Whew, Hugo nominations have closed and I managed to actually consume enough good SFF to nominate five things in most categories. The extraordinary new resources like Rocket Stack Rank and various longlists really came in handy.
Of course, the Hugo nomination deadline is just an excuse. Discovering new writers and fanzines you hadn’t heard of before is the thing, not some weird, phallic awards that never (or very very seldom) are given to your absolute top favorites anyway. I do like the fan community aspect of it — people reading the shortlisted works at the same time and discussing them, and getting together to throw the annual party — but it’s all more or less sideshow. The books, the stories and the other exciting things are what it’s about for me.
So, to some extent, nevermind what the eventual nomination results are going to look like on April 26th. Even if a certain former disco musician manages to make his MRA troll army sweep the ballot like he did last year, there will be terrific thing to read and watch on the various recommendation lists that many fans have put together. Next year, the necessary rule changes are ratified and we get rid of him. (Truth be told, I don’t think that it will be as easy for them to wreak havoc as it was last year, but who knows.)
Whatever happens, I don’t intend to care too much. More quality SFF was published in 2015 than anybody has time to read in 2016, which is nice.
Here are a couple of nice things I’ve been excited about lately:
- Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors is, as the name suggests, an anthology of the Campbell-eligible authors. It’s sadly no longer available, but anybody who did download it while it was up for grabs got to enjoy a wide variety of new voices in SFF. Apparently, these free e-anthologies have been put together for a couple of years but this was the first the first time I heard about it. Not knowing who to nominate for the Campbell (not a Hugo) award wasn’t so difficult this time.
- Stories for Chip. A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany is a crowdfunded anthology of Delany-esque short stories by writers like Nick Harkaway, Geoff Ryman and Michael Swanwick. Editors Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell have done a tremendous job in digging up stories that include quite a few I think should be on all the year’s best lists.
There really should be a Hugo award for the best anthology, shouldn’t there? (Maybe accompanied by best magazine so that we could scrap the Best Editor: Short Form and Best Semiprozine in the process.)
Speaking of new awards, there is going to be a new one. Atlanta’s Dragon Con will start giving out Dragon Awards — not to be confused with the Dragon Awards, the Dragon Awards, the Dragon Award, the Blue Dragon Film Awards or the Golden Dragon Book Awards. Great, another set of award is just what the
dragons SFF needs.
Well, jokes aside: more is more, so why not?
Their rigid-seeming category divisions between science fiction, fantasy, military SFF, horror, alternate history and apocalyptic novels may cause some problems for subgenre blenders but all awards have their own blind spots. It will be interesting to see who wins and I plan to nominate my own favorites. It’s free and open for everybody, so maybe you want to do it too before the end of July.
In the best scenario, the Dragon Award may become The SFF Award That Ends The SFF Award Wars. Rabid Puppy and Sad Puppy activists — that is, people who opined last year that they want to end the politicization of the Hugo Awards by cramming the shortlist with politicized works (that didn’t turn out so well) — have been busy in declaring victory. If they decide to quit pestering the Worldcon fans and start gnawing on dragons’ slippers instead, everybody will be little bit happier. In case the slipper-owners won’t object, of course.
A Dragon Awards Rabid Puppies slate is already in the works, and last year’s Sad Puppy spokesman Brad Torgersen has prophesied that a “gold-foil DRAGON AWARD label on a book is going to routinely replace both NEBULA and HUGO labels”. Maybe, maybe not. I’m guessing that Torgersen’s statement has more to do with his red hot hate towards anything connected to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America or World Science Fiction Society than industry-insider’s wisdom.
Publishers competing for the readers’s limited attention will be keen to exploit any award. It is higly unlikely that Dragon Awards will push Hugos or Nebulas out of the business — or, for that matter, the Philip K. Dick Awards, or the World Fantasy Awards, or the British Science Fiction Awards, or the Prometheus Awards. There’s always room for one more and (as I said a couple of paragraphs ago) more is more so why not?