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Posts Tagged ‘awards’

Awards eligibility post

I don’t have a large amount of stuff to announce for this year in terms of awards-eligible material — no novels this calendar year, and my only short story was “At the Sign of the Crow and Quill” — but I do have something to mention, which I realized while I was at Worldcon.

Most if not all of the time, the individual episodes of a Serial Box season are novelette-length. And at least for the Hugos (because I talked to someone involved with the Hugo rules about this), they are certainly eligible to be nominated in the novelette category, in much the same way that individual episodes of a TV show are eligible to be nominated in Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Which is interesting because while the novella category is booming these days, thanks in large part to, but also more generally to the way that digital publication has made a novella a useful size of thing to publish . . . the novelette category has really been languishing. They’re too long for most magazines to tackle, except maybe at the very short end — 8K or so — but too small to really sell well on their own, even in digital format.

But Serial Box is over there putting out dozens of novelettes every year. Yes, they’re installments in longer stories — but I can vouch for the fact that the Serial Box approach really emphasizes making them act like episodes in a show more than chapters in a book, i.e. each one is designed to have its own distinct shape, rather than just feeling like a slice taken out of the middle of something bigger. So nominating a Serial Box episode makes sense, in a way that nominating a chapter out of a book wouldn’t.

My three episodes for Born to the Blade are “Fault Lines” (1.02), “Spiraling” (1.06), and “Shattered Blades” (1.10). The season is eleven episodes long in total. If you particularly enjoyed one or more of them, or if there are stand-out episodes in some other Serial Box project you’ve read, then consider nominating them in the novelette category. Let’s get some fresh blood in there!

Hugo FAQ

People have been asking various questions about the Memoirs and the Hugo Awards, so here’s a quick set of answers to share around (so I don’t have to type them over and over again — which, I just recalled, is Isabella’s in-story reason for writing her memoirs, so this is rather meta):

1) Is the series complete?

Yes! The book I’m writing right now is a related sequel, but it concerns Isabella’s grand-daughter Audrey; the Memoirs of Lady Trent themselves are finished. There are five books: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, Voyage of the Basilisk, In the Labyrinth of Drakes, and Within the Sanctuary of Wings. There is also a short story, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review.”

2) I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to read everything. Where should I start with the Memoirs?

If you need a quick taster, “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review” is probably the easiest way to get that. It’s somewhat different from the Memoirs, being told in the form of letters rather than, y’know, a memoir — but it will give you a decent sense of Isabella’s personality and some of the series’ core concerns, in only 2100 words, and you can read it for free on or get it in ebook. It takes place between the third and fourth book, but neither contains any significant spoilers nor requires you to have read the series to understand it.

Where the novels themselves are concerned, well, the traditional place to start is at the beginning. 🙂 But the challenge of the Best Series Hugo, of course, is that it isn’t the Best First Book of a Series Hugo. A Natural History of Dragons is a fine introduction, but if you’re pressed for time and want to jump in deeper, I recommend either The Tropic of Serpents or Voyage of the Basilisk. (Labyrinth and Sanctuary are distinctly dependent on the preceding books for their full effect.) I think Voyage does the best job of being both comprehensible on its own and a showcase for many of the series’ aesthetic and thematic concerns, but it also does so in the context of a story that’s a little more decentralized, because (as the title suggests) it’s Isabella’s Darwin-esque trip around the world. If you’d rather a more focused milieu, Tropic is the one to look at.

3) How does one go about voting for the Hugos?

The Hugo Awards are bestowed by the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention, so if you want to vote, become a member! A supporting membership gets you the right to vote on the 2018 award, the right to nominate for the 2019 award, and (in all likelihood) access to the Hugo Voter Packet, which assembles ebook copies of as many of the nominated works as publishers are willing to provide — usually quite a lot of them. An attending membership gets you all that and access to the convention itself, which will be August 16th-20th in San Jose, California.

The Memoirs of Lady Trent are up for a Hugo!

Fortunately the Hugo people are kind; they don’t make you sit for very long on the news that you’ve been nominated. 😀

That’s right, ladies and gentlebeings: the Memoirs of Lady Trent have made the Hugo Award ballot for Best Series! (This was announced on Saturday, but I didn’t post about it here because I was incredibly busy that day, and then Sunday was, y’know, April Fool’s. Not a good day to announce real and major news.) And of course here we say the usual modest things about being so pleased and excited, but —

— look, can you keep a secret? Just between us.

I am beside myself over this. Because while I am proud of all the individual books, it is as a series that I think they truly shine. I did everything I hoped to with them and more — because while I planned a lot of things about the character arc and the exploration of the world and the discoveries Isabella would make along the way, the story also sprouted all kinds of thematic depth, above and beyond what I intended to include. I wound up saying things about women, and science, and women in science, motherhood, social class, romance, grief, being an outsider in a foreign land, the price of technological development, and and and. What I originally thought of as just kind of some fun pulpy adventure about studying dragons instead of killing them and taking their stuff — well, it’s still that, but it grew so much richer along the way.

And now it’s nominated for a Hugo.

I owe thanks to everybody who helped make this series what it is: Paul Stevens, the editor for the first three books, and Miriam Weinberg, the editor for the last two (herself nominated for Best Editor – Long Form!); Rachel Vater, who suggested I make Isabella an artist, and Eddie Schneider, who has championed these books the whole way through, and all my foreign agents who have brought them into French and German and Polish and Russian and Romanian; Todd Lockwood, whose art helped inspire the series and has graced its covers and interior pages throughout; Alyc Helms, who helped bail me out of plot tangles on all five of these books and more besides; and all the women, past, present, and future, whose determination and ingenuity and intelligence inspired the character of Lady Trent. Every year when I invite people to send her letters, I get missives from women working in various scientific fields, telling me about their dreams and their discoveries, and every year I have to sniffle back tears because the ink I use for Lady Trent’s replies isn’t waterproof.

It has been an honor and a privilege. And now, as the saying goes: before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. I’ve been nominated for a Hugo; now it’s time to go back to what I was doing before that happened, which is polishing up the tale of Isabella’s granddaughter and carrying it through to the end.

The “Best Series” Hugo

I’ve recently been reminded that the Hugo Awards are test-driving a new category, this one for “Best Series”:

…a multi-volume science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, which has appeared in at least three volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the calendar year 2016, at least one volume of which was published in 2016.

Because I’d forgotten about this, I didn’t think to mention explicitly in my eligibility post that The Memoirs of Lady Trent qualify: the series is now four books long and roughly 370,000 words, and In the Labyrinth of Drakes came out in 2016.

Although I understand protests about the proliferation of award categories, I have to admit I’m glad to see this one added. A lot of SF/F work is done in series format, and delivering a good series is its own kind of challenge. I can read a bunch of books that aren’t individually the best books of their years, but the work in aggregate winds up being really memorable and satisfying, so I like the notion of having a way to recognize that fact. But I hope the final wording of the category, if it stays in, includes something about how a series that wins becomes ineligible for nomination thereafter; otherwise we may end up with a revolving-door situation where a small number of popular series win over and over again as their new installments come out.

In other exciting news . . . .

Woke up this morning to find out that Sylvie Denis’ translation of A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the Prix Imaginales, an award given out at the Imaginales festival in Épinal, France. I’m rubbing shoulders with Sofia Samatar again; as you may recall, her novel A Stranger in Olondria won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the year ANHoD was nominated, and now Une histoire naturelle des dragons is up against Un étranger en Olondre. Congratulations also to Cat Valente, whose first Fairyland book is listed in the Youth category!

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this here or not, but: I’ll be at Imaginales this year, over what would be Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. and is just the last weekend in May for everybody else. Furthermore, since I’ll be going to all the trouble of crossing the continental U.S. and then the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll also be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in London on June 2nd. In between those two things, it looks like I’ll have a couple of days to kill in Basel/Basle/Bâle, so if you know of interesting things to do there, do pass them along! It’ll be my very first time in Switzerland.

Puppy Post-Mortem

So the Hugo Awards have been handed out, and the result is: fandom as a whole said in almost every instance that it would rather see No Award than a Puppy candidate win. I’ve heard the factoid bandied about that No Award has been given five times in the previous history of the Hugos; this Worldcon added five more to that total, in Novella, Short Story, Related Work, and both Editor categories, all of which contained no candidates not from one or both slates.

I’m okay with this, and in fact I’m one of the people who voted No Award with a liberal hand. I did this primarily as a way of registering my opposition to slate tactics (regardless of who uses them); in most cases, though, it was also an accurate reflection of my feelings on the nominees. In the work categories (as opposed to the personal categories) in particular, the items on offer were just . . . not that good. The best of them was moderately entertaining, but not, in my opinion, Hugo-worthy. Did the fact that they came from slates incline me to look more critically than I might have otherwise? Perhaps. But I’ll note that I also voted No Award in a category that wasn’t all Puppies, because I honestly didn’t think there was anything on the ballot, Puppy or otherwise, that really deserved the rocket.

Of course some of the Puppies are declaring victory, because they set this up as a situation where any outcome could be spun as a win. Their candidates win? Victory! Proof that there’s a cabal that has been unfairly locking Their People out, and the voters really just want good old fashioned fun! Their candidates don’t win? Victory! Proof that there’s a cabal which is unfairly locking Their People out, just like the Puppies have claimed!

Quite apart from the risibility of the entire “cabal” notion in the first place, I think there are two key items which undercut that narrative. The first is the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, which (if you look at the raw numbers) almost certainly would have gotten on the ballot anyway without Puppy support, and which held a commanding lead over all of its competitors through all passes of voting. In other words: people are happy to vote for good old fashioned fun, when they think it’s good. The second is the success of The Three-Body Problem, which several Puppy standard-bearers said they would totally have put on the slate if they’d thought of it in time. Again: evidence that people are not a priori conspiring against the kind of books Puppies like, just because of politics. Good books will win out, where “good” is defined as “sufficiently pleasing to a sufficiently large percentage of Hugo voters, according to whatever complicated set of criteria each voter uses to judge whether they are pleased.”

I want to make special note of three people: Larry Correia, Marko Kloos, and Matthew David Surridge. All of them were on the slates; all of them withdrew from the ballot early enough that the next item up could be added in their place. Correia’s withdrawal added The Goblin Emperor, which ran a close second to The Three-Body Problem in the voting stages. Kloos’ withdrawal added The Three-Body Problem itself — the book that ultimately won. The same goes for Matthew David Surridge and Best Fan Writer, putting Mixon (the eventual victor) on the ballot. I think it says quite a bit about the effect of the slates on nominations that the works they initially crowded out did so well when it came time to actually vote, and I want to thank all three of those men for withdrawing.

Going forward? Well, I haven’t heard yet whether the “E Pluribus Hugo” proposal fared well during the business meeting; I hope it did. I have heard rumors that next year’s Official Puppy Organizer intends to approach it more as a recommended reading list than a slate; I hope that pans out as described. In the meanwhile, I’m trying to keep track of things (and read more widely) for nominations next time around. I will be paying particular attention to those individuals from the slates whose work struck me as worthy in its own right, and nominating them for 2016 if they keep it up. It’s my way of compensating for all my No Award rankings this year: a small thing, maybe, but better than nothing.

Hugo Reading Report

I’ve accepted that I will probably not make it through all the Hugo reading before it’s time to vote. Uff da — what would I do in a normal year, when there aren’t chunks of the ballot that I’ve ruled out entirely? I have no idea. As it stands, I already kind of resent the amount of time I’ve spent reading things that aren’t what I would have chosen if left to my own devices. Possibly this means I am just not good Hugo voter material.

But anyway! I figure that before I make my (extremely belated) post about what I read in June, I should make a post about what I’ve read out of the Hugo packet. Not so much because I’m campaigning for people to vote in a particular way — rather, I want to work through my reactions to things, and my first attempt at thinking through “do I consider this to be Hugo-worthy material?”

If you need to refresh your memory on my personal Hugo reading rules, do so now. I did indeed end up reading some of the Puppy candidates, though I did not finish them all. I’m skipping over the Dramatic Presentations and the artists in this post.


My Hugo Reading Rules (and a good proposal)

Now that I’m back from tour, I’m downloading the Hugo Voters Packet and embarking upon a read of its contents.

. . . some of them, anyway. I’ve laid down a set of rules to guide me in deciding where to spend my time and energy. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m listing them here — but please do not take this as anything other than my rules for the process. Nobody is obligated to copy my example. In fact, the only universal rule for Hugo-Packet Reading I would support is one that says, read it any damn way you want. I spent a while this weekend reassuring somebody who had been told repeatedly that she absolutely had to read everything in the packet, no matter what, which simply is. not. true. As you will see from my own rules:

  1. I will at least look at everything that was not on a slate. (Time permitting.)
  2. I will not look at anything published by Castalia House. I am not obligated to give Theodore Beale and his cronies any real estate in my brain.
  3. Ditto the piece from Patriarchy Press. The name, coupled with everything I’ve heard about the work in question, tells me enough to make that decision right now.
  4. Other slate-based nominees may get a look from me, depending on how much time I have to spare.
  5. If any nominated work, from a slate or not, doesn’t hook me, then I’m not obligated to finish it. If I have to use the leverage of “but it was nominated for a Hugo!” to motivate myself to read the whole thing, then clearly I don’t like it enough to rank it very highly anyway.

Since I’ve said it in a few places, I should add: my own way of handling the problem of slate-based nominees who might have gotten there under their own steam is to keep an eye on them for next year. My supporting membership gives me the right to nominate for 2016; if I like a slate candidate’s work here, I’ll give them high consideration for a nomination next time around. It’s the best balance I can personally find between not rewarding slate tactics, and not punishing those who didn’t sign on for this train wreck.

And where countering slate tactics is concerned: there is quite a good proposal here for altering the Hugo nomination process in a way that will counteract that problem, without too much in the way of negative consequences. Scroll down for the plain-language version and the FAQ — that’s the post where they’re trying to work out the official language — but the short form is, it’s a way to make nominations work kind of like voting does right now. Nominate as many works as you like; as the lowest-ranking candidates are eliminated, their support gets reallocated to other works on the nominator’s ballot. It minimizes the power of bloc voting, without punishing works or individuals who also have strong support outside of the bloc, and it does all of this without disenfranchising anybody — which is the major flaw of many proposals, e.g. the ones that say you should have to buy a full attending membership to nominate or vote. I haven’t followed the entire technical discussion of voting systems that led to them choosing this one, because that discussion is enormous and full of math I can’t follow . . . but it looks good to me. I hope it can get enough support to pass.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I have some stuff to read.

David Gemmell Legend Award

It’s come to my attention that A Natural History of Dragons is on the longlist for the David Gemmell Legend Award. Now, that is a very long longlist; there are forty-three other books on it. But still! Yay!

The Legend Award is bestowed by popular vote, so you can head on over there and register your opinion right now, if you so choose. Voting remains open until May 15th, and then once the shortlist is generated, there will be a second round. While you are there, you can also vote for the Morningstar Award (fantasy debut) and the Ravenheart Award (fantasy cover art — no, Todd Lockwood was not nominated, alas).