Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hugo Voting: the easy categories

This year I’m finding several categories where there seems to be one clear standout nominee that goes first and the rest of the nominees can just be piled in a heap below my top pick.

Here are the categories that have been the easiest to vote in for me this year:

Best fan writer

1. Shamus Young. I just dipped into this nominated entry here and there, probably reading no more than 10% of the text. But this huge labor-of-love analysis of the video game series Mass Effect is quite impressive. I read enough of it to see that Young makes good on his statement that he goes beyond a cursory examination of plot holes to discuss story structure and how people connect to stories, which is just the sort of analysis I like. His actual writing is good, too. Plus Young went to a lot of trouble to reformat this 300+ page work to make it more reader-friendly for the Hugo voter’s packet, which a good many nominees don’t appear to have made any effort to do. I did take a look at the other nominees, but Young’s work is imo clearly the most impressive – so clearly that I’m inclined to leave the rest of the category blank.

Alas, now I kind of want to try the games, but honestly, I don’t have time for another hobby, so that is not helpful.

I might put Mike Glyer and Douglas Ernst on as #2 and #3, in one order or the other, but —

Fanzine

1. File 770 is so clearly the most useful of the websites nominated in this category — to me, anyway. This category is where it seems to me that Mike Glyer belongs. I skim through File 770 almost every day to see what’s going on around and about. It’s a very different website from the other nominees – it’s a “linker,” not a “thinker.” Do people still use those categories? Because it clearly indicates the distinction between File 770 and the rest of the nominees.

I like long involved thoughtful essays and reviews and I’m happy that some sites offer those, but I mostly find those thoughtful essays and reviews through “linker” blogs, with File 770 probably being the most important for me at the moment. I don’t really want to select Glyer for Best Fan Writer because File 770 is not really about showcasing his or anyone else’s writing, but as a fanzine, the blog is a standout. I’m putting File 770 first and leaving the rest of the category blank.

Graphic Story

1. “The Sandman: Overture” was so much better than either of the others included in the Hugo voters packet that there’s just no competition. I read all the graphic novels last year, but this year, I just opened the two that were included in the packet. I read a few pages of each and I was done. Too pessimistic a tone for me and anyway, after “Overture” I just cannot persuade myself that anything else deserves to win. I suppose I could look up the ones not included in the packet, but why bother? Nothing is going to beat The Sandman for me. I’m putting “Overture” first and leaving the rest of the category blank.

Related Work

1. The Story of Moira Greyland. This is the only nominee not actually published by Castalia House, which gives it a boost for me — especially since two of the other entries draw heavily on Vox Day’s tiresome running attack on Scalzi. I grant you, Moira’s post is “related” only if you stretch a point. But MZB was so very important and iconic a figure in SFF that I think Moira Greyland’s post can be counted. Also, though her story was included as part of the Rabid Puppy’s slate, it is not their story. It is her very personal story, and her courage in posting it is humbling.

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3 Comments Hugo Voting: the easy categories

  1. Mike S.

    Shamus Young was always going to be my first choice, but I’ve been reading his site for years, and Mass Effect has been a recurring preoccupation of mine for more than half a decade. (If you go to the original blog version of the series, you’ll find my comments all over it. Frequently and probably increasingly disagreeing with him once he gets into the second and third games, but still. :-) ) I’m interested (and pleased) to see that he works for you coming in fresh without any stake in the specific subject matter.

    (If you ever do decide to try video games, Mass Effect would be my strong recommendation. Though L. might suggest Dragon Age, also from Bioware. But as you say, it’s a time sink you probably don’t need.)

    I do feel a little bad that he’s in the middle of the controversy affecting this year’s Hugos. But I suspect not being actively involved in congoing fandom or any of the Puppy groups makes it easier for him to stay above it all. It also helps that he’s got a lot of experience policing his comments section to keep it largely apolitical and cordial– another of the things that’s kept me reading the site– which at least reduces the chances of a kerfuffle breaking out there.

  2. Linda S

    I haven’t looked at most of the fan writers yet, but I’ll be surprised if Shamus Young isn’t my #1 pick as well. This is true even though I agree with Mike that he’s wrongity-wrong-wrong about Mass Effect 2 and most of ME 3.(Sadly, he’s right that the ending of ME 3 was very disappointing.)

    I had played a few video games before Mass Effect, but ME was the first one I’d encountered that had a story and characters that the player was supposed to take seriously. (As opposed to, say, Diablo II, which theoretically had an incredibly dark and depressing story but was actually about killing monsters and getting loot.) Honesty compels me to admit that I only started playing because I developed a crush on one of the potential love interests while I was watching Mike play. Mike once posted about this in a discussion of the game, and a commenter replied: “Really? Kaidan? Is your wife also super into Melba toast, stock footage and empty rooms?” Needless to say, this commenter was completely wrong about Kaidan!

    I agree with Mike that ME is a great choice if you ever want to try a video game, but I’m guessing you won’t have time for gaming anytime soon.

    Fanzine is also an easy pick for me. I’ve been reading File 770 every day for almost a year now, and I really appreciate all the work Mike Glyer puts into it. It was the only fanzine I nominated, and I’ll definitely be ranking it #1.

  3. Rachel

    Well, someday, maybe. And if I do try the game, I will pay particular attention to Kaidan. You maybe me laugh with your comment about Melba toast!

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