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This year's Hugo Award finalists were announced about an hour ago.

It's a good list this year, only a couple of real turds and some truly excellent options.

Best Dramatic Long: HIDDEN FUCKING FIGURES. That one is winning OR ELSE I WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND I'm just saying.
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Is Method Man's Bulletproof Love eligible in "Best Dramatic: Short" or "Best Related Work"?


Jul. 20th, 2016 04:15 pm
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For the second year in a row, neo-Nazis have abused a loophole to put garbage onto the Hugo ballot, displacing nominees that were actually voted for by people who genuinely thought they were good. This year, though, instead of JUST a stream of bigoted effluvia, they've also included a handful of nominees that were good and had buzz as maybe getting onto the ballot legitimately on their own.

So I'm doing something slightly different than my rules for last year - instead of No Awarding all the neo-Nazi picks, I'm comparing them to the worst of my own picks. If something dropped onto the ballot by the white supremacist vandals is good enough that I would have considered nominating it myself had I seen it during the nomination period, it goes above No Award.

Same as last year, I'm doing breakdowns with my thoughts.
this is pretty long )

EDIT: Oh yeah, there's the retro-Hugos too. )

If you've made it all the way to here, have The Hugo Post Kitty.

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Bob help me, I'm starting to rank the fucking Hugo noms.
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Grey Carter, paraphrased: "We're disgusted to have been nominated by the Sadly Rabid nazi shitheads."

Unfortunately, they're not going to decline the nom and make way for people who got a legitimate spot on the ballot, for financial reasons that are actually pretty valid but still don't make me any happier.
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Marc Aramini proudly proclaims that yes, in fact, his work SHOULD lose to No Award because even he knows it stood absolutely zero chance of obtaining a real finalist slot.

It's not quite as impressive as last year, when Mike Williamson declared that he was voting No Award over his own book because, as a collection of racist tweets, long-debunked chain emails, and sexist jokes, it was so bad that even he didn't want to vote for it. Still, it shows an impressive level of self-awareness for a guy who voluntarily published with Swastika Press.
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Speaking of Nazi dumbfucks, I have some detailed comments, too.

Read more... )

Once the packet comes out I'll probably do a version of the post I did last year with detailed breakdowns, because I *will* at least start every nominated work, if only to figure out what order to put them in below No Award.

Having gotten this far: have a kitty!

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It seems the Nazi dumbfucks brigaded *fewer* categories this year.

Although managing to get HP Lovecraft on to the Retro 1941 ballot as Best Fan Writer 4 years after his death was an impressive trick. Hey [ profile] scifantasy, got a comment on that one?
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Things #1: "The Shannara Chronicles" is most definitely NOT going on my Hugo noms next year, and it's going below No Award on the final if other people's taste is Doctor-Who-level horrible and it gets nominated.

I had high hopes. TV miniseries doing an adaptation of "The Good Terry Brooks Novel" by Terry Brooks! Starring John Rhys Davies and Manu Bennett! And, uh. Um. Well....

Remember that scene you loved, the one you thought was exciting and awesome when you were a small child and read Elfstones? Remember those characters you though were awesome, the epic battles in the desperate defense against the army of demons? The suspense, heroism, the high drama?

Got all those clearly in your head? Yeah, none of them are in the TV show. They've all been replaced with high school subplots. Involving, in one episode, a LITERAL HIGH SCHOOL. Where one of the characters finds a bunch of old D&D dice. They spend a whole episode on the LITERAL high school and about 5 minutes on the D&D dice, but leave out the entire demon army until 15 minutes from the end of the series. Worse, remember how Elfstones was the book that broke with being a Tolkien pastiche and tried to be something more? Well, Chronicles Of Shannara is not that. It's fanfic on the Peter Jackson Hobbit movies, and as bad as they were compared to LotR? That's how bad Chronicles is compared to them.

Everything that was good or fun in the book is gone. The actors playing Wil, Amberle, and Eritrea do their best but the best of them is Amberle and she's, like, "good for MTV", not good. Manu Bennett has less to work with than he did in Spartacus and John Rhys Davies chews all the scenery but he's got a small part, so it's really not enough.

And then there's the pacing. Let me put it this way: I'm 95% sure JJ Abrams was an uncredited script consultant, because *wow* it's bad. It's Star Trek Into Darkness bad. It takes weeks to ride south to find the bloodfire but then one day to ride back, and on that day it's sunset for the whole time *and* then still sunset for several hours after they arrive. From the Elven city to the spot where the demon army comes through is At The Speed Of Plot which would be fine except it keeps taking DIFFERENT amounts of time. The main source of suspense in the book is whether or not the small party of Hobbits heroes can get the One Ring seed of the Ellcrys to Mount Doom the Bloodfire before the demon army fights through the combined forces of Good Guys and kills the Ellcrys, releasing them forever. Except, in the TV show? The demon army doesn't move, and the Elves make no attempt to stop them. It takes until after the Bloodfire is found for the demons to even *begin* to move towards Arborlon, and that's actually okay because the Elves set their very first line of defense *inside* the city, inside the Ellcrys' garden itself, like 30 meters from the tree.

And, I mean, then there's just the DUMB. Our Hobbits heroes fall into the LITERAL HIGH SCHOOL to have some more tweenager drama, and explain away the prom decorations and shit as "a pocket of the old world, preserved undisturbed for thousands of years". Not TWO SECONDS LATER there's a flood of bats leaving this mysteriously guano-less "perfectly sealed" "perfectly preserved" high school gymnasium. Because it occured to nobody that maybe there shouldn't be bats there.

It was just bad.

Thing #2: Sheila Gilbert.

I finished books 3 and 4 of that, and yeah, everything I said about the constantly-jarring lousy editing, worldbuilding mistakes, inconsistencies from sentence to sentence let alone scene to scene or book to book? It continues, constantly. It even gets worse, as Jim Hines makes an understandable-but-critical mistake when pulling from one of 2014's Hugo nominated novels because he clearly hasn't read it.... and nobody checks. Nobody caught his error. He hinges *his entire overarching series-long plot* on a detail that, if you've *read* the book he's pulling from, doesn't work that way. At all. It's like he used a Wikipedia summary, and his editor clearly didn't even ask.

They're still entertaining novels but they're facepalmingly-badly-EDITED novels, with constant failures of internal consistency. And I know Jim Hines thinks Sheila Gilbert did a great job and is nominating her himself, but no. If those 4 books are examples of her work, she's *not* "Best Editor". There are a great many editors where I have no idea if they're good or not, because I can't see their work. When I'm looking in the right place I *can* see Sheila Gilbert's work, and it apparently sucks.
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I read "The Fifth Season" and it was really good. My only objection to it is that it's *so clearly* "book 1" - nothing is resolved, there's almost zero story advancement (it's ALL backfill/flashback), and the primary motivation of the main character, the entire thing the whole plot is about? Stays not just unresolved, but *zero* progress is made on it, through the whole book.

It makes me want book 2!

It does not make me think book 1 deserves an award. If books 2 and 3 are as good as 1, I'd give The Trilogy a nomination and an award, but I hesitate to give one to The Fifth Season
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Remember how last year I complained about voting for "Best Editor" for the Hugos because I genuinely can't tell good editing from good writing, and only ever notice bad editing?

Well, this year I've been working extra-hard to pay attention to editing, and, uh, I still have the same problem: I can't see good editing, only the absence of it. I have no idea if a good book is well-edited because the editor found and fixed many mistakes, or if it's poorly-edited but there weren't many mistakes there in the first place. All I can notice is *bad* editing, where there are mistakes made repeatedly and not fixed.

Which brings me to Jim C Hines and Libriomancer and Codex Born, which are *poorly* edited. Which is really very sad, because they're good books with a neat concept but I *keep seeing* the editing mistakes, most of which are inconsistencies and contractions in the rules of magic.

In these books, Modern Humans(tm) living on Earth(tm) are sometimes Libriomancers: people who can reach into a book and pull out the contents, whether that's a phaser from a Star Trek novel, a chlorine gas attack from a WWI history book, an infection of Sparkly Vampirism from Twilight, etc, and use them in the real world. In an effort to prevent people from pulling out, say, Fred Saberhagen's Farslayer and wreaking havoc with their newfound ability to instantly kill literally anything on the planet from literally anywhere, books can be "locked" to prevent their magic from getting out. A locked book is useless to a Libriomancer, trying to pull something out of it will fail.

And *good* editing would probably have caught all the various cases where a book is locked in one scene and unlocked in another, or where a certain kind of book is a perfectly normal thing to pull stuff out of versus a weird thing that shouldn't work, etc.

For example: All the Harry Potter books are locked for various reasons, but the largest is the Time-Turner: Pulling that out is super-dangerous, so books using it are locked and there's an aside about how Ms Rowling was given a stern talking to about including it in later books. Regardless of having the time-turner or not, all Harry Potter books are completely locked. But in a different scene, our main character complains that pulling something out of a book doesn't teach you how to use it - he nearly gave himself carpal tunnel using Harry Potter's wand and still barely managed to flick the feather! In another scene, two characters mention hoping the newest D&D sourcebook isn't locked yet so they can use the spells and magic items before they get turned off, since all D&D books get locked but the locking sometimes takes a few days - and like a chapter later, Our Protagonist is thinking he shouldn't be able to pull things out of a D&D sourcebook *at all* but he's going to try anyway because it's generally considered impossible so *of course* those books are never, ever locked.

Those are two of the more obvious errors. They're not the only ones. That kind of misstep is *all through* the first two books in this series. (I haven't reached book 3 yet - I plan to read it, because the mistakes aren't killing the books for me, but auuugh)

It's really unfortunate, because these mistakes are so blatant and would have been so easy to fix. And all this rambling gets back to my main point: I can spot BAD editing, where an author made a mistake and an editor didn't catch or correct it, but I still have no idea how to identify good editing.
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Whoo boy this is a good year for things. I'm not even going to TRY to list everything I saw that qualified, I'll just stick to things I think might make it onto my ballot and things that DEFINITELY won't.

Best Dramatic Long Form:
Let's start here with the 400kg gorilla that is going to be the eventual winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. It's going to make the ballot and it's going to win. It deserves it. There are many other choices that, in a year without Fury Road, would be potential winners, but none of them deserve to beat Fury Road.
(I'm voting for Fury Road, for the record. Because it is the best thing.)

Other great choices:
Inside Out
It Follows
Rick And Morty Season 2
Jessica Jones

Certainly adequate choices:
Age Of Ultron
Crimson Peak
Ex Machina

I am noping the fuck out and you should too because my personally tastes are objectively correct, that's why:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - because, seriously, being way better than the prequels doesn't make up for still being worse than the remastered Return Of The Jedi with added musical numbers and more Ewoks. It's the first JJ Abrams movie to ever not be complete shit, but "not complete shit" does not a Hugo nominee make. Nope.

Anything involving Doctor Who - I haven't seen a good episode of this in years, and Moffat's sexism is really repugnant. Nope.

Anything involving Game Of Thrones - I've complained about the two writing groups on this show, the ones who are good and the ones who just add more gratuitous rape and torture scenes because "it's HBO". Amusingly, the showrunners have ALSO complained about this, but unlike me they should have been able to do something about it and they haven't. And I can't think of a single episode where I didn't completely hate a bunch of the scenes, for this reason. Nope.

Chappie - gee, a director famous for racist overtones and whitewashed casting makes *another* movie in South Africa that has no black actors, and also casts literal white supremacists - open, enthusiastic racists - in key roles. Nope.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - the TV show was exactly like the book. I threw the book across the room in disgust and never finished it. Nope.

Ones I haven't seen but have heard great things about:
The Martian - I don't hate Matt Damon the way I hate Tom Cruise, but he's still the reason I haven't seen it yet. I'm not going to nominate it, but I'll watch it if it hits the ballot.

The Man In The High Castle - I'm not finished this yet. Two episodes in, if it keeps going like it is now it's going in "certainly adequate" at least and likely "other great". And then it will lose to Fury Road.

Welcome To Night Vale - This is just not my thing. I get that it's good and I like it in tiny doses but I can't get into it.

Ones that started in 2015 but they're not over yet so they're eligible in 2016 and not now:
The Expanse Season 1
Supergirl Season 1

Best Dramatic Short Form:
Rick And Morty deserves a Hugo but the season as a whole is going to lose to Fury Road, so I want to pick a specific episode to nominate for Short Form. The problem is they're *all good*. Probably the best standalone episode for a new viewer is "Total Rickall", in which the family are trapped in their house with alien parasites that insert themselves in your memory and reproduce by flashback. So I'll nominate that one.

Community: RV Repair And Palmistry is a very clever low-key time-travel story, in the same mold as earlier Hugo nominee Remedial Chaos Theory was to alternate worlds. Free to watch on Yahoo TV for as long as Yahoo TV lasts, which I believe is something like "until next week".

Supergirl: Red Faced is a surprisingly deep examination of what it means and how people react when a woman gets angry. And Callista Flockhart's Cat Grant is awesome. As I understand the rules, if this make the ballot, it makes Season 1 as a whole ineligible next year - but I kinda suspect Season 1 as a whole won't be as good as this episode was, since this is definitely the best so far.

Ones I would nominate but am not for Reasons:
"John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular," the Audiobook, Read by Me, John Scalzi - John Scalzi has requested no award nominations in 2015 and has said that he is going to decline any nominations, because he's sitting on a gargantuan 10 year book contract with multiple movie and TV things and needs no award bump.

..... I don't actually have a lot of Short Form favourites, and that seems a little odd. What am I missing, Short Form Fans? Part of my problem is that I see binge-watch series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones as single works and have trouble picking out individual episodes.

And have I missed any really great Long Form options, either?
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So I need to make my Hugo nominations. I was tagging *most* stuff as I found it, but not all of it, and now I need to filter through it and decide what gets a nom and what doesn't.

Let's start with the easy category, Best Short Story, since I don't read a lot of short stories. The ones I read that I really loved are:

"Cat Pictures, Please" - Naomi Kritzer
"Steve Rogers, PR Disaster" from Rearranging The Alphabet (and I asked the author for permission to nominate it and got it, here)
"Palimpsest" - Frances Rowat
"John Scalzi Is Not A Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular By Theophilus Pratt" - Alexandra Erin - have to check the number of words on this, I might have it in the wrong category.
"Monkey King, Fairie Queen" - Zen Cho

That's less than 5, the first three are truly excellent and the last two decent. I don't really need to filter this category down unless people have a bunch of suggestions I love in the comments.

Novella and Novelette: I seriously don't read a lot of short fiction. The Alexandra Erin from above might actually go in one of these instead.

Novels are a little harder:
Calibre tells me that in 2015 I read these 2015 novels:
Terry and Rhianna Pratchett, "The Shepherd's Crown"
Chuck Wendig, "Star Wars: Aftermath"
Zen Cho, "Sorcerer To The Crown"
Neal Stephenson, "Seveneves"
Jenny Lawson, "Furiously Happy"
Seth Dickinson, "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"
Jim Butcher, "The Aeronaut's Windlass"
Charles Stross, "The Annihilation Score"
Ann Leckie, "Ancillary Mercy"

I also read a crapton of other books that aren't from 2015 and don't count. And, in something I consider HILARIOUS, *the entire Discworld*, all 41 novels, may technically be eligible for Best Novel. This fact, and the arguments it will spawn, warm my cockles greatly, especially because the Discworld oeuvre contains several of the best SFF books ever written.

So, that list is too big, gotta cut it down some.
Ancillary Mercy and The Traitor Baru Cormorant are two of the best books I've read in years, both are definitely going on the list.

The Aeronaut's Windlass was unreadable crap - I bailed on it after several Oh Look At All The Steampunk chapters, so it's definitely off.

I didn't throw Sorcerer To The Crown across the room like I did Strange & Norrell, but it was a very near thing; apparently I have a VERY LOW tolerance for Second Order Idiot Plots based on inbred prats harrumphing about how things just are Not Proper. The fact that it was well-written enough that I finished it doesn't change that I didn't like it, so it's off.

Seveneves was an entertaining, breezy read, as long as you don't mind that all the non-physics science wasn't just wrong it was actively stupid, few of the characters act remotely like humans, the author has no idea how long a "year" is, and neither Kerbal Space Program The Novel nor the attached novella have an ending. Still, despite that, I found myself liking it and would probably consider it better than No Award. I don't think I'll nominate it, though.

Star Wars: Aftermath: Uh, yeah, no, sorry. While it was certainly the best movie-tie-in I've read in decades, it still wasn't great on a scale of my first two picks.

If Terry Pratchett wasn't dead and The Shepherd's Crown wasn't his last book I'd never nominate it. It felt flat, and not up to the standard of the really good novels. But it *is* his last book, and that gives it sentimental weight. Still, I think I'm going to stick "all 41 Discworld Novels" on my nomination because really, Pratchett doesn't need my single vote and getting The Discworld on as a whole on would make me laugh for days.

Furiously Happy is allegedly nonfiction. If you've read it, you'll see why I use "allegedly". It's frankly awesome but I'm not sure it really counts as a "SFF novel" or even a "novel". Still, just being nonfiction doesn't prevent Hugo awards from being given out - Apollo 11 won Best Dramatic Presentation, after all - but not being SFF-appropriate does. (I might keep this one. Probably not.)

That leaves The Annihilation Score. Which I really liked, but is book 6 of an ongoing series and isn't the best of them.

So I'm looking at
The Traitor Baru Cormorant
Ancillary Mercy
The Entire Damn Discworld, Yes All 41 Novels
Furiously Happy (probably not)

which leaves me with one or two spots, and waffling about including The Annihilation Score. Which is a pretty nice place to be and leaves room for ones I've missed.

Audience Participation: What 2015 fiction works have I missed, that I *should* read and maybe include?

Next time: Dramatic Presentations, I think.
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"What We Talk About When We Talk About Lying Crazypants Liars Who Lie"

Scott Lynch discusses the lies of sad bigot shithead John C Wright.


Oct. 21st, 2015 05:49 pm
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It's often been remarked that Neal Stephenson can't write endings, and his novels tend to either end abruptly in the space of a page, or not have an ending at all just a stop.

Seveneves takes this to a new level. Kerbal Space Program: The Novel (the majority of the book) stops abruptly without an ending. It is followed by several hundred pages of a thematically-unrelated sequel novel, which also does not have an ending.

This is a new record, even for Stephenson.

But it's Neal Stephenson, so as long as you don't care about endings or science and don't mind not having them, it's a novel and a second half-novel of very entertaining and eminently readable fluffy sci-fi.
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So I'm reading The Shepherd's Crown, and it's a very sad book in a bunch of ways. First, because it's the last Terry Pratchett. Second, because it simply isn't great on a scale of the earlier books in the series. It's not BAD, it's a perfectly acceptable piece of writing, simply on the low end of quality *for Pratchett*.

And I suspect that unless Rhianna Pratchett turns it down, it's going to get nominated for the Hugo for Best Novel 2015, and win in a landslide. Because it's decent and it's the last Terry Pratchett.

But I've had a thought. A fiendish, funny thought that warms my cockles from several directions: Pratchett declined a nomination for Going Postal. No other Discworld book has ever been nominated. This means The Discworld ITSELF, the entire series, ALL 41 BOOKS, is eligible for the Best Novel Hugo, under the same rules that let The Wheel Of Time and Apollo XI and all the old Asimov serials get nominated.

This thought makes me giggle.

(I think The Kansas People should just create a special non-Hugo award and give it, as is their right. Or create a special Hugo category for, say, "Best longstanding British comedy series whose author's name contained several Ts and which is over now" and open that up for nominations, as is also their right. But submitting *41 books* (several of which are among the best SFF ever written) for "Best Novel", legally, is the kind of thing I find so hilarious I'm not sure I can avoid doing it.)
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I continue to tag things as I find them, so I can find them again in January 2016.

Rick And Morty definitely deserves an award. Let's go with Rick And Morty Season 2 as a whole for Long Form, and S2E05 "Get Schwifty" for short form.

(It's like Doctor Who if The Doctor was a sociopathic alcoholic, except competently written and funny.)


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