The Hugo Awards were presented last night/this morning/tomorrow (delete according to your timezone) and I have some thoughts (though none of them particularly controversial).
Every year I say the same thing, and every year it continues to be true. We are living in a new golden age of science fiction and fantasy. The books and shows and artwork and writing and movies and podcasts get better and better, and we are privileged to be living in such a time.
Congratulations are due to all of the nominees and all of the winners!
I edited three of the six Best Novella nominees (plus an additional one (Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells, but the author declined the nomination)). One of these three won A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers), and another came in second (Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky).
I also edited one of the series nominated in the Best Series category, and this won (The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire). In fact, I randomly woke up at 3.30am UK time and thought I’d check out Twitter for the Hugo results, only to find that Best Series was just being announced! The universe set me an alarm clock without me knowing!
I garnered enough votes to put me in the nominee list for Best Editor (Long Form). I declined the nomination because, although I had enough books published in the relevant period, half of them were reissues. It would have felt inconsiderate to accept the nomination in the place of other editors who had sufficient new works out (I told the Hugo committee I was ineligible, though this wasn’t technically true).
Of the winners, I am, of course, delighted by the Best Novella and Best Series wins. Any of the works in these categories would have been fine winners, but I’m always happy when works I’ve edited are recognised.
Onto the individual categories:
Astounding Award for Best New Writer
Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun is magnificent, and Shelley deserves the win.
Lodestar Award for Best YA Book
I hadn’t read any of the works on the ballot, so I had no preferences, here.
Best Fan Artist
I didn’t enjoy the work of all of the nominees, but the winner (Lee Moyer) is one whose work I did enjoy.
Best Fan Writer
No complaints, here (Cora Buhlert won). Of those writers I’ve read, they deserve their places on the ballot.
This isn’t a category I follow closely, and I’ve only listened to episodes from the winner (“Our Opinions Are Correct”) and The Coode Street Podcast. Both are great shows, and I expect the others are, too.
Delighted for Seanan McGuire and Lee Moyer for their win for “Small Gods”. I would have liked to see “The Full Lid” much higher up the rankings, though – it’s one of a very small number of weekly ‘zines I look forward to reading, and it’s always top quality.
Any one of the nominees would have made a good winner. Uncanny took it, this year.
Best Professional Artist
Another category I would have been happy with any of the nominees to win, but Rovina Cai provides the internal illustrations for the Wayward Children books (as well as much, much more) so I’m especially pleased to see her win.
Best Editor (Long Form)
Five years ago I was sitting in a hotel room at Helsinki WorldCon, interviewing Ruoxi Chen over Zoom for the position of my assistant.
And, zooooom! Five years later, a Hugo win for Best Editor! What a fabulous achievement!
Best Editor (Short Form)
Neil Clarke (winner) does consistently strong work, and it is wonderful to see Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki on the list for the first time (and delighted his visa was eventually approved so he could attend). Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya are always strong contenders and no-one could argue with the presence of Sheree Renée Thomas, Jonathan Strahan and Sheila Williams on the list! This is the category that I would have loved to have been included in, this year, for reasons I set out at the end of this blog post, but every one of the nominees deserves their place, so I can’t (and won’t) complain.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
I enjoyed the hell out of The Expanse, but I would have loved to have seen Lower Decks get the trophy.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Dune won, in a category that included WandaVision, Encanto, The Green Knight, Space Sweepers and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I loved the Dune books, but found this particular movie version to be ponderous and dull (albeit very pretty to look at). It was a loud film, and yet I still managed to fall asleep in the cinema. And at the end of its 47 hour run-time, a character had the absolute temerity to say (and I am no doubt paraphrasing), “And now the story begins.” What? I just sat (slept) through 4 days of prologue? This is the only category with a winner I give the side-eye to.
Best Related Work
Never Say You Can’t Survive is a wonderful book. I would have been equally happy with the Complete Debarkle Saga as a winner.
Best Graphic Story or Comic
My two favourite graphic novels/collections of the year were Far Sector and Strange Adventures, which came in first and sixth. I have levels.
I edited the winning series, Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children, so naturally I am delighted and not a little bit biased. But look at that shortlist! Any one of these could have taken it!
Best Short Story
I read a lot of short stories, this year, and Pinsker’s Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather was one of the best, so I’m unsurprised it won.
Conversely, I read very few novelettes, so I’m not well-placed to judge this category.
My imprint (Tordotcom Publishing) published all six nominees in this category, and three of them were books I edited. Another of mine, Martha Wells’s Fugitive Telemetry, also made the ballot, but she declined the nomination. This is another category where every one of the nominees deserved to win. But am I delighted that one of mine came in first (A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers) and other second (Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky)? Why, yes, I am!
No complaints about the winner, here (A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine). The nominees in this ballot are yet another example of how great our genre currently is!
Some notes on my success as an editor in recent years:
In terms of nominations and wins for works I’ve edited:
Over the last seven years, I’ve had the pleasure of being the editor for twenty Hugo nominees, which include eight winners! That’s an average of just under 3 Hugo nominees a year, and over 1 Hugo win a year.
In the same period I edited eight Nebula nominees (including four winners), plus sixteen Locus nominees (which include six winners), and four Alex Award wins, a Sakura Medal win, and a Nommo Award win, plus a couple of World Fantasy Award nominations and a whole host of other awards.
For Hugo, Nebula, Locus and World Fantasy (which are surely form the quadrinity of genre awards), that makes 46 nominations (or an average of one major award nomination every two months) and 18 wins (one major win every 4.5 months). Add in the other awards and these stats improve even further!
Most (not all) of these nominees/winners are in the novella category, and I would love to see this recognised with another Hugo nomination at some point. No non-North American has ever won an editing Hugo (!), so I don’t expect a win, but I’m the first British editor to ever be nominated in the Long Form and the Short Form categories (and still the only one in the Short Form category). Do I think I deserve to be nominated? Not at all, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous. But would I like to be? Hell, yes! I love the Hugo Awards, and I always like an excuse to dress up, and given the stats above, I don’t think it’s a totally ridiculous wish, as the voters clearly value my work. 🙂