Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Handicapping the Hugos

I wrote this on March 29th, soon after the list of nominees were released. But I held off posting it until after the voting deadline, for much the same reason I didn't do a post like this last year. (And I slightly edited it on April 2nd, after Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest popped out of "Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form" and Pan's Labyrinth popped in.) A lot has happened since then, but here's what I wrote four months ago:

I'm not a member of Nippon 2007, so I can't vote this year. Instead, I'll give my thoughts on what will win. (Not what I think should win, or what I'd vote for if I could -- just what I think will win.) Last year I intended to do this, but forgot, and ended up doing a post-mortem instead.

(I might also be comparing this list with what I nominated, especially if it affords me opportunities to complain about things. I like complaining; it soothes me.)

I don't intend to insult anyone, so, if I say something stupid, it's probably by accident (as usual).

Oh, and I'm applying my usual Hugo-voter heuristics (which I may explain, or not, as I go along). Since this year's Worldcon is being held in Japan, the voters may be somewhat different this year, which may make all of my predictions wildly inaccurate. (Though the nominees list looks pretty much the way I'd expect it to, so the Japan Effect hasn't hit yet.) My method of predicting award winners has very little to do with the intrinsic worth of nominees, and actually works better the less I know about specific nominees. (It's also only half-serious.)

  • Michael F. Flynn, Eifelheim (Tor)
  • Naomi Novik, His Majesty’s Dragon (Del Rey)
  • Charles Stross, Glasshouse (Ace)
  • Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End (Tor)
  • Peter Watts, Blindsight (Tor)
This is a race between Stross and Vinge, and I think Stross will pull ahead by the end. I do wish Farthing had made it on, but...oh, well. The Stross and Watts novels were on my list of nominees.

  • Robert Reed, “A Billion Eves”
  • Paul Melko, “The Walls of the Universe”
  • William Shunn, “Inclination”
  • Michael Swanwick, “Lord Weary’s Empire”
  • Robert Charles Wilson, “Julian”
I nominated the Swanwick and Wilson stories; though I thought Stross's "Missile Gap" was easily the best novella of the year. Four of the stories are from Asimov's (two -- the Melko and Shunn -- from the April/May issue), which I think says something about the people voting this year. It's between Reed and Swanwick, I think, and I bet Reed will win (mostly because his story is SF, and Swanwick's is Fantasy), though I prefer the Swanwick story personally.

  • Paolo Bacigalupi, “Yellow Card Man”
  • Michael F. Flynn, “Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth”
  • Ian McDonald, “The Djinn’s Wife”
  • Mike Resnick, “All the Things You Are”
  • Geoff Ryman, “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)”
I nominated the Flynn, and I'd be voting for it if I were voting this year, but I think McDonald will narrowly take it, over Resnick. (The Resnick story is from Jim Baen's Universe, which is web-only, and I think the short-fiction voters are just old-fashioned enough that that will matter this year.)

Short Story
  • Neil Gaiman, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”
  • Bruce McAllister, “Kin”
  • Tim Pratt, “Impossible Dreams”
  • Robert Reed, “Eight Episodes”
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum, “The House Beyond the Sky”
I nominated the Gaiman story. Three more from Asimov's, plus the Gaiman from a collection and the Rosenbaum from Strange Horizons. I'm betting this one goes to Gaiman, mostly because he's Neil Gaiman (though I also thought the story was good enough to nominate it myself).

Related Book
  • Samuel R. Delany, About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews
  • Joseph T. Major, Heinlein’s Children: The Juveniles
  • Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon
  • John Picacio, Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio
  • Mike Resnick & Joe Siclari, eds., Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches
This is always a hard category to handicap; my rule of thumb generally is that the book by or about the oldest SF writer wins; which is often (but not always) the most fannish book. This year, the Resnick/Siclari is the most fannish, the Major is about the oldest dead guy, and the Phillips is the obvious critical front-runner. (I nominated James Tiptree, Jr. and Cover Story.) My prediction: James Tiptree, Jr., not because it's the best book (I haven't read them all), but because it is about an old dead writer, because it's good, and because more people have read it.

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Children of Men
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • The Prestige
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • V for Vendetta
I nominated Pirates and V, and would have nominated Prestige (and Stranger Than Fiction, for that matter) if I'd seen it in time. This category usually goes to the biggest crowd-pleaser, but I suspect Pirates is too much middle to win. If that's true, then I think it will go to V.

Edit: I don't think
Pan's Labyrinth will win, since it obviously had the fewest nominations. I'm still expecting V to take it.

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Battlestar Galactica, “Downloaded”
  • Doctor Who, “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”
  • Doctor Who, “Girl in the Fireplace”
  • Doctor Who, “School Reunion”
I have no clue. My gut instinct is that Galactica will squeak through, since the Who voters will all have different favorites, and many of them will place the Galactica episode above some of the Who episodes on their ballots. But that's just a wild guess. (And, honestly, I don't care about this category in the slightest.)

Editor, Short Form
  • Gardner Dozois
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Gordon Van Gelder
  • Sheila Williams
If all of the Asimov's stories on the ballot are any indication, it should be Sheila Williams's year. However, I think the voters are extremely conservative and backward-looking in this category, so I actually think Van Gelder will win in recognition for the last decade. (And this is exactly the line-up I nominated...and probably the line-up nearly everyone nominated.)

Editor, Long Form
  • Lou Anders
  • James Patrick Baen
  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
The clash of the Titans! Hartwell is one of only two book editors to have ever won an editorial Hugo while still alive, but Baen died tragically (and young). Since Baen won't be coming up in future years, I think he'll get it. But I do hope that, as this category goes on, it honors living editors for their current work, and doesn't become a default lifetime achievement award.

Professional Artist
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Donato Giancola
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Jude Palencar
  • John Picacio
I nominated Giancola and Martiniere. This is another extremely conservative category, so I think it's between Eggleton and Giancola. And my gut says that Eggleton will get one or two more before it switches over to Giancola for the next decade.

  • Ansible
  • Interzone
  • Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet
  • Locus
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Award for Best Locus will go to Locus. Interesting to see LCRW there, though -- if the mix of voters is different than it used to be, maybe it will surprise me.

  • Banana Wings
  • Challenger
  • The Drink Tank
  • Plokta
  • Science-Fiction Five-Yearly
I really don't know, so I'll say Plokta. I can remember that name most easily, mostly because I always want to misspell it.

Fan Writer
  • Chris Garcia
  • John Hertz
  • Dave Langford
  • John Scalzi
  • Steven H. Silver
This one is assumed to be a battle between Scalzi and Langford, and I think that's right. I also think Scalzi's profile (and name recognition among people who don't usually vote in this category) will pull him ahead.

Fan Artist
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Steve Stiles
  • Frank Wu
Another category I'm horribly unqualified to comment on. I'm going to say Sue Mason, since I don't think she has one, and I'm sure she deserves it.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo)
  • Scott Lynch
  • Sarah Monette
  • Naomi Novik
  • Brandon Sanderson
  • Lawrence M. Schoen
Lynch and Novik are the two obvious heavyweights, and I think Novik will take it easily -- she has three books out in mass-market in the US, which means (I think) that many more of the voters will have read her books than anyone else's. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if Lynch wins this next year.

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