Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's Time to Nominate for the Hugos!

It's that time again! If you a) were a member (supporting or attending) of the WorldCon in Denver this past August; or b) are a member (supporting or attending) of the upcoming WorldCon in Montreal, it's time for you to figure out what everyone should be reading this summer! You'll have to head over to Anticipation's Online Ballot before 11:59 pm (PST) on Feb. 28th. But don't delay, especially now that there are so many recommendations out there.

As well as the titles that I'll be suggesting in a minute, you can also look at: the Locus Recommended Reading List, SF Awards Watch Recommendations section, and the Hugo Recommendation LiveJournal community, amongst others.

Now, on to my rather magazine-heavy nods. My comments in blue, title links go to the story or related website (if available).

I spent a lot of time reading magazines and older fiction in 2008, and several of the new books I did read aren't really ballott-worthy. So for me, 2008 novels are a bit slim-pickin's. However, I suspect that Ian M. Banks' Matter and Neal Stephenson's Anathem will shoot to the top of the list and keep things interesting.
  • The Love We Share Without Knowing, Chris Barzak [Love and death in Japan]
  • Incandescence, Greg Egan [My review, How could you discover relativity if you could never see the stars and lived in near-free-fall?]
  • Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory [My review, Demons can possess people and seem to be artefacts of pop culutre; more importantly, the toll that mental illness takes on families]
  • Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams [Adventure story; what happens in the spaces that have to be there even if they weren't designed?]
I was surprised that this category didn't have more contenders, but some years this is the strongest category and some years it isn't.
  • Truth, Oct/Nov Asimovs, Robert Reed [Review; The psychology of the war on terrorism]
  • The Overseer, March F&SF, Albert E. Cowdrey [Review; The psychology of evil in and around the American Civil War]
  • Tenbrook of Mars, Analog July/Aug, Dean McLaughlin [Review; Engineering and Project Management save the day!]
This has to be the strongest category of the year. Even though I can only nominate 5 of these, I wanted to make sure people know about all of them: some of them will appeal more to some folks and less to others; all are worthy of your attention.
  • Pump Six, Sept. F&SF, Paolo Bacigalupi [Review; Pollutants make people devolve into idiots]
  • Shoggoths in Bloom, March Asimovs, Elizabeth Bear [Review; The ecology of Lovecraft; also-race relations]
  • Vinegar Peace, or, the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage, July Asimovs, Michael Bishop [Review; A heart-wrenching look at what it's like to lose a child]
  • Crystal Nights, Interzone #215, Greg Egan [Review; Ethics of playing God]
  • The Ray Gun: A Love Story, Feb. Asimovs, James Alan Gardner [A paean to and examination of the old pulp sf conventions and growing up]
  • Pride and Prometheus, Jan F&SF, John Kessel [Frankenstein meets Pride and Predjudice. I'm not kidding, it's awesome]
  • Divining Light, Aug. Asimovs, Ted Kosmatka [Review; Quantum Mechanics fucks with people. What happened in the story? Who knows? But it was mighty impressive nonetheless]
  • How the Day Runs Down, Dec F&F, John Langan [Review; Zombies on stage. But it totally works]
  • Five Thrillers, April F&SF, Robert Reed [Review; What happens when psychopaths get power]
  • Days of Wonder, Oct/Nov F&SF, Geoff Ryman [Review; In a far-future pastoralism, one being tries to progress]
Short Story
  • Until Forgiveness Comes, Strange Horizons, K. Tempest Bradford [How should we honor the tragic dead?]
  • Lagos, Aug Asimovs, Matthew Johnson [Review; Internet workers in Nigeria]
  • Pseudo Tokyo, Interzone #214, Jennifer Linnaea [Review; Surrealism in the multiverse]
  • Indomitable, Baen’s April, Jack McDevitt [Review; THIS is why we should continue to explore space!]
  • 'Dhuluma' No More, Oct/Nov Asimovs, Gord Sellar [Review; No matter what we do about climate change, it will affect real people; we can't pretend moral innocence]
  • Shed That Guilt! Double Your ProductivityOvernight!, Sep F&SF, Michael Swanwick & Eileen Gunn [Review; Writers are crazy people]
Best Related Book
The great thing about the titles in this section: they do what they say on the tin.
  • Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films, Roz Kaveney
  • What it is We Do When We Read Science Fiction, Paul Kincaid
  • Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn
  • Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, John Scalzi
Graphic Novel
This is an experimental category, but there's a proposal for making it permanent. Let's make sure there are enough nominations to make it a viable award!


Jonathan M said...

I think that has to be one of the most optimistic Best Novel shortlists I've ever seen :-)

I wish it well because I'm sure it's a better representation of the health of the field than the eventual one will be.

Cheryl said...

Given that the Kincaid book is primarily (or possibly totally - my copy is in CA) reprinted articles, I don't think it is eligible. Shame, but there it is.

Karen Burnham said...

Jonathan - well, one does realize that once one has begun thinking about these things too hard, one gains a bit of a different perspective on these things than average. I'm still not sure if that's a good/bad/neutral thing.

Cheryl- I saw some discussion on that topic re: BSFA, and I thought the resolution was that there's something original in there, thus it can be nominated, like Gary's "Soundings" was, just because the introduction was fresh. I could totally be wrong, but given that I'm only nominating 4 to begin with I don't feel like I'll waste a slot if it's ruled ineligible. Similarly with "Hate Mail," if that's ruled ineligible.

Thanks for the warning though! Nominators beware, as it were.

Cheryl said...


Absolutely. I'd like the book to be eligible, and having new material certainly helps. However, we are unlikely to get a ruling in advance, so it is just a question of whether you want to risk one of your choices on a book that may not be eligible. If, as you say, you don't have a full slate, it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, thanks for the nod!

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, somewhere around a quarter of my book is made up of previously unpublished material. What's the cut-off?

Cheryl said...


I don't think there is an official limit, but 25% sounds pretty substantial. In the end it may be down to a decision of the Hugo Administrator, but I shall ask Kevin for an opinion.

Kevin Standlee said...

Paul, Cheryl:

What Cheryl said is correct. The Hugo Award rules do not specifically address the question of how much new material does it take to make something a new work. Only the general rule applies. ("Hugo Awards are given for work in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year.") That means the Administrator decides whether a work with sufficient nominations to make the ballot is a "work appearing for the first time."

Administrators are notoriously unwilling to make prospective or hypothetical judgments, preferring to wait until they are forced to make a ruling, so it's likely that the only way you will know is if it gets enough nominations. In that case, either they'll rule it a new work and it will make the ballot, or they'll disqualify it as having insufficient new material, and they'll say so in the nomination announcement.

Anonymous said...


Looks like we have Incandescence in common.

See our top SF of 2008 here.

All best

SF Concatenation

Karen Burnham said...

Yours looks like a good list! I think I too would have recommended Reynold's House of Suns if I had gotten around to reading it.