Listen. I have been super flaky the last couple months, what with starting a new day job and being exhausted and busy with that (plus a nasty cold over the last couple of weeks that has only exacerbated the situation), but I finally managed to get my Hugo Awards ballot filled out and submitted today. Here it is, with thoughts on the categories.
- Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
- Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
- Jade City by Fonda Lee
- The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
- Null States by Malka Older
I always feel like I read far more Hugo-worthy novels than there are slots on the ballot, and that was true again in 2017. My nominations this year are definitely fantasy-heavy, and Jade City and Kings of the Wyld are pretty far and away my favorites. The Stone Sky is an obvious choice, but it really is that good a book, the author has expressed a preference for folks to nominate the book rather than the series (for the Best Series Hugo), and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Jemisin win a third Hugo in a row. Under the Pendulum Sun is likely a (very) long shot for the Hugo, which tends to skew towards the more populist side of literary SFF, but it’s a fantastic and ambitious book that deserves to be recognized for its ambitious creativity. Null States is the only science fiction novel I’m nominating this year, but there were several others that I considered (Ann Leckie’s Provenance and Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes in particular). Ultimately, however, the best books I read in 2017 were mostly fantasy.
Of my picks here, I’m guessing only one or two are likely to make the finalist list–probably Jade City and The Stone Sky. Last year, I had read all of the nominated novels, which was kind of neat, but this year I’m seeing a good deal of buzz about a couple of books that I didn’t get around to (most notably Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous), so I expect to have some reading to do before this year’s final round of voting.
- Gluttony Bay by Matt Wallace
- And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker
- The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
- Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts
- The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente
I read an awful lot of novellas, so this category was the hardest for me to pare down to just five nominees. I said very early last year that I though Sarah Pinsker’s murder mystery novella (and the first novella ever published in Uncanny) about a convention of Sarahs from multiple universes was going to be my favorite novella of the year, and that might still be true. I adore it. However, it was an incredible year for novellas, and there are several very worthy titles (All Systems Red by Martha Wells, The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson, Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Winterglass, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s self-published Prime Meridian) that I simply didn’t have room for here (though I fully expect to see one or two of those on the finalist list).
What I’m most excited about this year, RE: Novellas, is the likely end to Tor.com’s absolute dominance of the category. Sure, they’re still publishing great work that benefits from a formidable marketing apparatus, but I’m very happy to see so many other publishers (and self-publishers!) getting in on the novella game.
- “Cracks” by Xen
- “Chesirah” by L.D. Lewis
- “Down and Out in R’lyeh” by Catherynne M. Valente
Sadly, there weren’t many novelettes I was particularly passionate about this year. I found these two stories from FIYAH Literary Magazine‘s first year to be impressive, though, and Catherynne M. Valente’s Lovecraftian story is a delight. If only the novelette length could get the sort of renaissance that we’re seeing in the novella these days (hint, hint, publishers).
Best Short Story
- “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell
- “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
- “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
- “The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant” by Rachael K. Jones
- “Home is Where My Mother’s Heart is Buried” by Wole Talabi
The obvious standouts here are “Fandom for Robots” and “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” both of which have been widely shared and buzzed about. “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” is my favorite story from my favorite anthology of the year, the John Joseph Adams-edited Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies.
- Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya
- The Crimson Empire Trilogy by Alex Marshall
I’m still not sold on the whole idea of a Best Series award, to be honest, but I have been following Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya work for some years now and think it deserves to be recognized. I also have really enjoyed Alex Marshall’s grimdark pastiche trilogy; it’s smart, funny and queer as heck.
Best Related Work
I suspect that this year’s Best Related Work will go to Ursula Le Guin’s final collection of essays, which I haven’t actually gotten around to reading yet.
Best Graphic Story
- Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood
- Victor LaValle’s Destroyer
I’m not a great reader of comic books, but these were the ones I read and liked most last year. I don’t expect Destroyer to make the cut, however, since the trade of it only just came out this week.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
- The Shape of Water
- The Good Place (Season 1)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- The Expanse (Season 2)
- Get Out
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
- “USS Callister” Black Mirror
- “Twenty-Sided, Die” iZombie
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ Opening Credits Sequence
- “Rocket Man” music video by Majid Adin
I predict that the only overlap between my nominations and the actual finalist list is going to be the Black Mirror episode, but I am telling you, “Twenty-Sided, Die” is an amazing bit of television. Also, I want every single person who is still nominating episodes of Game of Thrones to explain to me what exactly they think is Hugo-worthy about that garbage show at this point.
Best Professional Editor, Long Form
- Navah Wolfe
- Diana Pho
Best Professional Editor, Short Form
- Lee Harris
- Brian White
- John Joseph Adams
- Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
I’d like to see Brian White’s work at Fireside get recognized. Lee Harris edits almost all my favorite Tor.com novellas. John Joseph Adams is probably the individual editor of short fiction whose tastes most often overlap with my own, and he edited a near-perfect anthology in 2017 (Cosmic Powers! Read it!). And the Thomases are consistently responsible for great content in Uncanny.
Best Professional Artist
- Richard Anderson
Best Fan Artist
Skipped, because I don’t actually follow fan art enough to know anything about it.
- FIYAH Literary Magazine
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- The Book Smugglers
- Fireside Fiction
Personally, I think FIYAH is doing some of the most important work in the genre right now, debuting over 20 black authors just in their first year of publication, but this is a really competitive category.
Best Fanzine/Best Fan Writer
These are the categories that SF Bluestocking (the blog) and I (the writer) are eligible in, so I feel weird talking about my nominations and speculating publicly about how the categories will go. Let’s just say that I did nominate myself as well as some other great folks.
- Fangirl Happy Hour
Because, let’s be real, I only regularly listen to this one podcast. Renay and Ana are great.
Best Young Adult Book
- The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
I didn’t read much YA in 2017, but this book was wonderful.
The John W. Campbell Award
- Rebecca Roanhorse
- Vina Jie-Min Prasad