My (admittedly patchy) nominations for the Hugo Awards 2018

hugo_sm(UPDATED to add Charles Payseur to Best Fan Writer)

Nominations for the Hugo Awards close on Friday, March 16 – the nomination form is here – and because I have bought a membership to the Dublin Worldcon in 2019, I am eligible to nominate, if not vote, this year.

It was my first time nominating for the longlist, as I have usually been happy to wait for the shortlist, or even the winners, to emerge and see what I had read that matched up. But what the process has revealed that I am very poorly read in SFF circles this year. It’s something I have to work on.

In any case, my nominations are as follows:

 

Best novel:

No nomination. The only qualifying novel I read this year, I abandoned after about eighty pages. Nice idea, awful prose.
Best novella:
A big gap in my reading – I don’t seem to have read a single novella in 2017. I know they are enjoying something of a resurgence, but I can’t quite seem to make the transition up from the ‘delicious snack’ level of short stories or down from the 12-course banquet of the novel.
Best Novelette:
The Secret Life of Bots – Suzanne Palmer –  Clarkesworld
A Series of Steaks – Vina Jie-Min Prasad – Clarkesworld
Neptune’s Trident – Nina Allen – Clarkesworld
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know any of these were novelettes, or in fact what a novelette was. But I really liked all three of these long short stories. Nina Allen’s is probably my favourite, in an “I wished I had written that” sort of way.
Best Short Story:
Fandom for Robots – Vina Jie-Min Prasad – Uncanny
The Worldless – Indrapramit Das – Lightspeed
The Crisis – M John Harrison – CommaPress
Best Series:
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – La Belle Sauvage
I know you are not supposed to nominate things you haven’t read, but even if this fourth book is Pullman pasting random lines from Jeremy Clarkson columns, the first three would still be enough to carry this series over the line. Anyway, you’re not my mother – I can vote for what I want.
Best Related Work:
Such a brilliant essay. I started it thinking it would be Round 724 in Kirk vs Picard, but it does so much to redeem Kirk’s reputation. It’s not just about Star Trek, it’s about men on screen, brave and uncynical characterisation and the nature of how we remember and misremember and how bloody easy humans are to reprogram through pop culture. Go read it.
Best Graphic Story:
I haven’t opened one this year.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):
Thor Ragnarok – Taika Waititi – Marvel Studios
Logan – James Mangold – 20th Century Fox
I’m aware they are fairly blokey and white, but I haven’t seen anything else. Not Annihilation, nor Black Panther, nor the Shape of Water. Not even The Last Jedi. That’s what children do to cinema trips.
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):
Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad (Star Trek:Discovery) – Aron Eli Coleite, Jesse Alexander – CBS
Home (The Expanse) – Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby – SyFy (Alcon Entertainment)
The Trolley Problem (The Good Place) – Josh Siegel, Dylan Morgan – Fremulon
USS Callister (Black Mirror) – Charlie Brooker/William Bridges – Netflix
Guillotines Decide – (Orphan Black) Aisha Porter-Christie,  Graeme Manson – BBC America
I’ve done a lot better with small-screen SF this year than with books or movies.
It seemed like there was a lot of Trek around this year, some of it authorised, some of it a very convincing knock-off. Star Trek Disco I really enjoyed after a shaky start. Harry Mudd was probably the mid-season breather that allowed it to bed in in my mind. 
I probably would have thrown The Orville a vote if USS Callister hadn’t been so good – I think for all the show’s mis-steps, Seth MacFarlane is doing something from a place of reverence. Compare that with the reboot movies (again, go read Erin Horáková’s essay
The Expanse was all new to me – I’ve never read the books – but it was a real treat.
The Good Place is the second-funniest thing on TV this year (after The Young Offenders).
Orphan Black finally came to an end and managed to land the series after some turbulent middle seasons. Siobhan’s sacrifice left some dust in my eye – don’t mess with mothers, adoptive or otherwise.
Best Professional Editor (Long Form):
I haven’t read an SFF novel in 2017, so no nominations.
Best Professional Editor (Short Form):
Rich Horton
Jonathan Strahan
Gardner Dozois
Neil Clarke
Best Professional Artist:
Chris McGrath – Cover for Breach of Containment by Elizabeth Bonesteel (Harper Voyager, October)
Richard Anderson – Cover for The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear (Tor, October)
Jaime Jones – Cover for All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Tor.com, May)
Galen Dara – https://uncannymagazine.com/issues/uncanny-magazine-issue-sixteen/

Best Semiprozine:
Escape Pod – Mur Lafferty & Divya Breed
Strange Horizons – Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde
Uncanny Magazine – Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota
Best Fanzine:
File 770 – Mike Glyer
Best Fancast:
Galactic Suburbia – Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts
I should be writing – Mur Lafferty
Sword and Laser – Veronica Belmont, Tom Merritt
Get to Work Hurley! – Kameron Hurley
Coode Street Podcast – Jonathan Strahan, Gary K Wolfe
Best Fan Writer:
Charles Payseur – Quick Sip Reviews.
Best Fan Artist:
No nomination.
Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo):
No nomination.
John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo):
Vina Jie-Min Prasad

Considering she has two excellent stories in two different categories above, it would have been rude not to nominate Vina. My money is on her to win at least one Hugo this year.

I will never again underestimate the amount of work that the Hugo voters put in – there is a lot of cool stuff out there and I am very conscious that I barely scratched the surface in 2017. But there is always next year.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that my story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, is eligible for nomination for a Short Story Hugo and that I am in my first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award. I can’t vote for myself.
Sin é (that’s it).

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So apparently I am eligible to be nominated for a flipping Campbell Award (and my story for a Hugo Award)

(UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE) OK, so Rich Horton didn’t see his way to including my short story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, in his Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy. It would have been nice to go for the trifecta – Gardner Dozois, Neil Clarke and Horton (or the quadfecta of Dozois, Clarke, Horton and Coode Street’s Jonathan Strahan), but, you know, not everybody likes everything and some stuff always gets lost in the edit. I get that, and I am sanguine about the frankly massively unexpected success my one story of 2017 has had. However, Horton has seen fit to recommend me for this year’s Campbell Award. Just to sum up, I had one story published last year, and it got reprinted twice (Dozois and Clarke), recommended in the Locus Reading List and now Rich Horton has recommended me as worthy of consideration for the Campbell. I couldn’t be happier …

(UPDATED UPDATE: The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon has been chosen for the Locus Recommended Reading List.)

(UPDATE: The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon has also been included in Night Shade Books’ Best Science Fiction of The Year Vol 3, edited by Neil Clarke — I couldn’t be happier…)

bsfoty3

In August of last year, I received my first acceptance for a short story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, and it appeared in the October 2017 issue of Clarkesworld. I could not have been happier. Or so I thought.

My family read it and liked it, random people read it online and tweeted me how much they liked it. People even reviewed it. I thought I was chuffed with the electronic version of it (and the podcast) until my buddy Jeff sent me a print copy from Toronto as a gift. I could hold in my hand a printed science fiction magazine that contained something I had spent a long time wringing from my already word-addled brain. I could not have been happier. Or so I thought.

cobh library view

In November, the story was picked to be re-printed in the 35th edition of Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction, a book whose previous editions I checked out of Cobh library and read looking out over the harbour that formed the basis for the one in the story (that’s the view from the library window above – taken from Cork County Library’s twitter page). I could not have been happier. Or so I thought.

In January, after a nudge from Neil Clarke, the editor of Clarkesworld, I checked with the Writertopia website to see if my story could be added to their eligibility list for the John W. Campbell award. And apparently it could. I could not have been happier. Or so I thought.

What I hadn’t appreciated was this:

My story is eligible to be nominated for a Hugo Award. Now, I am familiar with the cliche of it being an honour to just be nominated, and assumed it was just that – something people trot out. But if this is how great it feels to even be eligible to be nominated for something, I have to imagine that it is true.

My story is eligible to be nominated for a Hugo Award. I couldn’t be happier…

My story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, is featured in the latest issue of Clarkesworld

clarkesworld October 2017[UPDATE: the podcast version of the story is now live. Listen to it here.]

Those wonderful people at Clarkesworld have published my short story – The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon.

Needless to say, I am over the moon. It is the first thing I have written that came close to satisfying my own internal critic and I worked hard on it. How hard? Well, having checked the revision history on the story, I started it on September 14, 2014 – so more than three years between writing the opening par and it being published. This scheme is not going to make me rich quick (or at all).

However, the excitement at being published is an incredible validation, a vote of confidence that I can now legitimately refer to myself as ‘a writer’. This small success is already driving me to write more and think more about writing. I have even ‘invested’ some of the fee (again, not huge, but certainly meaningful) in a ticket for the Dublin Worldcon in 2019. By then, the plan is to have stories everywhere and books on shelves. I figure if I aim high and undershoot, I can live with it.

The story itself, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, is broadly about environmental disaster, our innate drive to fix that disaster with technology and the fact that the damage done by such problems (and their solutions) is often predominantly felt by ‘little’ people in little towns.

The spark for it was [SPOILER] reading reports about a robot that hunts and kills the crown-of-thorns starfish, an invasive species that is damaging the Great Barrier Reef.

It is also about that weird part of people that urges them to make pointless gestures in the face of all logic that may do them immeasurable harm and that weird place in me that tends to see such gestures as noble rather than stupid.

The submission process at Clarkesworld is both blisteringly fast and agonisingly slow (from my perspective – it’s still very quick in general terms), in that the story was moved out of the slush readers’ instant rejection list almost immediately, but then spent more than six weeks ‘under review’ by editor Neil Clarke (again, that is pretty fast by SFF market standards, but there is a time dilation effect when the story is yours). However, on the plus side, that delay did mean that I was lucky enough to be home with my family in Ireland when the acceptance and contracts came through. The news was comprehensively celebrated!

The review process was fast and thorough and I was encouraged that little was changed from my original draft. My sub-editing colleagues and friends should know that the American spellings are Clarkesworld’s and not mine. 🙂

I am told there is a Clarkesworld podcast version of the story on the way – narrated by the accomplished Kate Baker. I hope my phone-recorded pronunciation guide will help and will update this post with a link once the audio version of The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon is published. [UPDATE: the podcast is now live. Listen to it on Clarkesworld here or on YouTube here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story, and comment on it on Clarkesworld’s site (and subscribe to Clarkesworld or Patreon them- they’re ace!) and share it on Twitter, Facebook or wherever you like.

Slán