Hugo Award 2012: The Winners (w/ Brief Commentary)


And the winners are…

(Disclaimer:  Most of the reactions below are “initial” reactions.  Easily offended people will probably be offended.  Such is life.  😛 )

Best Novel 

Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

I’ve heard good and bad things about Among Others.  Personally, I don’t have anything against it, but I do think Mieville’s work often deserves more recognition from an awards standpoint than it receives.  He’s one of the few writers actually experimenting with form / concept / etc. these days.  That, in my mind, keeps the genre fresh.  Keeps it growing.
But I guess you can’t win them all…

Best Novella 

Countdown, Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Ice Owl”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
“Kiss Me Twice”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary”, Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

And here comes the big MEH from me.  I have not liked anything I’ve read by Kij Johnson.  Her writing is often stilted, uninspired, and overwhelmingly heavy-handed (I’ve rolled by eyes and contemplated throwing computers after trying to read some of her work).  I’d love to be proven wrong, but after getting burned so many times, I doubt that will happen.  
The award should have gone to Ken Liu or anyone else.  Meh.

Best Novelette 

“The Copenhagen Interpretation”, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s)
“Fields of Gold”, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
“Ray of Light”, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
“Six Months, Three Days”, Charlie Jane Anders (
“What We Found”, Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

I have nothing to say here.  It’s not a category I’ve paid enough attention to for judgment.

Best Short Story 

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld)
“The Homecoming”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s)
“Movement”, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s)
“The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, John Scalzi (

Thank God!  If one of these had to win, it was Liu’s emotional fantasy about a young man’s rejection of his mother’s “foreign” culture, and the toll it takes on her and their relationship (I say “foreign” here because it can probably translate well enough to a lot of different cultures).  A good piece of writing, if not flawed.  I’m just glad folks did not destroy the awards for good by picking Scalzi’s joke piece…

Best Related Work 

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
Jar Jar Binks Must Die…and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies, Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
Wicked Girls (CD), Seanan McGuire
Writing Excuses, Season 6 (podcast series), Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jordan Sanderson

This is another of those categories that I’m not terribly pleased about.  I still think Writing Excuses belongs somewhere else, and many of the other works just don’t appeal to me.  That is except the winner, which is a nifty project and all, but one that, I think, needs to ferment for another year.  But that’s about as much passion as I have for this category…

Best Graphic Story 

Digger, by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
Fables Vol 15: Rose Red, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys To The Kingdom, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan, created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

I have no favorites on this list because I cannot afford to read graphic novels on a regular basis, and nobody sends them to me for review.  Hooray for Vernon.  That is all.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 

Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely; directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

I’ve already said what I think about Game of Thrones being on this list:  it does not fucking belong.  It’s a T.V. show.  It aired as a T.V. show.  Nobody would call Game of Thrones a “really fucking long movie” for the simple fact that it is a T.V. show.  So while I love Game of Thrones, it really should be in the short form category as a single episode (or many), which would mean it would win the award there and not here.
The award should have gone to Hugo, which is perhaps one of the best fantasy films (and children films) of the last decade.  But, alas, certain individuals decided Game of Thrones is really a movie or single-string-production-whatever, not a collection of hour-long episodes.  Meh. 

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form 

Doctor Who, ”The Doctor’s Wife”, written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
“The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”, Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
Doctor Who, ”The Girl Who Waited”, written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who, ”A Good Man Goes to War”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
Community, ”Remedial Chaos Theory”, written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

I love Doctor Who.  I really do.  But Neil Gaiman was completely wasted on “The Doctor’s Wife.”  To be honest, the entire Moffat era has suffered from that very problem:  really great writers forced to cram insane levels of story into individual episodes.  “The Doctor’s Wife” is no exception.  It has one of the most unique plot points (the TARDIS rendered into human form and a wicked murderous house AI).  It’s just not the best of the lot.  To be fair, neither are the other choices.  The best Doctor Who episode is arguably “The Impossible Astronaut,” unless you count “A Christmas Carol” in this lot (that’s up for debate).
But, hey, it was Gaiman, which means you could probably put his name on a package of sausage, tell the community it’s a movie, and they’d nominate it.  Okay, so that’s not entirely fair, since it’s not exactly Gaiman’s fault nobody gave him a two-parter…  Meh.

Best Semiprozine 

Apex Magazine, edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

Whatever.  So Locus wins.  Typical.  Obvious award is obvious and boring.  Interzone has been on this list so many damn times and it gets passed over every single time.  And you know what?  That’s a travesty.  A complete and utter travesty.  Interzone is one of the best SF/F magazines out there, period.  And it damn well deserves a win already.  They publish amazing fiction, their articles are good, and their movie review section is a bloody hoot.
So I am disappointed and quite bored.  Also:  this section is a repetition from last year.  Such is life.

Best Fanzine 

Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank, edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Yes!  I am totally stoked!  Go SF Signal!  Go!  That is all I have to say…Well, except that this is how I wanted it to go.  Congrats to Mr. DeNardo!

Best Fancast 

The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), Patrick Hester (producer)
SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

I have nothing against SF Squeecast, but it was not my first choice.  It’s not a podcast I listen to regularly; of those on the list, that mark would go to The Coode Street Podcast.  And yet I can’t find myself hating on the folks behind Squeecast, because it’s not a bad show, just not one I find particularly appealing and one which, in my mind, relies too heavily on star power (I think they need to toss in someone who isn’t a widely published writer or Doctor Who ninja).  But, again, these are pointless criticisms, because I don’t hate the show or think it doesn’t do something for the community.  I’m just rambling because I really wanted to see Strahan and Wolfe snatch it — their show is just so intense and good and everything my own show probably never will be…
So, yay SF Squeecast.

Best Editor, Long Form 

Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky
Anne Lesley Groell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Betsy Wollheim

When I saw this category, I thought, “This could go to anyone.”  And I still feel that now.  Betsy Wollheim won, of course, and that’s pretty awesome for her (go DAW!), but I won’t pretend like I had a favorite.  Lou Anders deserved it last year, but any of them deserved it this year.  No controversy.  Just a general smiley happy feeling.

Best Editor, Short Form 

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams

You know what?  Damn.  Two years in a row!  Holy crapsicles.  That’s probably not unheard of, but it seems pretty incredible to me.  No concerns here.  This is nothing but happy.  Yay!
The really sad thing is that Stanley Schmidt is supposedly retiring, which means he will no longer be eligible for a Hugo in this category.  And you know what?  He deserves a Hugo for his work on Analog.

Best Professional Artist 

Dan dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Michael Komarck
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio

I think every year I look at this category and think, “I really want Martiniere to win, but if he doesn’t, my life won’t end.”  And that’s how I feel this year.  All of these artists are great, though Martiniere remains my favorite (it’s his style).  That’s just how things are.
Though something has to be said about Picacio’s improvised acceptance speech.  Very honest.  Very to-the-heart.  He definitely deserves a Hugo.

Best Fan Artist 

Brad W. Foster
Randall Munroe
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne

Note: 6 nominees due to tie for final position.

I have no investment in this category, since I don’t know anything about any of these folks.  So the winners and losers don’t mean anything to me.  This is not meant to discount their work, just to say that I have no clue who to favor.

Best Fan Writer 

James Bacon
Claire Brialey
Christopher J. Garcia
Jim C. Hines
Steven H Silver

My personal choice would have been Jim C. Hines, who, in my opinion, contributes a lot of valuable material to the fan community by way of his blog.  Even when he’s being a total goof (ahem, remember when he posed as women from fantasy covers?) he’s contributing something valuable to our community.
And that’s who folks picked.  I am happy.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer 

Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
Karen Lord
Brad R. Torgersen
E. Lily Yu

If I’m being honesty, I have not been all that impressed with Yu’s writing.  So when they announced her as the winner, I felt rather, well, annoyed about it.  The one story she got nominated for on this list (“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”) had a lot of potential, but fell short of “great” for me, and might have been my least favorite on the list if not for Scalzi’s joke selection people decided to place there.
And, well, if I’m being even more honest, I have a special place in my heart for Leicht’s and Lord’s writing.  If I had to choose between Lord and Leicht, it would have been Leicht, though with a great deal of discomfort (Lord is damn good too).
I guess what I’m learning from the awards is how out of touch I am with what the community wants/loves/awards/etc.  And how much I just really don’t care for what this community privileges over work which, quite honestly, deserves more recognition.  I feel like I’m turning into Jeff VanderMeer — eclectic reading tastes with a large side of pretentious (in a good way).  But this is all initial reaction stuff, so I’m wrong on some counts, right on others, asshole-ish still on other…others.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “Hugo Award 2012: The Winners (w/ Brief Commentary)

  1. As a first generation immigrant from Taiwan (born US) whose father legitimately designs origami models, I decided to go find Ken Liu's story, figuring that there had to be at least one thing in his work that I identified with.

    Now I am a sobbing puddle on the bed.

    When I played with origami figures as a child, I pretended they were alive. (Okay, so I still do that.) I can't read Chinese very well, though I am currently improving. I don't know when Qing Ming is. Maybe I haven't rejected my Chinese heritage as much as the short story's protagonist, having had the good fortune of growing up in a community that is 30% Asian, but in so many little ways, the story rang true.

    I barely pay attention to the Hugos, though I pause here to wonder whether if GOT had been in the short form category, that it might have swept the nominations. Heh.

    I'll forward the story to my parents. Thanks for bringing it to my awareness.

  2. Carr: I am so glad the story moved you so much. That is really awesome! I sent a tweet to Liu to read your comment because I think authors really appreciate it when readers are this moved.

    Glad I could bring it to your attention in my own small way. 🙂

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