Friday, August 01, 2014

My Picks on the 2014 Hugo Ballot

Finally got around to casting my ballot for the 2014 Hugo Awards today.

I'll admit I was kinda disappointed when the final ballot was released a few weeks ago, and none of my literary nominations (and almost none of my Long Form Dramatic Presentation nominations) had made it into the running. But, also admittedly, I knew some of them were long-shots. Besides — to paraphrase a thought from the boys at SF Signal's The Three Hoarsemen podcast from a few episodes ago — with so many venues out there now making so much speculative fiction available for readers/viewers in just about every country, you can find yourself nominating a pretty amazing piece of work, only to see it passed over by the final ballot list because just not enough other voters have seen it, and too many other people are voting on too many other works. That said, the final ballot is what it is, and, as a voter, you run with it and vote for what you can.

So, here are my choices (and passes) for this year's final ballot:

Best Novel:

  1. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordon and Brandon Sanderson. I didn't make this nomination last winter because I was only thinking of TWOT in terms of the final book in the series,  A Memory of Light, which had just come out in January. Turns out, the powers-that-be have decided the entire series constitutes a single work, so it's made it to the ballot. Okay. In that case, because it's made enough of an impression on me over the decades of its run, I have no problems voting for TWOT to win the Hugo — especially since none of my nominations for novels made the ballot, and I haven't read any of the other stories that did make it (so I can't vote for them or rank them as alternatives).

Best Novella:

I took a pass on this category. Unfortunately, despite the kindness of the awards committee in sending the nominations for this category along with the voters' packet, I haven't had time to read any of them.

Best Novelette:

Pass. Same as above.

Best Short Story:

I passed on this category too — but for a completely different reason: I did take the time to read all of the submissions in the package, but none of them "wowed" me at all. Each was completely forgettable. If a story doesn't leave some kind of mark on me, it doesn't deserve a vote for the Hugo.

Best Related Work:

Passed on this category because, again, I didn't get around to reading any of the final nominations.

Best Graphic Story:

Passed, for the same reason as above — mostly. While I have read George RR Martin's short story "The Meathouse Man", I haven't seen Raya Golden's graphic novel, so it didn't seem fair to vote for it.

Best Dramatic Presentation — Long Form:
  1. Pacific Rim was one of my few nominations that made it through. A completely entertaining, unselfconscious geekfest kaiju-mech brawl of a flick, this was the perfect summer popcorn flick last year, and I'm glad enough of the rest of the nerd community agreed with me to give it the recognition it deserves. Now let's hope it snags a win!
That said, what did not deserve to make it to the ballot was Iron Man 3. Way too many flaws to waste time on in this post. Let's just say it was a disappointment and leave it at that.

I didn't see the other three on the ballot, so no votes for them.

Best Dramatic Presentation — Short Form:

Now this was a section were a bunch of my nominations actually did make it through (woohoo!). Choosing a favourite and ranking the alternatives wasn't easy.
  1. Game of Thrones "The Rains of Castermere". The fucking Red Wedding, dudes. 'Nuff said.
  2. An Adventure in Space and Time. What a wonderful little biopic about the origins of the Doctor Who series. I'd even recommend this to people who aren't fans of the Doctor or science fiction.
  3. Doctor Who "Day of the Doctor". This episode gets solid support from me for its sub-plot about the incarnation of the Doctor who had to bear the terrible burden of putting an end to the Time War, at the cost of destroying his own species as well as the Daleks. As much as Tom Baker was the Doctor who formed an impression on me as a kid (and it was awesome to see him come back for this instalment!), and as much as I loved Tennant's frenetic energy, and as much as I've grown to appreciate Eccleston as the underappreciated genius of the franchise, I think John Hurt might just be my favourite Doctor now. But I could not recommend this episode for first place in the category for two reasons: using the Zygons as the bad guys in the "now" sub-plot, because, looking like giant ambulatory chunks of bloody stool, they've got to be among the worst costumes of the Doctor's modern era; and for the use of Billie Piper as The Moment, because I've never been impressed by her acting.
  4. The Fiv(ish) Doctors Reboot. Loved this funny little webisode. Not quite enough to take the top of the list, but it had a lot of heart.
  5. Doctor Who "The Name of the Doctor". Overall, this episode was okay, but lacked the punch of other Doctor death episodes. Also, because I wasn't much of a fan of Matt Smith and his giant head, I wasn't really sorry to see him go.
  6. — but not really "6". I couldn't be bothered to give Orphan Black an official ranking of "6" on the ballot because I didn't like the series pilot and don't follow the show.

Best Editor — Short Form:

Passed on this section. I'm sure all of the nominees are talented and worthy of recognition, but, unfortunately, I don't recognize any of their names, and if I can't immediately associate a person's name with something, I can't vote for them to receive an award.

Best Editor — Long Form:

Passed. Same as above.

Best Professional Artist:

Passed. Same as above.

Best Semiprozine:

Passed on this section because I don't read any of the 'zines on the ballot.

Best Fanzine:

Passed. Same as above.

Best Fancast:
  1. SF Signal podcast — I voted for this one because I've been a fan of the SF Signal site for a long time, as well as a regular follower of their flagship podcast. The 'cast does a good job of assembling interesting teams of pundits who discuss nerdy issues, and has had some solid interviews with various authors. That said, I'm disappointed the site's newest podcast, The Three Hoarsemen, didn't make it to the ballot as well. As good as the primary podcast is, the Hoarsemen, even in their show's infancy, are better. I'm really excited to see where the new podcast goes, and I hope that next year there will be a concerted effort by its fans to get Hugos in the hands of Jeff Patterson, Fred Kiesche, and John Stevens. Hell, I'll lead the charge. For the time being though, I hope that Patrick Hester takes the win for the SF Signal podcast.
I didn't rank the other nominees in this category because I don't have the time to listen to them. (Wish I did!)

Best Fan Writer:

Passed on this one. I can't recall having read any of the nominees.

Best Fan Artist:

Passed on this one too. Can't recall having seen anything from the nominees.

John W Campbell Award:

As with so many of the other categories on the ballot, I didn't vote for any of the nominees for the John W Campbell Award because I didn't have time to read their items included in the voter package. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some time in the future so I can find out what I've been missing and learn the error of my ways.

So, that's it for the 2014 ballot. Best of luck to all of the nominees! I look forward to seeing the results in just a couple of weeks in London at the Hugo ceremony at Loncon3!

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