2017 Hugo Awards: Semi-Final Ballot

The voting deadline for this year’s Hugo Awards approaches, so here’s my ballot as it now stands. It’s mostly fiction categories, with some Dramatic Presentation thrown in for flare and some comments on some of the other categories that I’m actually not going to vote for…

Best Novel

  1. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee [My Review]
  2. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers [My Review]
  3. Death’s End by Cixin Liu [My Review]
  4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders [My Review]
  5. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer [My Review]
  6. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin [My Review]

A decent enough lineup this year, not spectacular, but it gets the job done. Five out of the six nominees are part of a series, which is mildly annoying. A Closed and Common Orbit skates by on that count because despite being the second book, it can easily be read as a standalone and comes off as quite different than the first entry in the series (in a way that benefits the sequel greatly). Its generally positive tone is also noteworthy and has elevated it to the #2 slot. All the Birds in the Sky is the only true standalone and has a great whimsical tone to it, but despite overtures towards SF, it doesn’t really stand up on that front. Ninefox Gambit is the first in a series and does a great job with worldbuilding while telling a reasonably satisfying and composed tale. Not completely self-contained, but there’s enough meat on the bone to make me want to pick up the next in the series (something that doesn’t happen too often with me on first novels in a series). Death’s End at least provides some closure to its story and gets its jollies from big ideas, albeit existentially troubling ones. Too Like the Lightning is the first in a series, but doesn’t seem to progress the overall arc very much. I hear the sequels will be better on that front… but that doesn’t make this initial volume better in itself. Finally, The Obelisk Gate doesn’t progress its overall arc much either, which again makes it hard to rank highly. Yeah, that’s typical of second novels in a trilogy, but that doesn’t make it worthy of a Hugo Award… This series conundrum continues to be challenging for me when it comes to ranking these novels. One might think that the introduction of a “Best Series” Hugo Award would help alleviate this, but apparently not. Obviously more detailed thoughts in my reviews linked above.

Predicted Winner: Ninefox Gambit, though A Closed and Common Orbit or All the Birds in the Sky also seem to be faring well. But what do I know. My predictions are always wrong.

Best Novella

I’m skipping this category this year. Relatively long stories combined with an extra finalist this year contributed to this decision, but really, I just wanted to start reading

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. and the prospect of spending a couple weeks sifting through a bunch of stories that I have historically not enjoyed very much wasn’t doing much for me. I have read Penric and the Shaman and enjoyed it quite a bit, but even for that, I was a bigger fan of Bujold’s other Penric novella, Penric’s Mission (which, I’m told, was disqualified because it was a hair over the wordcount limit for Novella, but still).

Best Novelette

  1. Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman
  2. The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
  3. You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong
  4. The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
  5. The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allen
  6. No Award

See My Reviews for more info. Sorry Stix Hiscock, Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex isn’t making the cut for what I hope are obvious reasons. I rarely deploy No Award, but this is a pretty clear cut case.

Predicted Winner: The Tomato Thief

Best Short Story

  1. That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
  2. Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar
  3. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander
  4. The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin
  5. An Unimaginable Light by John C. Wright
  6. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

See My Reviews for more details. I made a slight tweak to the initial rankings. No need to deploy No Award.

Predicted Winner: The City Born Great? I mean, have I ever gotten one of these predictions correct?

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  1. Arrival
  2. Stranger Things
  3. Rogue One
  4. Hidden Figures
  5. Deadpool
  6. Ghostbusters

I didn’t explicitly post about this category, but I’ve already covered 2016 in movies pretty thoroughly. In general, I love the first two entries in my rankings, but there’s a steep dropoff after that. This isn’t particularly unusual for this category, and there’s always one or two movies that would have been great nominees but didn’t make the cut (this year, I was hoping The Witch would get some love, but it’s not the type of movie Hugo voters tend to go for, I guess. Will be interested to see the nomination stats…)

Predicted Winner: Arrival, though Hidden Figures seems to have a fair amount of buzz…

Best Series

A fascinating category, for sure, but one that has significant logistical hurdles. I’ve read the entire Vorkosigan Saga and am really pulling for it, but is it realistic to expect people will read all of these books before voting? Especially considering that the best entries are pretty deep into the series? I mean, I obviously recommend this, but this has to be difficult if you’ve not already read these series. I’ve never been that into The Expanse but I’ve only read the first novel. Is it fair to judge the series on that one novel? There’s only a couple of weeks left before voting closes and that’s simply not enough time to read more of that plus 4 other series of books (or even the first novel in each). Ultimately, I don’t feel like it’d be fair to vote in this category without giving each of the series a fair shake, which to me means reading more than one novel in each series (at minimum). I gather that this is somewhat unusual and that some voters are more than willing to give up on a book/series after only a tiny sample (or not reading at all). But that’s not really my style.

Predicted Winner: Vorkosigan Saga, please?

So this marks the end of my Hugo journey this year. Look for a recap when the Awards are announced in August, but otherwise, we now return you to our normal wanking about movies (coming soon: a Martial Arts Movie Omnibus post!)

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