Jul. 30th, 2014

divisionsandprecisions: (dry)
I poked around the web looking for reviews to read/listen to, after I had mostly made my decisions. I lot of stuff that I didn't like was widely acclaimed, but nothing that convinced me that my judgment needed revisiting. One reason is that sometimes a component of a story touches something you are very familiar with, in which case the story has to be very good in how it treats that material or it will totally fail for you. For example, people who know London or British history seem to loathe Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear, because there are too many factual mistakes. As I know nothing about London, I am blind to those issues, and I think it is a marvelous novel. On this year's ballot, Mary Kowal's story involves a geriatric spaceman; as I have had a number of elderly relatives in my life in the past few years, this story is going to fall flat with me if it doesn't treat the issue in a way that speaks to my personal experience.

There were a number of "issues" related to the ballot this year. The giant one was the political slate--a few politically-minded authors proposed a slate of nominees and encouraged all their followers to vote for exactly that set of nominees, mainly because it would annoy people who didn't like them, rather than because the material was good. I have never read the tweets or blogs, but apparently some of these authors have some vile, reactionary opinions about the roles of women and people of color in society, so one opinion is that all the political slate nominees should be voted below "no award" because civilization requires that we condemn such behavior. Another opinion, which John Scalzi is a well-know proponent of, is that the better thing is to de-politicize the Hugos and judge everything on its merits. After carefully assessing the nominees that are part of the political slate, my opinion is that they are all crap, so either way I put them all below No Award. If these reactionaries want to be truly subversive, they should start by writing some decent stories.

Another issue was that the Wheel of Time series met the letter of the requirements but not the spirit. I didn't think it was good enough to vote for, so I didn't have to decide. These books seem to be widely considered unreadable after the first few.

I didn't know, but Mary Kowal's story was on the ballot last year, and was removed from the ballot after voting took place because it was released only in audio, and she found out sitting in the audience at the Hugo ceremony. While it is terrible that this happened, it didn't affect my voting.

Some people didn't like "Wakulla Springs" because it wasn't really speculative fiction. To which I say PFFFFFTTT, because it is a wonderful story. If you like it, you want to listen to the episode of the Coode Street Podcast where the authors are interviewed just before the story was published. They worked on it for a decade, and when it was done they thought it was unsellable because it didn't fit into genre fiction. But Patrick Nielsen Hayden snapped it up almost instantly.

In my mind, I categorized things into one star, two star, or three star works. I voted for three stars, then no award, then two stars, and left the one stars off completely. If a one star work wins, I can't see that I care which one. I don't think the two stars deserve awards, but I would rather they win then the one stars. I was clear enough in the posts about what I liked, that it would serve no purpose to go over the ballot items again.


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