Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The 2017 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees

Yesterday saw the announcement of this year's Hugo nominations.  Usually I write an essay about the nominees and what state of the field they reflect, but these were announced just as I landed from a week-long trip to New York into several work and life obligations.  So instead, here's an itemized list of the reactions I had to the nominations when they were announced, not necessarily in the order I had them:
  • Happiness, at finally being able to announce that I am once again a nominee in the Best Fan Writer category.  Thank you very much to everyone who nominated me and to the award's administrators and staff, and congratulations to my fellow nominees, Mike Glyer, Natalie Luhrs, Foz Meadows, and Chuck Tingle.  But not Jeffro Johnson, because fuck anyone who willingly associates with a racist turd like Vox Day and tries to ride his coattails to an award they haven't earned.  Enjoy losing to No Award, my man.

  • Relief, because even though I was fairly certain that the puppy presence would be vastly reduced this year, there was always a chance that I would be wrong, and in the end I wasn't.  There are still puppy nominees in most categories--Alex Acks at Bookriot has a good roundup of which one is which--but in the major categories these are mostly things that would probably have been nominated anyway, such as China MiĆ©ville's This Census Taker in Best Novella, or Deadpool in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.  And because we've switched to six nominations in each category, and the puppies didn't manage to get more than one of their choices in each category, one can argue that we're getting the ballot we would have gotten under last year's rules, with the price of having to pay a small amount of attention to a bunch of whiny babies.  I don't know why Day's flying monkeys are so determined to keep up this silly game, in which the result is a foregone conclusion, but I guess people who choose to live such pathetic lives have twisted ideas of what counts as fun.

  • Pride, over the fact that several nominees whom I championed here made it onto the ballot.  It's likely that I didn't have that much of an effect--I was clearly not the only one who recognized how deserving The Vision, or Hidden Figures, were--but other nominees whom I've been stumping for for years, such as GigaNotoSaurus and Victo Ngai, have finally been nominated, and I'd like to believe that I played a small part in achieving that.

  • Frustration, because the puppies' ongoing presence on the ballot, even under extremely reduced circumstances, means that it continues to be impossible to talk about the nominees as their own thing, rather than a reaction to an attempted fascist takeover.  There's a lot to praise about this year's ballot, including the continued shift towards a more diverse slate of nominees, but in the short fiction categories in particular, the Hugo has once again thrown up a fairly middle-of-the-road selection.  Most of these stories aren't bad, but quite a few of them are meh, and it would be nice to once again be able to have a proper discussion of that.  Instead, we're all still in bunker mode, still cheering the fact that publishable fiction was nominated for the genre's most prestigious award, which increasingly seems like a low bar to clear.

  • Anger, at whatever abomination twitter has inflicted on their tweet threading mechanism.  Being on vacation last week, I missed the outrage over this when it was rolled out, but the limitations of the new system were made abundantly clear when I got tagged in multiple threads of more than a hundred participants each, with no ability to remove myself from them.  Until twitter comes to its senses, this is a good, brief primer on how to conduct conversations on the platform in a way that doesn't completely spam people's mentions.

  • Uncertainty, over the state of the three media categories, the two Best Dramatic Presentations and Best Graphic Story.  I think that all of these categories have delivered solid shortlists this year, with even a few surprises--it was by no means a foregone conclusion that the Hugo nominators would accept Hidden Figures's right to be on the ballot, and the fact that the hip hop group Clipping's concept album Splendor & Misery was nominated in the short form category is obviously delightful.  But overall, these are very predictable shortlists, and while that's not exactly a new development, it does make one wonder what their added value is, in terms of recognizing excellence in the field.

  • Hope, because now that Daveed Diggs is a Hugo nominee, perhaps he might be persuaded to come to Helsinki?  I say this, of course, in a public-minded spirit, and not at all because Diggs and I are both invited to the same Hugo nominee reception.

  • Deliberation, because now I have to decide what 2016 writing to put in my Hugo voter packet contribution.  If you have a preference, feel free to mention it in the comments.