Back to the Hugos! 2006.

It’s Hugo NIGHT! No Award will win! SJW works that aren’t that revolutionary will win! Puppet-slated works that were actually popular between both factions will win! And people won’t talk about it in any honest way until the historical narrative shows up far down the road! If they talk about these books at all! Because old is bad and these nominees will soon be old!

But the historical narrative of the 2016 Hugos isn’t here yet. So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 2006

2006. Well, you know what happened. It was practically yesterday. But before this election. And Brexit. And the selfie-stick. So it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Meanwhile, at another L.A. Con (IV), Connie Willis hosted the Hugo Awards, just like she did in ’96.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 10.14.09 PM

The Winner: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson, followed by LEARNING THE WORLD by Ken MacLeod, A FEAST FOR CROWS by George R. R. Martin, OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, and ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross.

Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 1996

It’s Hugo Week! Why am I so tired?

Anyway, you know what that means…

it’s time to go…

mrmrmrm…

Back to the Hugos.

Hugo Year: 1996.

Kofi Annan led the UN, Chuck and Di got divorced, and Jeeves joined the Internet with a capital ‘I’. Bombings, shootings, explosions, and viral outbreaks happened worldwide. Also, thirty black churches were burned to the ground in Mississippi. But gas was only a dollar!

Meanwhile, L.A. Con III was hosted in Anaheim, CA by Connie Willis.

The list:

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The Winner: THE DIAMOND AGE by Neal Stephenson, followed by THE TIME SHIPS by Stephen Baxter, BRIGHTNESS REEF by David Brin, THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT by Robert J. Sawyer, REMAKE by Connie Willis

Continue reading

Let’s Go Back to the Hugos! 1946 (Retro edition)

It’s Retro Hugo Day! And fans are Slans! Or something vile like that. But let’s not be Slans; instead, let’s go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1946 via 1996

1946: The Iron Curtain comes down, bikinis hit the French Riviera, and the US gets Tupperware.

In 1996 Hugo voters decide to play their own version of revisionist history (so don’t hate on me!) by voting on a 1946 Retro ballot.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 11.14.45 AM

The Winner: “The Mule” from FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE by Isaac Asimov, followed by THE WORLD OF NULL-A by A.E. van Vogt, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by C.S. Lewis, DESTINY TIMES THREE by Fritz Leiber, and DANGER PLANET by Edmond Hamilton (as Brett Sterling)

My own retro-retroactive ballot: Continue reading

Let’s Go Back to the Hugos: 1986!

It’s Hugo Week! You know what that means? It’s almost Not-A-Hugo-Award-And-Not-That-Campbell-Award-But-That-Other-Campbell Award time! Exciting!

(Are rebrands too radical for SF awards?)

Anyway, it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1986

1986: Chernobyl. The Challenger. Hijackings. Bombings. Fires. Genocides. Reagan. Thatcher. Noriega. (If you think 2016 is bad, check out this timeline.) Also, I started Kindergarten and got in trouble for not coloring inside the lines. (It was because of those BIG crayons! Remember those crayons? I hated them.)

And Bob Shaw hosted ConFederation in Atlanta, Georgia, where Orson Scott Card took the big Hugo prize for Ender’s Game.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 9.21.48 PM

The Winner: ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card, followed by CUCKOO’S EGG by C.J. Cherryh, THE POSTMAN by David Brin, FOOTFALL by those fucking guys again, and BLOOD MUSIC by Greg Bear

My Kindergarten ballot: Continue reading

Let’s Go Back to the Hugos! 1976!

It’s Hugo Week! And it’s not that big of a deal! So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1976

1976 saw the beginning of the end of Apartheid, the Viking probes landed on Mars, and Nadia Comeneci stole the hearts of Olympics viewers worldwide.

Meanwhile, the FIRST MidAmeriCon was held in Kansas City, hosted by Wilson Tucker.

The list:

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The Winner: THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman, followed by: DOORWAYS IN THE SAND by Roger Zelazny, INFERNO by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, THE STOCHASTIC MAN by Robert Silverberg, and THE COMPUTER CONNECTION by Alfred Bester

My retroactive ballot: Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 1966

It’s Hugo Week! And I’m just not that into it! So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1966

Fifty years ago: Muhammad Ali defied the draft, Indira Gandhi headed India, and the Miranda Rights were born (remember those?).

Meanwhile, Isaac Asimov announced a tie at Tricon in Cleveland when Hugo voters couldn’t decide between an ecological sand opera and a jaded god. (Also notable: A little story called “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” won the Hugo for Best Short Fiction. As much as I complain about Harlan Ellison, I do adore this story.)

The list:

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A tie! THE WINNERS: DUNE by Frank Herbert & THIS IMMORTAL by Roger Zelazny! Followed by THE SQUARES OF THE CITY by John Brunner, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein, and SKYLARK DUQUESNE by EE Smith.

My own time traveling ballot: Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 1956

It’s Hugo Week! And I’m barely aware of what’s been nominated this year! So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1956

Sixty years ago. The year that ushered in the start of the Cuban revolution, Eurovision, and Pele’s career was also the year that established Bob Heinlein’s long career of undeserved Hugo best novel nominations and wins. This WorldCon was hosted by Robert Bloch at NyConII in New York City. Also of note, some kid named Robert Silverberg won the “Most Promising New Author” award.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 8.10.00 PM

Left to right: WINNER- DOUBLE STAR by Robert A. Heinlein, followed by NOT THIS AUGUST by CM Kornbluth, THE END OF ETERNITY by Isaac Asimov, THE LONG TOMORROW by Leigh Brackett, & THREE TO CONQUER by Eric Frank Russell

My retroactive ballot: Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: Back to The Future

The Hugo Awards are tonight.

But time-travel Hugos are much more fun.

So let’s go back to… oh, we’re here.

[insert public domain photo of a dog I can’t be bothered to locate.]

So what have we learned?

Well, for one thing, much as I complain about the Hugos, my Hugo winner choices are only slightly different:

ThePlanetBuyerTheDispossed(1stEdHardcover)Neuromancer1BrittleInningsJonathanStrange1
1965           1975          1985             1995               2005

1955 was just no. 1965 and 1995 Hugo voters disagreed with me, awarding the Hugo to Leiber’s The Wanderer and Bujold’s Mirror Dance. 1995 was a seriously backwards year.

*****

And what else have we learned? No matter who tries to take over, not much has changed.

1955: The Hugos have long celebrated crappy books.

1965: The Hugos have long been influenced by the weird, the progressive, and the literary.

1975: The Hugos have long recognized conservative works by conservative authors… and they do “message fiction,” too.

1985: The Hugos have long recognized non-literary, fun novels. Especially in recent decades.

1995: There is no such thing as Affirmative Action at the Hugo Awards. It’s called fandom. (Though the Hugos could definitely benefit from some sort of positive action system. Let’s World Cup it!)

2005: The Hugos have only very recently returned to their roots (hello again, 1965!) by going all progressive and literary and messagey and that’s awesome, but they’re still white as hell. And, oh, you’re back, Pew-Pew-Space-Cadet. The Stuck Puppets seem to think you died after 1985.

2015: *sigh* I’m sad.

I’m sad that this controversy has given a platform to a bunch of racist, intolerant pricks with terrible taste. Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 2005!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So let’s go Back to the Hugos: 2005!

The member vote for Best Novel:

JonathanStrange1RiverofGods2TheAlgebraistIronSunrise2ironcouncil2

Susanna Clarke wins! Booyah!

And look. At that. List. It’s so British. It’s so Leftist. I bet when these books get together, all they do is argue about Jeremy Corbyn.

(This WorldCon was held in Glasgow, btw.)

My pretend, retro ballot for Best Novel:

JonathanStrange1RiverofGods2ironcouncil2TheAlgebraistIronSunrise2

Hugo voters, we almost agree again! That’s twice! In six decades!

Susanna Clarke won my heart long before I had even heard of the Hugo Awards, and, upon reread, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell—  despite having a title I can never remember– maintains its status as one of the best novels I have ever read. River of Gods is another of McDonald’s gorgeous feats of culture, technology, and depth, and would have been my top pick, if not for Clarke’s presence on the list. Love him or hate him (or sometimes both), genre readers may have suffered Miéville fatigue by 2005 thanks to overexposure and the endearingly annoying style of SF’s little brother, but I enjoyed the chug-chug meditative nature of Iron Council, and I wish it had been my first Miéville. It kept me soothed during a grim trip to Atlanta and the bumpiest return flight I’ve ever had in my life. As for The AlgebraistI think I need to read a better Banks.

I had an odd, parallel experience with Iron Sunrisewhich accompanied me on a long bus ride during which I was assaulted by Hollywood blockbusters in the form of mall security personnel and a J-Lo sex-thriller. (Don’t cheat on your husbands, ladies. You’ll be stalked and assaulted and you’ll find your best friend’s body stuffed in a fridge. Men are scary, so you should behave.) Iron Sunrise (and its predecessor, Singularity Sky) seems to mimic these lame Hollywood cliches with its bumbling male protagonist and its femme fatale heroine who uses sex as a weapon. I wasn’t impressed.

*****

It’s a good thing the Schmuckies keep changing their argument, otherwise they’d have me pretty well defeated right now. But even so, as we have learned, this uber-progressive list is a throwback to the old days of Hugo shortlists. This liberal preference is nothing new. And complaints about a literati invasion aren’t valid when I can’t think of two books that better represent a fun, meaningless space romp than Iron Sunrise and The Algebraist. And finally, the 2005 shortlist, like over 90% of the 66 previous shortlists is completely and utterly white.

As for this year’s shortlist, where a space opera, an alien invasion story*, and a throne inheritance drama will battle one another for the top spot. The only real difference is that a few other bought, but irrelevant titles have crowded the discussion. It should be a bland night for THE BEST SF NOVEL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

Okay, snarkasm done. This week has earned me a few titles:

And:

And:

Well, I’d rather be Ranty and Snarky than Rabid and Sad. Or Pathetic, more like.

But back to 2005, how about a hollah for this non-American, progressive-leaning list! Maybe do that again some day, Hugo voters! Maybe with fewer white people next time!

*A previous version left off the alien invasion story. Let us not forget that it was not on the original list, making the 2015 shortlist even more unbalanced.

Back to the Hugos: 1985!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend! But time-travel Hugos are much more fun! So, let’s go back to the Hugos: 1985!

The member vote for Best Novel:

Neuromancer1emergence1ThePeaceWar2JobAComedyofJusticeTheIntegralTrees1
The Winner: Just a little book called Neuromancer. 

 

My pretend, retro Hugo ballot for Best Novel:

Neuromancer1emergence1TheIntegralTrees1ThePeaceWar2JobAComedyofJustice

Hugo voters, we actually almost agree! Neuromancer is tops, now that I’m accustomed to the wacked out, cyber megatext, and Gibson’s shifty show-don’t-tell-wait-don’t-even-show style. And Emergence became an instant favorite of mine, thanks to the insane plot twists, and despite the Russian-commies-are-evil gag. (Eh, it’s the eighties.)

As for the bottom of the ballot, all three books were just okay. I enjoyed The Integral Trees for those sexy sex scenes– haha, just kidding, those sex scenes were awkward as hell, but the weird physics and flying whales were pretty cool. The Peace War is a story I could easily picture on FX or USA or Lifetime television networks, and you can interpret that however you like.

I would probably No Award Heinlein. If I had grown up reading him, I’d be ready to tell him to fuck off by ’85. Probably sooner. (Definitely sooner.)

*****

According to some Schmuck Fuppy commentary I’ve seen around, 1985 was the death knell of the Hugo Awards– the final year that Hugo voters recognized deserving fiction, and just before the bleeding-heart libs Affirmative Actioned the fun out of science fiction, while the snooty lit-crits meta’d themselves. ‘Twas the year that Pew-Pew-Space-Cadet died… so many sadz…

But so many wrongz.

Pew-Pew-Space-Cadet died decades before 1985, and if anything is dead in the eighties, it’s the (liberal) (wild) (metatastic) New Wave movement, which left behind a great, big stink of drab, commercial fiction, and a regular rotation of reliably conservative authors (and some equally drab, commercial, liberal authors, let’s be honest). 1985 is certainly a conservative-heavy list, but that is more likely to repeat after 1985, rather than before.

So what are the Schmucks actually mourning after 1985? Is it an arbitrary, made up date, or, perhaps, is this misdirected sadness because they just happen to miss Neuromancer‘s “particular flavor”?

WARNING: Conservative enjoyment of Neuromancer may indicate latent liberal tendencies. Side effects include being sad, manufacturing controversy, and avoiding space opera throwbacks because feminine pronouns are scary.