The whole reason I started this blog was to keep track of my thoughts on the Hugo nominees last year, so I guess I better reach in some way to the nominees, right??
First of all, you can see all the nominees here: https://www.tor.com/2021/04/13/announcing-the-2021-hugo-award-finalists/. I’m not going to go through every category because I haven’t read everything, and I’m not plugged in enough to listen to all the podcasts and etc. So I’m only going to comment on the categories where I have something to say. But still, let’s do this!
In Best Novel, the nominees are pretty much what you would expect. I don’t know anything about anything and I correctly predicted Black Sun, The City We Became, and Network Effect. I also suspected Piranesi would make it in, but I didn’t say so so it doesn’t count. The only surprise to me is my beloved Harrow the Ninth, my favorite book from last year and one so weird and idiosyncratic that I was sure it would be snubbed. I’m glad to see it here, though I’m sure that’s where its award chances end (it’s far too divisive to win the top prize). Of the nominees, I’ve read three (Black Sun, Harrow the Ninth, Piranesi); of the ones I haven’t read, two are part of a series (Network Effect, The Relentless Moon), but my understanding is the latter can be read more or less as a standalone. I plan to do a full read of the Murderbot series later this year so that I can get caught up for Network Effect. Obviously, if I had to pick a winner right now it would be Harrow the Ninth.
In Best Novella, I’ve actually read almost all of them! Again, I didn’t offer any predictions, but if I had I think I would have been close – never bet agains the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire, and anyone could have predicted Ring Shout and Riot Baby as two of the most well-liked novellas of the year. I also correctly predicted that The Empress of Salt and Fortune would be nominated over its sequel, which I actually liked a smidge better (both are great though). Anyway, like I said I’ve read almost all of these – the only two I haven’t read are Come Tumbling Down (I’ve read all the other books in this series, not sure how I missed this one) and Finna, by Nino Cipri. Will remedy that shortly. If I had to pick a winner right now, hmm … probably Ring Shout.
Best Short Story/Best Novelette – I’ve only read one thing here, and it’s Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story.” I just don’t read a lot of short fiction. I am glad to see that Fall got a nomination here – I think it’s a great story, and if you follow SFF Twitter at all you’ll know that she got a lot of heat for the story when it was first published. Like, way too much heat. I think everyone who attacked the author feels a bit contrite now (and are also trying to turn the narrative around to “We weren’t mad at her, we were mad at her editor! Yeah, that’s definitely what we were saying at the time!”). The discourse at least seems more nuanced this time around, which is a good thing.
Best Series – Again, haven’t read most of these. But I do want to point out how criminal it is that R.F. Kuang’s The Burning God wasn’t nominated in Best Novel. At least the series is nominated here, but still.
Best Related Work – This category is wild. You almost have to feel a bit for George R.R. Martin, who probably did not expect that hosting the Hugos would result in a nomination here for “George R.R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: The 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony (Rageblog Edition)” by Natalie Luhrs. I personally think there were deeper takes on that year’s ceremony, though certainly I can’t think of any offhand that were more fun to read. I’m also delighted to see Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley: what a delightful, beautiful update of a classic, bro. Super cool to see CoNZealand Fringe and FIYAHCON here, too (remember when George kept pronouncing it “fee-ah” at last year’s Hugos??). However, I am MOST excited that Jenny Nicholson’s “The Last Bronycon: A Fandom Autopsy” was nominated. (I voted for it!) It’s honestly a very cool and extremely enlightening deep-dive into fandom, and isn’t fandom why we’re all here?
Dramatic Presentation (Short/Long Form) – Again, a very eclectic set of nominees in both categories. I’ve seen everything but Tenet in Long Form. Out of the nominees I’ve seen, I think I’d put Palm Springs in first place. In Short Form, I’ve seen everything but Doctor Who/The Expanse. I am 100% pulling for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, though I won’t feel bad when The Good Place inevitably wins.
Best Video Game – All hail Blaseball.
That’s it! I’ll have more thoughts as I actually start going through the nominees. The Hugo Awards are actually in December this year, so I have plenty of time to get caught up on everything. As for the blog, just like last year I plan to add a page with a directory that leads to all my reviews on the nominees. Be on the lookout for that.