Hugo 2018 Finalist Some Initial Thoughts

Best Novel:

The finalists are an interesting generational cross-section in terms of career stage (I don’t know their actual ages). I’m most looking forward to Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes, which I had intended to get to before the ballot closed but didn’t. 3 books read already and 3 to read.


Novellas have been on the rise over the past few years, led by It looks like the most interesting category this year. Most looking forward to The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang which is another meant-to-read-but-didn’t.


I didn’t nominate any of these! Lots of reading to do here. Most looking forward to “Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard .

Short Story:

Another set of names to conjour with! Those I haven’t read, I’ve heard of except “Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim – so that’s one to look forward to.

Best Related Work:

Banks v Le Guin? Zoiks! Add to that Zoe Quinn’s takedown of Gamergate, plus books on Octavia Butler and Harlan Ellison. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read by Liz Bourke but it’s a tough category this year.

Graphic Story:

Not much to say here – My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris had some buzz around it just before nominations and I haven’t read it yet.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

That looks like a really, really good movie marathon!

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Yay! Good Place! Not-so-yay, Star Trek Discovery: Episode I Didn’t Like Much. Black Mirror is a very strong contender but I’m looking forward to Clipping again.

Editor of Any Length

I struggle to engage with these categories.


Can anybody beat Uncanny? Maybe! A strong field and each of the other nominees have their own distinct thing that sets them apart from Uncanny.


Rather like Semiprozine, the nominees make the field look healthy and vibrant. Exciting mix of old and new. File770 obviously but Galactic Journey and SF Bluestocking have had good years. RSR has been doing its thing (congrats Greg and Eric), but looking forward to seeing more of nerds of a feather, flock together as I haven’t really engaged with it before.


I’m not a big consumer of fancasts and I’m not sure what is hot or not right now 🙂


They’ll let anybody in these days, including talking-cat owning delusional fraudsters. Aside from him, that’s a bunch of heavy hitters. Mike, Foz Meadows and Sarah Gailey are the three I’ve read most of, I followed Bogi Takács on Twitter in 2017 and they are well woth reading. I know of Charles Payseur’s Quick Sip Reviews but I haven’t read much of his work yet.

Artists (Fan + Pro)

Not much to say yet on these.


Easier to nominate than to vote for! Great to see Divine Cities in there. I’ve at least engaged with World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Lots of other meaty stuff there. I’m not familiar with The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan – so that will be interesting to look at if time permits.


Not much to say on the YA or Campbell other than a big hoorah for Summer in Orcus, which was an event for 2017 – and also yet another refutation that only trad-published things are valued by Hugo voters.


66 responses to “Hugo 2018 Finalist Some Initial Thoughts”

  1. “nerds of a feather” is a really good site — I check it out quite often. A bundle of good writers, my favorite being Joe Sherry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I nominated two episodes of “Rick and Morty” for short dramatic, and am a little disappointed that that series struck out this year – I’ll have to check the nomination stats in a few months.


    • Yup. I nominated an ep of “Rick and Morty” (as well as Twin Peaks: The Return: Ep 8,” which I thought should have gotten consideration. The Dr. Who/Black Mirror dual-fecta and the glut of deserving TV makes this one of the toughest categories to crack. That said, I’m very excited The Good Place got nominated, because it’s darn near impossible for comedies to get in in this category.


  3. Best Series has three things I’ve been meaning to get to: Lady Trent, Divine Cities, and InCryptid. The problem will be getting a reasonable taste of all of them before the voting deadline.


    • Lady Trent is a lot of fun, surprisingly touching at times, AND has things to say about colonialism and the “plight” of women in various societies. Well worth a read.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, and I should say — the Divine Cities books are terrific as well. I have a personal prejudice against counting a trilogy as a series — to me, a “series” is four or more books — but that’s just a quirk of mine.


    • I would say that for Lady Trent and (especially) Divine Cities the first book gives you a good idea of the whole. Lady Trent has really good character development through the later books, and Divine Cities builds the world up really interestingly, but their quality is clear from the start, and equally if you don’t like their concepts then reading further won’t change that. (I’d suggest reading the lot anyway, but if you need to triage…)
      I read the first Incryptid a while ago and came away thinking it was fun but didn’t immediately rush to try any more.

      Personally I’m looking forward to trying Raksura as a finished series. However, I’m not vastly impressed by the Sanderson series getting a nom after 3 books of a projected 10. In my (entirely personal) view that’s the sort of situation where you can’t judge a series yet. You could probably make the same argument about the LMB series as Penric is unfinished, but at least there’s the original three books providing a coherent whole to be judged.

      Liked by 2 people

      • World of the Five Gods includes the preceding novels as well as the Penric vellas.

        I was really surprised that the Raksura books made the shortlist. Not displeased — I enjoyed the books — but I had no idea they were that popular. Good for Wells. 🙂

        As for the Sanderson being unfinished — the way I figure it, you vote for the series as it exists in the year it’s nominated. I don’t worry about whether it’s projected to have more installments later. RIGHT NOW, do the extant books make a more impressive series than the other nominees? That’s how I judge it.


        • @Contrarius

          Ooops, “original three books” meant the 3 novels, but I see that what I wrote sounded more like I meant the Penric stories.

          “do the extant books make a more impressive series than the other nominees?” – I think you’re absolutely right here. My issue is that with an substantially unfinished series that answer should always be No, as the story isn’t finished. (I imagine there will be exceptions, e.g. series of fairly standalone stories)
          My other qualm is that if an unfinished series gets a nod while the going is good, and then the Brain Eater strikes or whatever, then it’s got that award even if the series is now terrible. (And the marketing flash on the cover won’t say “Hugo Award for Best Series for books 1-3 only”)
          This is a personal opinion that’s not in the rules, and I don’t see how to write a coherent rule that would match it anyway, but I’m generally hoping we see a bias towards completed series in the category.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, we’re all gonna have personal biases. Mine is the trilogy-isn’t-really-a-series thing. Unfinished series don’t bother me, but I can see the problem you described.


          • I’ve *heard* it is, but I haven’t read any of them yet. I feel basically the same as you about Sanderson — a competent writer, always has an interesting magic system, but not really my thing.

            Liked by 1 person

      • I’d agree that series which can be completed are best nominated when they are completed (though this creates a rather weird lottery effect, since it will hurt a series if something else that’s outstanding is completed in the same year). Obviously this won’t work for open-ended series, and I’d count Five Gods as one of them – it’s true that LMMB was originally planning it as one book per god, but they didn’t actually form a sequence, and Penric subverts that plan anyway.


      • I’m dubious about InCryptid as being Hugo-worthy. Like Mark-kitteh said, lots of fun but is it gob-smacking? And the Sanderson’s only 30% into its journey, which is even less than the 33% when the first book of a trilogy is done. Plus, he’s never struck me as a gob-smacking author either. Good, but no wow factor.

        Five Gods is 3 novels and 4-5 novellas in, that’s quite a good chunk of plotty things (for lack of a real word) happening, plenty of world-building, also character development in the current lot for Learned Penric. No matter how long it is or isn’t eventually. And I do like that they have no cliffhangers even with a continuing story.

        I haven’t read the Raksura books, but I do like everything I’ve read by Wells. None of the Cities either but I’ll give the first one a go, I hear great things.

        Lady Trent is finished (so, last chance, sob…), is 5 books (not trilogy or open-ended). Each book builds on the next and gets better and more complex/deeper. They’re funny, cracking good pace, full of love, hate, sadness, joy, swashbuckling world-traveling Victorian-esque paleontology/biology, vivid descriptions of many lands, a touch of comparative feminism and colonialism in past societies, great characterization, lovely writing, and… gosh, the climax of the final book still makes me verklempt to think about. So, so good. My gob was smacked. And the books can’t ever suffer from the Brain-Eater since they’re done.
        Can me, Mark, and Contrarius all be wrong? (don’t answer that)

        @Mark-k: regarding the Brain Eater, remember that the only time Best Series was given out (as a special Hugo), it went to the Foundation Trilogy. Which… um. Yeah. Continued too far much later on. Not so much a series as a franchise.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats to Mike and Greg & Eric and Wombat (twice)!!! And the other guy.

    I read “Six Wakes” twice in about 3 months. Because it didn’t stick in my head the first time. So I’m afraid that’s not going to get a big vote from me. The competition is tough and contains many books I nominated or almost did.

    Absolutely nothing in BDP Short was watched by me (except Dr. Who), much less nominated. I would have had to hurt someone if “Monstress” hadn’t made Graphic, so that was good. Surprised at no Ms. Marvel.

    Completely delighted at Lady Trent (Read them all!) and Summer in Orcus.

    Related Work is going to be very tough to decide. Ditto Novella and Novelette.

    I didn’t make it to the announcement as we sleep in disgustingly late here on weekends. However, the bar it was presented from is a place I go to semi-regularly. It is decorated entirely in SF movie/TV stuff, and the televisions run absolutely no sports — last time I was there they were showing the most recent NuTrek and Rogue One. Their food is very good pub grub, and the mixed drinks are sublime. The only bar that has a booth at Comic Con here.

    We watched the video announcement and the reaction from the audience was amusing. When the announcement said “The John W. Campbell Award” and then there was a pause wherein a man in the bar obligatorially interjected “Not a Hugo.” Much cheering for local faves McGuire, Schoenhuth, Brennan, Picacio, Journey Planet, Sword and Laser, also for Mike/770. Also Wonder Woman, Zoe Quinn, and the Dread Scalzi. Dead silence for the Ellison bio and Sanderson. Like, negative noise.

    The Retro Hugos are a solid bunch, aren’t they? The only award ever where you’ll see “Bambi” and “Cat People” together. Will Heinlein cancel himself out?

    Husband’s comment : “No Puppies”. Indeed! None of their ilk, plus Scalzi, Mike, and Cam all nominated. And self-pub represent, along with strong showings for Heinlein, Asimov, and even Doc Smith — the Nuttiest of Nuggets.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m in the middle of Tropic of Serpents right now — not at all surprised that the Brennan made it. But yeesh, long books ahead to get through the Sanderson — I haven’t read any! I don’t have anything against Sanderson, but that’s gonna be a time hog for sure.

      I’m mourning the absence of The Bear and the Nightingale and the Fitz and the Fool series — but ya can’t have everything!

      Liked by 3 people

        • Especially in the year of the last book! Sniff.

          I noticed the Novel shortlist was very sf this year — maybe it’s an sf-heavy year in general, I haven’t checked category by category.

          Liked by 2 people

      • @cam
        I nominated Hobb both as best novel as well as best series. Alas. Scalzi’s nomination doesn’t surprise me, but I confess that a coin toss (really) banished him from my list.


      • @Contrarius: In contrast to the Novel short list being SF-heavy, the Series short list tilts the other way.


        • Speaking of which, I was surprised that the Foreigner books didn’t make the list. Or Expanse — did they decide it wasn’t eligible this year?

          And somehow, I think of Sanderson as being sf although he really truly isn’t. Something about how mechanistic his magic systems are, I guess.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I also thought Foreigner might be on the cards, though what I’d really like is another Alliance-Union novel so I can nominate that universe. (Which is totally hypocritical of me given my kvetching about how many books we have in Series)

            None of last year’s finalists appeared again, did they? It might be coincidence, or maybe the admins applied the two more books rule…I guess we’ll find out later.

            Liked by 2 people

      • Something about how mechanistic his magic systems are, I guess.

        Any sufficiently regimented magic is indistinguishable from technology.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Well, I started placing holds on things at the library, and I happened to have just checked out My Favorite Thing is Monsters.

    The Stormlight Archive, though… 😦 That’s one thing I wish there was a Cliff’s Note for.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have to admit, we were both taken by surprise when the Hugo folks notified us. After the events of last year, we figured there was no way. The only clue we had that things might be otherwise was that traffic to the site increased about 20% after the hullabaloo vs. before it.

        Whatever else, it tells us that our readers forgave us, and that’s all that really matters.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. IIRC you were just below the threshold, Cam, so it might be, that the Foz Meadows Husband–Thing just pushed you over the edge. I guess that makes you a puppy–nominee ;–)
    In all earnest: Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

    • All I can say is that if the WSFS Business Meeting never has to deal with anything of the complexity and controversity of EPH ever again, it will still be too soon. Sasquan and MAC II are still a bit of a blur for me because of those mammoth sessions. Thank all the gods that’s over with. 😀

      Liked by 4 people

      • Yeah, but then there’s the sunset clauses on EPH to deal with, ditto series and YA, and the YA name, and probably reform of Editor, and maybe whatever else Kevin Standlee has saved up, and and and *head exploding sounds*

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      • @Mark Hepworth: “…sunset…” – Gaaaaah. Keep all three of them. 2 years of series = a tradition at this point, right? I mean, I’d be happy to drop series, and okay with dropping YA, but I believe both are here to stay. EPH should stay!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m a bit meh on series but not everyone has to like a category just a strong minority, so really it should stay. What I’d really like is a different format for it with less works or longer to read the darn things, but I think the time for change like that was *before* it was introduced though.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yup – I can see many post-Pup groupings and commonalities and networks in Hugo-active fandom. I doubt any are anything like a lockstep set of votes but overtime people might begin to perceive them that way and EPH ensures that no one group can inadvertently (i.e. without slating) dominate. That in intself should help avoid factionalism and resentment (not guaranteed, people are people and fandom will feud).

          Liked by 1 person

          • camestrosfelapton: EPH ensures that no one group can inadvertently (i.e. without slating) dominate. That in intself should help avoid factionalism and resentment (not guaranteed, people are people and fandom will feud).

            This is the other reason that EPH should be enshrined in Hugo nominating methodology. Some of this year’s Finalists are very obviously the product of an in-group getting together and nominating something they love (as opposed to a wider convergence among fandom). I’ve got no problem with such a group being able to get one Finalist — if they have sufficient numbers, their preference should be represented. However, I would very much have a problem if they got to fill whole categories with only their in-group choices.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Kendall: EPH should stay!

          Yep, I don’t for a moment believe that if EPH were rescinded, the Puppy-types wouldn’t be right back at trying to cheat garbage onto the ballot again. They’ve made it clear that they’re going to continue gaming the Dragon Awards as long as they’re permitted to do so.

          And I’ve seen a whole lot of people this year express the same thing I’m feeling: “Oh, thank the gods! I may not like everything on the ballot, but at least we’ve finally got a ballot that doesn’t involve wading through a bunch of crap!” I really, really don’t want to have to go back to doing that.

          Liked by 2 people

      • It’s possible when it’s time to vote on the sunset, people at the Biz Meeting that year will go, “You know, this is just too impractical; let’s kill it.” 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Believe me, JJ, all of us Business Meeting regulars found those meetings absurdly overlong and almost past our endurance. Nobody wants to see more of those.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve got no problem with such a group being able to get one Finalist — if they have sufficient numbers, their preference should be represented. However, I would very much have a problem if they got to fill whole categories with only their in-group choices.

        There’s a worry that, while EPH makes it harder for in-groups to dominate, it makes it easier for them to get on the ballot – they can do so even if they have fewer votes than some of the works which command convergence. If there’s just one in-group per category, that’s a price we can pay – and indeed we have 5/6 neatly counteracting its effect. If there are a lot more, it may be more of a problem. it would not be good to move towards a situation where each finalist represents a different faction.


  7. Something that just occurred to me – novel and series are *very* American – a clean sweep I think. I’m not sure this indicates anything in particular, as the shorter categories are better in that regard, as is YA, but it’s interesting. Probably just a mix of chance and being a US WorldCon year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. for what it’s worth (i.e., very little), I’m glad to see Martha Wells get a nom. As far as I’m concerned she’s a criminally undervalued writer. I’m not sure what it says about me that I seem to favor authors whose careers seem to tank, at least for a while. At least she and Walter Jon Williams have managed to effectively resurrect themselves. Now if Harry Connolly and Emma Bull can do so as well, I can be happy.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Late to the party, but sincere congratulations on your nomination! Voting will be tough this year, as there’s so much good work packed into the ballot.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have to actually read everything this year — yay! So much better than the years when I knew big percentages of the stuff wasn’t worth slogging through.

    So many of the categories are going to be tough. I may have to employ a coin toss, esp. down in the 4th-5th place.

    I’m glad more people will be exposed to the delights of Lady Trent. Like someone said in JJ’s 770 nominee post, there’s a short story in the series available online. Doesn’t contain the world travel and swashbuckling of the novels, but otherwise very much of the feel.

    Since Clipping only has one song this year, it’ll be easier for people to sample them. I’ll certainly listen.
    I’ve only read one of the Graphic works so that’ll be fun.
    As for Sanderson… sigh… sorry dude. LIfe’s too short.

    I think I’ve read more of the Retro Hugos than this year’s, which makes sense as they’ve been around for decades. I’m going to have to dig out old SFBC anthologies to refresh my memory of some of them. Like, which of the bits of Foundation was which story. That’ll be fun.


  11. Must admit I didn’t nominate much in that either. Just no time.

    The problem with being active in fandom since a young age plus the tendency for SF folk to carry on forever is that one ends up with years where both the Hugos and the Retro Hugos contain “someone I have been in a bar next to”.
    (I spent much quality booze time with Bob Tucker. smooooooth!)

    Liked by 1 person

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