February 24th, 2008


Hugo Nominations Deadline

Just a reminder -- less than a week remains to get in your Hugo nominations for this year.

You need to be a supporting or attending member of either the forthcoming worldcon, Denvention 3, or the past one, Nippon 2007, to nominate. If you're not a member, however, it is easy enough to join, and supporting memberships -- for those who can't make the con -- are cheap enough.

Nominations can be made online at Denvention's website at


Nominations must be in by SATURDAY, MARCH 1 to be counted.

These days there are dozens of different awards being given for SF, fantasy, and horror, and all of them are nice enough, to be sure, but the Hugo is the oldest and far and away the most important. This is the one given by the READERS, not by some hand-picked jury, and the more people who participate in the process, the better. Not enough people vote for the Hugos, sadly, and far fewer bother to nominate... which is a shame.

So don't miss your chance to take part. Go ye forth, nominate, vote.

John W. Campbell Award

The John W. Campbell Award is presented annually along with the Hugos. It's a "new writer" award, given to the best new writer to enter the field during the previous two years. As such, it is often (though not always) the first recognition a newcomer to our genre ever receives. It's a great boost to a budding career, and something that winners and nominees both will long treasure. (You never forget your first time).

All that was certainly true for me. I published my first story in 1971, which meant that I was eligible for the very first Campbell Award when it was presented at Torcon 2 in 1973. I lost (to Jerry Pournelle), but the nomination was a huge thrill for me, and helped encourage me in those dark days that all young writers battle through.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the Campbell Award is important, and I urge everyone reading this to be sure and nominate their own favorite new writers. The Campbell is governed by the same rules as the Hugos, so you can nominate online at the Denvention website whose URL I gave below.

What's that you say? You read new writers, but you don't keep track of when they first published, so you're not sure who is eligible for the award and who's not?

Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Just go to http://www.writertopia.com/awards/campbell and you'll find a whole website devoted to keeping track of new writers and Campbell eligibles. Check it out, and I'm sure you'll find some writers you've enjoyed... and others that you may not have heard of yet who you need to check out.

Then read, nominate, vote.

We have an especially strong crop of new young fantasists coming up of late, including Joe Abercrombie, David Anthony Durham, and Scott Lynch (who was a Campbell Award finalist last year, losing to Naomi Novik, but is eligible again this year). The Campbell does not usually draw nearly the number of nominations the major Hugos do, and sometimes only one or two votes decide who gets on the ballot and who doesn't... so if you don't nominate and your personal favorite misses the cut, you'll have only yourself to blame.

Best Fanzine

What the hell is a fanzine, you ask? It's an amateur magazine, produced by and for fans, and once upon a time fanzines were the center of science fiction fandom. In those days they were produced on mimeographs, xerox machines, or (shudder) ditto, obtainable for "sticky quarters" or "the usual," which usually meant you sent your own fanzine in trade or wrote a LOC. (That's "letter of comment," folks). The "Best Fanzine" award is one of the oldest and most traditional of the Hugos.

The category is still around, of course, and some traditional fanzines still survive, but they are no longer quite as central to the subculture as they once were, and the Best Fanzine category doesn't seem to draw many nominations these days. It seems to me, though, that there is a new center springing up right before our eyes here on the internet. Webzines, blogs, and online journals and review sites are proliferating right and left, and there are probably as many of them around as there were mimeo and ditto'd zines in their heydey.

These are the fanzines of the 21st century, and I think it is time we recognized the best of them in the Best Fanzine category of the Hugos. It doesn't have to be done on a mimeo to be a fanzine, boys and girls.

Last year I suggested that I HOPE I DIDN'T JUST GIVE AWAY THE ENDING and PAT'S FANTASY HOTLIST were both worthy of Hugo consideration. Stego didn't publish enough new material in 2007 to warrant a nomination this time around... but Pat St. Denis certainly did. PAT'S FANTASY HOTLIST is a must-read site, I think, a constant stream of reviews, commentary, interviews, contests, giveaways, and discussion, updated at least weekly and often daily. True, true, this guy Pat is a Dallas Cowboys fan, but his site is good enough that I'll even give him a pass on that.

If you haven't seen the Hotlist, check it out at http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/ Scroll back through the Archives, and you'll be reading for days.

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist will be first on my list of Best Fanzine nominations this year.

Best Artist

Best Artist has always been one of the more problematical Hugo categories. Because it is given to a person rather than to a particular work, name recognition has always weighed much more heavily here than in the fiction categories, and the same artists have tended to dominate the ballot year after year and decade after decade, sometimes even winning Hugos during years in which they had little or no work published. Meanwhile other artists, equally talented, never even made the ballot.

If we'd used similar rules for the fiction categories, we would have had a "Best Writer" award instead of "Best Novel," and Robert A. Heinlein would have won it every year from 1954 until his death, with maybe a few upset wins sprinkled in for Roger Zelazny and Ursula Le Guin when the New Wave was at its peak, and William Gibson when cyberpunk was the flavor of the month.

Past efforts to redress this problem have come to nothing, however. When they offered a Hugo for the best piece of artwork rather than best artist, no one nominated. So we're stuck with this award the way it is.

There are so many good artists out there, however, that I urge everyone who intends to nominate to try and look beyond last year's ballot when filling in this year's.

How about John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith? The "Big Three" of Tolkien illustrators are among the best known fantasy artists in the world today, and have been for many decades, and NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER BEEN NOMINATED FOR A HUGO! They haven't even made the ballot. Fantasy fans buy their Tolkien calendars in the hundreds of thousands, but seemingly forget all about them when the Hugo comes around. I think it's time we rectified that. Alan Lee had an especially good year in 2007 with his gorgeous illustrations for Tolkien's CHILDREN OF HURIN.

And there are so many news artists as well. Let me draw your attention to one of them, a guy named Michael Komarck. I first encountered Komarck a few years back when he stepped in to do a cover for the Meisha Merlin edition of TUF VOYAGING a week before the deadline, after the previous artist had taken a year and produced crap. Komarck did an amazing job in the short time he had, and his work has just improved since then. He did the cover for INSIDE STRAIGHT, the new Wild Cards book, and will do the rest of that series. He also did the cover the Fantasy Flight's art book, THE ART OF ICE & FIRE, and he's the one painting the Dabel Brothers series of limited edition Ice & Fire prints.

Here are few samples of his stuff. You can find a lot more on his website at http://www.komarckart.com/ Check it out for yourself.

I'll be nominating Komarck, Lee, Howe, and Nasmith for the Hugo this year.


Best Editor

Best Editor is another one of those problem categories, where the award goes to a person rather than to a piece of work, and as a result the same people tend to show up every year.

Originally this category was "Best Professional Magazine," but that was changed back when books and original anthologies began to shove the prozines aside and assume more importance in the field, the idea being that now book editors would be able to compete for the Hugo as well. That sounded good in theory, but didn't work in practice, since book editors were seldom credited and the readers didn't know who they were. So the magazine editors continued to dominate.

Last year, however, the award was split in two. Now we have a Hugo for "short form" editing and one for "long form" editing.

The short form nominees are going to be the usual bunch of suspects, the magazine and anthology editors who have filled the ballot for years. The best of them, to my mind, is still GARDNER DOZOIS, and I expect I will be nominating him again. He brought ASIMOV's to its present position as the best magazine in the field, still edits his BEST OF THE YEAR, and has also edited various original anthologies, some published, some in the pipeline.

The long form editors -- the book editors -- are still largely unknown to the general reader. Let me mention a couple of them who deserve a nod. 2007 was the last year of ELLEN ASHER's long tenure at the Science Fiction Book Club, where she had been the editor for as long as I've been publishing. It was a distinguished career, and Ellen had the daunting task of reading almost all the SF and fantasy being published and selecting the best of it for her club members. She's never been honored with a Hugo, and I think it's past time. She'll be on my nominating ballot, and I urge you all to remember her on yours.

I will also be nominating my own editor, ANNE LESLEY GROELL of Bantam Spectra. She's been my editor since the first volume of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and she's been terrific every step of the way. If I survive this series, it will be in no small part thanks to Anne, so go and nominate her too!