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April 11th, 2015

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02:06 am - Musings On The Hugo Awards and Voting For the Hugos
The 2015 nominees for the Hugo Awards have been announced. If you are unaware of the controversy regarding them, or if at first glance many of the nominees seem unusual, here’s an explanation, and here's a bit more about the issue. See the cut tag at the end of this post if you are interested in seeing some of the more recent and lengthy discussions of these issues.

In any case, I'm now going to discuss the Hugo nominees and my thoughts on who to vote for. I can definitely understand other people making other choices. I've never nominated or voted for Hugo awards before, and while my finances aren't quite as good as they were before the economy crash, they are getting there and I can definitely afford the $40 associate membership, which allows voting (and nomination, if that wasn't already done), and will also allow me to nominate next year (more info here).

My first thought is that I definitely should be nominating work. I'm surprised that not enough people nominated William Gibson's The Peripheral for best novel – I don't think it's as good as Ancillary Sword, but it was quite good (Here are some of my brief thoughts on The Peripheral), also, in addition to the inherent nastiness of the shorter fiction nominees, I'd have loved to see Ruthanna Emrys "The Litany of Earth" up for best novelette and her just as amazing story "Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" for best short story (Here are my thoughts about and links to both of these stories (as well as comments about the film Interstellar).

From my PoV, 2014 lacked any novels that filled me with the same joy and wonder as either 2010's The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (which wasn't nominated for a Hugo, despite IMHO being better than almost all of the nominees) or 2013's Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (which of course won last year).

Of the novels that have been nominated, I'm ignoring John C. Wright's work, both because he's part of the cabal of vileness and also because well before I knew he was a hate-filled reactionary, I tried reading one of his books, because it was transhumanist SF (The Golden Age), a sub-genre I typically very much love. I have no idea if it contained any vileness, because a combination of bad writing, impressively unimaginative ideas, and really boring characters meant I never made it past page 10 or 12. Also, I've read 2.5 Harry Dresden novels, and reviews of later novels don't indicate that I need to feel compelled to read more. Finally, Lines of Departure sounds terrible in addition to being written by a reactionary.

So, that leaves two novels, and an easy choice – Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, which for me was not quite as wonderful as Ancillary Justice, but was nevertheless a very fine novel, and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette). Many people whose opinions I respect reviewed The Goblin Emperor very highly and clearly loved it, but I found it rather dull and quit around 1/3 of the way through. So, definitely Ancillary Sword

Then, I'm voting a big swath of No Award for Best Novella, Novelette, Short Story, & Related Work, because all nominees were put forth by vile people gaming the system, and I won't vote for anything in such categories or by anyone who was actively involved in either "puppies" group. I respect other choices for voting or not, but this is mine.

Best Graphic Story is quite easy for me. In addition to thinking that the new Ms Marvel is an excellent comic, I'm also an utter philistine wrt comics, meaning that I'm really only really interested in supers comics. I read the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan's Saga while visiting a friend, and while I definitely enjoyed it, I was also never inclined to go out of my way to read more, and that's largely true for me for all non-supers comics.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form actually gives me a less than easy choice. I read a fair amount about Edge of Tomorrow before I decided not to see it (including extensive spoilers), and in addition to the obvious Tom Cruise problem (ie, his being the star), it also has (from my PoV) the dumb as a bag of hair problem, so no. My interest in seeing The Lego Movie is below negative, so that's also out. I very much enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, but it was not much more than silly fun, and there were films that managed more than this nominated, so that's also out.

This leaves, Interstellar & Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Interstellar wins points because it's the only film on the list that can actually be described as SF, however, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was from my PoV, quite good. So, what it comes down to for me is the fact that the couple of minutes of Interstellar simply didn't make much sense and the ending and other parts could have been done better (see link above). In contrast, I enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier from beginning to end, and its plot actually made sense, so Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Then there's Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form - I watched the first few episodes of the first season of Grimm and was really bored, I've caught glimpses of it since and nothing has changed my mind. Also, while I continue to love Arrow, at this point, The Flash is something I read episode descriptions of on Wikipedia and watch crossover episodes with Arrow - it's simply not very good, it started out mediocre and stayed that way.

If The Flash had actually learned the lessons of good modern TV (the biggest being keep the season arc moving) and revealed (but not necessarily caught) Dr. Wells by or soon after the mid-season break, it might have become a good show – instead, it's plodding and dull, as well as deeply problematic in a variety of ways. I actively avoid everything to do with Game of Thrones after being repelled by the first 30 (moderately well written but far too grim and nasty) pages of the first book – not something I'd ever vote for.

I'm also honestly surprised that anything from the most recent season of Doctor Who made the list (especially since the right-wing trolls didn't nominate it). What I remember most about the half season I watched before I gave up in disgust, was the rather impressive number of times the Doctor insulted Clara for being fat and used negging on her. The first episode (where the Doctor didn't speak much) and Time Heist were both almost good, Listen was not, so definitely no, I've vote for both Grimm or The Flash over Doctor Who.

In vivid contrast, I love Orphan Black, and while I don't think season 2 was quite as tight and well done as season 1, the last episode was very good, and I'd vote for it solely for the dance scene with all of the clones, which was both great fun and a very impressive technical & acting achievement – Tatiana Maslany is an amazing actor.

I don't feel remotely competent to judge visual art, so I'll ignore all those categories, and I actively avoid podcasts (the only exception being Welcome To Night Vale, and I wouldn't still be listening to it w/o transcripts), so no vote there from me. Finally, I need to actually look at more than Lightspeed Magazine (which I quite like) to decide on Best Semiprozine, and will need to consider my thoughts on Best Fanzine.

First off, it's worth knowing a bit about Castalia House, the tiny publishing house of 9 of the nominated works is a publisher of far right SF. They publish three authors. The first is Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale), who is the founder and editor for this press as well as a name well worth avoiding. The other two authors are Tom Kratman, who wrote a novel about heroic Nazi SS officers and John C. Wright, an SF author I learned to avoid due to his books being unreadably dull, well before I found out he was also a reactionary extreme libertarian religious fanatic. Unsurprisingly all three of these authors were nominated for Hugos by the two puppy cabals. As a final bit of nasty icing on this vile cake, it's clear that the people behind the sad puppies specifically invited gamergaters to nominate their list of crappy works, so likely many of the people voting had no idea who some of the authors and editors they were voting for, they were just being gamergate trolls.

If you are interested to read what Vox Day & John C. Wright have to say about all this, author Daniel Keyes Moran has posted some of the nonsense these two have written about the Hugos, so everyone can see exactly what sort of people are involved.

George R.R, Martin also has a series of 5 excellent non-partisan posts about this issue. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he has been a major part of fandom and the SF community for almost 45 years and provides historical context about the (remarkably) few previous attempts to game the Hugo Awards, and why the claims about why the two cabals acted as they did are clearly and obviously false.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 11th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
When we're talking about awards rather than say public schools, to me "separate but equal" looks a whole lot more like market segmentation, just like the existence of separate awards for pop music & country music.

I found Orphan Black amazing from the start - my guess is that if you don't like it after episode 5, it's not for you.
[User Picture]
Date:April 11th, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
If only there were a libertarian SF award oh wait there is
[User Picture]
Date:April 11th, 2015 10:08 pm (UTC)
Excellent point - add in a separate MilSF awards and you've pretty much got their side of things well covered.

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