April 28th, 2016

buzz

The 2016 Hugo ballot (and the Clarke shortlist)

I'm late to the party; I was concentrating on other things Tuesday when the Hugo ballot was announced, and on the road yesterday (and have now woken early in nice hotel room). So for instant reactions, you can check out The Guardian reports; Gizmodo; John Scalzi in the LA Times; Scalzi on his own blog, and again; Jim Hines; Abigail Nussbaum; Aaron Pound; George R.R. Martin; Spacefaringkitten; Ampersand on Alas, a blog; and many more especially on File 770.

Tom Mays has already withdrawn his story, "The Commuter" from consideration. "I cannot take advantage of a flaw in the current nomination process... This is a rejection of a gamed system, as well as a stand for returning the Hugos to what they’re supposed to be rather than what some have tried to make them."

It is about as bad as last year. In 2015, the racist misogynist behind this got 61 of his nominees onto the ballot; this year it is 63, counting Tom Mays' story. It seemed worse (and it was worse) last year because his allied slate also got a few of their choices on.  I am aware also that several of the slate's nominees are very unhappy that they are associated with it. I have not been looking systematically, but I will note here Lois McMaster Bujold ('"Penric's Demon" was conscripted onto the "Rabid Puppies" slate without my notification or permission, and my request that it be removed was refused'), Alastair Reynolds ('I do not want their endorsement; I do not want even the suggestion of their endorsement'), and down the ballot somewhat, the Tales to Terrify podcast.

Ths happens, of course, because most fans nominate honestly, and the slate voters have nominated dishonestly. Many of us put a lot of thought into discussing and debating various potential nominees, and the result was that there was a very broad spectrum of nominations. I feel particularly sorry for Greg Hullender at Rocket Stack Rank, Renay with her Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom, and Ladybusiness and the Hugonoms Wikia, all of whom elevated the level of the debate to a realy good conversation about literature that we love. Unfortunately all of this effort was overwhelmed by a single campaign voting in lockstep for works they had not read and people they had not heard of.

On the other hand, the one important difference this year is that the slate actually nominated some good stuff which would probably have got there anyway. In fact, some of their recommendations coinided with my own nominations.

2016 Hugo Finalists that I nominated:
Best Novel: Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
Best Novella: Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold (also on slate)
Best Graphic Story: The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman (also on slate)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Force Awakens (also on slate), The Martian
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Best Editor, Short Form: Neil Clarke, Sheila Williams (both on slate)
Best Semiprozine: Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons (both on slate)
Best Fanzine: Black Gate, File 770 (both on slate)
John W. Campbell Award: Andy Weir (on slate)

All of this means that the strong anti-slate approach that I took last year is not appropriate this time round; many of the slate nominees are not themselves part of the project, but are being used by it to make its organiser look more powerful than he is. My approach this year will be a general lack of curiosity about finalists which were on the slate unless I pick up buzz about them from elsewhere, in which case I will read them and make my own judgement. That qualification, as of now, applies to anything I nominated myself or had already read, Seveneves, "Slow Bullets" and some of the Dramatic Presentation finalists. On the other hand, I will probably vote "No Award" for Best Related Work because four of the finalists are explicitly part of the slate-monger's agenda and the fifth is published by him; the entire category has pushed off at least five better works which should have been honoured. Similary the finalists for Best Professional Artist, all on the slate and none of whom I had ever heard of, will need to be very good indeed to convince me not to No Award them as well.

One final point: I've seen some calls for a future Hugo administrator to simply disqualify slate votes or unsuitable candidate. I am next year's Hugo administrator, and I will not do that. The rules are the rules.

It's not all doom and gloom. I was really happy with the 1941 Retro Hugo ballot. It is a nice mixture of the traditional with the mildly unexpected. My nominees that made it to the ballot were:

Best Novel: Kallocain, Karin Boye; The Ill–Made Knight, T.H. White
Best Novella: ‘‘If This Goes On…’’, Robert A. Heinlein
Best Novelette: ‘‘Farewell to the Master’’, Harry Bates l; ‘‘It!’’, Theodore Sturgeon
Best Short Story: ‘‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’’, Jorge Luis Borges; ‘‘The Stellar Legion’’, Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories Winter 1940)
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short: Pinocchio
Best Dramatic Presentation – Long: Fantasia; The Thief of Bagdad
Best Professional Editor Short Form: Raymond A. Palmer; Frederik Pohl; Mort Weisinger
Best Professional Artist: Margaret Brundage; Virgil Finlay; Hubert Rogers

And I am looking forward to re-reading the fiction, and watching the dramatic finalists. It is a bit puzzling, though, that H.P. Lovecraft, who died in 1937, has been noominated for Best Fan Writer of 1940.

And finally, the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist was published yesterday:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
Europe at Midnight, Dave Hutchinson
The Book of Phoenix, Nnedi Okorafor
Arcadia, Iain Pears
Way Down Dark, J.P. Smythe
Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky

I have read and really liked the first two of these, and I look forward to working through the rest even though I am not involved with the process this year.
shakespeare

30 days of Shakespeare: Day 10 - Your favourite history

Just for reference, the histories are generally considered to include:

King John
Edward III
(if counted as Shakespeare)
Richard II
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, Part 1
Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 3
Richard III
Henry VIII


As previously reported, my favourite of these is Richard III. Apart from the excellent character of Richard himself, I think Margaret of Anjou is an interesting character, and it's the first history play in which we hear much from women at all. There are several remarkable scenes. The killings in the Tower, of Clarence and the Princes, stand out as points of no return in Richard's rise and fall respectively. (I note for future use that this play was probably first performed in 1592, the year my ancestor Sir Nicholas Whyte also snuffed it in the tower, though as far as we know he died of relatively natural causes.) The Bosworth field hauntings and subsequent battle are a great climax to the play.

The most intriguing scene for me, however, was Act 4 Scene 4, which starts with Queen Margaret getting a decent soliloquy ("So, now prosperity begins to mellow, / And drop into the rotten mouth of death"); she then confronts Queen Elizabeth (Edward IV's widow) and the Duchess of York (Edward IV and Richard III's mother); she buggers off to France, but the other two women get a chance to confront Richard; his mother leaves, and he astonishingly persuades Queen Elizabeth to let him marry her daughter (his own niece, after having murdered her father and his own first wife); and then a series of nobles and messengers come with confusing news of Richmond's arrival and rebellions around the land. I'd find this scene particularly difficult to stage and would be tempted to split it up a bit if I were directing. It does, however, show Richard still capable of his old persuasive powers yet vulnerable to meltdown. It's really compelling.

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