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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...


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Mark Clark
Nov. 2nd, 2015 10:12 pm (UTC)
Did you see Ex Machina? That has to be up there too!
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
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)
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.

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".
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
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.
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.
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.
Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:39 pm (UTC)
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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.
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.'
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
Nov. 3rd, 2015 12:06 am (UTC)
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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George R.R. Martin
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