The 2012 WISB Awards!

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The awards have come!  Every year, I offer my favorites from the previous year, from movies to books and so on and so forth.  This year, I’m keeping with the tradition.  First, the rules:

  1. I must have consumed the chosen item in 2012, with special preference given to works released during that year.
  2. I may not have more than three runners up for any category (which means a lot of folks get left out — sorry).
  3. I have the right to drop categories if I don’t believe I can honestly assess the products contained within it (example:  I can decide to drop a TV category if I only watched one show in that category because it’s really not fair for me to assess the best of the best if I haven’t actually watched more than one show).

So, without further delay, here are my selections for the 2012 WISB Awards:

Best Novel

I loved this book so much that I almost taught it in my American dystopia class.  Unfortunately, space constraints prevented me from doing so.  In any case, if you want to know exactly what I thought of the book, you can read my review.  The short version:  simply stunning.  Then again, I’ve loved Brian Francis Slattery since Spaceman Blues, and will probably keep on the love affair for as long as he lets me…

Runners Up:  The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, And Blue Skies From Pain by Stina Leicht, and Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell.

Best Collection or Anthology

This is the only award I am giving to a work that wasn’t actually published in 2012, which I will justify by saying, “I reviewed it in 2012, which is good enough for me.”  Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse is more a concept collection (a la Christopher Barzak’s Birds and Birthdays) than a traditional collection.  Exploring the various ways humanity responds to catastrophe, this collection quickly became one to remember, so much so that Locus put it on its 2011 recommended reading list.  That’s about where I would have put it too — except I decided to give it an award!

Runner Up:  Near + Far by Cat Rambo

Best Publisher
It comes down to a numbers game this year:  I reviewed more books from Tor than any other publisher.  On top of that, my #1 novel selection for the year came from Tor.  Let’s face it:  they publish some damn good stuff, and this year happens to have been an exceptional one for them.  Keep it up, Tor!

Best Magazine
The award might have gone to a different magazine this year, except Interzone changed up its format so much that I ended up loving it even more than before.  That new format involves a tighter print size, a sturdier binding, a complete overhaul of the cover and interior designs, and the same wonderful fiction I came to love when I got my first subscription so many years ago.  While other magazines were downsizing their production schedules or changing up management, TTA Press were busy turning Interzone into a better, more attractive product.  Call it Interzone 2.0, if you like.

Runners Up:  Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Cross Genres, and Shimmer.

Best Cover
Min Yum’s dark illustration for And Blue Skies from Pain falls within that range of work that I honestly love looking at.  If I could, I’d buy a poster of the art and put it on my wall.  You’ll forgive me for having no clue what to call the style; whatever it is, I like the way the dark colors blend together, almost like someone took pastels and used a finger to delicately sync everything together.  Hopefully we’ll see more of Yum’s work in the future.
Runners Up:  Jagannath by Karen Tidbeck (artist:  Jeremy Zerfoss), Osiris by E. J. Swift (artist:  Sparth), and Fate of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (artist:  Stephan Martiniere).

Best Film
I know.  You either loved this movie or you hated it.  Can you guess where I stand?  To be honest, I think Cloud Atlas is perhaps one of the greatest films of the last decade, and I was surprised that it did not receive any recognition by the Academy for its various achievements.  After all, Cloud Atlas isn’t a “safe” film.  Everything could have gone terribly wrong right from the beginning.  But it didn’t.  Instead, Cloud Atlas became a thought-provoking tour de force.  Screw The Matrix.  This is what the Wachowskis were meant to create.  Genius.
Runners Up:  John Carter, The Avengers, and Cabin in the Woods.

Best Television Show
This is such an easy choice for me.  Game of Thrones pulled out all the stops this year.  Unlike the first season, the newest season actually gave us one of the major battles:  the siege of King’s Landing.  Throw in the continued stunning performances from Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, and Maisie Williams and there’s just no contest:  this is the best genre television show on air right now.  Period.
Runners Up:  The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, and Doctor Who.

Best Non-Genre Film
I had a lot of apprehensions about this film, but went to see it with my grandmother anyway.  And guess what?  I enjoyed it so much that I issued an ultimatum to the Academy:  give Daniel Day-Lewis a bloody Oscar or else!  While Tony Kushner’s script takes some liberties — for example, it has never been proven that Thaddeus Stevens had a monogamous relationship with Lydia Hamilton Smith — the adaptation of Lincoln’s battle to end of slavery is, if anything, beautifully rendered and handled with expert precision by a solid cast.  I expect this one to take a lot of awards this year.  It damn well deserves it.
Runner Up:  Skyfall

Best Non-Genre Television Show
Admittedly, I’m perpetually behind on non-genre TV shows.  For example, I only now started watching shows like Law & Order:  Criminal Intent or the first seasons of the original Law & Order (or even 24, which I just began this week).  The Inbetweeners is one of those “I started it late” shows.  But it was also an instant favorite.  Featuring all the ridiculous high school comedy I could possibly need, it’s like reliving some of my less-favorable years, only without actually have to live it.  Simply put, it’s one of my favorite comedies of all time.  Now if only I could get my hands on the final season…
Runners Up:  Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit.

Best Soundtrack

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself drawn to what I can only describe as “concept soundtracks.”  Just as Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Inception integrated with the narrative, so too does the soundtrack for Cloud Atlas, composed by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil.  Featuring the actual “Cloud Atlas Sextet,” which is integral to the narrative of the book and the film, it is certainly one of the more ambitious and musically compelling soundtracks of the year.  If you didn’t like the movie, you’re bound to like the soundtrack!

Runners Up:  The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey by Howard Shore

The 2012 Kudos Award

Jim C. Hines!  2012 was a damn good year for Jim, not least of all because he found a hilarious way to open the discussion about women on the covers of SF/F books:  by switching the genders, with himself as the “model.”  It all started here, then it continued here and here for charity until finally John Scalzi and a bunch of other folks got involved at the start of 2013.  What could be more wonderful than tearing down the foundations of cover art expectations than to put a bunch of grown men (and one woman) in a masquerade of cross-dressing SF/F hilarity?  Nothing, I tell you!  Nothing.

So Kudos to you, Mr. Hines.  You rule.

The 2012 Wappa Wappa Wa Award 
(i.e. the Worst Person Who Happens to be a Published Writer Award)

Marvin Kaye (Weird Tales).  I’m not going to bother explaining why here.  If you must know why I selected Kaye for the Wappa Wappa Wa Award this year, all you have to do is read these posts.  Mind you, the problem, as I see it, isn’t the novel that started it all, but Kaye’s response to the situation.  That, in my honest opinion, makes him suitable for a Wappa Wappa Wa Award….


So there you have it.  My selections for 2012.

Now for the big question:  What would you include in the above categories?

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.

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