Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hugo Nominees for 2013

If you’re interested in the full lineup, it’s here. Meanwhile, here are the novel-novella-novelette-short story categories:

Best Novel (1113 nominating ballots cast)

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

I’m actually not very happy with this list. Frankly, I think Redshirts was emminently readable, actually loads of fun, but hardly groundbreaking or important or whatever the term is I’m looking for that means Hugo-worthy. Clever, though, granted. What did any of you think, if you’ve read it?

I haven’t actually read Blackout, but it’s hard for me to see how Grant pulled that one into coherence given the magical stuff that happened at the end of the second book — magical in the sense of extremely unbelievable in an SF novel — but as I say, I haven’t read it so I honestly don’t know. I will have to reserve judgement until I actually read it, which I guess I better get it ordered. Maybe it is brilliant and flawless! I have to say that the writing in both the prior books was very, very strong. Especially in the first book, imo. Anybody else read this series? Have you read the third book yet?

And, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance? While I loved it, I mean, Bujold, right? But I don’t know that I would put it at the top of her work. Though, not surprised to see it on this ballot, either, since popularity certainly counts for the Hugo.

I definitely expected Railsea because, hello, Mieville? I haven’t read that one either, I admit, but I sure expected to have to read it before voting. Very surprised to see it didn’t make the list. And I also definitely expected The Killing Moon by Jemisin, which I loved. I’m thoroughly disappointed that one isn’t on there.

I’m going to have to read both the one by Kim Stanley Robinson and Throne of the Crescent Moon. I did admire Robinson’s Mars epic, but . . . not like I’ve ever wanted to read it again. I have a hard time thinking I’m going to fall in love with 2312, but you never know. I’ve kind of had Crescent Moon on my radar for a while, though, so I do look forward to reading that one. I may read 2312 first, save Crescent Moon for dessert, as it were.

First I really want to read the rest of Martha Wells’ books, though, while I’m on a roll. I believe she has fourteen out, but not sure that counts EMILIE, which isn’t quite out yet. So, if it’s fourteen, then eight down — six to go! I am plainly missing a couple, since I only have three more on my Kindle, I see. Must sleuth around, find out what I’m missing.

Okay, onward —

Best Novella (587 nominating ballots cast)

“After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall”, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
“The Emperor’s Soul”, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
“On a Red Station, Drifting”, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats”, Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

Haven’t read any of these, but the novella category was excellent last year, I’ve heard great things about several of these and I’m actually pretty excited about them.

Best Novelette (616 nominating ballots cast)

“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)
“Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente ( Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
“In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
“Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire ( A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)

Check out that self-published novelette! Glad to see that on there. I do hope it’s excellent. Seanan McGuire is of course also Myra Grant, and I do think she can be an excellent writer even though I personally did not get into her paranormal series and had issues with the plotting in the zombie trilogy. Amazing how many nominations she picked up this year. Maybe I should read the third book of her paranormal series, even though I wasn’t crazy about the first two? Any familiar with this series — I mean the October Daye series of course — does it improve sharply after the first couple?

Best Short Story (662 nominating ballots cast) — yes, only three nominees:

“Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard ( Clarkesworld, June 2012)
“Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)

Oh. My. God. “Mantis Wives”? A) It’s not a story, it’s a series of scenes. B) They are horrible torture scenes. I am honestly not very happy to see that on the ballot — even though I loved Kij Johnson’s novella from last year, “The Man Who Bridged the Mist.”

I liked “Immersion” fine, I can vote for that without flinching, but I have to say, I’m definitely going to vote for No Award before “Mantis Wives.” You can read that one here if you want to weigh in on it.

Anyway, there you go! Anybody read 2312 or Crescent Moon or any of the novellas? What did you think of them?

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18 Comments Hugo Nominees for 2013

  1. Cheryl L

    The Hugo nominations often say more about the author’s popularity amongst con-goers than the quality of their writing.

    As for Martha Wells, her remaining novels are CITY OF BONES and WHEEL OF THE INFINITE. The total of fourteen must include the books she wrote in the Stargate franchise.

  2. Kristen

    I also expected The Killing Moon to be nominated and was very disappointed that it was not. Also, I was disappointed Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear wasn’t a finalist, but I wasn’t as surprised that it wasn’t there since I hadn’t seen nearly as many people say they were nominating it.

    However, I was very happy to see that the novella by Nancy Kress was a finalist!

    Regarding the October Daye series, it does get better after the first couple of books. I’ve seen a lot of people say the third book is the one that got them hooked on the series.

  3. Elaine T

    I join the surprise that the Jemison didn’t make it. IMO it was a lot better (more award worthy) than the Bujold, Ahmed, or Robinson. The Ahmed I didn’t even finish.

  4. Rachel

    Oh, ow, not a good sign for the Ahmed. I think I’ll wait to read it until I can get it free as part of the Hugo packet; then I won’t be mad about spending money for it if I hate it.

  5. Rachel

    Still weeping over The Killing Moon not being on the list — and actually I’ve seen several comments from people wondering where Range of Ghosts went. That one is on my TBR pile, too bad didn’t read it in time to nominate it, but I guess it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. That novella by Kress looks, um, complicated. But I know everybody seems to love it; I definitely need to check it out.

    Thanks for the tip about the October Daye series. I guess I need to try the third book before I decide they’re not for me.

  6. Rachel

    Good, then I have all the Wells books including one of the Stargate ones.

    Hugos — yeah, but I still expected better. And I thought The Killing Moon would be on there for sure. : (

  7. Linda S

    I was actually extremely upset when I saw that there were only 3 short stories on the list. I thought Craig found some very strong contenders, especially “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare and “Dormanna” by Gene Wolfe. I didn’t necessarily expect them to be nominated, but I didn’t expect them to lose to NOTHING. I’d never heard of the 5% rule before, and I don’t think it produced the right result this year.

    I agree with you that the novel list looks pretty weak. I adore Bujold, and I thought the Ivan book was well done, but I don’t think it deserved a Hugo nomination. Ironically, I may end up voting for it, unless I like the Robinson or the Ahmed more than I’m expecting to. I haven’t read Redshirts yet, either, but I’ll be very surprised if I think it deserves a Hugo. And Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is clearly very talented, but I don’t think I’m part of her natural audience.

  8. Craig

    Well, obviously my attempt to improve the short story ballot didn’t work. I am more annoyed than surprised. To be scrupulously fair, both “Immersion” and the Liu story are probably better than anything on the short story list last year, IMHO.

    Not impressed by that best novel list either; at first glance I think it may actually be inferior to last year’s not-very-impressive list.

    Also surprising: more nominators for shorter fiction until you get to novels:
    novellas – 587
    novellettes – 616
    short stories – 662
    novels – 1113

    I didn’t know about the 5% rule either — though I would have figured there was something like it. It appears that the greater number of short stories published splits the vote more than in the other categories.

    Multiply that through and you get (rounding up)
    novellas – 30
    novelettes – 31
    short stories – 33
    novels – 56

    That certainly explains why some authors punch above their weight in nominations. Heck, I’m a little surprised Liu didn’t show up twice on the short story ballot.

    Also, for next year (I’m a voting member this year, so at least a nominating member for next year), it looks like concentrating on novelettes has slightly better marginal utility than short stories. There may also be fewer voting memberships for a non-American convention, even in so international a city as London; it will be interesting to see.

  9. Rachel

    I guess I’ll have to read the other novels before I can really declare that I agree with you, but I suspect I will wind up agreeing that the novel list last year was stronger.

  10. Christopher J Garcia

    You know, I thought Railsea should have been on there instead of the Bujold (I just can’t get into her writing!), but I am glad to see Ahmet on there because it was a great book. I also thought that there were far more than 3 worthy short stories, which may explain why only three could get 5% or more. Love that Cat Valente is up there and it’s my current fave, though I need to read two more of them. The plus of doing the annual Handicapping the Hugos issue of my zine The Drink Tank is that I am forced to go over everything that’s on the ballot.
    Chris

  11. Sunil

    I am also disappointed that The Killing Moon didn’t make the cut, but I’ve been wanting to read The Throne of the Crescent Moon, so I suppose it will fulfill the “fantasy about non-white characters with ‘Moon’ in the title” slot.

    The Toby Daye series does get better and better! The second book is probably the weakest in the series so far. The third book is very good (and goes a long way toward establishing Toby as a real hero), but for me, the fourth book is where the series really ascends to another level. Big Things happen in that book, and you go back to the first book and realize that the clues were there along. And book five is good background for “In Sea-Salt Tears,” which has my vote for Best Novelette. It’s heartbreaking.

    With regards to Blackout, you really should read it if you enjoyed the first two books. The development at the end of the second book is handled very, very interestingly, with attention paid to aspects I don’t often see in stories about…that thing (hard to talk about it without spoilers!). Plus, it’s compulsively readable; I couldn’t put it down even when I was reading it a second time.

    You can even maximize your Hugo research by following Mark Reads Blackout (I’ve linked a prediction post so you don’t get spoiled). Mark Oshiro is nominated for Best Fan Writer this year, and he is currently reading Blackout and posting chapter-by-chapter reactions (sometimes with video). It’s been glorious to read his thoughts on Newsflesh, not only because of his emotional destruction due to plot twists but also because his appreciation of the writing, characters, and plotting has given me a new appreciation for the series as well.

  12. Rachel

    Hi, Christopher —

    You can’t get into Bujold’s writing? Heresy!

    I’m glad you liked the Ahmet; I do like that kind of Arabian Nights aura it has. The Handicapping the Hugos issue sounds really interesting; please share a link when it’s up if you think of it.

    For others who might be interested, here is the link to last year’s Hugo Handicapping issue.

    No doubt there’s a good reason for the 5% rule, but I wish it weren’t there; why not give a minimum of five great stories a chance to win?

    Sunil — That’s several votes in favor of the later books in the October Daye series, and I hereby believe you all and plan to pick it up again. Ideally I can blast through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th books and read that nominated novella in context.

    The development at the end of the second book is handled very, very interestingly, with attention paid to aspects I don’t often see in stories about…that thing (hard to talk about it without spoilers!).

    Okay, that sounds really intriguing! Now I am looking forward to seeing how Grant handled that, whereas previously I was wincing away from the third book for fear of what she would do with it. And yes, I agree, the first two were also compulsively readable, for me. Thanks for the link, that sounds like it’d be a lot of fun to check out as I read the book myself!

  13. Sunil

    Ooh, thanks for the link to the Handicapping the Hugos issue. Very interesting! And entertaining.

    Ideally I can blast through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th books and read that nominated novella in context.
    They are quick reads! And, yeah, “In Sea-Salt Tears” definitely has more resonance after One Salt Sea (it’s about the Luidaeg). “Rat-Catcher” is Tybalt backstory and doesn’t need more background.

    Have you read InCryptid? Discount Armageddon is fun, and Midnight Blue-Light Special is GREAT.

    Okay, that sounds really intriguing! Now I am looking forward to seeing how Grant handled that, whereas previously I was wincing away from the third book for fear of what she would do with it.
    I was really impressed, and I loved the way she played with the idea of identity. It’s a really fascinating story. Also, the book has one of my favorite scenes in anything ever, and there’s nothing sci-fi or zombie about it: it’s just incredible character-based tension.

    Thanks for the link, that sounds like it’d be a lot of fun to check out as I read the book myself!
    If you overtake Mark, we’d love to have you join the comments! Mark’s sites are one of the few places on the Internet where you SHOULD read the comments.

    And to give you an idea of what you’re in for, I am linking you to Mark Reads Feed: Chapter 26 (yes, That Chapter) and Mark Reads Deadline: Chapter 9 (yes, THAT chapter), both of which have accompanying videos that I helped pay for because I am evil.

  14. Elaine T

    “ow, not a good sign for the Ahmed”

    FWIW, the guy who originally pointed CITY IN THE LAKE out to me just praised the Ahmed. It may be it’s one of those which just didn’t connect with me. And Life was rather trying last fall….

    I KNOW I’ve seen other Arabian or Middle-Eastern fantasy stories around (although, of course, I can’t call them to mind at the moment), but I’m surprised to see -I poked around the Goodreads reviews of Ahmed – so much attention paid to it being that sort of setting.

  15. Rachel

    Oh, thanks! THOSE chapters, okay, sounds like I definitely must check these out immediately.

    “Have you read InCryptid? Discount Armageddon is fun, and Midnight Blue-Light Special is GREAT.”

    No! But I am adding them to my wishlist right now.

  16. Maureen E

    I really disliked Blackout, and Deadline too, for that matter. The promise of the first book fizzled out and the worldbuilding failed to make any sense to me. For that matter, the relationship between Sean and Georgia was completely ruined for me by the REALLY WEIRD SPOILERY PART in book 2, which was never explained to my satisfaction. Retcon, what? So, I don’t know. I wish the first book had been left as an almost-entirely-perfect standalone, which it was.

  17. Maureen E

    As for the rest, I agree that Captain Vorpatril is candy (delicious candy), not substance, so I am surprised to see it. But for some reason the last year struck me as lighter in really really good adult SFF [or I could have been reading less of it than usual], with the exception of Jemisin. So why is she not on that list?

    I failed to get through Railsea, and regardless, it was pubbed as YA, which might have bumped it out of eligibility for some people.The only ones I’ve spotted on the list of nominees and winners are written by JK Rowling, John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow, which points to YA only being present when the authors are HUGELY popular. Though I would have put Mieville in that category, so I don’t know.

  18. Rachel

    Maureen — I’m hoping I love Railsea, since I already have it, but I bet you’re right that marketing it as YA didn’t help it any.

    I liked Deadline, except for THE REALLY WEIRD PART, as you say. And the unbelievable conspiracy-ridden plot — literally unbelievable, I was completely unable to suspend disbelief about that very important conspiracy element of the plot. But I do plan to read Blackout. But . . . actually, now that you point it out, I agree with you that the first book would have made an amazing, exceptionally effective standalone.

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