23 August 2019

The 2019 Hugo Awards: Results and Final Thoughts

I watched the livestream go out again this year, which really is the way to do it. This year's ceremony was a little longer than last year's, which I liked, as last year's felt a little rushed at times. Both co-hosts-- Irish author Michael Scott and American artist Afua Richardson-- were fantastic. Richardson's mid-show tribute to Nichelle Nichols, complete with an amazing rendition of "Stand by Me," was a real highlight of the whole evening, and made my eyes mist up slightly. The use of live music for when winners walked up to the stage was also a nice touch. (And whenever my twelve-month-old son heard it, he started dancing.)

Once again, it was great to be able to see all these writers go up to the mic and receive their awards, even people who I myself did not vote for or even particularly want to win!

Say what you will about The Good Place, it was super-cool that actress D'Arcy Carden and the writer (I think? I didn't quite catch her introduction) sent a video message accepting the award; last year I complained at how the Best Dramatic Presentation finalists are unrepresented. Also I felt Professor Ada Palmer gave a great speech as she presented the Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

People really need to learn to not depend on their phones for acceptance speeches... and really not depend on logging into their e-mail!

So what did I think of the results? Just some brief thoughts here:

Category What Won Where I Ranked It What I Ranked #1 Where It Placed
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book Children of Blood and Bone
6th Tess of the Road 3rd
I knew this would win, even though I found little of interest in it myself. I thought Tess of the Road would do worse, though, so I was happy for a third-place showing. Dread Nation, which I rated second, finished second, so that was nice. The category was pretty evenly split in first-round votes among four different titles; CBB, Dread Nation, Tess, and Invasion each had around 200. I'm not very surprised to see that Cruel Prince and The Belles weren't to the taste of the Hugo electorate, though Cruel Prince did edge past Invasion to take fourth.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) The Good Place: "Janet(s)" 3rd Dirty Computer 6th
Dirty Computer was a finalist that was really liked by those who liked it... but not liked by enough people in the end. It had the second most first-round votes: more than "Janet(s)," actually, as The Expanse: "Abbadon's Gate" got the most. But once the other Good Place episode, "Jeremy Bearimy," was eliminated from contention, most of its votes unsurprisingly transferred to "Janet(s)." The two Doctor Who episodes up this year (which I ranked second and fourth) finished in third and fourth.

The long list has some interesting stuff bubbling under with not quite enough nominations to make the ballot: episodes of the new She-Ra in 8th and 13th, an ep of Steven Universe in 10th, and a Star Trek: Discovery episode down in 14th.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 1st Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 1st
This was the only category where I voted for the first-place winner! I was delighted, as it was a very worthy winner. I feel almost embarrassed to see, though, that Infinity War in third somehow beat out Annihilation, A Quiet Place, and Sorry to Bother You. C'mon, people!

Best Graphic Story Monstress: Haven
7th On a Sunbeam
My tastes in comics and those of Hugo voters at large are clearly wildly divergent. The two works I placed below No Award (Monstress and Black Panther: Long Live the King) ranked first and second! On the other hand, On a Sunbeam lands in last, which is just grossly unfair. Why do the Hugo voters love Monstress so much? Can one of them please explain what is actually happening in that series to me? It has now won three years in a row!

The longlist shows some interesting stuff bubbling under, some of which I suspect would have been more to my taste: The Wicked + the Divine (7th), Ms. Marvel: Teenage Wasteland, which I nominated (9th), Mister Miracle, which I read but after nominations closed (14th). I also nominated Transformers: Lost Light, but it didn't place in the top 15.

Best Related Work Archive of Our Own 7th Astounding 6th
Wow, yikes, me totally off based yet again. Great speech by the victors, though, and I like that they're actually leaving the rocket with WSFS because it belongs to fandom, not them. I am really, well, astounded at the poor showing for Astounding. It did not deserve to be beaten by a mediocre Le Guin interview, for sure. It actually got the most nominations, so I'm not sure what happened there. Also bummed that the The Hobbit video essay landed in fifth.

Looking at the longlist, I am pretty relieved I didn't have to read George R.R. Martin's Westeros history, as it missed the ballot by less than half a point.

Best Short Story "A Witch's Guide to Escape" 3rd "The Court Magician" 5th
Hard for me to complain, when I felt this category was kind of mediocre this year. All of the finalists were pretty good, but few were great, so eh. Am kind of sad that Sarah Pinsker keeps getting Hugo nominations but no wins (she's definitely the best short fiction writer I've discovered by getting involved in the Hugos), but I feel like she'll make it someday.

Best Novelette "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again" 4th The Only Harmless Great Thing 5th
On the other hand, this is hard for me to complain about because the category was so strong! "If at First You Don't Succeed" is an amazing little story, and only ended up in fourth on my ballot because the competition was so strong. I'm not surprised Only Harmless wasn't quite to the taste of the average Hugo voter.

Best Novella Artificial Condition 5th No Award 7th
Okay, I'm not surprised No Award didn't win this category, or even place, and I'm also not surprised that Murderbot won, and I'm also also not surprised that the actual story I ranked second landed down in sixth, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. I hope next year is better.

Best Novel The Calculating Stars 2nd Spinning Silver 2nd
Not surprised at this, and pretty happy about it, too; it's the one category where I was roughly in accord all the way down (I placed Space Opera last; it finished in last). Mary Robinette Kowal gave a fantastic acceptance speech, too.

I actually No Awarded Best Series because I don't believe in the category, and I don't rate the Wayfarers books very highly... but I was glad to see Becky Chambers win it. First, because it's the kind of series the category was ostensibly created to honor, one where the constituent parts haven't won, but the whole does. Second, because Chambers gave a great acceptance speech about how Worldcon itself transformed her from a self-published author to one with a book deal! She was quite clearly emotional as she gave her speech, wishing her wife was there to share in the moment instead of back home.

As always, I enjoyed the experience, though I think I didn't enjoy more of the finalists this year than in previous years. Hopefully next year is a return to form. On the other hand, this year's actual process of voting and reading was way better than 2018's.

Now that I've done it three times, it's a thing, so I'll def be back for more!

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