Hugo Nominations are due tomorrow, March 31st at midnight and having attended Worldcon at Sasquan last year, I’m eligible to fill out a nominating ballot!
Unlike the final ballot, in which you choose from five finalists in each category, the nominating ballot is completely open-ended, leaving me searching for the books I read that were published in 2015. At first it was hard, and then it was hard because I had to narrow it down…
Hugo Award for Best Novel:
My focus has always been on the Best Novel category, and here are my top five choices.
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik
- The Fold by Peter Clines
- Updraft by Fran Wilde
- Alive by Scott Sigler
- The Buried Giant by Hazuo Ishiguro
Close, but didn’t quite make it:
- Welcome to Nightvale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Uprooted was my favorite fantasy novel of the year, while The Fold was my favorite science fiction novel of the year, so if both make the ballot, it will be extremely hard to choose between them.
Updraft was a wonderful example of world building, featuring an entire civilization living among the clouds, high in the air, filled with people who fly on wooden wings.
I don’t think The Buried Giant will be a common choice for the Hugo, but is definitely much-loved in literary circles. I found the poetic story achingly beautiful and poignant.
Alive is the hardest to recommend to other people, because you have the best reading experience if you know absolutely nothing about it. I read this book super fast, heart-pounding, nearly holding my breath, turning page after page to uncover more clues about what was going on in the story.
Yes, it’s difficult to describe a book when everything about it is a spoiler, but you need to read it. It is truly one of my favorites from this year and certainly not what I expected.
My sixth choice,Welcome to Nightvale, just barely missed my ballot, but is still worth mentioning. The novel actually originated from a popular podcast of the same name. Although I haven’t heard the podcast, I found the bizarre storytelling and weirdness compelling. I’ll be interested to see if it makes the final ballot.
Last year, only one of my best novel picks from my 2015 nominating ballot made the final ballot, so it will be interesting to see what happens!
Of course, this isn’t just about novels. The Hugo Award is known for the large number of categories, including fan categories. I don’t feel quite as knowledgeable about the rest of these categories, but there are some nominations of mine I’d like to highlight.
Best Professional Artist: Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop; Swedish Machines, Lonely Places
I discovered Simon’s art through an article on the Verge about his Kickstarter campaign to get his art books published in English. I feel like this category is dominated by fantasy, but his work is beautiful, unique, thought-provoking science fiction art. It’s worth looking at the paintings.
Best Fan Writer: Kevin Standlee, for his work writing clarifications for the often-confusing rules of the Hugo Awards.
I think Kevin has done incredible work trying to bring transparency to the hugo process, from clarifying what a No Award vote to explaining what the word “nominee” refers to under the Hugo rules. As a relative newbie to the Hugo process, the clarity he brought was especially important to me during the controversy-ridden 2015 year.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Daredevil, The Complete First Season
Most people tend to place movies in this category (although watch out for next year, when Harry Potter & The Cursed Child has a chance as a stage play), but the first season of Game of Thrones did win this category in 2012. As Daredevil was one of my favorite TV shows of 2015, I struggled to pick a good episode for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category before giving up and place the whole show in this category.
Why? Frankly, Daredevil was designed to be binge-watched on Netflix. More than any other show I’ve seen, the episodes are very closely woven together and rely on the viewer to remember the details of what happened previously. The tightly knit first season was released all at once and was an amazing season to watch in that way.
As a side note, I recommend listening to the descriptive English audio track (designed for the visually-impaired)— it’s like a dramatic radio show!
Best Fanzine: SF Signal (sfsignal.com)
I don’t read traditional Fanzines, so this is the category where I put down all my favorite websites (GeekyLibrary is also eligible in this category). Yes, SF Signal has won before— for a good reason. This is my favorite site for information about science fiction and fantasy, especially of the bookish kind.
Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo): Fonda Lee
Zero-G Sports. It’s brilliant! It’s like the best parts of Ender’s Game! This is what I thought about Fonda Lee’s great debut Zeroboxer. I can’t believe more people haven’t written about science fiction sports.
She definitely deserves a spot on this ballot.
Worried About Blanks on Your Ballot?
My suggestion to anyone trying to finish filling in their ballot is not to worry too much about making sure something is in the correct category or filling in every slot for each award. It’s better to fill in at least part of the ballot than not at all.
Don’t stress; this is supposed to be a fun fan activity, after all.
Did you fill out a nominating ballot? What were your choices? If not, what would you pick as your favorites?