Hugo Awards 2021

After such a long wait, I was still so excited to see who would take home the rockets today. I had to wait a bit longer due to technical difficulties, but I still love watching the ceremony life. Especially one as good as this one, which was concise and flowed well. The hosts Andrea Hairston and Sheree Renée Thomas were amazing, hitting the right balance between fun banter and getting on with the show. I loved their dynamic It was cool seeing how masks fit into award fashion. Definitely better than a completely virtual con.

Also, I learnt a lot about Slime Molds.

For a list of the winners, check out the official site here. I am not going to go over every award, but I do want to share some of my highlights, in no particular order.

Hearing the speeches from the winners of all the fan categories were a great start. Was also nice that the announcers described each winning fancast or fanzine, as these are categories where I usually don’t know a lot of the finalists, and now I have new blogs and fanzines and YouTube channels I want to check out. FIYAH winning best Semiprozine was cool to see just because Uncanny has been so dominating in this category the last few years. Nothing against Uncanny, but its nice to see this award is still competitive.

T. Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking won the Lodestar Award for best YA book. After having that cute book on my TBR pile for ages, I have just started reading it. Literally about 10 or less pages in. It’s like the ceremony is telling me to hurry up and finish it. Also, what an acceptance speech.

I hadn’t looked into the Best Related Works Category this year, but now I really want to read winner Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation. I haven’t needed to sit through one of the classic translations and only know the poem through cultural osmosis. I think a translation that opens with the line “Bro! Tell me we still know how to speak of Kings” sounds like a good idea all around. Beowulf with twenty-teens slang and a feminist emphasis sounds amazing, and I should have read this before the awards.

I was really excited to see the Best Short Story Category, as I really liked all the nominees and figured this category would be very competitive. I had trouble picking a winner, though looking at the stats it seems that on a whole, the vote wasn’t as close as I was thinking. The winner, Metal Like Blood in the Dark, received the majority of first place picks by quite a lot.

Interestingly, the Novella and Novelette categories were not won by the works that received the most 1st place votes. In the best Novella category, Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down received more first place preferences than the winner, Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune. Come Tumbling Down actually ended up coming in third, with Ring Shout also getting more votes from preferences to take second place. In the Novelette Category, Isabell Fall’s controversial Helicoptor Story got most of the first preference votes, but ended up in fifth place, with Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie being the winner. This happened in a few other categories too, including Best Graphic Story and Best Editor Long Form.

Just in case the stat talk got a bit confusing, I should mention that The Hugo Awards use Instant Runoff Voting. For those unfamiliar with the system, after all votes are tallied if the candidate with the most first place votes does not have over 50% of the vote, then the losing candidate is eliminated and the second place preferences of votes for that eliminated candidate are added to the voting tally for the remaining candidates. Repeat until you have a winner with over 50% of the vote. Like how Australian elections work, which means I really hope I’m not screwing this analysis up, because I’ll look extra dumb. I’m using the final vote details PDF to get this information, which you can find by clicking here. There is usually a PDF floating around with information about the nomination around this time which I’d be very interested to look at, but haven’t found it yet.

Finally, I should talk about the winner of the two big awards; Best Novel and Best series. And yes, I mean winner singular. Martha Well’s fantastic Murderbot Diaries series took out best series (by a landslide; reached over 50% of the vote while there were still two other series in the running) and the Murderbot novel Network Effect won for best novel.

I’m happy about both of these wins. Murderbot is an amazing character, I love the series, and Network Effect was a great book. I loved Martha Well’s acceptance speech, and the awkwardness when she admitted to only having one speech was perfectly understandable. Though I suppose this does bring up the concern I mentioned on my post announcing the finalists; will we see too much overlap between the two categories in the future? There are a lot of series out there just as much loved as Murderbot Diaries that are still eligible for the Best Series Award, so I am concerned that this doubling up could become common. Maybe a rule that prevents a series being represented in both categories could be considered in the future if this does prove to be a common pattern.

All in all, the ceremony today was awesome, and I just want to say a big congratulations to all the winners. There were so many amazing works on the ballot this year, and every winner is truly deserving.

~ Lauren

Edit: I found the PDF with the nomination longlist. Click here to see it.

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