Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2013 Hugo Awards

They awarded the Hugos yesterday, and everyone and their dog is blogging or has blogged about it, so my two cents will be a little different. I’ve been at the last two awards ceremonies, but didn’t attend this one and kept up with the winners on the internet or Twitter, fortunately this also meant I didn’t experience the UStream snafu, which is seriously bad form by UStream.

I’m only going to speak about two categories, because they’re the only two I really think I can speak about with any actual knowledge, or passion I guess.

They will be Best Short Form Dramatic Presentation and the night’s biggie: Best Novel.

As seems to now be tradition the award for Best Short Form Dramatic Presentation was taken out by a Doctor Who episode: The Doctor’s Wife by Neil Gaiman. I don’t have any real problem with that. I personally preferred Let’s Kill Hitler to The Doctor’s Wife, it was more fun, but it didn’t make the ballot. The other 4 nominations were 2 other episodes of Doctor Who (I’ll get to that later), an episode of Community and Chris Garcia’s acceptance speech from the 2011 Worldcon when the fanzine he and James Bacon look after won the Hugo in that category.

I’m going to talk about that particular nomination. I’m of the opinion that it really shouldn’t have been there, but apparently it fits the criteria, and enough people must have nominated it to get it in there. It just seems odd to me. Over recent years the people behind the Hugos have worked really hard to make the awards more inclusive and they’re raised voter participation rates, but then they go and allow something which was really an in joke for people who were at last years awards ceremony to be nominated. It was a funny episode and it certainly got people talking at the convention, but it just seems to smack of exclusivity to me.

Now the winner. As I said I liked the episode, and when Let’s Kill Hitler didn’t make it, I voted for it. It just seems that ever since New Who strode triumphantly back onto our TV screens in 2005 nothing else has really had a look in. I enjoy Doctor Who, it’s a great show, but do we really have to have 3 episodes nominated every year? Surely genre TV doesn’t boil down to Doctor Who and a couple of other random things. Last year the novelty song F*** Me Ray Bradbury made the ballot. It’s a great time for genre TV, if a single Doctor Who episode is considered the best of the 5 things nominated so be it, but let’s have some other shows nominated. That’s it rant over.

Onto the novels. It was, I felt, a stronger field than in 2011. I did a preview in an earlier post, but to recap the nominated novels were:
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R Martin
Among Others by Jo Walton
Deadline by Mira Grant (excuse me when I speak about that, because I’ll probably keep referring to the author by her real name of Seanan McGuire)
Embassytown by China Mieville
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A Corey

Jo Walton’s beautiful love letter to fans and classic SFF took out the award and deservedly so, it was IMHO the best book in the field, and I voted for it. It’s not a controversial choice, it won at least one other major award this year as well. It’s still a bit of a surprise, though. I’d always seen George R.R Martin as the sentimental favourite, although I don’t think Dance was the best book nominated, nor was it even the best book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but Martin has a huge following and they’re very passionate. As it worked out I think Dance polled the lowest of the five works. I believe Embassytown came second, and I had thought if anyone would topple George it would be Mieville. I wasn’t all that impressed with Embassytown, in fact I think I gave up on it halfway through. It was my first experience of Mieville, and I’ve been since told it probably wasn’t the best of his books to begin with. I just couldn’t connect to it on any level, but he is a popular author and Hugo voters like him. Deadline came in 3rd. I’ve seen surprise expressed that it was nominated in the first place. The people that say that don’t seem to know about Seanan McGuire’s already substantial and ever expanding army of highly enthusiastic fans, plus Deadline is a zombie book. Zombies are hot property right now, and it’s hard to resist books about them that are so well written and clever. I have to say that I preferred the trilogy (Deadline is the second in the Newsflesh trilogy) opener Feed (which narrowly failed to win the Hugo last year), but it didn’t surprise me that Deadline was there or that it was a strong contender. I have to confess to really liking the space opera Leviathan Wakes, I wasn’t all that surprised that it made the ballot, the author’s association (James S.A Corey is the pseudonym for Daniel Abraham and Ty Francks) with George R.R Martin (Abraham is a good friend and Francks is his assistant) didn’t hurt it and helped get some overflow popularity, I would have liked to see it poll a little higher personally, but there you have it.

For the future? I’m really bad at this (not one of my nominations for last year actually made the ballot), but I’ll have a shot, and please bear in mind that this is September and a few big releases are yet to appear. No new instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire (my money is on 2015 at the earliest, and I think I’m being overly optimistic there), so no nomination for George R.R Martin in this category in 2013. I think Blackout by Mira Grant stands a fair chance of making it, the first two books in the trilogy have, so no reason why the closer won’t, and she’s picking up new fans all the time. James S.A Corey released a sequel to Leviathan Wakes, called Caliban’s War, so that could get a nod from those who enjoyed the first one. One half of James S.A Corey in Daniel Abraham released The King’s Blood, the second of his The Dagger and the Coin series, and if anything it’s been better received than the first one (The Dragon’s Path) and that was a damn good book. One of 2011’s major debutants; Mark Lawrence released a follow up to his Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, and that too has had largely positive reviews, so it may be a chance. Of the releases still to come there’s Joe Abercrombie’s A Red Country, and while I can’t comment on it yet, as it hasn’t been released, and I haven’t read it, if it maintains the quality of his earlier books it should be an absolute cracker and Joe deserves a shot at a rocket ship. China Mieville also put out Railsea, and he seems to get a nomination with every book he releases. I haven’t spoken much about SF, that’s largely because I’m a fantophile and I don’t read or see a lot of SF.      

I hope the field in 2013 can be as strong as the field was in 2012 and congratulations to all the winners.

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