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Hugo Thoughts

Talking about sports this morning is immeasurably depressing... so I am going to talk about science fiction and the Hugo awards instead.

After several months of relative quiet, the Puppygate mess seems to be stirring again.

It is my hope -- maybe a naive hope -- that this time around, we can actually talk about the WORK instead of engaging in endless recrimination and name-calling. I am, I confess, not optimistic on that front, but I am going to try to do my bit, by... well, by talking about the work.

In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don't like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them... and unless you are aware of a work, you're not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you're voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).

Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form.

Big Hollywood movies traditionally dominate this category. I suspect it will be the same this year. The new STAR WARS comes out at year's end, and has to be the favorite here. I have not seen it, you have not seen it, no one really knows if it will be another EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or another PHANTOM MENACE... but it's still STAR WARS, and I suspect it will be nominated.

THE MARTIAN should also be nominated. A great adaptation of a terrific book, I actually think it has a fair chance of upsetting STAR WARS. Fans of hard SF -- and there are a LOT of those -- love this one, and for good reason. I loved it too. (And wish we'd been allowed to screen it at my theatre). There seems to be some confusion about whether Andy Weir is still eligible for the Campbell Award, by the way... but if he is eligible, he should certainly be nominated.

Also, there's MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I loved the old Mad Max movies (especially THE ROAD WARRIOR), and this one was a worthy successor. Deserves a space on the ballot for sure.

Those are the big obvious choices. But let me draw your attention to a few more obscure possibilities.

PREDESTINATION is an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's classic short "All You Zombies." It actually came out last year (we showed it at the JCC), but had little distribution. For that reason, the Sasquan business meeting voted to give it a second year of eligibility, so it is eligible again this year. It is an excellent little film, with a wonderful performance by Sarah Snook. Very faithful to RAH. If you liked the story, you should like the movie. Seek it out and give it a look.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a comedy out of New Zealand, about four vampires living together in Wellington, NZ. I saw it first in Switzerland at a film festival. It's hilarious. Won the festival's audience award, deservedly. Comedy is often overlooked at awards time, if there are no special categories for it. This one deserves a better fate. Not a chance in hell it will ever win a Hugo... but wouldn't it be cool if a small, funny film like this could make the ballot?

Finally... the Long Form category is not actually limited to movies, though those do tend to dominate. So do also consider JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL, the seven=part BBC television miniseries adaptation of the Hugo-winning novel by Susannah Clarke. A lovely piece of work, I thought, and -- again -- faithful to the source material (a big thing with me). It should not be forgotten at nominations time.

I am not urging anyone to nominate any of these... but I am suggesting that you might want to check them out. They're all works I enjoyed a lot. I suspect that THE MARTIAN and FURY ROAD and the yet-unseen STAR WARS are all pretty much locks for Hugo nominations regardless, but the other three, the more obscure three, are worthy efforts that might be missed, unless people seek them out. So...

Comments

( 63 comments )
Mark Clark
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:12 pm (UTC)
Hugo
Did you see Ex Machina? That has to be up there too!
grrm
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugo
Good call!! Yes, EX MACHINA was excellent as well.

I forgot about that one.

Which is why it is valuable to talk about the work.
Awesome taste - Red Zen - Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Awesome taste - grrm - Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Awesome taste - Red Zen - Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Awesome taste - georgekirby - Nov. 4th, 2015 05:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hugo - gman109 - Nov. 3rd, 2015 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hugo - saxster - Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hugo - rimrunner - Nov. 3rd, 2015 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
saxster
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, definitely. The funniest horror comedy since 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Zombieland'.
Steven Sidore
Nov. 4th, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
That's rough...
CABIN IN THE WOODS put in a good showing just 2 years ago...

Edited at 2015-11-04 03:24 pm (UTC)
starkdad
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:26 pm (UTC)
Norrell & Strange
A second for Norrell & Strange.

Great costumes, good battle scene (depicting England's "Alamo" at Waterloo), characters well played.

Story is dense and hard in some areas to convey on screen but they did a good job of bringing out the visual aspects of the story.

But like Wolf Hall its glass ceiling is a nomination - will probably be swamped by Star Wars Episode VII (which I am looking forward to) or The Martian. But what great slate of stuff (also Dick's story about Axis powers conquering US may draw in some traditional SF fans).

And lets hope the work and not the author's personnel political views can once again be the dominate factor for Hugo voters.

TomT
unsentauron
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
Are you a Star Wars fan, GRRM? Do you consider it fantasy or Sci Fi?

I personally have very high hopes for the new film. Taking into account how Disney has handled the Marvel properties so far, I think Star Wars is in much better hands. Lucas was a man of one good film & that film was "American Graffiti".
grrm
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
I consider STAR WARS to be sf. Space opera, to be precise.

My own definition of the two genres is pretty simple. It's all about the furniture. If it has spaceships and aliens, it's science fiction.
(no subject) - unsentauron - Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rjcollins - Nov. 6th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
solarbird
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
After several months of relative quiet, the Puppygate mess seems to be stirring again.
Oh christ, no.

The Martian was just wonderful. If it's a lock, it's because it should be.

I voted to extend eligibility for Predestination, so thanks for the reminder to check it out - it'd fallen back off my queue. And also for What We Do in the Shadows.
fightwookies4
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:49 pm (UTC)
Mets had a heck of a year
Royals fan here. Mets have a great rotation and a lot of promise going forward. Our hearts were broken in game 7 last year, so don't give up hope.
grrm
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Mets had a heck of a year
I am a Mets fan. I am used to pain.

But we will always have 1969. And we will always have 1986.
livejournal
Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:39 pm (UTC)
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dannydemiurge
Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:51 pm (UTC)
Do you think non-Western works are at a disadvantage in competing for Hugos? THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM won the award for best novel in 2015, which would seem to discount that idea, but I found it interesting that Hayao Miyazaki has only been nominated for a Hugo once (for SPIRITED AWAY in 2001) despite his amazing track record of creating quality SciFi and Fantasy.

There is a huge output of SciFi and Fantasy from Japan, in the form of anime and manga, but I'm guessing a lot of it doesn't jibe very well with western sensibilities.
grrm
Nov. 3rd, 2015 12:42 am (UTC)
Worldcon was born in America, and the "world" in its name actually derived from the 1939 NYC World's Fair, not from any global sensibility. However, in recent years, the con has become more and more international... which is not to say that the USA and the English language does not still dominate, but the con -- and its awards -- are both moving in the right direction, I think.

The victory of two translated works last year underlines that. Never happened before. A sign of things to come, perhaps.

Japan, of course, has its own awards. The Daikons, which I am told means either 'radish' or 'nebula.'
(Deleted comment)
I'm glad - rehdhedd - Nov. 3rd, 2015 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm glad - dannydemiurge - Nov. 3rd, 2015 03:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm glad - undomielregina - Nov. 3rd, 2015 04:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dannydemiurge - Nov. 3rd, 2015 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - undomielregina - Nov. 3rd, 2015 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - petrea_mitchell - Nov. 4th, 2015 04:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - undomielregina - Nov. 4th, 2015 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
The Seiun Awards - petrea_mitchell - Nov. 4th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Seiun Awards - dannydemiurge - Nov. 4th, 2015 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Seiun Awards - dannydemiurge - Nov. 4th, 2015 09:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
markhh
Nov. 3rd, 2015 12:06 am (UTC)
Humans
The wonderful Strange & Norrell would be my first choice for a piece of TV in this category, but I'd also suggest a longshot for "Humans", an interesting and ambitious UK show that also played on AMC in the US.
grrm
Nov. 3rd, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
Re: Humans
HUMANS was excellent, yes... but stands a better chance in Short Form, if its fans can get behind a single strong episode.
Re: Humans - msconduct - Nov. 3rd, 2015 01:21 am (UTC) - Expand
hungrytiger
Nov. 3rd, 2015 01:02 am (UTC)
Star Wars seems like a lock, but I thought the same thing back in 1999 before Phantom Menace came out, so I'm waiting and trying not to get my hopes up too much. The Force Awakens trailers make it look much better than Phantom Menace, but Hollywood has gotten so good at crafting great trailers for terrible films that I'm still worried.

Of course, '99 was a great year for this category, with Matrix, Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich, Iron Giant, and the winning film, Galaxy Quest.
lordevaco
Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:08 am (UTC)
George, do you agree that the Hugo awards should have a videogame category? I mean, if they have "Best Fancast", why not games? There are great fantasy/sci-fi games coming out every year.
grrm
Nov. 3rd, 2015 06:58 am (UTC)
I don't think we should be adding any new Hugo categories unless we also eliminate some of the existing ones. The ceremony goes on too long as it is.
(no subject) - Kane Gregory - Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dannydemiurge - Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
TheRedViper
Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:47 am (UTC)
A Recommendation
For short fiction, I hope "Soup" by Chikodili Emulumadu gets some play (fantasy -- like a modern, dark fable). She's been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award in the past. But a lot of Hugo voters might not read it because it doesn't appear in a traditional SFF mag.
http://www.onethrone.com/#!soup/ckas
jamieeardley96
Nov. 3rd, 2015 06:28 am (UTC)
Hugo's and an apology from me sorry if it's irrelevant
Mr. Martin

Your work as a novelist and screenwriter make me look like a complete dropkick, i'm sorry that i made you angry in the month of may by posting a link to my blog on my original account. It got reported and deleted and i'm sorry if i upset anyone. The Hugos have been an arena of controversy both sides are valid, Puppies and the Liberals. I have expressed my disaproval of websites you may like, both for and against the Puppies. I have disagreed with both of them. Again please tell me if i write something you disagree with. I don't know who reported me, i just disagreed with the Mary Sue, and if thats a crime ok fair enough. It could've been anyone. I'm not going to blame anyone because the fault is mine and mine alone
grrm
Nov. 3rd, 2015 07:00 am (UTC)
Re: Hugo's and an apology from me sorry if it's irrelevant
I have no idea what post you are referring to. No one "reported" anyone. My assistants and I decide which posts get unscreened and which are deleted. There are a number of reasons why a comment might be removed... some as simple as being off topic, so no "crime" may be involved. I have asked many times for comments to stay on topic.
elize_marysol
Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for the post Free counters!
Free counters!
kieran sterling
Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:59 am (UTC)
ex martiana
This will be the first year I vote for the Hugos. It would be great if Star Wars ends up being an awesome movie worthy of a nomination and a win, because I'd love to see the magic return to that franchise, especially with some of the original cast.

But so far this year there were excellent movies that were fun and thoughtful and will be hard to beat. They've already been mentioned.

Fury Road, was to me one of the best in the Mad Max series. I'm not as big into apocalyptic scifi or extended car chases so MM was always working from a deficit position for me. But this one used the elements well. If SW restarts as well as MM just did, then it could win.

Ex Machina, was fantastic. I had a short story published this year related to AI (particularly capturing consciousness in synthetic form) and kept worrying if it would step all over the points I made. It didn't and I loved that I could not guess where it was going to come out at the end. And it worked wonders with minimal effects. It was subtle. CHAPPIE, the other major AI movie, while visually well done and fun enough, was basically effects driven and so did not match ExM's solid storytelling.

The Martian. I never read the book, but the movie delivered everything I had hoped Interstellar was going to deliver. Genuine love of exploration and science, despite the dangers. Minimal science flaws kept it off my eye-roll radar.

At the moment, Ex Machina and the Martian are tied to me for the top spot. The Martian might edge out ExM at the last moment, simply because it had realistic science and a positive message. The only way ExM might edge out Martian is because it was not an adaptation, and so a great work originally delivered in that format (is that a valid point?). But they were both excellent pieces of filmmaking, period.
Gregory Hullender
Nov. 3rd, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC)
Short Fiction is the Real Challenge
Even last year, when they took us by surprise, I don't think the puppies had a big effect on the Hugo nominations for movies. There are simply too few movies to choose from and too many fans with strong opinions.

The real challenge is short fiction. You've said in the past that you had tried to get people to read more short fiction, but without a lot of success. On the drive back from Sasquan, my husband and I decided that there were two big obstacles that make it hard for people to find the best short SF, and we decided to put together a free web site to address them. (This is for fun, not money, so it isn't monetized in any way.)

http://www.rocketstackrank.com/p/2015-year-to-date.html

The first big problem is that it's very hard to figure out how to get copies of back issues of the three print magazines. So we hunted down all the possible legal ways to get online copies of back-issues of the three big print magazines. There's nothing worse than recommending a story that no one can figure out how to get hold of.

The other big problem is that there are way too many stories for an average person to read through. They need a way to filter out the top 5% or 10%. Many of the people who review short fiction do express recommendations, but you have to read the whole review, and that generally spoils the story. So in addition to doing our own reviews, we also collected links to four different reviewers so people could see what stories are recommended without having to read a spoiler first.

To beat the puppies at nomination time, we only need to get an extra 200 or so people to read and nominate short SF. That should at least keep them from sweeping the ballots. If you're up for another swing at the windmill, I think this would be a good time to make another effort to get people to give short fiction a try.
grrm
Nov. 3rd, 2015 05:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Short Fiction is the Real Challenge
You make some good points.

Given the sheer amount of short fiction published each year, it is helpful to consult things the NESFA and LASFS recommended reading lists, and to read the monthly short fiction reviews in LOCUS. I believe TANGENT also reviews short fiction.

But there's room for more, and for other voices.

I don't have time to read hundreds of short stories either. But if I hear about a story that everyone is talking about, I will likely take a look.
Re: Short Fiction is the Real Challenge - TheRedViper - Nov. 3rd, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Grigore Darius
Nov. 3rd, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC)
Mr.Martin what is your opinion on the last kingdom? Have you seen all the episodes?
Ken Marable
Nov. 3rd, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
Talking about the work
I agree entirely on having this year focus more on talking about the work. For my little bit, I'm trying to encourage people to consider November through February as the "Hugo Recommendation Season" where we talk about what we enjoyed this year, and most importantly, why. I even encourage people to focus on a different category every week since there are many that often get far less of the spotlight, but definitely deserve the attention.

The schedule I semi-arbitrarily came up with is:
Nov 1 – Best Semiprozine
Nov 8 – Best Fan Writer
Nov 15 – Best Professional Artist
Nov 22 – Best Fancast
Nov 29 – Best Editor (Short Form)
Dec 6 – Best Fanzine
Dec 13 – Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
Dec 20 – Break
Dec 27 – Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Jan 3 – Best Fan Artist
Jan 10 – Best Novel
Jan 17 – Best Short Story
Jan 24 – Best Related Work
Jan 31 – Best Editor (Long Form)
Feb 7 – Best Novella
Feb 14 – Best Graphic Story
Feb 21 – Best Novelette
Feb 28 – The John W. Campbell Award
Mar 6 – Late Arrivals

So, this week, I would love to hear people's recommendations on which semiprozines people think are great (and next week Best Fan Writers). You can submit links to your recommendations here: https://hugorecommend.wordpress.com/submit-hugo-recommendation-links/

But whether people take part in my suggested recommendation season, or not, I am mainly hoping we can talk about the work.

And with that - back to the topic - The Martian is currently my top pick. Loved the book and recommended it to everyone who would listen (one of the only books my wife, our kids, and myself have all read), and the movie captured it perfectly. (I will admit to a swell of pride when my youngest daughter's first impression was how accurate it was "Except why did they change it to starting on Sol 18 rather than Sol 6 since that shifts how much food he has available, which changes the math of lots of other stuff...")

However, many of the others you mention are high on my "to-watch" list. Mad Max is the only other one I have seen, and I enjoyed it and wouldn't be amiss at it being nominated. But I would certainly vote Martian over it if given the chance.
Albert Petrosyan
Nov. 3rd, 2015 09:38 pm (UTC)
Hugos
Have you seen Crimson Peak? I always wondered whether you like del Toro's movies.
RaUL_AMDERLAINE
Nov. 3rd, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC)
Have you read Brian K. Vaughan's "Y The Last Man" ? The news of a Y: The Last Man TV series comes after a long waiting period as rights to the series reverted back from New Line to Vaughan
young_raven
Nov. 4th, 2015 05:40 am (UTC)
Hurray discussing the work! I'm quite looking forward to seeing your take on the best novel. Mine is "why the hell did Aurora and Seveneves have to come out the same year?!?"
memyselfandrye
Nov. 4th, 2015 06:45 am (UTC)
Loser's party
Jon Hamm was on Late Night with Seth Meyers and discussed how he and Amy Poehler used to throw Emmy losers parties going back a couple of years.

I think they owe you royalties, or at least an invite to the next party (unless you win an Emmy next year, obviously).

sfbluestocking
Nov. 8th, 2015 01:00 am (UTC)
More suggestions:
ADVANTAGEOUS was a beautiful film, and it even had flying cars in it. It's definitely one to check out before nomination time rolls around.

And CRIMSON PEAK was a gorgeous subversion of the Gothic romance.
( 63 comments )

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