10 April 2004

Hugo Nominations

The Hugo Award Nominations have been released. The only category in which I would have trouble making a choice is for Best Novelette, while most of the other categories seem to be incredibly dull representations of a year that was not in fact dull. Each category has at least one good nomination (well, Best Short Story is weak, and some of the writers there published better work in 2003 that wasn't nominated), but it looks like the nominations were mostly made by readers of Asimov's and Analog. Note to such readers: If that's all you read, you're missing a lot of good stuff. Fantasy & Science Fiction is, for my money, a better overall magazine, but most of the real writing, the best writing, is happening in original anthologies, online magazines, and small-press zines -- none of the best of which had a story nominated in any of the three categories.

The Best Editor award deserves to go to either Ellen Datlow (Nick Mamatas offers excellent reasons) or Gordon Van Gelder, simply because F&SF was consistently more interesting in 2003 than Asimov's or Analog, which got the majority of the short fiction nominations. Overall, though, it's a tepid, cautious, and unrepresentative list.

As for the Campbell award, I'm only familiar enough with the work of Tim Pratt and Jay Lake to be able to offer judgment, and the judgment is a simple one: both deserve it. It is a remarkable time for the SF world right now, with so many young writers doing innovative and interesting work, that choosing only one for an honor is beyond my capabilities. Just take a look at who's eligible for the award -- there are at least five writers listed who do consistently more interesting work than most of the people nominated for Hugos for fiction.

Awards are strange things -- it's always nice to win them, of course, because it means somebody out there likes you, but few awards consistently go to work of the highest quality, and most awards are so plagued by idiosyncracies and myopia that they do little more than reinforce the sacred prejudices of the nominating group.

On the other hand, awards can also be great fun, and though they often go to mediocre or cautious work, they seldom go to truly bad work. Though I don't take them very seriously, I still enjoy seeing who prevails. I expect I'll be at WorldCon this year, since it's nearby, and will be as excited as everybody else when the winners receive their trophies.

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