09 August 2009
Hooray for Hugos!
I'll admit it: I have a sentimental love of the Hugo Awards. The Hugo Winners anthologies edited by Isaac Asimov were essential to forming my early view of what science fiction is and can be (Asimov's introductions to the stories were as important as the stories themselves, painting a portrait of a community of readers and writers that I deeply wished I could join). The Hugo Winners volumes 1-5 sit proudly on my living room bookshelves -- below shelves of Chekhov and Kafka, above a shelf of Virgina Woolf and a shelf of Shakespeare.
I didn't have a problem with Adam Roberts's recent call for the Hugos to get "better", because in amidst the shouts of "elitist!" and "nuh uh!" it led to some good conversation. Criticism of the Hugos is an important tradition. Soon after I discovered the Hugo Winners anthologies in a library, I discovered in a used bookstore two anthologies edited by Richard Lupoff: What If? volumes one and two. Subtitled "Stories That Should Have Won the Hugo", the books offered their own, highly opinionated, introductions to each of the Hugo years (up through 1965, which is, alas, as far as Lupoff got). I had so internalized Asimov's presentation of the Hugo Awards that reading Lupoff's books felt more scandalous than reading porn. Lupoff taught me not to trust the Hugos as a brilliant arbiter of quality, but Asimov's fondness for them never left me -- Kelly Link let me hold hers once, and it was probably as close to a religious experience as I will ever come.
Anyway, all of this blather is prelude to my offering congratulations to this year's Hugo winners. Congratulations!
Three first-time winners, though, I want to highlight here for purely personal reasons. I'll do it alphabetically.
John Klima won a Hugo for Electric Velocipede. I'm wary of saying anything, because a few days ago I actually submitted a story to him, so I'm afraid he's going to think I'm sucking up to him now that he's Hugo-ified, but my cover letter was so sycophantic that I couldn't possibly top that. (Except to say that I think the Hugos should be renamed the Klimas. I'm going to make a motion for that for the next Worldcon.) I first encountered EV five years ago when I reviewed it for SF Site, and I am thrilled that the zine is still being published and that its quality has remained high, with only one notable lapse of taste.
Cheryl Morgan is simply one of my favorite people, and that she has now won a Best Fan Writer Hugo is -- well, the only word I can think of is perfect. When I think of smart, compassionate, and good-humored fandom, I think of Cheryl. This is not her first Hugo (she won before for Emerald City), but it is the Hugo she was, in my utterly biased and joyful opinion, born to win.
Finally, Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal for Weird Tales. Of course, I'm biased because Ann has been a great friend of mine for years, and she even had the bad sense to publish my little story "How to Play with Dolls" recently, but I think the work she and Stephen have done on WT is astounding, fantastic, and amazing. It's become a magazine that is consistently surprising and engaging, but it has not lost a sense of its important history and identity. I feel like Ann and Stephen are only beginning to show us what they can really do with it, and each issue seems to surpass the high standards set by the previous one. It's a magazine that feels coherent and vital, and that's a hard thing to accomplish.
Oh, and I suppose I should add: In honor of John Scalzi's win, I will not use the word "alright" for at least one day...