Sunday, July 27, 2008

Handicapping the Hugos, 2008 Edition

Well, I did this last year -- and got things mostly wrong -- so why not try again? The same caveat applies as before: I use very cynical rules of thumb, so that I'll be happily surprised when my predictions turn out to be untrue. It's a way I can stay massively cynical, but lighten up the gloom somewhat -- I recommend it to everyone. (I've already run through this list once, when the nominations were announced, so I'll try not to repeat myself.)

Also, if you're looking for the opinions of more than just one grump from New Jersey, let me direct you to Moshe Feder's post at and the comments following it -- it's just about the novel race, but Moshe's a smart man and a good editor, and many of the commentors have good points as well. (And some have points that I think are utterly wrong, but that's the way of the world.)

The actual winners will be announced in two weeks at Denvention 3; I wish I could be there, but I won't.

Best Novel
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
  • Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog Oct. 2006-Jan./Feb. 2007)
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • Halting State by Charles Stross (Ace)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union seems to have the momentum, having won the Nebula. I still wonder if Hugo voters, who tend to be even more conservative than me, would think Chabon has Mainstream Cooties, but I'm coming to think that he's seen in the same light as Neil Gaiman -- he's done other things in his time, but he's essentially One Of Us. I expect Brasyl, being too little-known and the most difficult read, will be the first to drop out of the running in the instant-runoff Hugo process. If I'm wrong about the support for Yiddish Policemen -- it did sell a lot of copies, but it's hard to tell how many of those were to Hugo voters -- then Stross and Scalzi are strong contenders. I didn't think Last Colony was all that strong for Scalzi, while Halting State is a damn good Stross novel about very geeky near-future ideas (which Hugo voters often like) -- and Stross has been on this ballot five years in a row now. I think Stross will be a close second, but he could take it.

Best Novella
  • "The Fountain of Age" by Nancy Kress (Asimov's July 2007)
  • "Recovering Apollo 8" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's Feb. 2007)
  • "Stars Seen Through Stone" by Lucius Shepard (F&SF July 2007)
  • "All Seated on the Ground" by Connie Willis (Asimov's Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)
  • "Memorare" by Gene Wolfe (F&SF April 2007)
No one is sending me "best of the year" books this year (except Night Shade, and their book is still in the pile), so I haven't read any of this stuff. The Kress won the Nebula, but she's up against Willis here, and Connie Always Wins. So I'm going to expect it to go to "All Seated on the Ground."

Best Novelette
  • "The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics" by Daniel Abraham (Logorrhea, ed. John Klima, Bantam Spectra)
  • "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press; F&SF Sept. 2007)
  • "Dark Integers" by Greg Egan (Asimov's Oct./Nov. 2007)
  • "Glory" by Greg Egan (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
  • "Finisterra" by David Moles (F&SF Dec. 2007)
Chiang's story won the Nebula, and he has an even better record than Willis does, so it would be dangerous to predict anyone else to win. (Although, when I look him up in the invaluable Locus Index, I see that his record at the Hugos is much more mixed than at the Nebulas -- and, given the kind of writer he is, I should have expected that.) My impression is that Hugo short fiction voters are still magazine readers (maybe even magazine snobs), so I'm going to add up a couple of wild surmises and predict that Egan will win for "Dark Integers."

Best Short Story
  • "Last Contact" by Stephen Baxter (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, ed. George Mann, Solaris Books)
  • "Tideline" by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov's June 2007)
  • "Who's Afraid of Wolf 359?" by Ken MacLeod (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
  • "Distant Replay" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's April/May 2007)
  • "A Small Room in Koboldtown" by Michael Swanwick (Asimov's April/May 2007; The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Tachyon Publications)
The Nebula went to a Karen Joy Fowler story that was eligible, but didn't make the Hugo ballot. For this one, I'm expecting one of the two stories I've actually read to win: Swanwick's piece of The Dragons of Babel, "A Small Room in Koboldtown."

Best Related Book
  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer; appendix by David Bratman (Kent State University Press)
  • Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry Malzberg (Baen)
  • Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz, intro. by Carol Emshwiller, fwd. by Alex Eisenstein (Nonstop)
  • Brave New Words: the Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
My rule of thumb in this category is that it goes to the book by the oldest, best-loved writer whenever possible -- to Kate Wilhelm, or Frank Robinson, or Sprague de Camp, or Asimov. This year, the writer closest to that description is Malzberg, which probably surprises him as much as it does me. The Glyer book is scholarly, and I'm sure it's wonderful, but it's not a serious contender. I'm not sure Brave New Words is what Hugo voters want to honor in this category, either. I love The Arrival, but I always assume Hugo voters are less flexible than I am, so I very much doubt that they'll go for a wordless graphic novel published as a children's book. (If I'm wrong, I'll be thrilled; it's one of the best books of any kind of last year.) I'm less sure of the Emshwiller book, where the "old and beloved" heuristic may come into play with both Ed and Carol. But I still think this is Barry's year -- Breakfast in the Ruins is one excellent thirty-year-old book stuffed with some more recent curate's eggs, and he's never won a Hugo. (If he doesn't win, I will bitterly curse not being at Denvention and having a chance to try to sneak into the Hugo Losers' Party to hear what he says afterwards.)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Enchanted Written by Bill Kelly Directed by Kevin Lima (Walt Disney Pictures)
  • The Golden Compass Written by Chris Weitz Based on the novel by Philip Pullman, Directed by Chris Weitz (New Line Cinema)
  • Heroes, Season 1 Created by Tim Kring (NBC Universal Television and Tailwind Productions); Written by Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Natalie Chaidez, Jesse Alexander, Adam Armus, Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Pokaski, Christopher Zatta, Chuck Kim; Directed by David Semel, Allan Arkush, Greg Beeman, Ernest R. Dickerson, Paul Shapiro, Donna Deitch, Paul A. Edwards, John Badham, Terrence O'Hara, Jeannot Szwarc, Roxann Dawson, Kevin Bray, Adam Kane
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Written by Michael Goldenberg, Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling, Directed by David Yates (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Stardust Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles Vess Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Paramount Pictures)
The semi-equivalent Nebula went to Pan's Labyrinth, which doesn't help here. I've seen all of the movies, and they're all decent, but flawed or minor in one way or another. (Order of the Phoenix is probably the best of them.) From what I've heard from the people who care about such things, the first season of Heroes was magnificent, but it's been lousy since then, which may have affected the voting. But, still, I'm going to assume Heroes will win, because the thing I know and care the least about usually wins the Best Dramatic Hugo.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Battlestar Galactica "Razor" Written by Michael Taylor Directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (Sci Fi Channel) (televised version, not DVD)
  • Doctor Who "Blink" Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)
  • Doctor Who "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood" Written by Paul Cornell Directed by Charles Palmer (BBC)
  • Star Trek New Voyages "World Enough and Time" Written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree Directed by Marc Scott Zicree (Cawley Entertainment Co. and The Magic Time Co.)
  • Torchwood "Captain Jack Harkness" Written by Catherine Tregenna Directed by Ashley Way (BBC Wales)
It would be darkly pleasant to see "World Enough and Time" win, and to have that cause Paramount to have a screaming fit -- only because I enjoy the (distant) sufferings of others. But I don't expect that to happen. Again, using my "know and understand least" idea, I'm going to predict that "Captain Jack Harkness" will saunter off with a rocket ship, and probably do something unmentionable with it afterward.

Best Professional Editor, Long Form
  • Lou Anders (Pyr)
  • Ginjer Buchanan (Ace/Roc)
  • David G. Hartwell (Tor/Forge)
  • Beth Meacham (Tor)
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)
The Hugo voters seem to be using the recent bifurcation of the editor category to reward excellent editors who have been working in the field for many years. (And not to say "this person had the best batch of books last year," which is closer to the way the award is explained to be.) So: Hartwell and Nielsen Hayden already have one each. I hope this won't turn into another Best Locus or Best Whelan or Best Langford categories, though that possibility is there. Assuming that doesn't happen, I think Ginjer Buchanan is naturally next, since she's been editing good books for quite some time and is well-known in fandom. (And, speaking as someone who helped nominate her and Susan Allison for a World Fantasy Award a few years back, I'd be thrilled to see her win, too.)

Best Professional Editor, Short Form
  • Ellen Datlow (The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin's), Coyote Road (Viking), Inferno (Tor))
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Jonathan Strahan (The New Space Opera (HarperCollins/Eos), The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 1 (Night Shade), Eclipse One (Night Shade))
  • Gordon Van Gelder (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • Sheila Williams (Asimov's Science Fiction)
Again, the Hugo voters seem to be catching up with people who have been snubbed repeatedly in past years, so it might just be Stan Schmidt's year. On the other hand, this is one of the most conservative categories, so Datlow also has a great chance. (And, to be honest, the stories Ellen buys are usually more to my particular taste than Stan's.) Since I have to choose, I'll say that Ellen Datlow will win again.

Best Professional Artist
  • Bob Eggleton (Covers: To Outlive Eternity and Other Stories (Baen), Ivory (Pyr), & The Taint and Other Novellas (Subterranean))
  • Phil Foglio (Cover: Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures, Vol. 2 (Meisha Merlin), What's New (Dragon Magazine Aug. 2007), Girl Genius Vol. 6-Agatha Heterodyne & the Golden Trilobite (Airship Entertainment))
  • John Harris (Covers: Spindrift (Ace), Old Man's War (Tor, pb), The Last Colony (Tor))
  • Stephan Martiniere (Covers: Brasylont> (Pyr), Mainspring (Tor), The Dragons of Babel (Tor))
  • John Picacio (Covers: Fast Forward 1 (Pyr), Time's Child (HarperCollins/Eos), A Thousand Deaths (Golden Gryphon))
  • Shaun Tan (The Arrival (Arthur A Levine Books))
Shaun Tan really really should win something for the marvelous The Arrival, but the world isn't fair, and he won't. It would be great to see Foglio win, since he hasn't even been nominated for a Hugo since he won back-to-back Fan Artists in '77 and '78. But it will most likely go to Eggleton, since voters in this category mostly run on their accumulated memories and preferences. In my ongoing attempt to be more positive, though, and since Denver isn't that far from Texas, I'm going to predict that John Picacio, pseudo-hometown boy, will win. (I should also say that Harris, Martiniere, Picacio, and Eggleton are all excellent cover artists currently doing fine work; any of them would be a reasonable winner -- I'm just annoyed that Hugo voters tend to pick a favorite in this category and stick with that person for a decade or more.)

Best Semiprozine
  • Ansible, edited by David Langford
  • Helix, edited by William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
  • Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by Kathryn Cramer, Kristine Dikeman, David Hartwell & Kevin J. Maroney
The Hugo for Best Locus will go to Locus. It's about time to retire this one; these days the only way anyone else can win if when the Worldcon is in the UK. But I would dearly love to see Helix win, even if I wouldn't be there to see all the heads explode in person.

Best Fanzine
  • Argentus, edited by Steven H Silver
  • Challenger, edited by Guy Lillian III
  • Drink Tank, edited by Chris Garcia
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyeri>
  • PLOKTA, edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies, & Mike Scott
I'm terribly ignorant about the fan categories, and so tend to make predictions based on the entrails of small mammals or the flight patterns of sacred birds. I vaguely recall that Mike Glyer is a West Coast guy, so I'm going to predict that File 770 will win.

Best Fan Writer
  • Chris Garcia
  • David Langford
  • Cheryl Morgan
  • John Scalzi
  • Steven H Silver
It will be a re-run of last year's Scalzi-Langford battle, with (most likely) more ballots in play, since the Worldcon is cheaper and more people will be going. I think that will only help Scalzi, who lost very narrowly last year. So I expect this will be John Scalzi's consolation prize. (Though it will be awarded first.)

Best Fan Artist
  • Brad Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne
Frank Wu, the current 800-pound gorilla of the category, is nowhere to be seen. (Did he take himself out of contention?) Brad Foster and Teddy Harvia are both former 800-pound gorillas here, Harvia slightly more recently than Foster, and Mason wins whenever the Worldcon is in the UK. My Magic 8-Ball says that Brad Foster will take it this year.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer
  • Joe Abercrombie (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Jon Armstrong (1st year of eligibility)
  • David Anthony Durham (1st year of eligibility)
  • David Louis Edelman (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Mary Robinette Kowal (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Scott Lynch (2nd year of eligibility)
Naomi Novik ran away with this category last year, winning without even one drop needed. Lynch was on the ballot then, placing last in the first-place voting. This is a very different year, though -- Edelman and Kowal are reasonably well-known online, but Edelman's second novel was only just published and Kowal's a purely short-fiction writer. (So I think both of them are just socially popular so far.) Durham came from outside the genre, teaching us that things published elsewhere Don't Count -- although his current novel, Acacia, might actually be fantasy, but it wasn't published as fantasy, raising the tricky question of what specifically does qualify one for the Campbell. But I think, in the end, that it'll be between Lynch and Abercrombie. And, since Lynch's best-selling US book (The Lies of Locke Lamora in mass-market) has outsold Abercrombie's best-selling US book (The Blade Itself) by about 40%, I'm going to make the shaky assumption that those sales will translate into more voters and predict a win for Scott Lynch.

Anyone agree? Disagree? Think I'm full of a substance unnamable in polite company? The comments, as always, are open.


Kevin Standlee said...

Frank Wu did indeed remove himself from contention for Best Fan Artist this year.

Unknown said...

I'd like The Arrival to win too-but i don't think it will. I disagree about the Malzburg winning-Diana and Mike Glyer both have long histories within fandom, among the sort of people who vote for the Hugos, so that might help carry the day. It's a good book, I don't mean to denigrate it at all, but it does cover familiar territory.

Dr Plokta said...

I'm not sure how you derive "[Sue] Mason wins whenever the Worldcon is in the UK" from two wins, one in Glasgow and one in Toronto.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Mike: Would you believe that I'm using a mid-19th century definition of "UK"?


Perhaps "Commonwealth" is the word I meant. And perhaps I'm exaggerating for humorous effect.

Nadine: I wondered if Diana Glyer was of the fannish Glyers; that would change the calculation. Given that it's a West Coast (ish) Worldcon, that might tip it her way.

Adam Whitehead said...

For the Campbell, I think Lynch is likely to get it, but there are a couple of obstacles. First off, there "seems to be" (from purely anecdotal evidence) a distinct dissatisfaction with Lynch's second novel compared to his first, which could impact his chances. Abercrombie's series has generally improved markedly from one book to the next and the third is regarded as the best (with the slight problem for his Campbell chances that it's not officially available in the USA yet). Secondly, Abercrombie has a completed trilogy whilst Lynch still has five books to write in his series, and his third book is getting on for being a year overdue.

The sales are a good point, but Abercrombie's UK sales have been huge (his third book sold almost as much in pre-orders alone than Lies of Locke Lamora did in its entire tradeback publishing run in the UK), and there's a significant number of UK attendees (and hence voters) at Worldcon this year.

I don't expect Abercrombie to win, but I think it's going to be close. And I think both authors are relieved that Rothfuss was declared ineligible thanks to his 2002 short story.

Post a Comment