I watched the Hugo Awards this morning. I do every year, but with Covid-19 things were quite a bit different this year. Obviously, there was not a live ceremony in Wellington as originally planned. The entire Worldcon this year was a virtual event, and this morning George R. R. Martin hosted the Hugo Award ceremony from an empty theater in America. There were a number of glitches, but overall it was an enjoyable ceremony. Really wish Martin had practised pronouncing names a bit more.
The full results can be found here.
The winners for the four writing categories are “As the Last I May Know” by S. L. Huang for Best Short Story. Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin for Best Novelette. This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone for Novella. And finally A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martin for the big one, Best Novel. Congratz to all the winners.
So onto the shorter fiction. I was especially happy to see “As the Last I May Know” and Emergency Skin win rockets. “As the Last I May Know” is set in a world were to get the codes for the nuke-equivalents, the president has to stab a child in the heart to get the codes out of her chest. We hear about this from the POV of said child as she lives with the President, following news of the war and wondering just how just the situation is. Thought-provoking is an understatement. Emergency Skin is harder to talk about, because part of the joy of the story is figuring out what it’s about. It doesn’t take long to see where the story is going, and whilst it may be a bit cheesy, I couldn’t help smile when I figured out where the story was going. I liked that Jemisin was able to write a story that showed a lot of the things wrong with our society and thinking whilst still being optimistic.
All the Novellas this year were really strong contenders. I’ve previously reviewed The Haunting of Tram Car 015 here (And wow look, I did a review of City in the Middle of the Night when I first read it. I wish I had remembered that when I was trying to gather my thoughts for the Pokémon Team reviews.) and I reviewed In An Absent Dream here. The winner, This is How You Lose the Time War, I felt was quite hyped up. It’s a beautifully written story that isn’t your average time travel tale. Well worth checking out. Of course, with such strong competition, I feel any of the novellas this year would have been a worthy winner. I normally do a review page of all the novellas, but this year I just ran out of time. Don’t even get me started on all the Retro Hugo nominees I missed.
Except actually, I should get started on the Retro Hugos. First, let’s talk The Golden Fleece by Robert Graves. When I saw Golden Fleece on the list I was like ‘I am not reading a 400 page Greek Mythology retelling.’ But… turns out quite a few of the nominees were out of print, so Golden Fleece and The Wind on the Moon turned out to be the only Retro novels I read. After years of the sanitized, Disneyfied version of Hercules and Greek mythology, this story was hilarious. Hercules is such an arsehole.
The Retro Hugos were announced a couple of days ago. The results can be viewed here. The winner of the Best Novel award went to Leigh Brackett’s Shadow Over Mars (aka. The Nemesis From Terra) I was fully intending to read this one, as Brackett has been on my to read list for a while. I don’t know if her debut novel is a logical place to start, especially when The Long Tomorrow is the recommended book from her, but now that it’s won a Hugo I’ll have to check it out. I did read Brackett’s nominated novella The Jewel of Bas for these awards, and I enjoyed it, so I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for more of her work.
I was also looking forward to reading Olaf Stapledon’s Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord, but I was also dreading that one since I strongly suspect it to be a sad dog story. Not saying it’s going to be a bad story, just that I need to really prepare myself for it.
Speaking of great nominees I failed to read before the awards, Nnedi Okorafor’s graphic story LaGuardia won the award for it’s category. I did intend to read this one, and I still do. It’s just, pregnancy story arcs turn me off, so knowing that the protagonist was pregnant made me reluctant to start the story even though the premise sounded awesome. I regret that now. Even before it won the award, I came across a lot of really positive reviews for this one, and I feel bad for not getting around to reading it.
I did read most of the other nominees for Best Graphic Story though. I skipped Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked + The Divine Vol 9; “Okay” because well, it’s volume 9 and I’m not ready to start another big comic series just now. I did read Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker by the same writer, and guess what? I’ve started a new comic series now. The basic premise of this book is ‘Gothic D&D Jumanji’ and I loved it. I’ve been missing D&D, and seeing a party get sucked into a massive, dangerous role-playing world was exciting. Also, I loved Stephanie Hans’s artwork in this. Looks so detailed and epic. As for the other nominees, I have previously talked about Monstress and Paper Girls here. And Mooncakes has been reviewed here.
I could talk about more winners, and more losers, but that’ll end up with me giving my thoughts on everything and I am super tired. I got up at 9am to watch the awards live. I know that sounds perfectly reasonable, but it’s unfortunately not for me. I’ll just finish with a shout out to The Expanse for being my favourite series which I have never read, Jeanette Ng for continuing to point out what we should already know, and both The Good Place and Good Omens for taking the awards for Dramatic Presentation. I loved both series. I’ll miss new episodes of The Good Place.