Help Me I Have Probably Done Hugo Nominations Wrong 2015

So, the big news for the day is that Hugo Award nominations closed early this morning, and for the first time, I was able to submit my own ballot.  The background goes like this: Rachael has had a very good year with her writing, and WorldCon, which is the annual convention where the Hugos take place every year, is happening in Spokane, Washington this year, and because we have several friends on the West Coast who are planning on attending, we thought we’d try to go and see them.  We bought our memberships late last year when they went on sale, and one of the benefits is being allowed to cast a nomination ballot for the Hugo Awards.

All of that is to say that being a first time nominator, I have probably done everything totally wrong (the most obvious thing being that I waited until the last minute to do some research on what was eligible and fill out my ballot so that this post is going up after the nomination window has closed), but I am okay with that.  In thinking over what I cared enough about to put on my ballot, I realized that much of what I’m nominating is stuff that I’ve written about in the last year.  So, even if I’ve done this all wrong and nothing I nominated actually gets on the final ballot, I figured it’s at least worth letting folks know this stuff is out there and I think it’s, objectively, the best things.  For 2014.

Best Short Story

  • “Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones – Yes, I’m more than a little biased because Rachael wrote this story, but that’s irrelevant here, because it’s a wonderful intersectional piece on historical erasure of women and people of color in the vein of Kameron Hurley’s essay “We Have Always Fought.”  I’ve read all of Rachael’s writing, and this is one of her best to come out in the last year.

Best Related Work

  • Tropes Vs. Women’s “Women As Background Decoration” by Anita Sarkeesian – I have been a fan of Sarkeesian’s work from the start of Tropes Vs. Women in Games, and this entry felt pretty groundbreaking to me, if for no other reason than the way it hammered home the very important point that depiction is not equivalent to critique.  The two part episode is also notable as the last major publication in Tropes Vs. Women in Games before the eruption of GamerGate.  That cesspool had been festering for a while, and its fallout has undoubtedly been a difficult experience for Sarkeesian, but I’m pleased that her work is getting more mainstream attention in light of that.
  • The Wolf Among Us by Telltale Games – I am a huge fan of Telltale Games’s style of choice-based narrative games, and of the two that launched last year, this one was probably my favorite.  The art style and noir tone are really groovy, and dilemmas that Bigby faces are some very interesting moral conundrums.  I also loved The Walking Dead Season 2, but that series delves so much more into purely awful choices over actual ethical questions that I prefer Wolf.
  • Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men by Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes – I just got into this podcast a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been burning through episodes at a ridiculous rate.  It’s a wonderful casual introduction to the X-Men franchise, and Rachel and Miles’s enthusiasm for their subject really bleeds over where I always finish an episode wanting to re-read the material they’re discussing, whether it’s objectively good or just absurdly awesome.

Best Graphic Story

  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona – I have been in love with this series ever since I picked up my second edition #1 last May, and that love has only grown as I’ve read more and more of the series.  I love that this book features a Pakistani-American girl who’s trying to navigate her life in New Jersey, and I love that its creative team involves two Muslim women.  It does great things for diversity in comics, both for characters and creators, and it’s also just wonderful storytelling.
  • Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch – As a D&D nerd, I love this book for its hilariously skewed take on typical high fantasy tropes, and as a feminist I love the independent, unique main characters who are all so well written and drawn.  Even disregarding all that, I’d probably want to nominate this simply because Betty never stops making me laugh.
  • Saga Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – There’s probably so much more that I could say about this series than what I’ve already said, and maybe someday I will.  For now, it’s probably enough to say that the core theme of Saga really resonates for me, especially since I’m coming out of an evangelical background where ideas about sexuality and warfare are all kinds of messed up.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  • Snowpiercer – It’s a Marxist/Gnostic allegory set on a bullet train that involves a scene where a bunch of guys gut a fish then have an axe fight.  This movie’s insane, and if you try to watch it on a literal level you’ll likely get really frustrated with the absurdity of the worldbuilding, but it’s a really wonderful ride if you take it for the metaphor that it is.  Of what I’ve seen this past year, I think this was probably the best science fiction movie to come out in 2014.
  • Big Hero 6 – I just saw this a couple weeks ago with my students, and I was thoroughly impressed with it.  It’s fun, funny, actiony, and heartwarming with a really well-realized world.  Perhaps I’m remembering it more fondly than it deserves, but I can’t knock a movie that has my entire class of cynical high schoolers (several of whom were loudly whining that they hate kid movies) watching and laughing in delight less than twenty minutes in.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

  • Dark Dungeons – Tabletop gaming and tongue-in-cheek criticism of fundamentalist Christianity.  What’s not to love?
  • PodCastle Episode 339 “Help Summon the Most Holy Folded One!” by Harry Connolly – I’m really sad that Dave Thompson and Anna Schwind are stepping down as editors at PodCastle at the end of this month, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that we’ll always have wonderful episodes like this one, which is a full cast reading of a short story framed as the Kickstarter page of a project meant to summon Tacthulhu.  It’s every bit as awesome and silly as you think.
  • PodCastle Episode 324 “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” by Saladin Ahmed – I was never an Edmund Spenser fan when I was in school, though I do recall taking a couple classes with some hardcore Spenserians.  After listening to this reading of Ahmed’s story, I doubt I could ever go back and really enjoy Spenser, because he does such a great job of critiquing Spenser’s dehumanization of Muslim soldiers as adversaries for his hero in Faerie Queene.  I rarely get really emotionally invested in short stories, but this reading honestly had me in tears by the time it ended.  I can’t recommend it enough.

And that’s about it.  I made some nominations in other categories, but they’re pretty minor in comparison to what I’ve covered here.  I don’t know if any of it will actually get nominated, but that’s probably beside the point here.  These things are great, and they’re worth checking out, Hugo Award or no.

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