Hugo Award Season 2015

It’s that time again. Well, almost. The nomination period for the 2015 Hugo Awards is fast approaching, so I thought I’d get some thoughts on potential nominees down before all the requisite whining and controversy begins in earnest. This marks the third year I’ve participated, and while I was very gunshy about nominating in the first year, I went far out of my way to find stuff last year, to middling success (i.e. almost none of my nominees became finalists, but a couple things snuck in!) This year, I’m coming in somewhere between that level of effort. I’ve definitely read a bunch of eligible stuff, but I’ve only got a handful of definite nominees and I’m not really planning on any Herculean efforts to swell this list. My current nomination ballot, some thoughts on same, and a few things I’d like to read before I finalize my ballot are below. Enjoy:

Best Novel:

Nothing too controversial (as if any of you were surprised that Stephenson would make my ballot) or even obscure here, and in fact, I’m reasonably sure that both of these will become finalists for the Hugo. There are a few dark horse books that I’d like to check out that may make the list, including: Zero World, by Jason M. Hough, Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman. I doubt I’ll get to all of them, but I should be able to swing at least one before nominations close. Will it make the cut? Only one way to find out.

Best Novella:

Another completely unsurprising nomination, given that Bujold is one of my two favorite writers (the other being Stephenson). If those two weren’t publishing last year, I’m not entirely sure I’d participate this year. And it looks like we’ve got a new Bujold novel coming in the next few weeks. Most exciting.

Best Short Story:

This was actually on my original nomination list for last year… until I found out that while the “January” issue of Fireside Fiction was released in very late 2014, it would not be eligible for the 2014 awards due to the listed publication date (2015), and so here we are. I have no idea what its chances are. Certainly it’s had plenty of time to build a following and it’s a wonderful story, but it also has the great misfortune of being an initial Sad Puppy pick (like me, they removed it from their list once the eligibility issue reared its head – at least, that’s how I remember it, I could be very wrong), so there might be some weird backlash. Whatever, it’s on my ballot.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:

Those of you following along with the Kaedrin Movie Awards will probably not be surprised by this list, but I suppose the one missing entry that might raise some eyebrows would be Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Call it a “snub” if you like, but given the Hugo voters’ historical record and generally surprising lack of depth in this category, I opted to highlight some wonderful films that actually need the help. Star Wars will almost certainly make the ballot, along with Mad Max and The Martian. I think Ex Machina has an excellent chance, while Predestination is a true dark horse (perhaps a resurgence of Heinlein fans will get it done?) and What We Do in the Shadows has almost no chance at all. If you’re reading this, though, seek all these movies out, they are worthy of your time and nomination.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:

The only one of these I’m really passionate about is The Chickening, which has virtually no chance of becoming a finalist. It is maybe a bit on the outskirts of fannish interest (being a take on Kubrick’s The Shining) and strikingly bizarre, but it is absolutely brilliant. You should totally watch it and then wonder about my mental state afterwards. Seriously though, I found myself reaching for more short films this year than TV episodes (which normally comprise approximately 100% of the finalists). Kung Fury is a hoot, but I suspect not really the Hugo voters’ thang. I have mixed feelings about World of Tomorrow and it might not make my final ballot, but then, I’d rather see that there than any number of the usual suspects (and it does seem rather fannish). Game of Thrones is a lock to be a finalist, but they’ve gotten a lot of Hugo attention the past few years, so maybe it’s not necessary this year (but then, who else can stop the Doctor Who juggernaut?)

And that just about covers it for now. I suspect I’ll read a few other things before nominations are due, but this is where I’m at now. Suggestions are welcome, though comments are still wonky, so hit me up on twitter @mciocco or @kaedrinbeer (if you’re more of a lush) or just send an email to tallman at kaedrin dot com.

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