Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for July 15th, 2010

Hugo Awards – Visual Categories

leave a comment »

Now that I’ve received by Hugo Voter Pack I thought I would use it to help me make an informed decision about some of the categories that I don’t know that much about.

Best Graphic Story (221 Ballots)

  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Written by Neil Gaiman; Pencilled by Andy Kubert; Inked by Scott Williams (DC Comics)
  • Captain Britain And MI13. Volume 3: Vampire State Written by Paul Cornell; Pencilled by Leonard Kirk with Mike Collins, Adrian Alphona and Ardian Syaf (Marvel Comics)
  • Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages Written by Bill Willingham; Pencilled by Mark Buckingham; Art by Peter Gross & Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, David Hahn; Colour by Lee Loughridge & Laura Allred; Letters by Todd Klein (Vertigo Comics)
  • Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm – Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse – Written and Illustrated by Howard Tayler

What do we get in the pack? The whole of Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? and Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages for starters. The former has been nominated because it would be unfathomable for the Hugo voters not to nominate everything Neil Gaiman has ever had a hand in. It is weak but that is to be expected. The latter has been nominated because, well, I’ve no idea. It is a dreadful, amateurish mish-mash of nothing.

In addition, we are given issues 10 and 11 of Captain Britain And MI13 which is frankly insane. Would we have been given chapters 10 and 11 of one of the Best Novel nominees? The result is the reader has no idea who the characters are, what they are doing or why we should care about it. I can see why Marvel wouldn’t want to make the whole volume available to Hugo voters but plunging us straight into the middle doesn’t make any sense. The only basis on which I am able to rank it is the fact that Paul Cornell seems to be a good egg and issue 10 opens with Dracula on the moon.

Girl Genius and Schlock Mercenary are both webcomics so you can play along at home. The former is fun and at least slightly original which is not something you can say of any of the other nominees. The latter is just unreadably bad. Its author comments that it is on the internet because he couldn’t sell it. No shit.

Girl Genius, Fables and Schlock Mercenary were all nominated last year as well and, as an aside, these two posts about the problems inherent in this category are well worth reading.

My ballot:

1) Girl Genius
2) Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
3) Captain Britain And MI13
4) No award.

Best Professional Artist (327 Ballots)

  • Bob Eggleton
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio
  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • Shaun Tan

What do we get in the pack? A selection of work by each of the artists. Three of these are pretty good without ever being the complete package. My favourite is Martiniere for the level of detail and sense of scale as well as the sheer SF-ness. Then there is Tan who breathes life and emotion into his covers and Picacio who introduces a bold design element to his covers. Both of these qualities are absent in the work of the others.

Of the remaining two, Dos Santos draws perfectly adequate but very boring figures (with the exception of the composition of his cover for Green which I rather like) whereas Eggleton produces clumsy scenes in vomitous pastels.

My ballot:

1) Martiniere
2) Tan
3) Picacio
4) Dos Santos
5) No Award

Best Fan Artist (199 Ballots)

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Dave Howell
  • Sue Mason
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

What do we get in the pack? Well, Sue Mason is not represented so we can discard her out of hand. That leaves a lot of eye-gougingly bad “art” that frankly should never have seen the light of day. The exception is Dave Howell who designed the Hugo award itself. It seems a bit pointlessly incestuous to reward this in turn with a Hugo but hey, at least it isn’t completely shit.

My ballot:

1) Howell
2) No award

Written by Martin

15 July 2010 at 13:39

Posted in awards, sf

Tagged with

‘Dolphin’s Way’ by Gordon R. Dickson

with one comment

The editors introduce this as “clean, precise, powerful, it is one of Dickson’s finest stories.” Which is a bit of a back-handed compliment since it is rubbish. Perhaps the charm lies in the fact it got to a couple of ideas that have appeared elsewhere first? Who knows.

A scientist is trying to communicate with dolphins but in six years has made little progress and is worried his funding is about to be cut. He is undertaking this research for two reasons. Firstly, he has a hopelessly romanticised view of dolphins, the happy-go-lucky rapists of the sea. Second, by achieving successful communication he believes he will signal to the (unglimpsed but presumed) interstellar community that humankind is ready to take its place amongst them. This is an idea which in mutated form underpins David Brin’s Uplift novels but Brin’s version is both more interesting and more plausible.

I say that our scientist hero has made little progress but he has taught them to speak English. The problem lies in overcoming the “environmental barrier”. It is a familar gloss on Wittgenstein: if a lion could speak, would we understand it? It turns out that Dickson’s answer is yes, of course we would, as long as we got down on all fours and pretended we had a tail. Our scientist simply pops on some flippers, dives into the ocean and undergoes a paradigm shift. It’s not clear why it took him six years to hit on this less than ingenuous solution.

So, does this mean humanity can now take its rightful place amongst the stars?

At the beginning of the story, a reporter comes to cover the dolphin story. A reporter who just happens to be a beeootiful lady. Scientist falls for her instantly which adds an inept layer of mundane musings about life, love and work to an already clumsy SF story. But wait, when another character checks up on her, no-one from the magazine has ever heard of her. Who could she be? As the reader has already guessed she is an alien who is here to witness the final breakthrough. But she has a bit of bad news which I can summarise thus: so long and thanks for all the fish.

Quality: **
Hardness: *

Written by Martin

15 July 2010 at 09:55