Wolves Without Teeth: Thoughts on the 2015 Hugo Winners and the Nominees that Might Have Been

So. The 2015 Hugo Awards were announced last night. I forgot all about it, because I was remembering why I never wanted to work in the food industry again while volunteering at a concession stand at a baseball game to raise money for charity. This morning, I woke up to a thunderstorm, a playful cat, a husband playing Bloodborne, and the Hugo Results.

I have a few links I want to share before I talk about the winners (or lack thereof):

1) Tor.com: Announcing the 2015 Hugo Award Winners: Winners, winners! Read all about it!

2) Tobias S. Buckell: What the alternate Hugo Ballot would likely have been: Toby uses the 2015 Hugo Award Statistics, crosses off all puppy nominees, in order to figure out what the fiction categories MIGHT have looked like without slates informing the ballot. He also has some great thoughts about those nominees, as well as the nominees who were on the puppy ballots and withdrew their nominations.

3) 2015 Hugo Award Statistics: I love looking at this every year, but this year is particularly fascinating. The “what-if” nature of the ballot is endlessly fascinating for me. I would’ve been SO MUCH MORE ENGAGED in this year’s awards if the ballot hadn’t been hijacked by the puppies.

4) Wired.com: Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters: A really great piece that talks about the controversy, the awards ceremony, and what happened after. Kudos to George R.R. Martin for his Hugo Loser’s party.

And now, for my thoughts on some of the winners:

1) Best Novel: The Three Body Problem is a fascinating book, and I’m happy it won. Between that, Ancillary Mercy, and The Goblin Emperor, I was kind of at a loss for how to rank them, because I liked them all just about equally, but in different ways. Also, kudos to Marko Kloos for withdrawing his nomination. As Toby Buckell noted, it’s hard to say whether he would’ve gotten the nomination on his own merits or not, so I think people who are big fans of military SF might want to give his work a whirl.

2) Best Graphic Story: I am so, SO thrilled that Volume 1 of Ms. Marvel took home the rocket. Ms. Marvel became a favorite title when Kamala Khan was introduced, and it’s been a fantastic read ever since her debut.

3) Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form: OMG ORPHAN BLACK WON!!!! HOLY TILDA SWINTON!!!! Felix would be so proud, you guys! At any rate, I’m obviously thrilled, as this category has been one I’ve been critical of in the past, so I’m thrilled to see Orphan Black take home the trophy, even if the episode is not the one I nominated (puts in plug for “Best Television SHOW” category instead of short presentation).

4) I have no problem with “No Award” winning some categories.

And now, on the Nominees that could’ve been (which is best figured out by looking at Toby’s post linked above and the PDF linked above, which includes the nominations report).

1) I weep for what the fiction categories might have been. SERIOUSLY. I look at those potential nominees and my brain is whimpering, I want to read those! Some of them, I can. Some of those, I might be able to if I can track them down. Some of them, it’s just probably not going to happen, and that gives me a sad.

2) The Best Related Work Category would’ve been pretty damn interesting too.

3) Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: I’m not sure Snowpiercer would’ve made the ballot even without the puppies, because all of the films nominated were films popular with the fandom. So this is my plug for Snowpiercer: if you haven’t seen it yet: GO!

4) Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: I would’ve loved to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. make the ballot, because the episode that would’ve been nominated was really fantastic. I also suspect that the Game of Thrones episode, “The Mountain and the Viper” would’ve missed the ballot, and that “The Lion and the Rose” would’ve taken the slot instead. But no real complaints here, because OMG OPRHAN BLACK WON!!!

5) Best Semiprozine: this just pisses me off. I admire Schubert for withdrawing his nomination, and I don’t think Intergalactic Medicine Show should be judged for OSC’s original influence and its inclusion on the puppy slates. However…. I wish he’d withdrawn before the deadline, because it would’ve meant The Book Smugglers would’ve gotten a nomination for their VERY FIRST YEAR of publishing short fiction, and wouldn’t that have been quite the compliment? Also, a word of caution for future seminprozine creators: stop using the word “Apex” in your titles. It’s getting confusing and overused out there.

6) Best Fan Writer: I very much would’ve liked to read the no-puppy ballot for this one. So many KUDOS for Mixon’s work though, and for her win.

7) John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: while I’m not entirely sure Andy Weir would’ve been on the ballot (The Martian was self-published before it was picked up by Crown Publishing, and I don’t know if that would’ve affected his eligibility for the “Not a Hugo!” award or not), that would’ve been a great list of new writers for me to discover.

So there’s a lot of things to be bummed out regarding what might have been. More to the point, I’m not sure if we’ll ever see a “Retro” Hugo for the year 2014…. I don’t know the hows or the whys of how Retros are determined, but if it does happen, I want to come back to the 2015 Nomination Report and see how everything stacks up.

And that is that. I’m sure there are and will be plenty of discussions and arguments and controversy over the winners and lack thereof. I’m also sure there will be multiple slates proposed for next year. I hope, however, that this year’s award ceremony results in everyone understanding that recommended reading lists are GOOD (so long as those lists exceed the number of slots on the ballot per category), but slates are not. I already know that no matter what “side” it comes from, I won’t follow any slate. More to the point, I hope all authors, no matter what “side” they’re on, will make a decision well-advanced of the nomination period to publicly tell their fans NOT to put them on a slate. At the very least, that declaration will make the slate-makers look bad if the request is ignored, you know?

And hopefully, after next year, there will be something in place to prevent the Hugos from being gamed in this way ever again. That way, we can find something new to complain about. Because the Hugos aren’t the Hugos without some manner of controversy. I’m just epically tired of puppy and slate-related ones.

Today’s headline is brought to you by Of Monsters and Men, “Wolves Without Teeth,” from their latest album, Beneath the Skin.

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