Monday, August 22, 2011

Hugo Winners!

First of all, before I get into my usual bile and spleen, huge congratulations to Gay Haldeman for winning the Forrest J. Ackerman Big Heart Award; she's one of the very nicest people in the entire world, and no one deserves it more than she does.

Unlike everyone else, I'm going to list the winners in the order they were announced, rather than the order of the official announcement, because that's just the kind of guy I am. Full details of both the voting and the nominations is available on Renovation's website. (And I will admit that I was one of the people poring over those results and calling out interesting facts to each other, rather than grabbing drinks right away at the Hugo Loser's party last night.)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo): Lev Grossman

I still think that the Campbell shouldn't have a "only skiffy counts" loophole -- Grossman had two novels prior to The Magicians, stretching back to the previous century -- so I have to grumble about that. An award for new writers should go to new writers. But Grossman is definitely a worthy recipient otherwise.

Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster

There was a really strong groundswell, particularly among the fan artist community, against what they called "the stick figure guy" (Randal Munroe), and it's clear in the voting pattern. That's unfortunate, since Munroe is more SFnal than all of them put together, though he's definitely less fannish and not part of the requisite crowd. Note, though, that Munroe lost by one vote; he could come back next year.

Fan Writer: Claire Brialey

I voted for her, so I'm happy. This is also the first year that I felt like I had a decent handle on the nominees, for which all praise to the Hugo Packet. Her closest competition was Steven H. Silver, who also really should win one of these years.

Fanzine: The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon

At this point I should probably mention that I'm one of the people that Garcia has already approached to write something for his 300th issue -- he wants 300 contributors, which is an insane but thrilling goal -- and that I, like everyone else, thought that he was the most appreciative and surprised winner since Neil Gaiman. It's also interesting to note that the closest competition in the first round of voting was StarShipSofa, a podcast that gerrymandering at the Business Meeting is in the process of getting booted from the category.

Semiprozine: Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace; podcast directed by Kate Baker

Neil's from my home state, and I know and like both Cheryl and Sean, so I'm not unhappy. (I also know and like JJA, Ann VanderMeer, and some of the Locus crew, so my biases and spread thin.) It will be interesting to see what emerges from the tinkering with the category; the fact that Locus has consistently won this category for three decades has obscured the fact that it's nearly as much as a rag-bag as "Related Work," putting criticalzines, newszines, and fictionzines in competition. And, as usual, when Locus doesn't win, it's a close #2.

Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

It's really unfortunate that the same work won a new Hugo for the first three years of its existence, and even the Foglios realize that -- they've declared that they won't accept a nomination next year. But this category will be eliminated unless it actually turns into a real competitive category. (To help that along, I intend to make sure to nominate myself this year, and to blog loudly about eligible works.)

Editor, Short Form: Sheila Williams

Hugo voters have been throwing Hugos disproportionately at Asimov's stories for quite a while now, and yet had ignored Sheila until last night. (Liking particular stories doesn't necessarily mean that the person who chose them is the best editor -- just as the two editors of The Drink Tank were both unsuccessful nominees in Best Fan Writer -- but it should at least be a major consideration.) I was sort-of rooting for Jonathan Strahan here, since I've worked directly with him, but they're all great editors and at least convention acquaintances, so any of them would have been a fine winner.

Editor, Long Form: Lou Anders

All of the nominees were worthy, and Lou has had a great string of books the last few years. (There's a part of me that wanted to see Beth Meacham or Ginjer Buchanan win, based on their long history of editing great work and being "due," but that's not supposed to be the way we vote on the best editor of 2010, is it?) And he certainly had the best outfit of any winner this year. Lou also does a lot of books that are very much to my own personal taste; I need to read more Pyr.

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: "Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang," written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)

I was really disappointed, though not surprised, that "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" didn't win. And I will note that the other folks that have won their categories three or more times have declared that they will decline nominations next year. (Hint, hint, Mr. Moffat.) But I'm not a media fan to begin with, so my opinions on this and the next category can be discounted or ignored.

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)

Hugo voters are very, very frivolous in this category, as seen by the fact that the exceptionally minor 3D children's entertainment How to Train Your Dragon came in second. Again, I don't think this category does anything but pad a long ceremony -- the people nominated in this category hardly ever attend, which shows how important it is to them. That said, if you had to give an award to a movie, Scott Pilgrim was the only reasonable choice.

Professional Artist: Shaun Tan

Tan is a wonderful talent, and I spent much of the convention talking up his magnificent The Arrival, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade. But I still think the body of work that he produced in 2010 was primarily made up of the short film "The Lost Thing," which was itself nominated in its proper category. So I'm not entirely sure what to think about this award -- it looks a bit like a consolation prize after losing what he should have won to the Who-steamroller. I also note that the extended list of nominees is very much the same crew as always; I don't think nominators are actually looking at specific works from the year in question so much as writing down the same list of their favorite artists every year.

Related Work: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

My standard metric in this category is that the book by or about the oldest and best-loved SF writer always wins, so I was expecting the Heinlein bio. (I've still only read a bit of it, so I'm strongly trying to maintain a lack of opinion about it.) But I didn't remember that one can never bet against Doctor Who these days. The winners were very appreciative, and the book is deeply fannish -- so yay for them, I suppose.

Short Story: “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

Last night I tweeted that the most sentimental stories won in all of the fiction categories, and that's still my take on it: Hugo voters went for bathos this year. This wasn't my choice in the category, and I think the world has some ridiculous aspects, but it looks like Kowal is turning into one of this decade's Hugo darlings.

Novelette: “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)

Speaking of bathos, this story was a shameless tug at the fannish heartstrings in the most obvious ways possible, and shame on all of us that it won. Newsflash to Hugo nominators and voters: you are old people in bad physical shape, with generally crabby attitudes (I've just spent a long weekend with you), and you are never going to space. If anyone is going to space, it will not be you. Please get over this.

Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

I was not a fan of this story; I'll say that much.

Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

I don't want to say anything personal here, since Connie is one of the sweetest people in SF and has written a number of actually award-quality stories. But come on! Every single other option on the ballot was vastly better than this mess, and I even count Feed in that. (I'm mid-way through writing a review of Feed that I'm afraid will be even more bile-tastic than this post; it's sitting in hopes that I can tone it down to something less actionable.)

Hugo voters, I am very disappointed in you. You have one year to do better than this, or There Will Be Consequences.


shsilver said...

Can't believe I didn't see you this week. I've only glanced at a few categories, but several had some interesting voting patterns that are rarely seen (including my category and Best Professional Artist.

Anonymous said...

"There was a really strong groundswell, particularly among the fan artist community, against what they called "the stick figure guy" (Randal Munroe), and it's clear in the voting pattern." Not sure I can see that, since Munroe seems to have gotten huge votes, it's that weird Hugo vote-counting method that knocked him out of top place in the end. And what groundswell, there hardly seems to be any comments each year on the fan artist- acatually was cool to see so many postings being pleased that Munroe was in here.

Jed said...

Re "exceptionally minor 3D children's entertaiment How to Train Your Dragon": Fwiw, How to Train Your Dragon was my second-favorite movie, of any kind, that I saw in 2010. In my view, it has more sense-of-wonder, and is funnier, than anything else on the ballot. My vote for it was not frivolity; I love the story, the characters, and almost everything else about the movie.

Anonymous said...

I think I agree with you up and down the line, Andrew. Except for wanting FMRB to win best short media thingie. And though I didn't vote for Kowal's story first (I mean, come on, "The Things") it wasn't bad. But ... the rest of the fiction ...

Rich Horton

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: It's precisely that "weird Hugo vote counting method" -- called the Australian ballot, and used by fine polities and organizations worldwide to choose the winner that is the most attractive to the most voters -- that I was talking about. What that process does is transfer preferences, so that, even after a voter's first preference is eliminated, her second preference is counted (and so, as far as necessary).

Looking at that pattern, it's quite clear that there was a large "anybody but Munroe" vote -- given how the votes were redistributed after each drop -- and I am assuming that vote is largely made up of fan artists and the usual voters in this category, who were quite strongly against Munroe winning, to put it mildly.

And yet, he only lost by one vote.

Kristin said...

Another fan in agreement here. A 2 1/2 almost three hour award ceremony is a bit much to sit through. I personally would like to see the dramatic presentation long/short form go away for the very reasons you listed.

Also not really thrilled with 'Lifecycle' as a story; found it...creepy. I've read all the Hugo Award winners to date, and since 2000 I've read 98% of the nominees. I have no desire to even crack open Blkout/All Clear and this may become the first Hugo Award winner I *don't* read.

I went to the History of the Hugo's panel and forgot to ask why the chose the Runoff/Austrailan ballot system. Drat.

Tom Galloway said...

Well, I put Munroe below No Award for a very simple reason; in my opinion, he wasn't eligible for the category. Presumably, he was nominated for his xkcd work, since no one's mentioned any other work by him that appeared last year. And he makes his entire livelihood off xkcd. Ergo, he was a Professional Artist, not a Fan Artist. Note that a few years ago, Phil Foglio was nominated as a Pro, not Fan Artist given the same circumstances.

It's tricky because 1) he's not being paid directly on a per piece rate for the art and 2) xkcd did start out as fan art. But it's very different from folk like Scalzi and Pohl winning Fan Writer, since one can point at their blogs as examples of fan writing from which they didn't make most (all) of their livelihood. There's no such body of fannish art in 2010 for Munroe.

Don't get me wrong; I love xkcd and think Munroe's very talented. I certainly would've ranked him above No Award in Professional Artist. But at least for 2010, he wasn't a Fan Artist.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous back again: "Looking at that pattern, it's quite clear that there was a large "anybody but Munroe" vote -- given how the votes were redistributed after each drop -- and I am assuming that vote is largely made up of fan artists and the usual voters in this category, who were quite strongly against Munroe winning, to put it mildly."

"largely made up of fan artists" Really? "Largely? How many fan artists do you think there are? Most of the people I'm aware of draw some pictures and sends them around. And most of them aren't even members of the Worldcon, can't afford it. You can make any reaction you want here, but the comment that other artists were somehow ganging up here sounds kind of silly. Show us where you get your info from, okay?

"And yet, he only lost by one vote." You're right, it shows the wave of the future is shifting. So you're upset because it is off by one year?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: There were 508 total votes available to be redistributed, by the end of the voting. Munroe got 66 of those; Foster nearly 200. Foster's final vote tally was more than double his first-ballot votes; Munroe's went up only about 20%.

You're clearly unfamiliar with the way these ballots actually work, and you don't seem to realize that pattern is notable. You also have problems with reading comprehension, since you entirely missed the phrase "usual voters in this category" and somehow got the impression that I'm upset. (There are certain other categories that I'll admit to being angry about, but that's not the same thing.)

If you don't like looking closely at data and poking at it to see what it implies, that's perfectly fine. But don't pretend that other people who do have experience looking at data like this are lying to you just because you don't know what they mean.

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