The 2019 Hugo Award winners were announced just a few hours ago, so now it’s time for the requisite jubilant celebrations and/or bitter recriminations. I participated this year, but my enthusiasm has been waning over the past several years. For those who want to geek out and see instant-runoff voting in action, the detailed voting and nomination stats are also available (.pdf).
- The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal won best novel, which isn’t exactly surprising (it’s already won the Nebula and Locus awards), but I must confess, wasn’t really my thing. This makes four years in a row where my least favorite novel wins the award. Perhaps more of a statement of preferences and taste than anything else. My preferred pick, Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver came in a relatively close second place, so there is that. As expected, Space Opera came in dead last but clearly had some ardent defenders (this seems like the sort of novel that performs poorly in instant-runoff votes).
- Martha Wells’ Murderbot takes home the novella award for the second year in a row with Artificial Condition winning. Of note in the nomination stats is that the other two Murderbot Novellas released last year could also have made the ballot, but Wells must have declined nominations for those. This speaks to the popularity of this series, which is very much my jam. I did not have time to read all the novella finalists, but I suspect this would have been at or near the top of my ballot. Alas, we’ll have to wait for 2020 for the next Murderbot story, which will be a novel that seems like a shoe-in for another nomination.
- “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow wins the short story award, and was also my choice.
- Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series wins for Best Series, further cementing how weird this particular award is. I think there’s a place for rewarding longrunning series, but the devil is in the details and the results thusfar have been rather strange. This, for example, is a series consisting of three novels, two of which have been nominated for Best Novel already. I thought the point was the recognize stuff like The Wheel of Time – something immensely popular, but which never made it onto the Novel ballot. Weirdly, Wayfarers doesn’t seem particularly popular, though obviously popular enough that it could beat out The Laundry Files and October Daye, amongst others. I still remain opposed to this award due to the logistical complications around the award, most notably the near impossibility of reading all the nominated work in the time allotted.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse wins for Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. It was also my pick and certainly the best of the nominated works, but I remain vexed by this award, which almost always gravitates towards the most mainstream choices possible, while interesting stuff like Upgrade and The Endless don’t even make the longlist (though the latter may be disqualified due to potentially being viewed as a 2017 release). That being said, if you’re in the market for interesting SF movies, you should check those out. They’re great, and more worthy of recognition than, say, The Avengers.
- Of the other awards, one winner stands out, which is “Archive of Our Own” for Best Related Work. I haven’t kept up with this category or the debate around this particular nomination, but I gather some controversy surrounds this site, which is essentially a Fan Fiction portal. Again, I don’t especially have any thoughts either way, but I’m expecting some bonkers takes on this award win.
- The 1944 Retro Hugo Winners were also announced recently. I didn’t read extensively, but I was happy to see “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” by Lewis Padgett take the rocket, and Heaven Can Wait is the clear winner of Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. The Short Form award went to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, which I do find surprising. I was expecting Bugs Bunny to run away with that one, but I guess not. I don’t think they’ve released the detailed stats yet, but hey, at least Batman didn’t win…
So there you have it. Congrats to all the winners. Not a bad year, but I do find my interest in the Hugos waning. I will probably submit a nominating ballot next year (since I already have the ability), but I haven’t been too enthused by the last few ballots, so who knows if I’ll continue to play along.