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This year, after taking a short break from giving a fuck, I will be paying my dues and signing up to MidAmeriCon II so I can, once again, nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards. And, wow, do I have a lot of opinions this year. 2016 was a good year for science fiction and fantasy, and I'm eager to get loud about all the media that I think deserves attention.

Before I start shouting my mouth off, let me offer up a quick primer in case you don't know what the Hugo Awards are. Basically, they're public choice awards which recognise science fiction and fantasy media. The ability to nominate in these awards is open to anyone who can afford to pay for a supporting membership to MidAmeriCon II, 2016's World Science Fiction Convention. Once nominations close, and the shortlists for each category have been created, everyone with a supporting membership gets to vote on which nominees should emerge as victorious winners.

And when I say 'everyone' that means you! Yes, you can vote for your favs of 2015 to be recognised by this award. For more information, including what the categories are, and how to sign up for supporting membership before Jan 31st 2015, go to the WorldCon website or the Hugo Awards website.

Despite being sad and jaded about these awards last year, and opting out of participation following the revelation that the Sad Puppies were planning to maliciously target the whole awards process, I genuinely love the Hugos. The Hugos are one of a very select set of awards I can get directly involved in, and maybe the only awards that let me vote in all its award categories. In contrast to a lot of other voters, I actually like that that the Hugos have so many different categories. They're one of the few SFF awards which gives prizes to all different kinds of media, and all different kinds of creators. I think the breadth of the awards at least makes an effort to encourage SFF fans to get invested in areas they may never have tried before. That's part of why I'd like the Hugos to have a YA category but that's a discussion for another day.

In a turn even more controversial than liking the large amount of categories, I enjoy preparing for nominations more than preparing for voting. Preparing a nominations slate is free choice, baby! The process is unconstrained by the need to stick to pre-organised lists. Getting ready for nominations combines the thrill of driving through media with a purpose, looking at media as part of a community, and just stuffing cool media into my face because it looks like a good time. There's so much to choose from, and you can give yourself free reign to look at it all or to avoid a bunch of it because it looks dull. You make the rules in the Hugo Games.

At least, that's how I plan to approach Hugo participation in 2016 - no guilty ideas about trying everything in order to "earn" the right to have an opinion. I'm embracing media anarchy this year. I do what I want.

And just what will that mean in 2016? Well, usually when Hugo season starts I'm chasing the party - scrambling to make sure at least some of my slate is full but always feeling behind. This year, I'm already able to create draft slates for some categories in my head. In media terms, 2015 was a well good year for me, and the ease of filling some of my draft slates tells me that recent SFF played a huge part in shaping that year.

So, I could read more books eligible for the Best Novel category - The Grace of Kings, Black Wolves, The Book of the Phoenix to name just a few. However, if I don't read any more eligible novels before nominations close I already have a full slate of books I would happily nominate for that category (I'll tell you more about those after the window for buying membership has closed). The same goes for the Best Short Story category. And I've even managed to accidentally read enough to allow me to draft an almost full slate for the Best Novelette category. Several years ago I didn't even know novelettes were a thing. So, while I might end up reading more works that are eligible for those categories (novels are my go to reading format anyway), I'm not going to be concentrating on reading more for those categories.

Then there are the other categories - the ones I need to play catch up on. Best Graphic Story is the category I'm going to be chasing down hardest. I own so many trade editions that are eligible for the 2016 Hugos and have just let them pile up all the way through 2015 because… I don't know even know. Even though I get such a steep discount through work, reading graphic novels one after the other kind of seems like throwing money around because they're so quick to read. And yet somehow buying them in the first place seems like making totally reasonable purchasing decisions. Never change, finance brain.

My biggest plan this year though is to write regularly, up until nominations close, about the progress I'm making with my Hugo efforts. So, expect to hear about what I've been up to every couple of weeks. For now, here's all the progress I've made since the start of 2016:

Finished reading Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher Stace (Eligible for Best Novel) — I'm so glad I started the year with this novel because it was boss. Archivist Wasp is a surreal YA SFF novel, about a dystopian society, where marked girls enter yearly duels to the death for a position that will ultimately kill them. Wasp, the current Archivist, emerges from the most recent battle injured and desperate only to be compelled into making a bargain with a ghost which takes her on a journey into the underworld. I'm always excited to see how authors tell the stories of women who undertake quests in post-apocalyptic societies. Especially now, as I think this side of genre is going through an interesting revolution; becoming less preoccupied with high concept setup and more with physicality and detail driven world building. Archivist Wasp contains plenty of narrative angles to examine, as well as a story about a tough, gritty individual written in prose that often flashes with originality. Read this is you like your weird full of wordcraft.

Started reading Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (Eligible for Best Novel) — I'm only a little way into Karen Memory (I've just met the Marshall) and I like it just fine so far. It's a fun, alt-history steampunk take on a pioneer lifestyle, which contains a large cast of interesting characters who mostly work in, or around, the sex trade. I love Karen's voice - it's chippy, smart and wry. And I'm enjoying piecing together how the world she lives in works. Looking forward to talking more about this one when I'm finished.

Finished reading Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (Eligible for Best Novella) — I went into this novella hoping to find my ultimate killer mermaid story but this just isn't my kind of horror story. Nevertheless, this novella interesting in relation to Mira Grant's other work. The other books I've read by her (the Newsflesh trilogy and Parasite) were more than willing to destroy reader's hearts with horrific and startling deaths. However, they were also filled with a believe that the human race could survive anything. No real spoilers, unless like me you are eternally optimistic despite textual evidence, but Rolling in the Deep deals with the inescapable onslaught of a top predator, and ends by confirming that humans have no chance of combating that predator. It's sort of like Jurassic Park without narrative protection for the heroes. This kind of story isn't really my thing, but I enjoyed seeing Grant do something different (if again within a familiar frame). If, however, this should turn out to be a prequel to a trilogy about humanity's fight against killer mermaids I will be jumping right on the next book.

Read "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary" by Kij Johnson (Eligible for Best Short Story) — Helpfully, Clarkesworld have made a list of all the short fiction they've published which is eligible for various awards in 2016. Handily, they've split the fiction into useful categories and included word count, which simplifies everything for a Hugo voter like me who is trying to navigate the three different short fiction categories. And, of course, the creation of such an easy to use list means I'm more likely to browse Clarkesworld stories in the run up to the Hugos nominating period. Smart and practical move, Clarkesworld! Thanks to this list, I've now read Kij Johnson's short story, "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary", which I previously had no idea even existed. From what I hear about Johnson's other work, it's a pretty typical piece (although maybe a bit lighter on the explicit horror) - a fantastical, detailed and creepy story about a variety of magical apartment creatures that want you to live alone forever.

Finished reading Storm, Vol. 2: Bring the Thunder by Greg Pak, Victor Ibanez, Neil Edwards and Al Barrionuevo (Eligible for Best Graphic Story) — I'm going to use all the words about this book in my upcoming post Storm: Thief. Goddess. Headmistress. Queen. Hop over here on Friday to see why I loved this book so. Highly recommended. I would especially love to see Bring the Thunder appear on the Hugo shortlist for Best Graphic Story because, with Greg Pak's run on this character completed, 2016 is the last chance for this vision of Storm to be recognised by awards.

Finished reading The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles (Eligible for Best Graphic Story) — I often do not really understand how The Wicked + The Divine arrives at certain places (agree - Renay) but I am all in for the lush art, the look at celebrity culture, and for the truly messed up gods (agree - Susan). I liked how much stylistic experimentation this set of comics contained, particularly in the club scenes but also in the way the comics built in convention floor plans and itemised diagrams. The Wicked + The Divine always feels very different than any other comic. And I like that it's always striving to develop rather than just settling into delivering opulent devotional images in order to match it's godly subject matter (although, there are plenty of those images too).

Watched "", Episode 1 of Mr Robot (Episode eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form. Series eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form.) — After watching the pilot of Mr Robot, I'm unsure whether I'm going to watch this series all through to the way to the end. We shall see. On the one hand, it's clearly going to be a meaty piece of SFF; providing lots of detailed content for fans to pick over whether they're into story structure, politics, acting or just computers. On the other, Elliott, the show's protagonist believes that no one else in the world is aware of how corporations aim to manipulate them, and takes a pretty contemptuous view of people for using social media. I understand that the show doesn't necessarily validate its main character's point of view - the viewer is supposed to be concerned about his highly disconnected life - but it still asks viewers to admire a hero who fits into a familiarly unpleasant, cynical and nihilistic template. If this were a story about a white boy computer hacker Sherlock-type, I'd have cut it off after its first diatribe about 'sheeple'. But it isn't, and I find that the casting does make a difference to the way I interpret this show's hero. Also, the fact that it's an SFF show totally focused on what's going on inside a chromatic characters and where two chromatic characters spend extended scenes together makes it difficult to cast aside. And so does the politics that motivates Elliott in this first episode. It's impossible to shrug off a show which presents a young man with severe anxiety who experiences joy when he finds a way to bring a corrupt corporate world to its knees. If The Hunger Games moved you then this episode may too.

Caught up on "Human for a Day", Episode 7 of Supergirl (Episode eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form. Series eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form.) — The show of my heart! I am so confused about how to nominate Supergirl, and TV series in general, this year. Realistically, I think Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) is going to come down to a straight shootout between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road. But Supergirl has been a wonderful series. Every week I worry that it will start to disappoint, and yet every week I come away with a new favourite episode. This level of continued quality suggests that I should nominate it for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form). However, I don't want to enter my girl, or any of my other favourite shows, into a contest they have absolutely no hope of winning because they're going up against mega-fandoms. So, I'm considering doubling up my nomination - putting the whole series in for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) then picking an episode for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). But which episode?! Choosing is impossible and crushing. It's like being told you have to pick your very favourite baby animal (Puppy. No - wolf! No - sloth! *SCREAMS FOREVER*)

Saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form) — STAR WARS! Rey! Finn! Poe! BB-8! I partly loved this film because I wholeheartedly agree with Oscar Isaac's idea that The Force Awakens is about the people who would usually be extras in a Star Wars film, and the fanfic side of me is so excited that someone made that film. And I partly love it because it had a clear, creative direction that blended nostalgic touches with a drive to make this story distinct from anything that had come before. Plus, it has such a good heart.

So, that's what I've been up to so far. This week, I have five days off from my retail job in a row - actual magic. So, among birthday celebrations, I hope to get some serious media in. I'm not going to go too hard out (I burn out of fun projects easy when they start feeling forced) but I'd like to:

Date: 2016-01-12 02:01 pm (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
I'm going to try this thing this year... but must confess don't even know where to start with potential things to nominate. It's all a bit overwhelming! But I will figure out how it works and give it a try.

Date: 2016-01-13 12:55 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
I am hoping to go through the spreadsheet sometime soon... there is SO MUCH stuff! And maybe I don't have to read everything but I'd like to have read enough that what I'm nominating makes sense?

Date: 2016-01-12 09:25 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
Out of curiosity, do you pay attention to the art when you read comics? I mean, as an important part of the experience, not just as a vehicle for the writing. Plus, there's always re-reading.

Date: 2016-01-13 08:29 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
Oh, good. I was asking because that tends to be the reason people find comics to be (too) quick reads. One book I've found really useful about comics as a medium is Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, btw (I read the French translation, fyi).

Date: 2016-01-15 10:33 pm (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
You're welcome.

Date: 2016-01-13 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Confession: I perpetually get Mr. Robot and (damn it, it's happening right now, I can't think of what the other one's called) Ex Machina mixed up, and one of them sounds really interesting and the other one I admit doesn't so much, and so I haven't watched either of them. :/ SOON. I am nearly to the point of being able to tell them apart. Ex Machina is the one with Alicia Vikander (I love her from The Man from UNCLE) and Oscar Isaac. Mr. Robot is the one with Rami Malek and Christian Slater, neither of whom I can reliably identify from photographs.

Your reading and watching plans sound wonderful! I too am excited for SuperMutant Magic Academy!

SFRQ eligible!

Date: 2016-01-13 06:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Um, SCI-FI ROMANCE QUARTERLY, the free online magazine focused on SFR, is eligible for nomination in the Semi-Prozine category, in case anyone's interested. *koff*koff* ;)

Kaz Augustin (Chief Editor of foresaid mag, so definitely a conflict of interest there)

Date: 2016-01-13 09:10 am (UTC)
willowcabins: (Default)
From: [personal profile] willowcabins
HONESTLY, im so grateful @ the Hugos 2015/6 Award spreadsheet that Renay was working on earlier because its really helped me prep for the nomination period as well as I can! Well, this is also because i am A Nerd and I actually bought the membership last summer because it was on sale if you were under 25!!!!!!!!!
anyway, I wanna read Archvist Wasp so bad and also Supergirl is such an amazing show it makes me cry once a week.


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