2016 Hugo Award Nominations

The 2016 Hugo Awards

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The 2015 Hugo Award trophy, from the official site.

 

Today is the day. This is the first year I have been a member of Worldcon, and therefore the first year I am able to vote in the prestigious Hugo Awards. The Hugos were first held in 1953, and have come to be considered one of the most important awards in the science fiction genera. They are overseen by the World Science Fiction Community and include a range of categories, recognizing the year’s best novels, short stories, movies, TV shows and editors. All works nominated for a Hugo were nominated by fans who are members of Worldcon, and the winners will be decided by those same fans. For more information, check out their official site of Midamericon II  (http://midamericon2.org/) or the official site of the Hugo Awards (http://www.thehugoawards.org/)

The reason I chose to participate in the Hugos this year was because of all the controversy last year. For those who don’t know, there was this group called the Sad Puppies that wanted to combat what they saw as a ‘left-leaning’ bias in the works being nominated. Their solution was to publish a slate ballot of works that, in the words of Brad Torgersen, organiser of last year’s Sad Puppies, “would not otherwise find themselves on the Hugo ballot without some extra oomph received from beyond the rarefied, insular halls of 21st century Worldcon ‘fandom’”.

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Not that type of sad puppy

The Sad Puppies movement started in 2013 when Larry Correia started a voting block to get his novel Monster Legion Hunter nominated, and last year another voting block, the Rabid Puppies – created by Vox Day, a somewhat… ‘colourful’ character – joined the fray with the intention of wrecking as much havoc on the awards as possible.

This rubbed me the wrong way. Took me a while to figure out why; I mean, lots of groups put out recommendations, so why should this be any different? Well, I think the reason why I’m so averse to the whole Sad Puppy thing is because the quality and enjoyability of the works nominated by them seem to be secondary to the politics. The Hugos should be about giving recognition to works you enjoy; not using works to further an agenda no matter how much you enjoyed them. If you are interested in participating in the Hugos, good; vote for your favourite works no matter what your political leaning. This fandom has all sorts of different people with different tastes, that’s welcome. But if you just want to game the system to win bragging points in some culture war, then that is not cool.

AncillaryMercy
I nominated Ancillary Mercy for best novel. So did the Sad Puppies.

Of course, I didn’t really know much about the Hugo nominating system and the whole Sad Puppies thing until after last year’s winners were announced. The response by the rest of the fandom was pretty extreme, with categories where all the Sad Puppies nominees had made the shortlist being given No Award. Still have mixed feelings on this; it’s good that the Puppies aren’t being given free rein to game the system, but it also means that some really good stories missed out on an award.

 

Which brings us back to why I paid $72 to join Worldcon this year, even though I hadn’t been keeping up with the new releases last year. Out of the four novels I nominated, the only one that got shortlisted was also on the Puppies recommendation list, and I’m under no illusions that my single vote will change everything. But I think one extra voter that doesn’t want to buy into any of the politics surrounding the Hugos has to be a good thing, and if there are any other people out there that just care about recognizing good stories, then please, I’d recommend you do the same.

Speaking of stories, let’s take a look at the works that have been nominated this year.

 

BEST NOVEL

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisen (Orbit)
  • Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

 

BEST NOVELLA

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

 

BEST NOVELETTE

  • And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed Feb2015)
  • Flashpoint: Titan by Cheah Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
  • Obits by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
  • What Price Humanity? By David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)

 

BEST SHORT STORY

  • Asymmetrical Warfare by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
  • The Communter by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
  • If You Were an Award, My Love by Juan Tabo and S. Harrie (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
  • Seven Kill Tiger by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)

 

BEST RELATED WORK

  • Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
  • The First Draft of My Appendix N Book by Jeffro Johnson (jeffro.wordpress.com)
  • Safe Space as Rape Room by Daniel Eness (Castaliahouse.com)
  • SJW Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Castalia House)
  • The Story of Moira Greyland by Moira Greyland (askthebigot.com)

 

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

  • The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second)
  • Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (dyingalone.net)
  • Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (ffn.nodwick.com)
  • Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics)
  • The Sandman: Overture written byNeil Gaiman, art by JH Williams III (Vertigo)

 

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM)

  • Avengers: Age of Ultronwritten and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Ex Machinawritten and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
  • Mad Max: Fury Roadwritten by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • The Martianscreenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakenswritten by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

 

BEST DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE (SHORT FORM)

  • Doctor Who:“Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
  • Grimm:“Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf(Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
  • Jessica Jones:“AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions;Netflix)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:“The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
  • Supernatural:“Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)

 

BEST EDITOR (SHORT FORM

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jerry Pournelle
  • Sheila Williams

 

BEST EDITOR (LONG FORM)

  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Jim Minz
  • Toni Weisskopf

 

BEST PROFFESIONAL ARTIST

  • Lars Braad Andersen
  • Larry Elmore
  • Abigail Larson
  • Michal Karcz
  • Larry Rostant

 

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Daily Science Fiction edited by Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
  • Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie
  • Strange Horizons edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A. J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin,Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons staff
  • Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

 

BEST FANZINE

  • Black Gate edited by John O’Neill
  • Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
  • File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
  • Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
  • Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale

 

BEST FANCAST

  • 8-4 Play, Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
  • Cane and Rinse, Cane and Rinse
  • HelloGreedo, HelloGreedo
  • The Rageaholic, RazörFist
  • Tales to Terrify, Stephen Kilpatrick

 

BEST FAN WRITER

  • Douglas Ernst
  • Mike Glyer
  • Morgan Holmes
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Shamus Young

 

BEST FAN ARTIST

  • Matthew Callahan
  • disse86
  • Kukuruyo
  • Christian Quinot
  • Steve Stiles

 

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

  • Pierce Brown *
  • Sebastien de Castell *
  • Brian Niemeier
  • Andy Weir *
  • Alyssa Wong *

* Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

 

This year there were also the Retro Hugo Awards for 1941, but since this post is getting quite long, I’ll talk about them next time. For now, let’s have a talk about some of the obvious things on this list.

First of all, I really didn’t keep up with new works last year, so I have a lot of reading to do. Also, Seveneves, which I haven’t read, is 881 pages long. Because of this, I probably won’t get the time to read and watch everything on this list. Fortunately, there are some areas I can see where I don’t mind being slack on.

The Rabid Puppies slate managed to get a clean sweep of a few categories, including the Short Story and Related Works Category. Here is their slate for those interested: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/rabid-puppies-2016-list.html

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Best. Hugo Nomination. Response. Ever

Which brings us to the big surprise of the year; Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle. I should be angry; it’s a Rabid Puppies nomination that could seriously damage the credibility of the Hugo Awards. However, I have a somewhat juvenile sense of humour; I found Boaty McBoatface funny. Reading the description of Space Raptor Butt Invasion and browsing through the rest of Tingle’s bibliography, I was in tears. If Space Raptor is as funny as it is made out to be, then the complete sabotage of the short story category would not have been in vein. And yes, I will be reviewing Space Raptor Butt Invasion; sorry in advance. Within 24 hours of the Hugo Nominees being announced, Chuck Tingle had a new short story out: Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination, a tale promising ‘4,500 words of sizzling human on prestigious award nomination action, including anal, blowjobs, rough sex, cream pies and gay interdimensional love.’

No, I am not joking: you can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Slammed-Butt-Hugo-Award-Nomination-ebook/dp/B01EUC93RE

So, does this mean that the Puppies have won? Are George R.R. Martin’s fears that the Hugos are broken beyond repair coming true? I don’t know. The best I can do now is settle in for a few months of intense reading. Puppygate or not, there are still a lot of good works on this list, and I look forward to reading them.

And of course, this has really made me want to have a variety of works to nominate for next year’s Hugos. If you’ve come across any cool books released this year, please let me know. Whether Truefan or Puppy, just let me know what you’ve been enjoying this year.

 

~ Lauren

Review – The Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

The Shadow Out of Time67-1

H.P. Lovecraft

Published June 1936

Stars: 4

 

I was thinking I’d avoid reviewing books that were purely horror or fantasy with no elements of science fiction. I might lesson that stance in the future, but for now I don’t have to. I came into this story expecting standard Lovecraft cosmic horror, and whilst the ancient evil and insignificance of humans was there, it read more like an old science fiction story than anything else. Therefore, I am eager to review it.

Shadow Out of Time was Lovecraft’s last major story. It was published in Astounding Stories (Now Analog) in the June 1936 issue. It tells the story of a Nathanial Wingate Peaslee, a professor trying to discover what happened during a block in his memory that lasts five years. Through a combination of retracing his steps during the memory block, researching similar cases and persistent dreams that feel more like memories, Peaslee begins to piece together the secret of the Great Race of Yith.

Prepare to see some really strange aliens, who are actually from Earth but that resemble terrestrial life so little that I cannot help but think of them as aliens. Also prepare to enter the ancient city of The Great Race, with their massive ziggurat-like towers. A large portion of the novella is devoted to describing the city, and it is here that Lovecraft excels. You really get a feeling of the timelessness and grandeur of this ancient city. As Peaslee’s dreams become more detailed, we gradually learn more about The Great Race’s history, and that is where the story becomes less Lovecraftian horror, and more pulp-era science fiction.

You see, The Great Race have this pretty amazing power. They can swap consciousness with other beings; and this projection works across time and space. They use this projection to swap bodies with people throughout the history of the universe (or maybe just the solar system) in order to compile all knowledge into one giant library. How cool is that? Just imagine, they made the ultimate library. I just found this idea so amazing. Though I will say, there is a darkside to this power.

The ideas and description of this story are in my view enough to make it great, but I should also talk about the actual story telling itself. Like most of Lovecraft’s stories, Shadow Out of Time is told in a confessional format; to be more precise, Peaslee is writing this down for his son, and asking his son to determine whether or not he is crazy. I’d say Peaslee’s characterization comes through a bit better than some of Lovecraft’s other narrators, with the uneasiness he feels about his dreams and the deja vu he experiences coming through well. However, I’d advise against reading against a bunch of Lovecraft stories at once, otherwise they do tend to feel a bit samey.

This story is very much a Lovecraft story; it ties in with his other stories, there is a big scary incomprehensible monster, and humans are insignificant. However, as I said before, this story is very much science fiction instead of horror. Which is good, except Lovecraft insists on framing it as a standard cosmic horror tale, labelling things that I considered cool and exciting (such as The Great Race and their city) as monstrous and horrible. I suppose it could be a difference between the times; I hope that today’s society is less inclined to view ourselves as the masters of creation, and therefore better able to accept our place as just mere mortals. Or maybe it is just a difference between how Lovecraft and I view other people. He saw people from different races and cultures as dangerous and monstrous, but inferior. I suppose to him, an alien race that is different but superior to us would be scary.

Whether the constant attempt to frame the existence of The Great Race of Yith as a scary and monstrous thing is an example of different views over the eras, Lovecraft’s own warped views, or just Lovecraft trying to fit it into the same mould as his other stories, it didn’t work for me. I found it distracting, and quite out of place. The Great Race and their massive super library are cool damnit, not scary. Fortunately for the horror lovers, there is something quite disturbing in this story. Something so terrible, that even The Great Race was afraid of it.

One more critique before I sign off; the surprise ending, was not much a surprise. It was quite obvious really. I’m not too sure it’s supposed to be a surprise, but since the narration took pains to avoid mentioning it before the last sentence, I’m going to treat it as though it is supposed to be a shock.

So all in all, I enjoyed Shadow Out of Time. It does have its flaws, but it is an original, cool idea that Lovecraft describes with amazing detail. And, being an older story, it not only has that 1930’s super science feel to it, but is also in the public domain. You can read Shadow Out of Time for free here: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/sot.aspx

 

~Lauren

On a Lovecraft Binge

On a Lovecraft Binge

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H.P. Lovecraft

I wasn’t quite sure what I felt like reading next, so I opened my Kindle and went browsing through my copy of The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft. I read Rats in the Wall, Shadow Out of Time, and Shadow Over Innsmouth one after the other. Since Lovecraft is a horror writer, I wasn’t really planning on reviewing any of his work. However I found Shadow Out Of Time to be a very interesting piece of SF, and figured if I was going to review it I may as well talk about the other stories I read, and by extension about Lovecraft.

Okay, before I get into any discussion on the quality of Lovecraft’s work. I should probably start with the most obvious negative in his stories. Lovecraft was a racist, and he included a lot of racist descriptions and themes in his stories. The cultist in The Call of Cthulhu, the depiction of the African-American boxer Buck Robinson in Herbert West – Reanimator, and the name of the black cat in Rats in the Wall all come to mind straight away.

Many stories also paint native peoples as superstitious savages – though, this is more bearable to modern audiences since in the context of the stories the ‘superstitious savages’ are usually right, such as in the case of Shadow out of Time.

And don’t get me started on his personal letters, or a poem written in 1912 called On the Creation of Niggers. Oh yeah, his Jewish wife also divorced him after getting sick of his anti-Semitic rants. I can understand the desire to play down Lovecraft’s views. After all, no-one wants to admit that a raging racist is one of their idols. However, the problem with dead historical figures is that we have to take them as they were; their flaws as well as their talent.

So, is Lovecraft’s racism going to be a barrier to enjoying his work? Well, that depends on who you are and how much such things effect you. Being white, I have the privilege to just shrug it off; it isn’t directed at me. Also, Lovecraft is dead and his works are in the public domain, so it’s not like buying his books is supporting racism.

It also depends on the story itself. Some have very mild themes that can simply be read as part of the characterisation (most stories are set in the 20s and 30s). There are also stories that have no racist elements at all, such as at the Mountains of Madness. Then there are stories like The Horror at Red Hook that are irredeemably racist. If you can divorce the stories from Lovecraft’s views but wish to read his work without coming across anything too offensive, I suggest reading some reviews of individual stories beforehand.

If you are willing to divorce the stories from the author, you are in for a treat. Lovecraft was a genius and a master worldbuilder. His works have also had a massive influence on today’s culture. After all, you’ve heard of Cthulhu before.

250px-Eternal_Darkness_boxMy first encounter with Lovecraft’s influence was around 2002, when I brought the game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for my Gamecube. Eternal Darkness is a horror action-adventure game by Silicon Knights, and its main draw cards are a story spanning 2000 years and 12 playable characters, as well as a sanity meter mechanic. I loved the story this game told of ancient elder gods and monsters, and the conspiracy around them. I have fond memories of inviting my friend for a sleepover after school and we’d play this game all night. Reading Rats in the Wall reminded me so much of this game. Hard to say why without revelling spoilers, but it was amazing seeing where one of my favourite games got its inspiration.

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There are many other video games out there based on Lovecraft’s work and the Cthulhu Mythos, such as Alone in the Dark. Other games ranging from Scibblenauts to Call of Duty III: Black Ops also feature reference to the Mythos. There is also a role playing game called Call of Cthulhu and many popular board games such as Chez Geek, Gloom, Munchkin and Fluxx all have Cthulhu themed expansions. Dungeon and Dragons also released a chapter featuring Cthulhu in the 80s. Cthulhu references have also popped up in South Park, and in a few Metallica songs. There is even a Lovecraft Ezine (https://lovecraftzine.com/magazine/ ). No matter what your feelings are on the man, his work has had a massive impact on pop culture.

If you value characterization and dialog in stories, you’ll be sorely disappointed. There is hardly any dialog throughout Lovecraft’s entire body of work, and so far every story I’ve read has been written as a confessional with very little to differentiate each narrator.

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At the Mountains of Madness was serialised in Astounding Stories, starting in the Feb 1936 issue.

If however you value crazy ideas and eloquent description, then you will be very pleased with Lovecraft. At the Mountains of Madness was my first Lovecraft story, and I loved the history of this ancient Antarctic city and its alien inhabitants. I also loved the description of the Great Race and their city in Shadow Out of Time. Lovecraft excelled in cosmic horror; this idea that we were insignificant and couldn’t even comprehend the beings in this universe who held the real power. These horror stories are not about the blood or the gore, but about the unknown and unknowable. Our reality is just a thin layer over a deeper, richer reality that we not only cannot comprehend, but we will go crazy if we try.

All in all, really fun stuff. And quite scary too. In fact, many people credit Lovecraft with paving the way for all modern writers of horror.

I still think Koji Suzuki’s Ring and Stephen King’s Pet Sematary are the scariest books I’ve read (Yes, I know about The Shining.) Whilst nothing Lovecraft wrote scares me as much or in the same way as those books, there is something quite unnerving about the suggestion of human helplessness, and Lovecraft’s writing really sells the idea. He is great at creating atmosphere and building tension; especially in Shadow Over Innsmouth. These aren’t your standard campfire ghost stories; but they are creepy, entertaining, and beautifully written.

So, would I recommend people go out and start reading more Lovecraft? Well, I do, but considering how his views creep into so many of his stories, I do so with caution. In the end though, whether others should find something too offensive or not isn’t really something I can make a call on. What I can say is that the Cthulhu Mythos are pretty awesome, and if cosmic horror sounds interesting to you, go check out this messed up universe of Lovecraft’s; whether it be his actual stories, or some of the many other stories and games inspired by them.

But be careful about delving too deep; you may find things that mankind was not meant to know.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

The Mouse

For years, my Aunty has been saying how I told her this story about a mouse when I was little (7 or 8) and that she wrote it down and would one day find it and give it to me. That day was today. Or, yesterday I suppose. Anyway she dropped off the story, and after getting it translated (I can’t really read running writing that well) I typed it up and decided I may as well share it. I mean, sure, it’s only 59 words, but I thought it was pretty cute.

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The Mouse

Space-ship with two rabbits and a mouse. They are all dressed in uniform but the mouse’s uniform doesn’t fit it is too big.

Can you help him?

He is cuddled up in his helmet and won’t come out. Why don’t you send him home to his mummy? He wants to stay here on Earth with his friends the rabbits.

THE END

I have no recollection of ever telling or thinking this story, so I cannot say how much is from me and how much was from my Aunty. To be honest, I was expecting something a bit longer. I came up with some pretty long stories back then.

Still, I really like that image of a little mouse curled up in a spacesuit helmet and wanting to stay on Earth with his friends. I just wish I knew whether his mummy was on Earth or in space.

Short and crappy as it is, I figured it might be fun to share what was probably my first science fiction story. I assure you though, I have improved. Somewhat.

~Lauren