Hugo Award Season 2019

The nomination period for the 2019 Hugo Awards has been open for a little while now, and since I’m finally done whinging about 2018 movies, it’s time to get with the Hugo program. I’ve read somewhat less eligible works this year than usual, and naturally not everything I’ve read made the cut. In fact, as of right now, only two novellas will make the cut in the fiction categories:

I also considered Bujold’s The Flowers of Vashnoi, but didn’t nominate because it’s so far down the series that while I enjoyed it a lot, it doesn’t really rank among the best Vorkosigan stories, and I’m much less willing to put installments from long-running series on my ballot unless they’re truly standalone (which I don’t think this is).

When it comes to novels, I read several eligible and even enjoyed most of them, but almost all are part of a series, and none really blew me away to the point where I’d consider nominating. The closest I’ve come is Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun (third of a trilogy) and John Scalzi’s The Consuming Fire (second in the series), both of which I think are really good, though I don’t know that they’re the best of their respective series or good enough to make my ballot this year (the preceding entries for each were nominated last year, so there’s a fair chance they’ll still make it on the ballot).

As per usual, I’ll continue to avoid the most mainstream choices for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (i.e. Star Wars and Marvel don’t need my help here and will most likely make the ballot, but these movies are definitely worthy of consideration… alright, technically one of these involves Marvel, but not in an MCU way):

Of those, Annihilation is the only one I’m not super enthused about (in my year end roundup, I gave it a Quantum Jury prize, meaning that it exists only in a quantum superposition of two or more states, and that every time I think about it, I experience something like a wave function collapse and get a different answer as to whether I like it or not). That being said, who are we kidding, Black Panther is going to win this award and it probably won’t even be close. I like that movie and all, but I suspect many voters will not have seen most of my above nominees, and that’s a shame.

This year we’re also going to have a Retro Hugos for 1944 (i.e. works produced in 1943). Looking at what I’ve read from this period, I’ve only found one short story that I’m going to nominate:

It’s funny though, many of the typical Golden Age names are mostly absent from 1943, perhaps due to participation in WWII (i.e. no Heinlein or Asimov, not even short stories). Others picked up the slack for sure (i.e. Moore/Kuttner/van Vogt/Williamson, etc…), but I’m not as familiar with their work. Will be curious to see what gets nominated in the retros for fiction categories precisely because I’m not as familiar with those other authors. In the meantime, SF Magazines has a pretty good roundup of eligible stories (complete with links to the Internet Archive scans of various magazines, etc…)

In terms of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, the pickings are a little slim, mostly fantasy or horror, but here are my current picks:

Not sure what I’m going to put in the fifth slot there, but it feels like it’ll be another Universal monster movie (Son of Dracula) or Val Lewton RKO picture (The Seventh Victim). In case you can’t tell from the nominees, I have a soft spot for both Universal monsters and Lewton, but on the other hand, Heaven Can Wait is clearly the superior film that would qualify this year (highly recommended!) Pickins are slim though, and none of these are particularly adept as “Science Fiction”, but fantasy elements are present in all, to some extent.

Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome!

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