Sunday, April 8, 2012

Award Announcements and a Few Initial Thoughts

The shortlist for the Hugo Awards was announced yesterday along with the Campbell Awards.  Locus Online (among others) has posted the list.  I've included the fiction and some fiction related categories below for easy reference (stolen cut and pasted from Locus Online). 

Congratulations to all the nominees.

Here are a few initial thoughts on some changes I see and potential changes down the road.

First, of the nominees, only two of them have been publishing since I started reading f/sf in my teens.  (It wasn't that long ago, wiseass.)  Those would be George R. R. Martin and Mike Resnick.  Ryman has been publishing since the early to mid-90s.  Walton, Mie'ville, and Scalzi have been publishing for around a decade, give or take a few years.  The others are either relatively new or have been around for (I think) less than a decade, with the possible exception of one or two I'm not that familiar with.

What does this mean?  I don't know that it means anything.  A lot of the stalwarts from the 70s, 80s, and 90s who got their start in those decades (as opposed to stalwarts who started in earlier decades) are still publishing, in some cases quite prolifically.  Alan Dean Foster and Orson Scott Card come to mind off the top of my head, although I don't know if Card published anything during the period of eligibility.  Some of the big names from previous decades have either moved on to other genres, slowed their rates of production, or quit writing entirely.

In short the field is changing.  Whether for good, bad, or neutral will remain to be seen and depend on what your tastes are.  Except for the novels, I'm going to try to read the nominated fiction by Worldcon.  Not that I can afford to attend or anything, but so that I can cheer (or rant) from a position of knowledge after the awards are announced.  I intend to read Leviathan Wakes and A Dance with Dragons, just not sure I'll have them read by the time the awards are given out.

I have to admit I haven't read any of the nominees this year.  That's unusual.  Usually, I've read a few, at least.  I don't know if that means that I'm out of step with the rest of the field or that the rest of the field hasn't caught up with me yet.  

The thing that got me thinking about the awards was this post about writers making a living by publishing online rather than through traditional venues.  More and more authors seem to be sidestepping New York or at least publishing some stuff on the side.  As far as I know, and you can correct me if I'm wrong on this point, none of the major awards recognize indie published works.  I'm wondering how long that position is sustainable if the awards are to be taken seriously.  If some of the top selling titles in the field aren't considered for the major awards (Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, etc.) , how meaningful are the awards?  At that point, I think the awards become an elitist exercise of self-congratulation within a small group.  I'm not saying we're at that point yet, but we seem be moving there fairly quickly, as these numbers and these numbers indicate.

Print still dominates overall sales, but that's changing. Perhaps it's time for the field to change how it recognizes quality.  I'll have more to say on this topic at a later date.  This has just been a snapshot of the direction my thoughts have been going in the last few hours.

  • ‘‘The Ice Owl’’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Countdown’’, Mira Grant (Orbit Short Fiction)
  • ‘‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’’, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Kiss Me Twice’’, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s 6/11)
  • ‘‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’’, Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
  • Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)
  • ‘‘Six Months, Three Days’’, Charlie Jane Anders ( 6/8/11)
  • ‘‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’’, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s 7/11)
  • ‘‘What We Found’’, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/11)
  • ‘‘Fields of Gold’’, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • ‘‘Ray of Light’’, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog 12/11)
  • ‘‘Movement’’, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s 3/11)
  • ‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
  • ‘‘The Homecoming’’, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s 4-5/11)
  • ‘‘Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’’, John Scalzi ( 4/1/11)
  • ‘‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’’, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld 4/11)

  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • *Karen Lord
  • *Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu
  • Apex Magazine
  • Interzone
  • Lightspeed
  • Locus
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction 


  1. I used to try to keep up with this more but I lost track in the 90s and have never kept up since.

    1. I'm beginning to wonder why I do. I have so much to read that reading a book or story just because it was nominated for an award can be a real hassle, especially since there are so many awards these days. I typically will only read the novels on the ballot that I would have read in any case. The short fiction I try to read as much of as possible, in part because I like short fiction a lot and studying the award winners can at times be instructive. This year is the first year I can remember in which I haven't read any of the nominees. That's not unusual with novels, but with shorter fiction I don't think it's ever happened.

  2. I have a hard enough time keeping up with friends books and books that I think will grab me and of course I am always rereading my favorites too.

    I'm noticing that John Scalzi made good on his (what I thought, and it may have been joke worth following through with) on writing a tale utilizing that chart of the most used fantasy words/titles-good one!