to read here.
- Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain by Cat Rambo, published in her anthology Near + Far by Hydra House – Cat Rambo read this story aloud at the 2012 World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, and it made me and the audience gasp. Literally. I figure any story that can do that is worth greater attention. The full text is available to read here.
Best Related Work
- Writing Excuses with Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells – This podcast has taught me so much about writing in the year and a half that I’ve been listening to it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
- The Avengers. I saw this movie three times in the theatre. It became the basis of one of my most popular blog posts ever. Enough said.
Best Editor, Short Form
- Lynne M. Thomas for Apex Magazine – I really love Apex in the short time that I’ve been subscribing to it, so I might as well give it, and her, another form of support.
- John Joseph Adams for Lightspeed Magazine – It took me a long time to get into the groove of Lightspeed after I subscribed to it. A lot of the time, I don’t like the stories and novellas he chooses for this magazine. However, his choices do display a consistent editorial sensibility, and for that, I respect him.
Best Editor, Long Form
- Brett Savory of ChiZine Publications
- Sandra Kasturi of ChiZine Publications
What can I say? I love me some ChiZine. I love the work they put out (as evidenced by my Best Novel nominations above), and I love the fact that they’re based in Toronto like I am.
Best Fan Artist
- Galen Dara – Her portfolio is available here.
- Ana Juan – Her website is flash-based, it appears, so I can’t figure out how to link to her portfolio directly. However, Tor has a nice gallery of some of her work.
- Carrie Ann Baade – Her portfolio is available here.
I found these suggestions through Twitter – thanks, Mary Robinette Kowal and co!
I subscribe to the first three magazines, and read slush (quite happily!) for the fourth. There is no way I can be objective about this category.
- SF Squeecast – Yes, this won the Hugo last year, but I only started listening to it a few weeks ago, and it’s amazing. I love the hosts’ crazy conversations.
- SF Crossing the Gulf – I love Karen Lord, so I’ll gladly support the podcast she cohosts with Karen Burnham.
- The Geeks Guide to the Galaxy – Transcripts of GGG’s interviews show up in my electronic subscription to Lightspeed Magazine, and I quite enjoy them, so this gets a nod. One caveat, though: I much prefer the transcripts over the original audio versions.
Best Fan Writer
- Requires Only That You Hate – Like I mentioned above, several websites in the last year have made me re-examine the privilege that I hold in regards to being a “normative” consumer and (hopefully) producer of fiction. I’m nowhere near close to writing truly inclusive, progressive fiction, but Requires Only That You Hate, with its queer, feminist, and PoC critical lens, does a fine job of lobbing introspective grenades.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
- Damien Walters Grintalis – Here I admit my bias again: Damien is an editor at Electric Velocipede, which I read slush for. I haven’t read her debut novel Ink, but several short stories of hers are available online, and they’re dark, literary, and fantastic. Try these on for size if you’re interested: When She is Empty and They Make of You a Monster.
- Peter Sursi – As I mentioned above, I quite liked “The Seven Samovars,” and figured that since he was one of the few new/upcoming writers on my ballot, I should show him some support.
- L.B. Gale – Same thing. I liked “Spindles”, and I also quite like her blog, so I want to support someone new and awesome.
- Rachel Hartman – Seraphina was Hartman’s debut, and as far as I’m aware, she hasn’t published anything else. Since her book was one of my favourites of last year, it’s foolish to leave her off the list.
So that’s my ballot for the year. What about you? Even though today’s the deadline, what remarkable fiction from 2012 can you recommend?