Monday, April 4, 2016

The 2016 Hugos: What Did YOU Pick?

The first votes for the Hugo are in, and the nominations are now being tallied! Alas, I don't have time to discuss my entire ballot, but let's highlight a few folks who earned my nominating vote this year and explain, in brief, what impressed me about their work:

1.) Andy Weir, of course, was an obvious pick. As I wrote in my 2014 review of The Martian: "[I]t helps that Weir's protagonist is a really likable guy. Most of the story is told using Watney's personal logs, and the voice that emerges is one that, in a way, reminds me of my own father's. Like Dad, Watney primarily uses gallows humor to battle his fear. When he's not ruminating over his "Mark Watney Doesn't Die" project, he's musing about the Cubs, bitching about his mission commander's poor taste in entertainment, or complaining about his boring diet. And yes -- I laughed. Despite Watney's constantly being in mortal danger, I laughed out loud at the first person passages and the way certain things were phrased. [...] [O]verall, I found Weir's view of humanity deeply inspiring. Beyond Watney's resourcefulness and pluck, we also see people on Earth - and on the Hermes - drawing on what is best in themselves and accomplishing great things. [...] I won't spoil the story and tell you whether these efforts succeed; I will tell you, though, that the level of cooperation involved actually made me cry." Weir has demonstrated that you can write diamond-hard science fiction without jettisoning the human element. For this contribution, I was more than happy to nominate him for the John W. Campbell Award.

2.) Chuck Gannon, meanwhile, got a vote for the depth of his sociopolitical space opera. Full disclosure: Chuck tuckerized me in a later chapter of Raising Caine -- but I assure you that is not the reason I've been putting him on my Hugo ballot for the past three years. I've had the great privilege to see, in several presentations, how Chuck has put the universe in the Caine Riordan series together, and the profundity of the thought behind said universe richly deserves recognition. His extrapolation into the future of Earth is eminently credible, and his alien cultures are terrifically conceived.

3.) I also joined my fellow Puppies in nominating Megan Grey's "Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer." Generally speaking, I prefer SF to fantasy, but this particular short story is simply irresistible. Why? It's nice. Instead of emphasizing the negative, it searches for something deeper and more true. Instead of dwelling on anger, it chooses mercy, assuring the reader that today's trials are transitory and not worth seeking feral vengeance. 

So, readers: What did you vote for? What excited you this season? Let me know in the comments, please. I want this thread to be devoted to a pure celebration of our favorite works!  


  1. I've got a whole bunch of hearty recommendations up. :)

    Full reviews and recommendations on that page, but I'll touch on a few of my favorites:

    The Just City, by Jo Walton - Fantastic premise that captured me the moment I heard about it. It's an attempt at utopia, except it's a utopia based on philosophy and debate, and oh yeah it is literally backed by the gods. Brilliant execution, which (to my mind) was all about building society.
    There is something rare and important about books portraying society-building under idealized conditions. It lets us talk about what society we want, what we're aiming at, and not only about how difficult it is to get there.
    It's also just an absorbing, engrossing book with fascinating ideas and fantastic characters. :)

    “...And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes,” by Scott Alexander - An oddball piece, and a fantastically entertaining one. It takes an unlikely source of inspiration, and extrapolates from it again and again and again. It's hilarious, it's breathtaking, it's brilliant. The extrapolation, the "what-if," is the bedrock of SF - applying it this way makes for a unique story. Read it here.

    Lots and lots and lots of stories from F&SF, which had a marvelous year. "What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear," "Gypsy," "The Body Pirate," and others are simply superb stories, each in their own way, and the magazine's had a fantastic year in general. Accordingly, I also nominated new editor C. C. Finlay for Best Editor (Short Form).

    Downfall, by Caroline Hobbs - This is never ever going to get on the ballot, but it should. It's a storytelling/roleplaying game that does something really special: You build a society up, around a few core concepts and one fundamental flaw; and then you bring it crashing down. It feels fundamentally SF-nal, in that it makes a game out of a major staple of SF. It gives you great tools to just invent a story around some flaw or characteristic that you want to explore. It's fun as hell :)

    As I say, more recommendations on the original link, including a bunch of free short stories available online :)

    1. I didn't nominate "Tuesdays With Molakesh" under short story, but I did nominate Megan Grey for the Campbell, and I'd love to see her there :)

    2. Awesome! Thank you for replying! For a second, I though no one was going to participate. I shall take a look at your recs and see what I think! ;)

    3. Pleasure :)

      I'm always up for recommendation-talk. This is my first year nominating for the Hugos, and it's had a pretty profound effect on what and how I read. On the one hand, I'm reading much more niche things - short fiction is sadly niche, particularly when you're reading before most of the work has made much of a splash. On the other hand, I'm in sync with lots of other readers, so I get to have constant cool discussions over all these fun stuff I read, and trade recommendations with others :)

  2. Stephanie, as ever, you are unwontedly kind...but thank you.

  3. Thanks for your recommendations, Steph, I too loved the Martian, in both versions, book and film. I've read the first Caine Riordan book, and own the next two. One of these days I will read them.