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Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or

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When Worldcon was held in Glasgow in 1995 I was too young to attend but promised myself I would go the next time it came to the UK. But in 2005, when it returned to Glasgow, I found myself utterly alienated from fandom and stayed at home. The pendulum swings and in 2014 I found myself very much part of fandom establishment and attending my first Worldcon. It was great.

My article on Loncon 3 is up now at the Los Angeles Review Of Books. It is mostly about the Hugos (with a little bit about the British bust) so if you want a proper con report to give you a flavour of the event, I’d recommend this one by Aishwarya Subramanian (who it was lovely to finally meet in person).

The article is also a tribute to the late Iain Banks which is slightly ironic because my last act at the convention was to slag him off on the ‘Dropping The M’ panel on Monday morning. This consisted of five fans of the man’s work nonetheless grappling with some of his manifest failings. It was enjoyable but everyone in the room was clearly winding down. Likewise, my first panel – ‘Big Anthologies: Bookends or Benchmarks?’ on Friday – seemed like a warm up. This consisted of three major anthologists plus me in the role of reader. But since moderator Jo Walton occupied the same role, I was a bit superfluous. This was rather cruelly confirmed when the panel ended and the audience rushed up to get their books signed by everyone but me. However, my two back-to-back Saturday panels – ‘YA on the Big Screen’ and ‘Just Three Cornettos’ – were bloody brilliant. A great mix of panelists, sensitive moderation and a hugely engaged audience. As David Hebblethwaite has said, it is a wonderful and unique experience.

Written by Martin

2 September 2014 at 18:14

Posted in sf

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Hugo Voting – Art

with 3 comments

Fan Artist

1) Sarah Webb
2) Mandie Manzano
3) No Award
4) Spring Schoenhuth
5) Brad W. Foster
6) Steve Stiles

Pro Artist

1) Julie Dillon
2) Fiona Staples
3) John Harris
4) No Award
5) Galen Dara
6) John Picacio
7) Daniel Dos Santos

Best Graphic Story

1) Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
2) “Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)
3) No Award
4) The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
5) Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
6) “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who” written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)

On balance, probably more interesting than the fiction categories.

Written by Martin

28 July 2014 at 19:56

Posted in art, awards, sf

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Hugo Voting – Fiction

with 7 comments

When I posted my votes for the Hugo short fiction categories yesterday, it generated a bit of chat on Twitter suggesting that I was wrong to rank works below No Award. This is the view set out in a Weasel King post that got a lot of coverage but is less clear than it might be on the fact there are two different voting philosophies when using Instant run-off voting.

The first is that you only vote for what you want to win. This is the purist’s philosophy. Under these circumstances, it makes no sense to vote for anything below No Award as they are all equally lacking in merit. In addition, if you only partially complete your ballot, it might have unintended consequences. This is what the body of the Weasel King’s post addresses.

The second is that you rank everything on the ballot from most want to win to least want to win. This is the realist’s philosophy. Under these circumstances, No Award is simply one preference in your hierachy of preferences and it is completely valid to rank those underneath. The Weasel King only belatedly acknowledges this in the comment.

I think it is important to use No Award because we need to be honest with ourselves that no, most of the nominated stories don’t deserve. But this is a symbolic protest; No Award is never going to ‘win’ the category. Under the purist’s philosophy, that would be the end of my involvement in the awards. Fair enough but, since it is unlikely, why engage with the Hugos in the first place? The reason I subscribe to the realist philosophy is that I’ve gone to the trouble of engaging with the awards and reading the shortlists so want to be able to say most of these stories aren’t award worthy but even within these, some are better than others.

So that is the basis on which I’m voting. Here are my votes for all the fiction categories with some adjustments to the ranking of No Award (on the grounds that if I’m making a symbolic protest, I might as well make it as loudly as possible) and asterisks indicating works I feel are ineligible.

Best Novel

1) No Award
2) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
3) Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
4) Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
5) Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
6) The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK) *

Best Novella

1) No Award
2) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
5) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013) *

Best Novelette

1) No Award
2) “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
3) “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
4) “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
5) “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
6) “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)

Best Short Story

1) “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
2) No Award
2) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
3) “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
5) “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013) *

Written by Martin

24 July 2014 at 08:14

Posted in awards, books, sf, short stories

Tagged with

Hugo Voting – Short Fiction

with 4 comments

Here is what I nominated. Here is what I’m voting for:

Best Novella

1) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
2) No Award
3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
5) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

Obviously ‘Wakulla Springs is better than either of the two stories above it (indeed, the Torgersen is one of the worst stories I’ve ever read) but I don’t see how it is eligible for an SF award. Equally, I’m sure ‘Six-Gun Snow White’ by Catherynne M. Valente is both better and eligible but Subterranean Press have supplied it as a PDF so I’ve not read it. And, to be honest, I almost put No Award first since moederately fun as the Stross is, it is hardly award worthy.

Best Novellete

1) “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
2) “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
3) No Award
4) “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
5) “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
6) “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)

All read and all eligible but really, I don’t want to vote for any of them. But Chiang’s weakest story is still a Chiang story.

Best Short Story

1) “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
2) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
3) “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
4) No Award
5) “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

As with the Duncan and Klages story, I’m not sure why the Swirsky is eligible for an SF award. The Samatar is the only story on the entire ballot that I think is actually award worthy. However, whilst I don’t particularly like either of the Tor.com stories, at least they are RUMIR and have their heart in the right place.

In a word: depressing.

Written by Martin

23 July 2014 at 20:42

Posted in awards, sf, short stories

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A Game Of Two Halves

with 2 comments

So the The 2014 Hugo shortlist is out (as is the 1939 Retro Hugo shortlist, if you are into that sort of thing). I put a lot of thought into the awards this year so I was pleased to see so many of my nominations made it through:

  • Best Short Story: ‘Selkie Stories Are For Losers’ by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons)
  • Best Related Work: Speculative Fiction 2012 by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
  • Best Graphic Story: Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics ) and “Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)
  • Best Professional Artist: Galen Dara
  • Best Fanzine: The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James, A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher and Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin
  • Best Fan Writer: Abigail Nussbaum
  • Best Fan Artist: Mandie Manzano and Sarah Webb
  • John W Campbell Award For Best New Writer: Sofia Samatar and Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Of the things I didn’t nominate, I was particularly pleased to see Liz Bourke for Best Fan Writer, Strange Horizons for Best Semiprozine and ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’ by Mary Robinette Kowal for Best Novelette. However, the righting of the wrong done to Robinette Kowal was about all the fiction categories had going for them and my pleasure at the bottom half of the ballot soon turned to frustration as the top half was announced.

Partly that was because the 14 book Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson was nominated for Best Novel after some bright spark noticed it was notionally eligible under section 3.2.6 of the WSFS Constitution: “Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.” Obviously fandom took the bait, despite the fact it clearly isn’t a novel and wasn’t even all written by the same person. On the plus side, it does mean that Adam Roberts’s lengthy evisceration of the series could be eligible for Best Related Work if he can bring himself to read the final three Sanderson volumes.

More than that, however, was the presence of a load of old shite from the Baen/Analog end of the spectrum, including a story from Vox Day. The quality of this fiction is a guess; I will read it and come to a judgement when the voter pack is sent out (although I’m not helpful). What isn’t a guess is the fact that they are on the shortlist because of concerted mutual lobbying. This is a pretty obvious outcome of fan culture endorsing award lobbying so you can’t then turn around and complain that the wrong people were more successful at lobbying.

Written by Martin

20 April 2014 at 10:10

Posted in awards, sf

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Hugo Nominations – My Ballot

with 4 comments

My choices. They are ranked, though that doesn’t count for the nominations process itself. Some of these are also slightly different from my selections in the linked individual post. Feel free to try and argue me out of any of these in the comments.

Best Novel

  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Empty Space by M John Harrison
  • iD by Madeline Ashby
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • A Stranger In Olondria by Sofia Samatar

Best Novella

  • Spin by Nina Allan (TTA Press)
  • Black Helicopter by Caitlín R Kiernan (Subterranean Press)
  • The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books)
  • ‘Burning Girls’ by Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)
  • ‘Martyr’s Gem’ by CSE Cooney (Giganotosaurus)

Best Novelette

  • No nominations

Best Short Story

  • ‘Your Figure Will Assume Beautiful Outlines’ by Claire Humphrey (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • ‘Inventory’ by Carmen Maria Machado (Strange Horizons)
  • ‘Selkie Stories Are For Losers’ by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons)
  • ‘Let’s Take This Viral’ by Rich Larson (Lightspeed)
  • ‘Free Fall’ by Graham Templeton (Clarkesworld)

Best Related Work

  • Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers Of Space by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
  • Les Revenants by Mogwai
  • Speculative Fiction 2012, edited by Justin Landon and Jared Shurin
  • Red Doc> by Anne Carson
  • Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace

Best Graphic Story

  • Prophet: Brothers by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy
  • Mind MGMT: The Futurist by Matt Kindt
  • ‘Mars To Stay’ by Brett Lewis and Cliff Chiang (The Witching Hour)
  • ‘Time’ by Randall Munroe (XCKD)
  • Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

  • Upstream Color
  • Tomb Raider
  • Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2
  • A Field In England
  • Byzantium

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

  • Black Mirror – ‘Be Right Back’
  • Gesaffelstein – ‘Pursuit’
  • Utopia – ‘Episode 1’
  • Janelle Monáe – ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’
  • Orphan Black – ‘Effects Of External Conditions’

Best Semiprozine

  • No nominations

That said, if I was going to nominate, it would be for Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld and Interzone.

Best Fanzine

  • Pornokitsch
  • Nerds Of A Feather
  • FerretBrain
  • The Book Smugglers
  • A Dribble Of Ink

Best Professional Editor: Long Form

  • No nominations

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

  • No nominations

Best Professional Artist

  • Joey Hi-Fi
  • Olly Moss
  • Sarah Anne Langton
  • Kevin Tong
  • Galen Dara

Best Fan Artist

  • Trudy Cooper
  • Autun Purser
  • Mandie Manzano
  • Sara Webb
  • Noelle Stevenson

Best Fan Writer

  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Jared Shurin
  • Nina Allan
  • Jonathan McCalmont
  • Requires Hate

Best Fancast

  • No nominations

John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer

  • Sofia Samatar
  • Carmen Maria Machado
  • Tim Maughan
  • EJ Swift
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew

The John W Campbell Award Eligibility Page will help you with this confusing award but be warned, it isn’t entirely accurate. For example, Madeline Ashby isn’t eligible as it say (or I’d have nominated her).

Written by Martin

30 March 2014 at 16:54

Posted in awards, sf

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Hugo Nominations – Best Novella, Best Novelette & Best Short Story

with 3 comments

Once again, I must confess to dereliction. I can count the genre short fiction published in 2013 that I read in 2013 on the fingers of one hand. I’ve read considerably more in the last two months or so but nowhere near enough. Luckily, there are better curators out there:

Nussbaum opens her post by saying:

They also reaffirm my belief in the vibrancy and relevance of the genre short fiction scene. I don’t know another genre in which ordinary readers habitually get excited about short stories the way that SFF readers do, and in which those stories are an integral part of the conversation surrounding the genre. I certainly don’t know another genre in which short fiction venues are proliferating–whether it’s online venues or original anthologies (often funded by Kickstarters). Far more than the best novel category, it seems to me, the short fiction categories give us a glimpse of the genre’s present state – and of its future – which is why it’s so important to me that they represent the richness and diversity of what’s being published.

I’m not sure I quite agree. There is obviously something unique about the speculative fiction short fiction landscape and worth cherishing. But whilst short fiction is part of the conversation, the discourse remains dominated by novels. At the moment, short fiction strikes me less as a glimpse into the genre’s future than a parallel universe and that is where I think the Hugos and the other short fiction awards have a role in shining a spotlight, amplfying the conversation and bridging the gap.

Best Novella

  • Spin by Nina Allan (TTA Press)
  • Black Helicopter by Caitlín R Kiernan (Subterranean Press)

I was also planning to nominate ‘The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself’ by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books) but he’s done that himself and saved me the bother.

Best Novelette

I’ll confess I spent more time looking for a tweet from Howard Mittelmark suggesting that a novelette was “an omelette with a little book in it” than I did actually reading them. I think it is a silly term and, like several Hugo categories, is not in common usage outside the genre. Compare and contrast, for example, the Wikipedia article for novelette with those for novella and short story. Then wince a bit at the way SF shoves itself into the latter two.

A counter-argument for retaining the category put forward by Nussbaum is that “the short fiction categories, with their wider perspective and lower stakes, give a better snapshot of the field and its interests” than Best Novel. I would agree that removing Best Novelette and having five slots for novels, five for novellas and five for short stories would leave the awards unbalanced. My solution would be to have a ten slot shortlist for stories up to 17,500 words (there’s probably an argument for having ten slots for Best Novel too).

Best Short Story

With the above in mind and given I haven’t finished reading yet, here are ten short stories I enjoyed:

You will notice that almost all of these stories were published in small online magazines. If you are less of a purist than me, you might consider these venues for Best Semiprozine.

Written by Martin

26 March 2014 at 08:32

Posted in awards, sf, short stories

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