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Another year, another Hugo nomination season! Once again, nominations for the Hugo Awards are open, to anyone who is currently a member of this year's upcoming Worldcon in Helsinki, last year's Worldcon in Kansas City, or next year's Worldcon in San Jose, CA ["a.k.a., my neck of the woods. Come to San Jose! We'll all hang out!! It'll be great!!!" — KJ]. Nominations are open until mid-March (March 17th or 18th, depending on your time zone), so that's plenty of time to read all those things you've been meaning to get to before nominations close… right?

Never fear, the editors of Lady Business are here to provide our suggestions as you decide what to prioritize on your TBR. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that might be worthy of a Hugo nomination, nor is it meant to be. It's just a selection of some of the things we loved in 2016, and a few reasons why we loved them, along with some books, stories, and shows we're still hoping to check out ourselves. Each editor's opinions are their own, although we suspect you'd find a fair amount of agreement if we had sat down to discuss our picks.

Best Novel

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers — The easiest Hugo voting decision I've ever made. Chambers' second novel is charming, heart-felt, smart, and just really, really interesting all the way through. I started out afraid I wouldn't warm to it because it didn't follow the main characters from A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, and ended up equally sad that Chambers' next book won't be about the characters from A Closed And Common Orbit. There aren't many authors who can make you love all their characters equally. [Jodie]

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders — Although difficult to read in places, because of its depiction of bullying, overall I found this an absorbing and touching story about magic versus science, and the importance of human connections over both. [KJ]

Company Town by Madeline Ashby — This slim novel packs a slew of science fictional topics into a thrilling, fast narrative, and manages it to do it without feeling overwhelming. Company Town explores aspects of friendship, loyalty, and the realities of how our inner and outer lives will change with the advent of more complicated technology that keeps us always hooked in. I love Ashby's books and this one delivered everything I wanted. [Renay]

Everfair by Nisi Shawl — This novel fascinated me, from how I reacted to some of the characters (often VERY negative to VERY positive with very little in between) to how my concept of steampunk evolved from the beginning of the novel (cue: grumbling about this not being steampunk) to the end of the novel and my discussions of it (holy moly, Shawl is declaring war on a genre empty of critical self-awareness and inherent racism!!!). This novel is so rich in its characters and the way it builds an entirely new nation. I wish more people were discussing it because there's so much here to unpack. I would love to see Shawl recognized for the risks she took in this book and also for the amazing things she managed to accomplish within it. [Renay]

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold — I had a really hard time getting to this latest Vorkosigan book in the first place because before that I had to read Cryoburn, which I'd been avoiding because of [spoiler]. But I finally pushed through and read both of them, and it was hugely rewarding. I was delighted to see a loving polyamorous relationship in mainstream fiction, and enjoyed seeing the two other legs of the triangle, Cordelia and Jole, find each other. Of course, the whole thing is written with Bujold's translucent prose and emotional touch, with little gut punches like Cordelia cutting off all her hair (read both books to see why this one hurts so much). It's the latest book in a series and doesn't have a hope of winning, but I'd still like to put it forward. [Ira]

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria — Being realistic, it is incredibly unlikely Iron Cast will make the ballot (it's YA and not really that well known) but it's so good that I'm gonna vote for it anyway. I promise to be eminently practical about all my other ballot picks >.> Iron Cast mixes music, magic and history as it follows the story of two best friends, Ada and Corinne, who use songs and poems to pull off complex con jobs in Jazz Age America. Yeah, I don't get why more people aren't reading it either. [Jodie]

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee — Military space opera full of trickery and weirdness is the best summary I can come up with for Ninefox Gambit. Everyone I know who has read it seems to start out confused and grouchy (calendrical rot is so hard to understand) only to emerge from it a full-on convert to Lee's writing. This is the only novel I wrote a long-ass review about last year so you know it must have been special. [Jodie]

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee — I love this novel with all of its beautiful weirdness and factions and characters trying to use each other to accomplish their goals. The webs of relationships and plans delight me, to the point where this is currently the only thing on my ballot. [Susan]

Best Novella

Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan — A story told from the point of view of a woman who doesn't know who she is. I found it very compelling to learn the truth of her existence at the same time she did. [KJ]

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — A dark, faceted gem of story about the children who visited fantasy worlds and can't adjust to being back. I finished it in an afternoon and would have spent much more time with the characters, but the story fit so perfectly in its space that I don't mind. [KJ]

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — I hugely, hugely second KJ's rec for this book! Perfect for fans of Holly Black, Lauren Beukes, and anyone who thinks Susan Pevensie was robbed. [Jodie]

Best Novelette

"Kid Dark Against the Machine" by Tansy Raynor Roberts — I love superhero stories, and I especially love superhero stories that directly take on the odd conventions of the genre, like kid sidekicks and what happens once they aren't a kid anymore. [KJ]

"Superior" by Jessica Lack — I didn't read much short fiction in 2016, but this piece had me excited from the first section. It's a story about supervillains and superheroes, but also about the responsibility of power, revenge, and teenagers in love. It's charming and wonderful and it made me so happy. ♥ [Renay]

Best Short Story

"43 Responses to 'In Memory of Dr. Alexandra Nako'" by Barbara A. Barnett — You might guess from my selections in this category that I enjoy short stories that take advantage of unusual storytelling formats, and you'd be right. A fascinating and creepy story that gets the feel of an Internet comments section just right. [KJ]

"The Fifth Gable" by Kay Chronister — This is a beautifully written and haunting and somewhat disturbing (I love it) story about creation and having children and loss. I'm not sure what more I can say about it that won't spoil the reading experience, aside from that the language and imagery is lovely and haunting. Definitely worth a read. [Ira]

"From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review" by Marie Brennan — This story, told in the form of letters to the editor in a scientific journal, is set in the Lady Trent series but also stands alone. Great on its own, and it also gives a good taste of my favorite currently active series. [KJ]

Best Related Work:

Archive of Our Own — That's right, pals! I'm back and I haven't given up. Archive of Our Own continues to be one of the most epic pieces of fanwork that fans have shoved up their metaphorical sleeves to make and maintain. It's a hugely expansive project that fans created and work on to this day completely! for! free! It hosts fanfiction and nonfiction fan essays, it allows people to run challenges, it lets people keep rec lists with commentary, and have long discussions in the comments. I'm gonna die on this hill until some Hugo admin team somewhere decides to KILL MY DREAMS and render it ineligible. Just in case someone plans to @ me on Twitter to argue why it's not eligible — DON'T, I'm busy on this hill and can't talk to you. [Renay]

The Caped Crusade: The Rise of Batman and Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon — A fun and thought-provoking look at the history of Batman in all his incarnations, and how the character has both mirrored and influenced changes in fandom and wider culture. [KJ]

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley — I mean this is only one of the most important books I've ever read. No big deal. [Jodie]

Best Graphic Story

Black Panther, Vol. 6: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta Nehisi-Coates — The first volume of Black Panther from Ta Nehisi-Coates is very much about questioning superhero worship. Coates' Black Panther is primarily shown as the monarch of Wakanda rather than an Avenger; a position that brings him into conflict with ideas of justice and fairness. A Nation Under Our Feet is a dark graphic novel which mostly refuses to offer up its characters as simple heroes or villains. It also contains a cracking pair of female resistance fighters, who are in love, and who get as much page development as the Panther. It's an ambitious, political vision of Wakanda. [Jodie]

Monstress, Vol.1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu — A visually stunning story about a girl who masterminds a daring plan of revenge but whose terrible magic makes her the target for much political plotting she cannot control. Monstress feels so original and the art is a detail rich extravaganza. [Jodie]

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda — Monstress is the most gorgeous comic that I read last year, and is absolutely harrowing. It's about monsters and becoming monstrous, and what people do to survive, and it is definitely worth reading. [Susan]

Ms Marvel, Vol.5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson — Ms. Marvel continues to be great, and I think it deserves to win another Hugo award. Super Famous focuses on the problems of being a responsible teenage superhero, and starts to show Ms. Marvel becoming distanced from the support of her community. It's also full of wacky clone shenanigans, Avenger chats, and romantic angst. [Jodie]

The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, & Jordie Bellaire — This comic took me utterly by surprise. It's the story about an AI attempting to create a family and fit himself and that family into humanity by way of society. You know the general outcome before the story really even begins, and you're simply watching the events play out over issue after horrific issue. It's a fabulous study of what it means to be human and every science fiction fan should pick this up, even if they're not that into superhero comics, because the writing is superb. The art is gorgeous, too; Bellaire's colors make everything a little eerie and surreal. [Renay]

Zodiac Starforce, Vol. 1: By the Power of Astra by Kevin Panetta — This graphic novel about magical girls, friendship and saving the world was delightful. It's an energetic, action-filled story told in bright, bold art but it leaves plenty of room for quieter emotions and complex feelings. [Jodie]

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Arrival directed by Denis Villanuve — This film features stunning cinematography and production design, has some of the best aliens ever, and this November I really needed a movie where seemingly insurmountable problems were solved by communication. Amy Adams put in a excellent performance, too. [KJ]

The Expanse (season 1) — Yooooo this is the greatest science fiction show on television right now and if it doesn't get a Hugo nod here or in BDP-SF there's no justice in the universe. AVASARALA FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE!!! [Renay]

Ghostbusters by Paul Feig — The all-female Ghostbusters reboot was probably the biggest science fiction film event of 2016. It was also one of the best films I saw last year. It's funny, the cast is full of charisma, and the film is a very confident affair. It wears its franchise inheritance very lightly; refusing to get bogged down in tradition but eager to throw in easter egg cameos just for fun. I loved it and I will be extremely disappointed if it doesn't make the Hugo ballot. [Jodie]

Hidden Figures by Theodore Melfi — People will probably argue about this one, but if Apollo 13 (also a docudrama about the space program) was eligible, there's no reason Hidden Figures shouldn't also get a nod. Such a wonderful and powerful movie. [KJ]

Moana by Ron Clements, Don HallMoana has catchy songs, a storyline that subtly changes traditional tropes found in mainstream animation, and irresistible main characters. [Jodie]

Star Wars: Rogue One by Gareth Edwards — While Rogue One is sometimes emotionally disconnected, and I have such a problem with the ending, it certainly has its charms. Riz Ahmed's portrayal of Bodhi Rook is chief among them (and I think he deserves his own film set before the events of Rogue One but that is besides the point). Mostly though I enjoyed Rogue One because it was a solidly put together expansion of the Star Wars super-weirdo visual universe, and the world can always use more interesting Star Wars stuff. [Jodie]

Suicide Squad by David Ayer — So, I said I'd be practical about the rest of my nominations but this one might be a bit of a pipe dream considering how poorly this film was critically received. Personally, I found seeing Will Smith, Viola Davis & Margo Robbie co-starring in a film together (interacting with each other - not just talking to the white guy) magical. So, on to my slate it goes. [Jodie]

Zootopia — For some reason I didn't expect to like Zootopia that much, but when I finally got a chance to see it I was impressed with how well it took modern, real life problems and translated them, then tweaked them just enough to make them children's movie friendly but still on point. I loved the friendship at the core of the film, that our hero was a lady bunny who never gave up, and the fact that one of the sloths were voiced by Kristen Bell, which I will one day use to win some sort of trivia game. [Renay]

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

The Librarians, S3 Ep4: "And the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy — This show may be ridiculous, but it's my kind of ridiculous. They're librarians in the same way that Indiana Jones is an archaeologist, and it's just as much fun. I found this particular episode an excellent combination of funny, clever, and moving, and it also stands alone quite well if you're looking to sample the show. [KJ]

Luke Cage, S1 Ep 7: "Manifest" — There were several wonderful episodes from this year's Marvel Netflix offering, but the brilliant acting of Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali helped this entry, an exploration of two great villains and their backstories, stand out. [KJ]

Best Editor (Long Form):

Devi Pillai — I want to write something great here because I really like some of the books that Pillai has edited over the years, included many by N.K. Jemisin. She edited The Obelisk Gate, in fact, and so she is here again, because she helped make the book that got Ana to have an entire conversation with me about stone sex and this 100% deserves an award. [Renay]

Best Professional Artist

Sana Takeda — If you loved Monstress's art, then this artist needs to go on your list, and also everyone needs to hire her for everything forever. [Renay]

Best Semiprozine

Strange Horizons — This magazine is publishing some of the best commentary, analysis, fiction, and criticism around. I love them. ♥ [Renay]

Best Fanzine

SF Bluestocking — To my endless dismay, genre blogging seems to be dwindling as people move on or get scooped up by bigger sites, but Bridget is still out there, writing great reviews and providing commentary on genre happenings, and doing it from a feminist perspective. I really enjoy her take on things, even when I disagree. [Renay]

nerds of a feather, flock together — These folks are also keeping it real on the blogging side, too, expanding and growing and putting out genre discussions on the regular. I'm always checking in on their posts by visiting the website instead of using the RSS feed, which is a High Compliment considering how lazy I am. [Renay]

The Rec Center — A fannish rec newsletter, The Rec Center is a collection of great fannish stories, nonfiction, and commentary delivered to your inbox every Friday. You can also browse it via the archive if you're not into giving strangers your email address, and the archives are publicly available, so I don't see any reason this great resource can't be treated like a particularly awesome blog disguised as a newsletter. [Renay]

Best Fancast

Claire Rousseau — Claire talks about books in the Booktube community. She's a fan and she's casting out videos of lots of bookish discussion, much of it SFF themed so therefore.... I love her non-US perspective on media, and wish more people knew about her because I always learn something or get great recs when she dives into a bookish topic. [Renay]

Fansplaining — An always excellent examination of fandom not defined by old racist white dudes and instead rooted in the parts of fandom that tend to get ignored by the Hugo voter base, I guess because they're not aware of how awesome it is. Luckily, I'm on a mission to tell everyone about it. It's great and you should listen/read it (because they have transcripts). [Renay]

Galactic Suburbia — Still my favorite Australia feminist SF critics. Always teaching me something, like how to be AWESOME and also a responsible reader and community member. [Renay]

Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men — In their weekly dive into one of the most complicated canons of all time, Jay and Miles pull heroic duty to try and make sense of it all. Entertaining, educational, and often with good commentary about different attempts at representation. [KJ]

Best Fan Writer

Abigail Nussbaum — *screams into void about 2+ years of unfairness due to bigoted gasbags* Anyway, Abigail's writing is great and will continue to be great even if the universe continues screwing up. [Renay]

Best Series (trial category for Worldcon 75)

Bel Dame Apocraphya by Kameron Hurley — Apparently eligible because, The Heart is Eaten Last, a novella was released within the nominating period. This is one my my favourite series so I'm excited to be able to nominate it for this new, trial category. [Jodie]

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater — I have a lot of feelings about the Best Series award, and why I am Concerned about it becoming the White Dudes Writing Homogenous Epic Fantasy Award, so my goal is to prioritize ladies writing series I love that are completed that I have also completed. Those aren't the rules for the award (LOL I WISH #MISANDRY) but they are the way I am approaching the award because otherwise I would keel over from indecision. So right now all I have is The Raven Cycle, which is kind of like saying, "All I have is this pile of gold and jewels that will enrich my life." in a morose voice which is insulting and this series deserves better because it's rad, sorry series. This is a series that you believe is one thing going in and you come out the other side cleansed in your knowledge that Stiefvater is super crafty, but also evil. I loved it. [Renay]

Temeraire by Naomi Novik — One of my favorite series of all time, an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. It wrapped up this year with a really strong entry, so I'm happy to be able to nominate it. [KJ]

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold — This is my very favourite series ever and I'm so happy it got another installment in 2016 and is eligible! This is the series that has given me by far the most emotional gut punches and has some of my favourite imaginary people ever in it. The writing is always quality, often there are MYSTERIES to solve and HIJINKS to get up to and FEELINGS to feel. I love Cordelia and Aral and Miles and everyone else (welcome to the family, Oliver Jole!). I remember reading the first Miles book when I was 14, and I've reread the entire series about once every year or so since then, sometimes taking as long as three years between rereads and sometimes rereading them less than one calendar year apart. Yes, all of them. All 14 15 SIXTEEN novels and however many novellas and short stories. I am in fact in the middle of just such a reread right now. Renay stole the opportunity to rave about The Raven Cycle, which is my other favourite series ever, but I will always be able to come back to the Vorkosigan books. [Ira]

The TBR (Planning to read/check out before the nomination period ends)

Ira: I'm super behind on my 2016 reading, so I have a lot to cover. Right at the top of my list are A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab and The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin. I also really want to get to Everfair by Nisi Shawl and Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, both of which sound like they'll take a lot of work. In terms of shorter works, I had heard of Everything Belongs to The Future by Laurie Penny and was really interested in it. There was a lot of talk (not all of it good) about The Jewel and her Lapidary by Fran Wilde, and I do want to check it out and see what the fuss is about. I also can't resist anything by China Mieville so This Census-taker is definitely on the list. Finally, I really need to watch The Expanse and Suicide Squad.

Jodie: Well, first I have to see Hidden Figures. It comes out in the UK next week and I'm crossing my fingers it will make it to cinemas in my area. I have 13 Hugo eligible novels in my house (not including The Invisible Library which is apparently eligible again because of its US publication date). The ones I really must get to before the deadline closes are The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, Everfair by Nisi Shawl and An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows. I'd really like to read Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer as well but I know how much concentration that novel takes so it depends on my work schedule. I also have a few novellas kicking around, including Everything Belongs to The Future by Laurie Penny and This Census-taker by China Mieville (Maree, don't suppose you want to try this again?). I'm not sure I'll get much eligible short fiction read this year but I do want to make time for the novelette "You'll Surely Drown Here if You Stay" by Alyssa Wong.

KJ: There's a few more novels I might read before nomination deadline (The Root by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, Infomocracy by Malka Older, and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab are on top of the list), but the time has come for me to turn my attention to short fiction. I don't seek out much short fiction on my own, so I heavily depend on rec lists like this one to direct my nomination reading. I've found [personal profile] forestofglory's short fiction recommendations particularly helpful in the past. I also need to catch up on the Penric and Desdemona novellas by Lois McMaster Bujold and check out The Starlit Wood, a collection of fairy-tale inspired fiction that looks really good.

Renay: I'm going to try to get to Infomocracy by Malka Older and Borderline by Mishell Baker before time is up, but I have too much other reading to do to go much farther, alas. But if I can get to those I will consider myself as prepared as possible given the fact that there's so much stuff.

Susan: I have so much to read before March! I'm definitely planning to read N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth books and Company Town by Madeline Ashby, and I might try to put some of the Expanse books and TV series into my face. I just have to read my way out from under this bookcase first.

Date: 2017-02-16 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
I missed the boat on signing up to nominate, my bad, but would totally agree with nominating both Ninefox Gambit & A Closed and Common Orbit, loved them both.

I've just started watching The Expanse and I'm really enjoying it so far. I have to admit I've forgotten everything about the book though, I only read the first in the series, but there are no details resurfacing in my mind as I watch the show. Broad strokes, yes, but that's all.
Maybe I should reread it? And then the rest of the series.

Date: 2017-02-16 11:51 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Have some more recommendations!

- Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
A young girl is offered her heart's desire by Baba Yaga and goes on a quest in an alternate world. But that's only the bare bones of the plot; the beauty, as usual, is in Ursula's characterization and worldbuilding -- including, in this case, a were-house and a Regency society of sentient hoopoes, and that's not the oddest thing she encounters by any means.

- The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
A young woman's best friend from childhood is kidnapped, and she goes to get him back. On the way, she finds out a lot about herself. Again, there's a lot more to it than that, but I have trouble describing the ineffable, wonderful weirdness of Ursula's writing -- I end up breaking down and flailing helplessly.

- "Polyglossia" by Tamara Vardomskaya
Language geekery and cultural interactions FTW!

Short Story
- "A Hundred and Seventy Storms" by Aliette de Bodard
- ".SUBROUTINE:ALL///END" by Rachael Acks
- "Razorback" by Ursula Vernon
- "The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch" by Seanan McGuire
- "Seasons of Glass and Iron" by Amal El-Mohtar
- "The Story of Kao Yu" by Peter S. Beagle
- "The Evaluators" by N. K. Jemisin

(They're short. Just go read them.)

- Emberverse, S.M. Stirling, Prince of Outcasts
Massively ambitious post-apocalyptic epic with great characterization and a lot of exploration of the way different societies would form in the aftermath of the complete collapse of civilization. Unfortunately, the current book is not the one to start with; you really need to have read The Golden Princess and The Desert and the Blade first to have a good feel for what's going on. And this is the third major story arc of the series!

- October Daye, Seanan McGuire, Once Broken Faith
Urban fantasy with elves and other fae creatures. A lot of political maneuvering, seriously scary situations, and Toby is usually trying to solve a mystery while keeping herself alive.

- Raksura, Martha Wells, The Edge of Worlds
Amazing worldbuilding, and characters who are human enough emotionally to be understandable, but with a completely different culture similar to that of bees. Lots and lots of trope inversion/subversion around gender issues, and plenty of interactions with people from different cultures -- I think we've seen more races in the Raksura books than we saw in all of Star Trek! If you like these, Wells has a Patreon and she's still posting Raksura short fiction there, although the 2017 novel is going to be the end of this series.

- Young Wizards, Diane Duane, Games Wizards Play
The series that Harry Potter only wishes it could be. Wizards are the caretakers of the universe, and their Great Enemy is no less than the personification of Entropy itself. High adventure with lots of discussion of the ethics of magic. One of the recurring characters is high-functioning autistic.

- Alpennia, Heather Rose Jones, Mother of Souls
On a much less epic scale, this is alt-historical fantasy set in an imaginary 17th-century Europe with magic, and lesbian romances portrayed with an eye to the difficulties such women would have faced during the period in question. There are only 3 books in this series (the other two are Daughter of Mystery and The Mystic Marriage), so it would be fairly easy to catch up on if you're a fast reader.

Related Work
- Making Conversation by Teresa Nielsen-Hayden
A collection of favorite posts from the Making Light blog. Includes the classic essay "Slushkiller" about the many reasons why a story submission may be rejected, plus discussions of online trolls and the moderation of fora, con-running, knitting, and general miscellany.

And of course I'll be nominating you guys under this category. I discovered you via last year's nominations, and I've been very happy with what I found here.

Date: 2017-02-17 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readingtheend.com
WHYYYY have not more people read Iron Cast? I loved it! I thought the world and character building were so, so great, and I loved Ada and Corinne and wanted them to succeed at everything. I have a post coming up about it -- won't move the needle on the Hugos thing, but hopefully I'll get at least one or two more people to read it.

Date: 2017-02-18 06:08 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I dooooon't knooooow *wails*. There are ladies pulling magical heists - what more do people want?

Date: 2017-02-18 11:15 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I really enjoyed the first volume of The Vision (although I think a lot could be solved by the other Avengers just talking to The Vision about the murders). It was really accessible considering that I had no background on this character at all & quite an attractive colour palette throughout. Also, synth-dog :D


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