Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Hugo Awards shortlist - initial thoughts

The 2018 Hugo Awards for science-fiction and fantasy shortlist has recently been announced. I didn't contribute to the nomination process this time around (although I may register to vote) but here are my initial thoughts.

Best Novel 

I've read two of the six novels on the shortlist. Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Stratagem is a considerable improvement on last year's Ninefox Gambit, which I admired more than I liked. I'm starting to see him as a potential successor to Iain M Banks and his intricate far-future  epics. The novel is definitely a strong baseline for others on the shortlist to see if they can better, although it may suffer from being a sequel.

And with four other Best Novel award-winners on the shortlist (N K Jemisin, Ann Leckie, Kim Stanley Robinson and John Scalzi) to reckon with the competition could be steep. Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire, however, is merely default Scalzi: highly enjoyable space opera but no Redshirts, and not the remarkable work you'd expect to clinch the award. 

Short fiction

Much to my surprise, I've read seven of the short fiction entries already, which is highly unusual. I've not been absolutely floored by any of them yet but here is what is setting the pace:

Novella: Sarah Gailey, River Of Teeth
Novelette: Sarah Pinsker, Wind Will Rove
Short Story: Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Fandom For Robots

Best series

A new category as of last year. I'm particularly pleased to see Robert Jackson Bennett's Divine Cities trilogy up - it started well with City Of Stairs (my review here) and finished very strongly last year with City Of Miracles.

Best film (AKA Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form)

Probably the Hugo equivalent of the Group of Death, with Blade Runner 2049, Get Out, The Last Jedi, The Shape of Water, Thor: Ragnarok and the mighty Wonder Woman all battling it out.

Best Fan Writer

Nice to see a nod for Camestros Felapton, who I've nominated in previous years.

No block voting - hurray!

After last year's changes to the nomination process showed diminishing returns for block voting tactics it's a relief to see block voting entirely absent this year. Discussing the politics of this would take a whole other post, so I'll just say that it didn't noticeably improve the quality of the work on offer to the Hugo voter and in some cases actively prevented good work making it onto the shortlist.

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