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:

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:


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:


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:



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:

The Winner: Just a little book called Neuromancer. 


My pretend, retro Hugo ballot for Best Novel:


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.

Back to the Hugos: 1955!

The Hugo Awards are this weekend, but time-travel Hugo Awards are much more fun! So let’s go… Back to the Hugos: 1955!


They’d Rather Be Right won the Hugo for Best Novel sixty years ago.


Also known as The Forever Machine by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley, which I reviewed last year. Tl;dr: it’s generally known as the worst Hugo winner ever, although I would argue it’s this one. They’d Rather Be Right isn’t THAT bad, but there is no nominee shortlist to make comparisons, so let’s just shrug this off as a clumsy Hugo pick. It happens.

Yes, Hugos, you can survive this year. Crappy books on the Hugo shortlist are part of the tradition, which I will demonstrate over the next five days with some quick and dirty retro analysis. See you then!


Big Sky fanzine, the Hugos, and other updates


Want to increase your SF cred? You must check out Big Sky #3 & #4, the latest editions of the gorgeous book review fanzine, released this month for LonCon3. Issues #3 and #4 are dedicated to the Gollancz SF Masterworks list, in which SF fans share their thoughts about critically acclaimed works of the genre. Contributors include familiar names from the SF world, including some of my favorite writers, critics, and fellow blogger buddies from around the web. (Some of my reviews are in there, too.)

What else has happened lately? Continue reading

Let’s Go To the Hugos: 1984!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 30 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, & 2004.)


1984 Hugo Winner

1984 brought us crack-cocaine, minivans, and the discovery of the AIDS virus. Kathryn Sullivan became the first woman to walk in space, Apple’s Mac PC was released to the technomasses, while The Karate Kid, Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, The NeverEnding Story, and This is Spinal Tap! transformed 80’s pop culture.

And David Brin’s Startide Rising won the 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novel! Continue reading

1939 Retro Hugo Awards Announced!









Today at LonCon3 the winners of the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards were announced. See the full list here. Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades of Milk and Honey, 2010) and Rob Shearman (Doctor Who) hosted the event, which looked dazzling on, even though none of us viewers could really hear what was going on. I would normally comment on the clever things people said and did, but because I couldn’t hear anything, I’m going to take the vain route and say that Mary looked gorgeous and I want her dress.

The winners [my comments in green]: Continue reading