2021 Hugo Award Finalists Reaction Post

The Finalists are Finally here!

So, I know it’s Wednesday, and normally I would have posted another review of something from my prospective Hugo reading list, or perhaps a review of another book I’ve been reading, but this week is different . . .

This week, the finalists for said Hugo Awards were announced, and so I’m gonna do a bit of a reaction post. All of the categories are listed here, but for most of them I will probably have little or nothing to say. I’ll try to let the meatier reactions sift up to the top of the post . . .

Here we go!

Best Novel

For me, this is the most important category. Not to take anything away from any of the other categories, but it’s most interesting to me, because let’s face it, I’m more interested in novels. More interested in reading them, more interested in writing them, more interested in everything I can find out about novels. It’s just where I’m at.

So, what’s my reaction?

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that I only managed to have read one of the books that actually made the finals. I’ve been playing a little bit of a game with myself every year since I became aware of these awards which is to see how many of the finalists I’ve read when they’re announced, and then judge myself for whatever the number was. I’ve come to consider it a bit of a pulse check to see whether I’m generally inline with the “genre” or not. It’s a bit silly, but I can’t help myself and I’ll probably never stop.

Last year I had already read three of the six books selected (my all-time high score), which to me, seems legit. When I first started playing this game, I was consistently reading zero of the front runners, but I also wasn’t reading a lot of recently published Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve tried to change that, and . . . sometimes I fair better than others.

Anywho, this year, the only one I’ve read was Martha Wells’ Network Effect. This is doubly disappointing as I had essentially written this one off in an earlier post. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, I have at least purchased. It is probably the one I’m looking forward to the most. I also had already purchased Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal.

I’ve read two other books in the Lady Astronaut Universe by Kowal (Calculating Stars, and Fated Sky) and loved them both, but I think I heard somewhere, that the new book does not take place from the point of view of Elma York, the Lady Astronaut. I’ve seen this sort of thing many times before, and Kowal is an excellent writer, so I’m sure I’ll love this book, but I’ve been procrastinating on it because of the main character change, and because of the fact that it’s been quite some time since I read the first two, and I’m wondering if I should do a re-read . . . that will be a game time decision.

I’m pretty excited for Harrow, just because I love the Locked Tomb Universe but given the end (which is all I’ll say), I have a lot of questions going in.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke seems like it will be quite a trip. I’ve never read anything by the author before, so this could be the surprise hit.

I didn’t really like Rebecca Roanhorse’s other Hugo contender, Trail Lightning, but I think I can go into Black Sun with an open mind.

That’s pretty much my reaction for the novel round. Onward!

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

I moved this up to the top of the list because to me, it’s in the same vein as the best novel award category. Apparently, it’s separate from a Hugo, so theoretically, the books in this category could win both which is kinda neat.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik the most. Have read some Novik in the past (Uprooted, and Spinning Silver) and while I enjoyed both of those titles immensely, I’m glad we’re in different territory here. I’ve got the first book in Novik’s Temeraire series on my shelf waiting to be read too. Looks like I have a lot of Novik in my future . . .

Also, very curious about Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. First, it has an excellent cover, and second, I just keep hearing about it.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher, I was thinking of picking up just on the title alone . . . now I have even more incentive.

The others in this category I haven’t heard of, but now is perhaps as good a time as any to familiarize myself with them.

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

I’m sneaking this one up to the top too, as I think it’s pretty important. Of the names on this list, Micaiah Johnson is probably who I want to win. I read The Space Between Worlds recently, and actually thought it would be a finalist this year . . . Ooops.

Would also be happy with Simon Jimenez winning for much the same reason. The Vanished Birds was great and (to me) belongs on the finalist list above.

I have read Jenn Lyons’ A Ruin of Kings, and while incredible in scope, and a massive undertaking, I wasn’t quite enthralled enough to continue the series.

Lindsay Ellis I haven’t read yet, but am somewhat familiar with her from her YouTube channel of all things . . . Am excited to read Axiom’s End.

A.K Larkwood (Unspoken Name) and Emily Tesh (Silver in the Wood) are unknown to me at this point but now that I google them, I realize that I have both of their debuts on my shelf . . . awkward . . . Well at least at some point, past me was excited enough about these books to buy them, so I’m gonna trust past me and get hype now.

Best Novella

Novella is probably going to be the next most interesting category for me. I managed to have read (but not reviewed) one title on this list which was Sarah Gailey’s Upright Women Wanted. It’s a fantastic story, but I’ll be honest, I’m hoping something else on the list surprises me.

I think the second strongest contender will probably be Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire. I’ve read three other Wayward Children books, and each one seems to be more impressive than the last. I think I’ll need to read two more to get to this one, and I’m pretty excited to start on that journey.

Ring Shout, by P. Djeli Clark is another I’m excited for. I’ve been eyeing his Dead Djinn in Cairo series for quite some time too but that’s not the point of this post.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Finna by Nino Cipri, and The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, I know relatively little about. You’ll notice two of them were on my Novel List so clearly I didn’t even know how long they were . . .

We’ll see.

Best Novelette

Unfortunately, I know almost nothing in this category. I’ve at least heard of Aliette de Bodard. Her Servant of the Underworld has been on my list for quite some time but I haven’t read it yet.

In any case, it will be a fun to try out some new authors!

Best Short Story

This is another category where I’m pretty out of my depth. I’ve read one book and a few short stories by Yoon Ha Lee, but haven’t found anything by them I’ve super enjoyed (although I have high hopes for Dragon Pearl).

Right now, Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer is looking the most interesting based off the title alone. We’ll see! . . .

Best Series

Unabashedly, I want The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty to win this category. I’ve recently finished The City of Brass and am almost done with The Kingdom of Copper (to be reviewed on this blog soon!), and I pretty much can’t wait for The Empire of Gold. It’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed a series since the early days when I started Mistborn . . . wow I’ve just had a revelation . . .

Anyway, I will not be disappointed if Wells takes this for the Murderbot Diaries. It’s a long series but definitely one of my favs as of late.

I couldn’t get into Scalzi’s The Interdependency which is surprising, because I have long considered him one of my favorite authors. (you can read some of my past posts on his work like my review of Miniatures and Redshirts . . . and I though I’d written more on him here. Oh well here’s a Scalzi Tag so that future me won’t have to search for posts about him)

Lady Astronaut which I mentioned above is an incredible series . . . I wonder if this would include only the first two books, or the one that is being considered now for novel? Either way, would not be sad to see Kowal win this either.

October Daye (by Seanan McGuire also mentioned earlier) and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang are both series I’ve never read so . . . Can’t say much about them.

Best Related Work

I can’t say I know much of what is up for an award in this category except: Woah! What is George R.R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: The 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony (Rageblog Edition)

I mean I watched as much of the 2020 Hugo as I could, and it was awkward, and maybe a little off-putting, but wow it sounds like there is a lot to unpack which I missed. I’ll be reading that shortly.

Best Graphic Story

I’m just not a Graphic Novel person. Not yet. Anywho, none of this looks familiar. Not much to say here.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Movies! First impression was surprise to see Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on the list. I haven’t seen it (but love Will Ferrell so I definitely want to).

Palm Springs will probably be my choice for this. I’m a sucker for “Groundhog’s Day” type storylines, and I felt this one really brought something new to the table.

Soul is probably the one that should take this award just on merit alone. If not for Palm Springs I would vote for it.

Tenet – I’ve been looking for an excuse to just buy this one . . . looks like now I have it.

May still check out Birds of Prey, but I think I sort of missed its moment. Will probably still check it out.

I haven’t heard of The Old Guard yet . . . Maybe that means it’s the sleeper pick haha.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

I’ll be honest, without re-watching these individual episodes, and maybe the whole shows to give them context, I’m not really sure how to make this decision. If She-Ra hasn’t won anything before in this area, I’d say that I would want it to go to that show.

Mandalorian may deserve a prize just for making me feel like I should continue to keep watching Starwars media.

The Good Place is always a fav . . .

I haven’t watched much Doctor Who

Best Editor, Short Form

Some familiar faces here. Neil Clarke, editor of Clarke’s World Magazine is probably the person on this list who’s work I’m most familiar with. Looking at his wikipedia page though, it appears he’s been a nominee for this award 8 times! (wow). Basically every year from 2012 to 2020 with the exception of 2015 . . . impressive. He’s done an amazing job and I would be upset if he doesn’t take home this award in 2021.

Best Editor, Long Form

Sadly, I don’t know any of the Editors on this list . . .

Best Professional Artist

Again, unfamiliar . . .

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies is probably my fav short fiction mag in this group. I think it’s last award was in 2017 so . . . maybe time for another?

Strange Horizons is probably the other one I’ve read the most, and has apparently been a finalist every year since 2013. Maybe this will be the year!

Uncanny will also be a strong contender here. I’ve really been reading a lot of them (well what little short fiction I’ve read recently has come from them), so I would not be upset if they take this award either.

I haven’t read FIYAH yet but am anxious to check it out.

Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist

I’ve grouped these together for brevity as they are essentially all the same answer . . . Which is that I don’t recognize much here.

Best Video Game

So this is the first year this category has been available, and I was super excited to hear about it being created. I’ve been pretty much glued to my PS4 since this pandemic started and so I thought it might be a good one for me to flex some insight . . .

I have played zero of the games on this list hahah. Animal Crossing is a cultural phenomenon but sadly not one on PS4. Final Fantasy VII Remake seems a little sus in my opinion as it’s a remake . . . I guess since this award hasn’t existed in the past I’ll let it slide (ya know because I have control over these things)

Hades is probably the game on this list I’m most excited to play. Love greek mythology and the gameplay mechanics seem intriguing . . . plus literally everyone I know won’t stop talking about it.

Last of Us Part II is interesting to me for a different reason, namely, story. So far, from what I’ve heard of this game so far, it really brings storytelling in videogames into the realm of literature. I thought this of the most recent God of War game, so I’m anxious to see this happen again with a new title. But . . . I need to play the first one first. I think it’s on sale for $10 right now so I really have no excuse . . .

Ooof I think that’s everything

Wow. We did it! We got through the whole list! This is way too long to proofread and I’ll probably miss the mistakes anyway.

Let me know what stuff you’re most excited for in the comments and thanks for reading this gargantuan post!

Until next time!

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