Monday, August 31, 2015

Hugos, Puppies, and the Aftermath

Yes, I'm a little late weighing in. I didn't take my computer on vacation (for reasons that have a lot to do with US customs policies).

But I'm going to weigh in.

First of all, I'd like to address a complaint I've seen that the Hugo Committee should have discounted the "obviously political" No Award votes.

If they had the freedom under the rules to do that kind of thing - then they could have stopped the slate voting.

Or wait, actually? They couldn't have.

It might be obvious that if a large number of people vote No Award in a category that there might be something other than people hating everything on the ballot - but there's no way to determine for each individual ballot what the motivation for No Award was. Any more than they could prove any individual ballot that happened to match the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies slates was a slate vote. Disqualifying a vote needs to be done based off of proof, not pattern matching.

Nobody broke the rules and there is no way to enforce rules against this kind of thing.

So, onto my opinion on the No Award voting in general. I've stated in the past that I disagree with this tactic - and I still do. That said, I admit that I voted for Mr. Ward a few times myself this time - based on either the inferior quality of the work or, in the case of Fan Writer, based on excessively political and in one case actively nasty samples presented to the voters. No Award is there to allow people to state that they dislike everything in a category. (It's not the same thing as simply not voting a category, which the rules also allow. I didn't vote in Best Fanzine because I hadn't read any of them and none of them provided samples).

Now, here's my analysis of the categories in a purely, completely, utterly subjective manner.

Best Novel: The Three Body Problem.

I absolutely agree. I'm going to say this was the best science fiction book I read in 2015. (Not the best fantasy - which I'll be nominating next year, trust me). It was fantastic. It stayed with me in a way few books have and reminded me of Isaac Asimov's famous Nightfall. I loved it. Yes, that's subjective, but art criticism generally is. In fact, with the exception of No Award, the finalists were listed in the exact order I picked them. Apparently I have more popular taste than I thought.

Best Novella: No Award

Okay. I actually think Flow might have deserved to win. And surprisingly I quite liked Big Boys Don't Cry. But with three stories from the same person (here's a suggestion to the Hugo Committee - maybe we could change the rules so that somebody can't be nominated more than one in the same category in the same year?) I can see how people thought this category was skewed. And to be honest, I don't care for Wright's work at all. He's failing to be C.S. Lewis quite badly, in my entirely subjective opinion. So I suppose I'm not that upset.

Best Novelette: The Day The World Turned Upside Down.

I hated it. Hated, hated, hated. And I enjoyed Flynn's story and Lerner's both a lot. This is one where the politics disappointed me. I think that it resulted in an inferior work winning. Now, as a long term Analog reader (and Analog contributor) I probably have a strong bias in favor of, well, the kind of science fiction published in Analog. But I wasn't happy with what won at all.

Best Short Story: No Award

Grrr. I really liked Kary English's story. None of the rest hugely impressed me, but I think that one deserved it. But, I suppose, the point was made.

Best Related Work: No Award

Close to being in agreement here. I've read much better than any of the entries. Burnside's essay was interesting and so was Roberts', but I'm not sure either was Hugo worthy. Close enough that I personally didn't no award them, but...

Best Graphic Story: Ms Marvel Volume 1

I think this is an example of an active fanbase pushing a story over the top. The Carol Corps are, well...numerous, loud, and quite willing to campaign for what they love. ;). Now, I love Kamala Khan too. I adore how she talks like she hangs out on tumblr too much. But I don't agree that it's better than Saga. Sorry, Carol Corps. I do agree that Rat Queens, which is well written but not to my taste was better than Sex Criminals, though. I normally like Fraction, but Sex Criminals did nothing for me whatsoever.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Guardians of the Galaxy

This was a case where nobody seemed to care that Guardians of the Galaxy was on the slate. I certainly didn't. I'd have liked to see Interstellar placed higher not because I liked it but because I'd like to see more things like it made. The Winter Soldier came second and is as close to a perfect movie as I've seen lately. (I picked Guardians of the Galaxy over it because it's more science fictional).

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Orphan Black "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"

This is the one that made me squee. Yes, I'm a massive Whovian. Yes, Listen was an awesome episode. But Doctor Who has a collection of rocket ships already, whilst Orphan Black is of equal quality and underrated. Highly underrated. It's a strange show, and is honestly more techno-thriller than true science fiction, but... Hey, who gets the rocket ship? Can we at least lend it to Tatiana Maslany?

Best editor, Short Form: No Award

I think Mike Resnick or Jennifer Brozek actually did deserve it, but I may be biased because I like Jennifer Brozek. Vox Day...well, let's say he impresses me as an editor as much as Wright impresses me as a writer. That is, not at all.

Best editor, Long Form: No Award

I think Weisskopf deserved it and I'm not alone. But maybe she can get nominated again without the shenanigans?

Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon

With everyone else put below Mr. Ward. Sad. It took me forever to decide this category because everyone was so good. Which is as it should be.

Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine

Not arguing with this. I think I may like Beneath Ceaseless Skies better, but John Joseph Adams is a fantastic editor.

Best Fanzine: Journey Planet

I didn't vote this category due to lack of familiarity.

Best Fancast: Galactic Suburbia Podcast.

I preferred Tea and Jeopardy for its interesting framing device. Interestingly, the shorter casts were higher quality. Podcasters take note.

Best Fan Writer: Laura J. Mixon

This is the category I threw up my hands at...and I'm pretty sure Mixon wasn't the one person I put above No Award. She was also the one not conservative person. I preferred...I don't remember who it is right now, but one of the more conservative writers presented reviews of golden age science fiction books rather than politics.

Best Fan Artist: Elizabeth Leggett

Again, all of the artists were excellent. Or I'm just bad at critiquing art.

John W. Campbell: Wesley Chu

I picked Kary English over Wesley Chu, but not upset that he got it.

Overall I have very mixed feelings...but I'm still thrilled Orphan Black is getting the recognition it deserves.