Hugo Finalists 2022

The finalists for the 2022 Hugo Awards have just been released. For the full list, check out the the Hugo Award site here. For here, I’m going to mostly focus on the four written fiction categories; the novel, novella, novelette and short stories.

In the novel category, there were a total of 443 works nominated. Which is just crazy to think how many novels were released in our little genre in just a year. The six finalists are:

  • A Desolation Called Peace – Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within – Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager/Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars -Ryka Aoki (Tor / St Martin’s Press)
  • A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
  • Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)
  • She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)

I have read four of these books, and the four I read are definitely worthy nominees. Project Hail Mary in particular was one of my favourite reads of 2021. I believe it is Andy Weir’s first finalist in this category, though Weir himself won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016, and the film adaptation of The Martian won the award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form in that same year.

Weir is not the only familiar name in this list. A Desolation Called Peace is the sequel to Arkady Martine’s excellent A Memory Called Empire, which won in this category in 2020. Authors have gotten multiple wins with books in the same series before. Orson Scott Card, Lois McMaster Bujold and N.K. Jemisin managed to do it in consecutive years even. The timing may not have worked out for back to back wins, but both books in this Teixcalaan duology are good enough to take the win.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is the fourth and final book in Becky Chamber’s Wayfarers series. Other books in the series have been nominated before, but there have been no individual wins. Though the series as a whole won the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2019. I could not put down The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. This entire series is slice of life in a space opera setting, and I just cannot get enough of it. P. Djèlí Clark is also a familiar name in the Hugo Awards, having been nominated for a numbers of novellas and short stories in recent years. A Master of Djinn is his first novel, set in the alt-history magical Cairo of The Haunting of Tram Car 015, which was a nominee for the Best Novella Award in 2020. Despite being a first novel, Master of Djinn is still good enough to sit with the other finalists.

I have not yet read Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars or Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun. Light From Uncommon Stars has been on my radar for a while now. It’s a story that features stealing the souls of violin players and a star ship captain, so that has me interested. I’d heard She Who Became the Sun mentioned, but seem to have unintentionally ninja-dodged information about the book until now. It sounds like a very epic historical fantasy, and I imagine I will enjoy it. I’ll be reading these two pretty soon.

Now for the novellas. There were 138 works nominated this year, but we’re seeing a repeat of last year, with Tor.com sweeping the category. The nominees are:

  • Across the Green Grass Fields – Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • Elder Race – Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom)
  • Fireheart Tiger – Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
  • The Past Is Red – Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built – Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
  • A Spindle Splintered – Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)

I am a big fan of Tor.com, so as you can imagine I’ve had most of these books on my to read list or have read them. Across the Green Grass Fields deserves a special shoutout though, as with this book, Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series was eligible for the Best Series award, and indeed has been nominated over there. With those two nominations, and a nomination in the Short Story category, I believe that makes a total of 21 Hugo Nominations for works of fiction for McGuire. I know she has nominations in the Fancast and Related Works Categories too that I am discounting – maybe wrongly – but I think I count 21 nominations for works of fiction. If I am right, then she has overtaken Ursula K. Le Guin’s 20 and Harlan Ellison’s 19, which is huge. Though, she still has a while to go to catch up to Mike Resnick’s 30 fiction nomination record. All three of these authors have passed within the last five years, so looking up those tallies did feel like a kick in the gut, despite how excited I am to see more Seanan McGuire stories on the ballot, and to see Wayward Children and Green Grass Fields up for awards.

The other stand out here is Becky Chamber’s A Psalm for the Wild-Built , which is a very recent read for me. I have a lot of good things to say about that book. I’ll try and catch up on the Novellas soon and do a whole page of reviews.

For the Novelettes and Short Stories, I am less familiar with the finalists. Though there are still plenty of names I recognise and look forward to reading more from. For both categories we have:

Novelettes:

  • Bots of the Lost Ark – Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, Jun 2021)
  • Colors of the Immortal Palette – Caroline M. Yoachim (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)
  • L’Esprit de L’Escalier – Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • O2 Arena – Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Galaxy’s Edge, Nov 2021)
  • That Story Isn’t the Story – John Wiswell (Uncanny Magazine, Nov/Dec 2021)
  • Unseelie Brothers, Ltd. – Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, May/Jun 2021)

and for Short Stories:

  • Mr. Death – Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, Feb 2021)
  • Proof by Induction – José Pablo Iriarte (Uncanny Magazine, May/Jun 2021)
  • The Sin of America – Catherynne M. Valente (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)
  • Tangles – Seanan McGuire (Magicthegathering.com: Magic Story, Sep 2021)
  • Unknown Number – Blue Neustifter (Twitter, Jul 2021)
  • Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather – Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)

The first thing that stuck out to me, was seeing Twitter listed as a publisher for Blue Neustifter’s Unknown Number. So I did some research and found a story published as screenshots of text messages. So far it can be found on Facebook, or on the original Twitter Thread. I find it so cool when something in an unusual medium crops up. Then I read the story and… yeah, that was really good. It isn’t on the ballot just for the novelty, Unknown Number belongs. I’ll talk about that more when I go over all the short stories.

In both ballots there are plenty of familiar names. In fact, Suzanne Palmer’s Bots of the Lost Ark is a sequel to her earlier novelette The Secret Life of Bots, which won the award in 2018. John Wiswell’s Open House on Haunted Hill was a nominee last year that I loved, and that I still regularly think about and recommend. Sarah Pinsker is another author who I am always happy to see. She has been nominated quite a lot lately, and last year her novelette Two Truths and a Lie was the winner in it’s category. She hasn’t won a best short story before, but she did get a nomination in 2019 for The Court Magician. Alix Harrow meanwhile has won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story, also in 2019 for A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies. Catherynne M. Valente received her first Hugo Nomination in 2012 for Silently and Very Fast, and as well as being nominated in the Novella category this year has received her first Short Story nomination for The Sins of America. Fran Wilde and Caroline M. Yoachim are also familiar faces, with Wilde having had two short stories and a novelette nominated within the last five years, and Yoachim having a novelette and short story in the same period. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and José Pablo Iriarte are first time Hugo Nominees, though both have been nominated for other awards, and Ekpeki has also been nominated this year in the Best Editor, Short Form category .

The Best Dramatic Presentation categories are also interesting. We have:

Short Form:

  • The Wheel of Time: The Flame of Tar Valon
  • For All Mankind: The Grey
  • Arcane: The Monster You Created
  • The Expanse: Nemesis Games
  • Loki: The Nexus Event
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: wej Duj

Long Form:

  • Dune
  • Encanto
  • The Green Knight
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Space Sweepers
  • WandaVision

The lack of Doctor Who in the short form surprised me. Not because I think there were episodes that should have been there; I unfortunately don’t watch the show so have no idea how it is going. For all I know there could have been a year long hiatus making it impossible for an episode to get nominated. It’s just that this is the first time since 2005 that there has not been a single Doctor Who episode on the ballot. The creation of a Short Form Dramatic Presentation Award separate from the Long Form only started in 2003 by the way, so this is the fourth time ever that Doctor Who has not been up for this award.

It was also interesting to see that Star Trek Lower Decks got more love than Discovery. I know Discovery has a lot of haters, but I really enjoyed season 3, and it seemed the general discourse around the show was getting more positive. I guess either way, having season three end in January 2021 and season 4 starting late in November makes the episodes awkwardly timed for this award. And of course, Lower Decks is just really good. It also appears that the debate about whether or not Squid Game counted as speculative fiction has been settled in the negative. Either that or everyone else forgot about that show, though considering how devastating ‘Gganbu’ was I doubt the hype died down that completely.

The Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form ballot is probably the only award where I have already watched all the nominees, and I have no idea how to pick a winner just yet. They’re all good, but in very different ways. At the moment though I am still caught up in the Encanto hype, with We Don’t Talk About Bruno still popping into my head at random times, even though it has been about three months since I saw the movie. Yes I may have been spamming the soundtrack on Youtube.

There won’t be as much time to read and vote on the nominees this year. September 4th is Award Night, at the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago Illinois USA. It’s going to be super exciting, and I know I’m looking forward to seeing who wins. Even more than that though, I’m looking forward to catching up on a lot of cool stuff I missed last year.

~ Lauren

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