2018 Hugo Awards: Best Related Work

Following the fiction categories on the Hugo Ballot is Best Related Work:

Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom appearing for the first time during 2017 or which has been substantially modified during 2017, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.

This category first appeared in 1980 as Best Non-Fiction Book.  In 1999, it became Best Related Book.  Finally in 2010, it was given its current title.

At last year’s Business Meeting, there was a proposal to split the category into its old title of Best Non-Fiction Book and a new category for Best Art Book.  It was given to a committee which will be studying all the current categories and offering suggestions at this year’s Business Meeting.

I personally like the more catch-all nature of the current category, and I’m not in favor of narrowing it back to its original form.  It does sometimes making ranking in the final voting a bit of an apples to oranges comparison.  But it’s not that difficult, and I think it’s nice during the nomination period.

As much as I’d like to, I don’t think I could feasibly participate in an art book category.  Looking at those listed on this year’s Locus List, my library doesn’t have them, I haven’t seen them at the bookstore, and naturally they’re often pricey.  As with the idea of splitting Best Novel into separate fantasy and science fiction categories, I hope that clarifying and redefining current categories takes precedence over adding more.


Here’s what I’m planning to read for this category:

Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Francesca T Barbini
One of the essays in this collection is on the 2017 British Science Fiction Association Awards shortlist for Best Non-Fiction.  The subject should be engaging and topical.  [Update 3/16/18: added to my ballot.]

Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings by Rob Latham
This was one of the non-fiction items on the 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List.  It touts itself as “a comprehensive introduction to the study of this enduringly popular genre.” [Update 3/15/2018: added to my ballot.]

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin has been one of my favorite writers (of both fiction and non-fiction) for almost my entire life.  I was very happy to see her win in this category last year while she was still with us.  Since this collects writing from her blog and I’ve been following her website for many years, I’m probably already familiar with a lot of it.  But it will be nice to revisit and remember.  [Update 3/16/18: added to my ballot.]

Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal
From the same publisher, from one of the same editors, and in the same format as Letters to Tiptree (winner of the 2016 Alfie Award for Best Related Work). This time dedicated to the ongoing influence of Octavia E. Butler. [Update 3/3/2018: added to my ballot.]

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoë Quinn
Not something I would have thought to consider for this until I saw JJ’s review over at File 770’s Recommended SF/F List.  Sounds like it will be pertinent and helpful.

Don’t Live For Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017 by John Scalzi
Another one from the Locus List. Obviously intended for fellow writers, but I still find that sort of thing fascinating even as a reader without ambitions to write fiction.  And speaking as someone who’s probably read more of his blog than his fiction, Scalzi’s usually pretty entertaining on whatever topic he chooses. [Update 3/15/2018: added to my ballot.]

[Update 2/26/18:
This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy
I saw this suggested on the Hugo Nominees 2018 Wiki and picked it up from the library today.  The book’s only relation to “science fiction, fantasy, or fandom” is that it includes some thoughts on libraries from a few SFF authors such as Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and George R. R. Martin.  Not sure that’s enough for me to consider for nomination, but it sounds like a good read anyway.]

Any other suggestions?


Hugo Award for Best Novel

In my previous post looking at the 2018 Hugo eligible novels, I mentioned that the only change I could see for this category was a slightly higher word count requirement.  However, looking over the minutes from the 2017 Business Meeting reminded me there was actually a proposal to split the category into Best Science Fiction Novel and Best Fantasy Novel.  It was referred to a committee which will be considering all the categories and making suggestions at this year’s Business Meeting during Worldcon 76.

I’m so not a fan of this.  First, I just don’t want the “Big One” becoming the “Big Two.”  Second, I’ve never liked rigidly defining stories as one or the other.  In fact, I often enjoy works that are best described as science fantasy.  Where would you put All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders?  It’s specifically both.  N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy is marketed as fantasy, but it deals with geology and advanced technology.  Borne by Jeff VanderMeer is labelled science fiction, but it has a giant flying bear and a character called the Magician.  Finally, with the additions of Best Series and Best Young Adult Book, we’ve got more than enough novel length fiction to read already.  I really hope that other refinements and adjustments to the categories take priority.

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Series

Appearing this year for the first time as an official category, we have Best Series:

A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, appearing in at least three (3) installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words by the close of 2017, at least one (1) installment of which was published in 2017.

Last year, Worldcon 75 had a special Best Series category to give it a test run before it was ratified as one of the ongoing categories.  Back in 1966, a Best All-Time Series Hugo was awarded to the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.

This category has a couple of additional caveats.  A previous winner may not be a finalist in this category again.  Any other finalists must have at least two additional installments (with at least one published during the qualifying year) totalling at least 240,000 words since their last appearance in order to be eligible again.  I think it’s best to assume that last year’s Best Series winner and finalists are therefore ineligible even though that was technically a different one-off special category.  Of course, that will be up to the Hugo committee should any of them get enough nominations.


I’m woefully behind in reading series, and there’s no time to catch up or start something new now.  After looking through the massive list of possibilities compiled by the folks at File770, I found only seven series that I know I’ve read any part of (disregarding last year’s finalists).  And for various reasons, I don’t think I’ll be nominating any of them.

Broken Earth by N. K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky
Jemisin herself has said that she’d rather this wasn’t nominated.  And yeah…a trilogy which has already received two Best Novel Hugos (and may well be a finalist again) doesn’t really need to be acknowledged as a series as well.  I see this category as intended more for honoring situations where the installments are good, but the overall series is where it really becomes Hugo-worthy.  Not that I’d want those that had won other Hugos to be explicitly excluded.  It would save me some reading this summer if it were a finalist.  Although she might decline the nomination anyway.

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie, Provenance
I’m almost finished reading Provenance.  While there’s no question that this occurs in the same universe and shortly after her previous trilogy, it’s really only very tangentially related.

Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer
I enjoyed the first two, but I haven’t started the latest tome yet.  And since this is projected to be a ten book series, I think nominating it now is a little premature.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, “The Sons of the Dragon”
Um, yeah…no.  And also, Martin himself has requested it not be nominated.  I’ve loved this series for 20 years, but it’s a mass of cliffhangers right now.  I think anything nominated for series needs to have reached some conclusion, if not the overall ending.

Wild Cards by George R. R. Martin (and many others), Mississippi Roll
While I don’t feel it necessary to have read all of this series to nominate it, I’ve probably only read a handful of the stories and none of the actual collections or mosaic novels.

World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold, Prisoner of Limnos
I’ve only read the first two novellas in the Penric and Desdemona sub-series and none of the main series.  Going by the word counts given over at Rocket Stack Rank, the sub-series of novellas hasn’t quite reached the 240,000 word requirement to be nominated on its own.

Xuya Universe by Aliette de Bodard, “First Presentation”
This is a series of 24 short fiction works, and the author has confirmed that it meets the word requirement. But I’ve probably read less than a handful.


All of that to say, I’ve got nothing here!  Which series do you plan to nominate?

BooktubeSFF Awards Shortlist Announced

The fouth annual BooktubeSFF Awards shortlist was announced yesterday.  They will have discussions of the finalists from March through May with final voting in June.  Find out more at their goodreads group and twitter.

Some rules changes implemented this year have produced what looks to me like a pretty nice list.  Here they are interspersed with my reading plans:

Best Science Fiction Novel
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

The first three were already on my TBR.  Raven Stratagem is book 2, but Ninefox Gambit was a Hugo finalist last year and one I nominated myself.  Waking Gods is also book 2, but I still need to read Sleeping Giants.

Best Fantasy Novel
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

I’ve read the first two, and they’re on my Hugo ballot.  Red Sister is book 1 of a trilogy, but I believe it’s the third trilogy in this universe.  A Conjuring of Light is book 3.  So I don’t think I’ll be getting to those two just yet.

Best Debut Novel
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

As I said above, I’ve read The Bear and the Nightingale, and I’ll probably put Katherine Arden on my ballot for the Campbell Award.  I own Kings of the Wyld, and I’ve borrowed The City of Brass from my library.  I believe both of those authors are eligible for the Campbell as well.

Best YA
Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

I’ve picked up Strange The Dreamer from my library.  The other two are both the second in their respective series.

Best Middle Grade
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

The first two are book 2 and book 3 in their series.  My library has a print edition of Nevermoor, and they also have a digital copy of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding available through Hoopla.   I may or may not give those a try.

Best Graphic Work
Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris
Paper Girls, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson

I own Monstress, Vol. 2, and I really need to read it already.  Last year Vol. 1 won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story, and I loved it.

Looks like I’d have to do interlibrary loan to get my hands on Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too.  (Incidentally, the title has me thinking of “Alien Like You” by The Pigott Brothers and that makes me want to binge watch Being Erica.  Something you’ll probably only understand if you’re Canadian.)

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is available from my library and is wafting its way to my branch now.

I read Vol. 1 of Paper Girls as a Hugo finalist last year and wasn’t motivated to continue.  I can get Vols. 2 & 3 through Hoopla, but I don’t know if I’ll bother.

Best Short Work
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

I own all three of these, and coincidentally I have three novella spots to fill in my Hugo ballot.  So out of the list I was thinking of getting to, I guess I’ll bump these to the top.


Look forward to reading and hearing the discussions!

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Short Story

Fourth and final of the classic fiction categories on the Hugo Ballot is Best Short Story:

A science fiction or fantasy story of less than 7,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2017.

The only possible change I can see for this category is splitting out flash fiction.  I haven’t really heard any serious discussion of that though.


In this case, I actually have six contenders for my five ballot slots:

I’ll probably end up eliminating one of the Ghost/Bird stories, but we’ll see.  Who knew that was a combo I’d like?  I’m not particularly fond of either individually!  [Update 3/15/18:  I left “If a Bird Can Be a Ghost” off my ballot here, but I nominated Allison Mills for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.]


I’m feeling the most prepared for this category because I made a point of reading all the 2017 original short fiction from eight sources:


If I have time (ha!), I’d like to read the online stories I haven’t gotten to yet from the 2017 Locus Recommended Reading List and the Year’s Best anthologies.  Asimov’s has now posted their five stories that made the Locus List (all of which also made one or more Year’s Best).  Jason at Featured Futures lists the stories chosen for the Clarke, Dozois, Horton, and Strahan annual anthologies in Collated Contents of the Big Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, with Links!).  The Spacefaring Kitten takes a thoughtful look at which stories Dozois and Strahan picked in Anthologies Answer Questions.

Any other 2017 short stories out there I shouldn’t miss?

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Novelette

The third category on the Hugo ballot is Best Novelette:

A science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 and 17,500 words that appeared for the first time in 2017.

A few years ago, there was some discussion of consolidating this category into the other short fiction categories, but the idea was pretty quickly rejected.  So I don’t see any changes being proposed here.


I’ve done a fair amount of reading at this length, so I’ve tentatively filled four of five slots on my ballot:


To find a contender for that final slot, I plan to take a look at some of the novelettes in the following sources:

  • Cosmic Powers edited by John Joseph Adams
  • The Book of Swords edited by Gardner Dozois
  • Infinity Wars edited by Jonathan Strahan
  • Asimov’s stories on the Locus Recommended Reading List

Any other suggestions?


One resource I use to find short fiction is Rocket Stack Rank.  Not only do they give their own reviews, but they highlight stories recommended by other sources and provide a lot of related information.

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Novella

The second category on the Hugo ballot is Best Novella:

A science fiction or fantasy story between 17,500 and 40,000 words that appeared for the first time in 2017.

If the committee formed at last year’s WSFS Business Meeting proposes any changes to this category, I imagine it might be to raise the upper word count limit to correspond with any suggested changes to the Best Novel category.


So far I have two choices penciled into my ballot:


And here are some others I’d like to get to before nominations close on March 16:

  • The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
  • In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle [added to my ballot 2/22/18]
  • Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
  • The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
  • River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
  • The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray and J. S. Herbison
  • Acadie by Dave Hutchinson
  • Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
  • The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire [added to my ballot 2/19/18]
  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
  • Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor [read 2/21/18]
  • Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells [added to my ballot 2/18/18]
  • Killing Gravity by Corey J. White
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang
  • Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska

Any of those I should make sure to read?  Anything else I should look for?


In addition to the general recommendation sites I mentioned at the bottom of yesterday’s post, there’s JJ’s 2017 Novellapalooza post over at File 770.

2018 Hugo Awards: Best Novel

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Hugo Awards.  We have until 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (UTC−7:00) on March 16th to pick out our favorites from 2017.  First up, I’m looking at Best Novel:

A science fiction or fantasy story of 40,000 words or more that appeared for the first time in 2017.


So far, I’ve got a couple that will probably be on my ballot:

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

And I’m currently reading The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin.  At this point, it’s definitely on track to join my short list.  [Update 2/8/18:  Finished it last night and just added it to my ballot!]


In a world where I could read all I wanted (or at least read faster than I do), here are some others I’d consider:

  • Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker
  • Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
  • The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone
  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
  • The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
  • Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher
  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle
  • Provenance by Ann Leckie [added to my ballot 2/13/18]
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
  • The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
  • Borne by Jeff VanderMeer [added to my ballot 2/17/18]
  • Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

Any thoughts on what I should prioritize from that list?


Here are some places to find recommendations:


At last year’s WSFS Business Meeting, a committee was formed to look into possible changes to the Hugo Award categories.  Obviously Best Novel is here to stay, but I could see the word count requirement being raised.  The average novel length has definitely gotten longer, and books marketed as novellas are pushing into the lower end of this category.