I often like to look at which books get nominated for fantasy and science fiction awards. A nomination doesn’t always mean I’ll like a book, because I’ve come across winners I’ve loved and others I’ve hated, but I enjoy finding out whether I agree with the choices. I rarely actually vote in any awards, either because I can’t, or because I don’t have time to read the shortlisted entrants before the deadline, and I don’t like to choose without having considered them all.
This year, however, I’m going to WorldCon, so for the first time ever I’m able to vote in one of the biggest SF&F awards out there: the Hugos! I’m pretty excited about it, so I decided I’m going to try to read the finalists in as many categories as I can before the online ballot submission closes on July 31st.
I’m a slow reader, so I don’t know how many I’ll manage, but here are the main categories I’m going to attempt:
This is the category I really want to read all the works for. It’s made a little hard by the fact two of the shortlisted books are the third instalments in series… but my plan is to read the first books, and if I enjoy them enough to continue the series I’ll do my best to get to the third by the deadline, if not I’ll go by my thoughts on the first book.
I’ve already made some progress on this category – only two to go! (not including the above-mentioned sequels). Spinning Silver is my favourite so far, followed by Ninefox Gambit – the first in the series Revenant Gun is part of. I’m halfway through The Calculating Stars and liking it, but not loving it, which is how I felt about the first Wayfarers book, so those will probably end up ranking 3rd or 4th for me. Trail of Lightning wasn’t really my cup of tea, though I did finish it.
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
I’d really love to read all the books for this category, and I’m going to try, but I don’t know if I’ll achieve it by the end of July. I read one of them already last year – Children of Blood and Bone – so that’s a start, and they’re all fairly short books so maybe I’ll pull it off. Also if I make a start on some and discover I’m not into them, I’ll move on, which may speed things up (the same goes for any finalist in any category that isn’t interesting me after a decent number of pages: the main thing is to give each one a chance).
Best Short Story
This is a category I feel I can manage by the deadline – they’re short, after all! And the voter packet I received makes it easy to access them all. I don’t read a lot of short stories and have traditionally not been so keen on them, so that’ll make this interesting. Maybe I’ll become a convert.
- “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
- “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
- “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
- “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
- “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
- “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form
I’ve already seen four of these films, so I just need to watch the remaining two. It’s going to be a hard category to rank my votes in. Annihilation and A Quiet Place were both brilliant, creative and unique films, but with a totally different style and budget to films like Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther, which were also great. I nominated all four of these in the nomination stage and was hoping the shortlist might narrow my options… it hasn’t!
Best Professional Artist & Best Fan Artist
I can use the voting package to easily look at examples from the shortlisted artists in these two categories, so I don’t think I have much of an excuse not to vote. I also enjoy looking at fantasy art, and am curious about the nominees, so it’ll be fun.
I’m not going to list all the nominees to avoid this post getting too long, but if you want see them for these two categories or any of the below ones, they’re listed on the WorldCon 2019 website. Also if you’re curious to know how the voting works, you can read the instructions at the start of this year’s ballot.
These ones are ones I sadly probably won’t vote in due to time constraints:
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: I ADORED season 3 of The Expanse and the final episode is in the shortlist, but I won’t have the time or access to watch the other entrants. I’d love to see The Good Place at some point but it’s not currently available on services I subscribe to. Maybe I’ll still sneak in a vote for The Expanse just because I can’t imagine anything else being better 🙂
Best Novelette, Novella, Graphic Story, Related Work, Art Book: It would be great to read the shortlisted works in all these categories, but if I’m being honest, with all the novels I’m trying to read I don’t think I’ll manage these as well. Perhaps if I get time I’ll be able to read the novelettes.
Best Series: Again, it would be nice, but I highly doubt my ability to read even the first instalments of all these by the end of July, even though two are also in the Best Novel category. So I’ll probably leave this category to other voters.
Best New Writer: I sadly haven’t already read enough of these writers’ works yet to choose a favourite. Probably one day I’ll get to them all, but not in time to cast a vote.
Best Fanzine, Semiprozine, Fancast, Fan Writer, Professional Editor: I’ll certainly have a look at what’s in the voter packet for these, but since I haven’t done enough reading or listening already to get a good sense of which would be a deserving winner, and likely won’t manage to by the deadline, I’m not sure if I’ll cast any votes.
So we’ll see how much I manage by the end of July – but it’s exciting to be taking part!
Have you read any of the nominees? If so, which ones would get your vote? And have you voted in the Hugos or an award like it before? Let me know in the comments!