Friday, April 29, 2016

Hugo nominees 2016

The nominees for Hugo Awards have been announced. It's yet another interesting sociological study in gaming voting systems. The number of voters was huge --- more than double last year's all-time record-breaking high! --- but the effect was apparently diffuse. (We will only find out after the awards are announced, when the distribution of nominating ballots is revealed.)

The resulting list is bleak. I used to look to the Hugos as a recommended reading list, and I became a member of the *cons in order to have access to this reading list. Recent years have really shot me in the foot about that --- the stuff I enjoyed reading, I had read already on my own. And the other stuff turns out to be mostly weird, sci-fi fandom in-crowd hatemail from one group to another.

(Why do they do this? I wouldn't. My reaction to this toxicity is "meh", accompanied by a shrug and not really devoting much time or effort to it... probably as a combination of socialization and my own personality. It's an ultimate de-escalation. Participating in scifi fandom is a leisure activity for rich, literate people. It is super easy to opt out. I find it strange and incomprehensible that there are these internet mob leaders, each spending millions of words responding to each other and rallying their mobs and constructing elaborate facades of sophism to justify disembodied hate of an outgroup with which they share most traits and with whom they spend huge chunks of time interacting online. Rather than work myself into the lather of a long blog rant, I would just go outside. Or take a nap. Self-care. If I want to worry, I worry about the heat death of the universe. My outrage is better than your outrage.)

Here's the list of nominees.

Best novel:
Best novella:
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
Best novelette:
  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander
  • “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, Ken Liu
  • “Obits” by Stephen King
  • “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke
Best short story:

Almost nothing I nominated got onto the ballot. I'm most bummed about China Miéville's short story "The Dowager of Bees" from the collection Three Moments of an Explosion, which was utterly fantastic. But really, the amount of bumming I can suffer from an abstract awards nomination in a niche field is minimal. Sure, this varied my mood down, for a total effect of -ε. Breakfast has more of an effect and occurs more regularly.

I'll try to read the nominees again (see my previous efforts in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012,2011, 2010, 2009 --- all still incomplete as I gradually retroblog what I thought of them). I have Seveneves in my queue and I'll definitely get to it; the other novel nominees are not very appealing, I have read their opening few pages and they did nothing for me. (This browsing long before they received Hugo nominations.) The extent to which the nominees have been controlled by a voting bloc suggests that I might not find much to hold my interest in the rest of the list. On the other hand, I am interested to see the result of what seems like an experiment by the voting block ("will people vote "no award" above popular authors if we endorse the popular authors who would be on the ballot anyway?").

But I'll try.

I have to keep my English limbered up. This fall I get to talk to captive audiences at length! (Read: teach classes!)

This post's theme word is standpat, "one who refuses to consider change," or "refusing to consider change in one's beliefs and opinions, esp. in politics." The standpats debated each other to a standstill.


alice grimm said...

I don't actually know what is going on with the Hugos? I've seen a few people, like you, mention there being something unsavory happening. Do you know a good explanatory blog post somewhere?

Looking at best novel, I loved Ancillary Mercy, and have really enjoyed other Jemisin books + heard good things about Fifth Season. Is it awards other than Best Novel that are being disturbed?

alice grimm said...

Sorry, started reading your linked "Measuring the Rabid Puppies" post, all the books I'd heard good things about were the non RB noms. hmm