Where To Find the 2019 Hugo Longlist For Free Online

 This is intended as a supplement to JJ’s File 770 post, Where To Find The 2019 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online. If you want to read the actual Hugo finalists, that’s where to look.

If you are interested in reading works that were on this year’s Hugo longlist but did not make the final ballot, here’s a guide to find material which is available for free online. Where available in their entirety, works are linked. If not available for free, an Amazon link is provided and a free excerpt has been linked if I could find one online. I highly encourage you to purchase books via your local independent bookseller instead of Amazon if possible.

Works are provided in the order of longlist finish. No attempt has been made to verify eligibility or lack thereof.

Novel

Novella

Novelette

Short Story

Series

Related Work

Graphic Story

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Professional Editor, Short Form

Professional Editor, Long Form

Professional Artist

Semiprozine

Fanzine

Fancast

Fan Writer

Fan Artist

Art Book

Young Adult Book (Lodestar)

New Writer (Campbell)

2019 Hugo Ramblings

The 2019 Hugo Awards were handed out on Sunday night in Dublin, Ireland, at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention. I was there, and now that I am home and have had a chance to review the detailed voting and nomination statistics, I have some thoughts.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

This was the first award, and was given to a rather strange mood in the room; Ada Palmer’s serious speech about the role of fantasy in challenging systems of government was constantly interrupted by audience chuckles induced by the automatic speech-to-text captioning, which provided such gems as “Bored of the Rings and Cream of Thrown”. Jeannette Ng was announced as the winner (beating Rivers Solomon by 43 votes) and began her speech by proclaiming that “John W. Campbell was a fucking fascist.” Her full speech can be read here, and if you click one link in this post it should be that one.

Since then there have been a lot of discussions in various places (see, e.g., this File 770 post) about whether the Campbell should be renamed. A few factors to consider:

  • The World Science Fiction Society doesn’t own the Campbell. While we administer it, it’s owned by Dell Magazines, publishers of Analog (the magazine that Campbell used to edit). Dell Magazines controls the name of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
  • It is mechanically possible for WSFS to stop administering the Campbell and start administering their own award. This could be done either as either a new Not-a-Hugo or a Hugo for Best New Writer. My personal preference would be for the former as I don’t really like the idea of a Hugo with rolling two-year eligibility and I think there are some two-Hugo-for-the-same-work concerns. On the other hand the latter would avoid having to figure out a new award name. Also Analog could take the Campbell somewhere else and keep awarding it.
  • The other thing that I haven’t seen discussed is that we’re still actively honoring John W. Campbell. He won the 1944 Retro Hugo for Best Short Form Editor administered by this very convention. Now that’s a very silly award, and I’ll admit I didn’t bother to vote in it; only 425 people did. But this was the most overwhelming win of any category, with 56.8% of first preferences. If we are serious about no longer honoring Campbell, we shouldn’t overlook the Retro Hugos.

Best Related Work

Archive of Our Own beat Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by 174 votes. Last year 55.3% of Hugo voters voted in this category; this year that increased to 64.4%, easily the largest increase in any category. (And if I’m doing the math right there were 261 voters who just voted for AO3 in this category.)

I’m still not entirely sure I agree that AO3 was eligible here but I’m happy for its win as the existence of AO3 really is important for the fannish community and deserves recognition. (And it’s not like the more serious scholarly books I vote for do well anyway: Astounding came in sixth!) I was particularly moved by the donation of the Hugo trophy to the traveling exhibition, thereby quite literally giving the Hugo back to the fans that make AO3 possible.

Naomi Novik’s acceptance speech can be read here.

Best Art Book

A trial category for this year. I’m extremely “eh” on how the trial turned out, and I say this as somebody who is generally supportive of things that make Related Work a bit less of a grab bag. It got a rather low number of nominations (42 ballots and 13 nominees fewer than the next lowest categories) and two of the top eight were ruled ineligible. On the other hand, it got a very respectable number of final votes (1392, or 44.9% of ballots). The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition won by 282 votes over Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: The Art of the Movie.

It bears noting that this win both overlapped with the Professional Artist (Charles Vess) winner and appears to have been at least in part a “We Like Earthsea” vote. (Note that Earthsea was the first runner-up in Series nominations, as discussed below.) There were 128 fewer votes for second place in this category. However I’m not sure that it’s possible to have categories that contain professional art without overlapping a Professional Artist category; consider, for instance, Sana Takeda’s and Monstress‘s wins last year. And obviously an art book can contain art that would not be eligible for a given year’s Professional Artist award due to, say, being a retrospective.

Fan Categories

Best Fanzine

Lady Business beat Journey Planet by 132 votes. Their acceptance speech can be read here.

The Big Thing that people are talking about in this category is that Fanzine only got votes on 26.9% of Hugo ballots, leaving it dangerously close to an automatic No Award. (At least 25% of all of the valid final Hugo ballots must have a non-No Award first place vote in a category for it to be awarded.) Frustratingly, this category isn’t obviously broken from a definitional perspective. There might need to be a bit more voter education in terms of what’s eligible (as in, a lot of online stuff⁠—I think Acrophilia might be technically eligible even though I will laugh at anybody who nominates me) but Pro/Fan Artist this is not.

Even more interestingly, there’s a huge drop-off from last year. Here’s a look at the fan categories over the last decade:

Untitled

If you ignore the 2015-16 Puppy spike Fanzine has been chugging along fairly steadily until this year when it drops from 38.0% to 26.9%. In actual voter numbers, that’s 1075 voters last year to 833 this year. (Note that we picked up 269 additional Hugo voters this year.) The biggest change in the ballot this year is File 770 (permanently) declining nomination; File 770 was second in nominations anyway, with 52, and as best I can tell 252 people voted for File 770 last year on the final ballot and then left the rest of the category blank.

Again, I’m not really sure what the solution is here other than getting the word out about good fanzines that you should be reading. (Although my probably-unpopular opinion is that community sites such as AO3 or r/fantasy are a better fit here than in Related Work.) Aidan Moher suggested merging Fanzine and Fancast but I tend to agree with Claire Rousseau‘s and Renay‘s dissents that the two are actually quite different and should be considered separately.

Best Fancast

Our Opinions Are Correct was the only winner to break 50% in less than six rounds of voting, beating The Skiffy and Fanty Show by 220 votes.

I don’t vote in this category because I can’t focus on audio-only for any period of time without getting distracted. However I was pleased to note the appearance of BookTube on the longlist, represented by Kalanadi and Books and Pieces. Remember, folks, YouTube channels are eligible in this category!

Best Fan Writer

Foz Meadows beat Bogi Takács by 81 votes. Her acceptance speech can be read here.

Fan Writer is a good example of a category that used to be kind of stale and has more recently done a very good job of honoring a bunch of different, worthy people.

Best Fan Artist

Likhain (Mia Serrano) beat Grace P. Fong by 90 votes. Her acceptance speech can be read here.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse beat Black Panther by 247 votes. Notably the top three places on the final ballot all went to Marvel Comics-related movies, which suggests that we’re not going to see an end to the superhero domination of this category any time soon. (I had Spider-Verse second on my ballot, voting first for Sorry to Bother You which placed sixth. They’re really, really different things and honestly kind of hard to compare.)

Of interest to the potential Games Hugo category, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch made the longlist with 53 nominations.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

The Good Place: “Janet(s)” beat The Expanse: “Abaddon’s Gate” by 144 votes, the second year in a row for a Good Place win in this category.

Dirty Computer placed sixth, which is a bit disappointing but honestly unsurprising. The last few years have seen one kind of off-beat (i.e. “not a television episode”) finalist that is kind of exciting but ultimately does poorly in the voting. The rest of the longlist is also TV episodes.

The Good Place sent a video acceptance and I’d just like to say that it was really exciting to actually have real acceptances from both Dramatic Presentation winners this year instead of the typical “the convention accepts this on behalf of Hollywood people who don’t know we exist”.

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

Gardner Dozois beat Neil Clarke by 98 votes. This was the first time that a finalist placed on the ballot by E Pluribus Hugo effects won the Hugo; under the old nomination system, he would have been displaced by Jonathan Strahan.

That being said, Didi Chanoch had a good Twitter thread about how this is really more of a lifetime achievement award for an editor who (very deservedly) had already been well-recognized by the Hugos.

Thought experiment: if we changed this category into Best Anthology and Best Magazine, would The Book of Magic have won for Anthology? (The Locus results actually suggest yes, although the Locus and Hugo electorates aren’t the same.)

Written Fiction Categories

Best Novel

Not particularly close, with The Calculating Stars beating Spinning Silver by 302 votes. It was pretty cool to see the award for a Lady Astronaut novel being presented by an actual lady astronaut. Mary Robinette Kowal’s acceptance speech can be read here.

I was pleased to see Blackfish City and Foundryside, which I nominated, on the longlist. There’s a pretty wide gap in terms of nomination count between the finalist novels and everything else.

Best Novella

This was actually slightly closer than the last couple years, although still not very: Artificial Condition beat The Tea Master and the Detective by 323 votes. The other two Murderbot novellas also received enough nominations to qualify for the final ballot, but Martha Wells graciously declined nomination for them. (The limit on how many works by the same author can appear in a category is two.)

I’m glad The Freeze-Frame Revolution and “Umbernight” both made the longlist although I’d have liked to see them a bit higher. One of the two main flaws that tends to afflict Hugo ballots is voters’ tendencies to read in their comfort zone and nominate accordingly; much of the longlist is series work.

“Umbernight” was also the only entry on the longlist that was published as part of a periodical, not as a separate book.

Best Novelette

One of the closest results on the ballot and the closest in this category since 2010: “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” beat “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by 9 votes.

The other big issue that we’ve seen on recent Hugo ballots is the tendency to avoid nominating stories from the print magazines. This year’s longlist isn’t entirely fiction that’s available for free online; “An Agent of Utopia” is there and that’s from an anthology. But that’s it; everything else on that list is free online. Now, novelette was a strong category this year so it’s not obviously weakening the category but I can’t help but wonder what great stories we might be missing.

Best Short Story

This is one I thought would be closer, with “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” beating “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by 342 votes. Alix E. Harrow’s acceptance speech can be read here.

The longlist follows the pattern I noted above of being predominantly from the free online magazines. “Mother Tongues” (which I nominated!) is the notable exception, being originally published in Asimov’s but then subsequently reprinted in Clarkesworld prior to the nomination deadline.

Best Series

Wayfarers beat The Laundry Files by 218 votes. I voted for Machineries of Empire, which is a completed trilogy (with some short-fiction add-ons) and likely won’t be eligible here again. However I will note that Wayfarers, as a “shared-setting” series, doesn’t really have any of the incompleteness problems I’ve complained about before. (On the other hand, to me that makes it a better fit in Best Novel than in Series, whereas the likes of Machineries of Empire is the reverse; you can jump into Record of a Spaceborn Few without having read anything else while you’d likely be totally lost if you just read Revenant Gun in isolation.)

The longlist shows that we’re still dealing with some eligibility issues in this category. The first non-finalist was Earthsea, which was very technically eligible due to a newly published short story; while Earthsea is of course great, to me it’s very hard to argue that we should be honoring it with an award for 2019 fiction. This award should be for current series, not classic series we all love that have technical hooks. The second non-finalist was The Murderbot Diaries, which was not eligible due to insufficient word count.

I was a bit disappointed in this year’s Series shortlist because I had read most of it already. Fortunately there are some series down in the longlist that I’m not particularly familiar with that I might have to check out.

Becky Chambers’s acceptance speech can be read here.

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Children of Blood and Bone beat Dread Nation by 64 votes.

The main issue with this award is participation; only 34.3% of Hugo voters voted for the Lodestar, which is more in line with a fan category than a written fiction category. Otherwise it seems to be working well.

Best Graphic Story

Monstress, Volume 3 beat Black Panther: Long Live the King by 8 votes, the closest result on the ballot. My taste in comics is irreparably lowbrow so I tend not to vote in this category but I’m still a bit annoyed how much of it is dominated by the latest volume in series that have a regular finalist spot. This is the third year in a row that Monstress won.

Best Semiprozine

Uncanny Magazine beat Strange Horizons by 122 votes. This is Uncanny‘s fourth win in a row, although this year’s win includes the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction special issue edited by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien, who have not won Hugos before.

Best Professional Editor, Long Form

Navah Wolfe (Saga Press) beat Sheila E. Gilbert, last year’s winner, by 86 votes.

Best Professional Artist

Charles Vess beat Galen Dara by 50 votes. See above comments on the Art Book category.

 

This post has been updated on 23 August to include a link to Becky Chambers’s acceptance speech.

 

2018 Hugo Ramblings

By now, if you care about these things you’ve probably heard about The Stone Sky‘s Hugo win for Best Novel, and the unprecedented threepeat for N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. The series is well-deserving of its accolades and if you haven’t read it you should really get around to it sooner rather than later. (With the caveat that the series deals with multigenerational slavery and oppression—all of the content warnings you’d think apply, do.) Also, if you haven’t watched Jemisin’s acceptance speech (I got to watch it live!), now probably isn’t a bad time to fix that.

This is where I confess that I didn’t put The Stone Sky first on my ballot this year.

And the reason I didn’t do so is simple: One of the factors I consider for “Best Novel” is whether a work stands by itself. Being in a series is and of itself not a flaw, but I felt that there were other novels on the ballot that were better if you hadn’t read anything else.

But this isn’t a one-novel issue. Of the five other novels on this year’s ballot:

  • New York 2140 and Six Wakes are completely standalone.
  • Provenance is in the same universe as the Imperial Radch trilogy but is disconnected from the above. It stands alone fine.
  • Raven Stratagem is the second book in a trilogy. I personally think it would work well enough even if you haven’t read Ninefox Gambit, but YMMV. (And read Ninefox Gambit.)
  • The Collapsing Empire is the first book in a series of at least two books.

I downranked The Collapsing Empire on my ballot for being almost entirely setup and deferring most of the resolution to the next book. Given that it placed second in the voting, I’m going to guess that most voters don’t share my complaints about incomplete works. (But I will still make them.)

Last year was similar:

  • All the Birds in the Sky is completely standalone.
  • A Closed and Common Orbit is a sequel, but you don’t need to have read A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet first. (Although it spoils what happens to one of the latter’s characters.)
  • Ninefox Gambit is the first in a trilogy.
  • Death’s End is the third in a trilogy.
  • The Obelisk Gate is, of course, the second in a trilogy.
  • Too Like the Lightning is the first in a four-book series, but more importantly, it’s almost inseparable from Seven Surrenders.

I think the Terra Ignota universe is definitely worthy of being Hugo-nominated, but I would have much rather seen Too Like the Lightning / Seven Surrenders been nominated as one work under Subsection 3.2.4 of the WSFS Constitution. However, with a couple notable exceptions (Blackout / All ClearThe Wheel of Time), most books are nominated as novels and not as “works appearing in a number of parts”, and I can’t blame people for doing the thing that makes intuitive sense. Heck, I could go back to the 1980s and argue that Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun should have been nominated similarly (setting aside that this may only have been possible since 1998, depending on interpretation).

Of course, starting last year we have a Best Series Award! But so far that has mostly posed its own problems. N. K. Jemisin declined a nomination for The Broken Earth on the grounds that it wasn’t really fair to have multiple shots at an award for the same work, and while I would have happily voted for it, I do think she’s got a fair point that we shouldn’t just be using Best Series to award works we’ve already awarded. Indeed, the first two winners of Best Series have been Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and World of the Five Gods. Both of these awards felt to some extent more about recognizing the past than the present; Vorkosigan won Hugos in 1990 (“The Mountains of Mourning”), 1991 (The Vor Game), 1992 (Barrayar), and 1995 (Mirror Dance), while Five Gods won a Hugo in 2004 (Paladin of Souls). Obviously the more recent eligibility hooks exist (hey, I voted for Vorkosigan too) but I’m hoping that going forward we recognize series that haven’t been already recognized.

This year’s Series longlist also suggests that the rule about not nominating series that were just nominated (specifically, you need at least two new installments and 240,000 new words) isn’t clearly understood yet, given that all four Series finalists from last year that saw a new installment in 2017 made the longlist despite not being eligible. As far as I can tell, none of these finalists, except for October Daye, will be eligible next year either. I think the re-eligibility requirements are strict enough that it will prevent series coming back in alternating years, which would be bad for the award even if it would make voting in the category a lot easier. But I worry that we’ll have to dig pretty deep down the longlist to find six eligible series next year. (On the other hand, last year’s longlist only has one series that made the ballot this year. So we’ll see.)

I didn’t do so great in my desire for complete series, either, given that InCryptid placed second. I did find it interesting that it did significantly better than Seanan McGuire’s other big series, October Daye, which placed sixth last year, even though I feel (and I don’t think it’s just me) that the latter is generally stronger work. I don’t know whether to ascribe this to stronger competition last year, a different voting base, or just me having opinions that are out-of-step with everybody else again.

The Best Series award will face re-ratification at the 2021 Worldcon. As you can probably tell, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this award. I have concerns about its functionality but I’m also glad it led me to the likes of Martha Wells’s Books of the Raksura that deserve recognition and that I may not have ever encountered otherwise . I am really interested in seeing how it plays out over the next couple years.

Some other quick notes:

  • E Pluribus Hugo impacted this year’s Novel ballot by replacing The Stars Are Legion and Autonomous (which got more raw nominations) with New York 2140 and The Collapsing Empire. I liked Autonomous better than the latter two (I haven’t read The Stars Are Legion yet), but I’m not going to object: besides defending against slates, one of the benefits of E Pluribus Hugo is that it ensures that more strains of fandom (at least, WSFS/Worldcon fandom) are represented and both novels have their strong supporters. (And as noted, Collapsing Empire ultimately placed second.) As I noted in a File 770 comment, one thing I found interesting is that if Raven Stratagem had received 2.58 more EPH points (and the status quo held elsewhere, which is admittedly unlikely), The Stars Are Legion would have been nominated over New York 2140.
  • The Hugo and Nebula winners this year converged in Novel, Novella, and Short Story. Meanwhile, the respective Novelette winners weren’t even on the other’s shortlist. I believe the last time the awards recognized the same winner in three of the four categories was 2012 (Among Others, “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, “The Paper Menagerie”).
  • In light of Uncanny‘s well-deserved wins, I’ve seen some discussion about how the Editor – Short Form and Semiprozine categories allow two shots at Hugos for the same work. I’ve mentioned Series above, but I haven’t seen much talk about how this is also a potential issue in the Graphic Story and Professional Artist categories, where Monstress won the former and Sana Takada, artist of the same, won the latter. I don’t think this is anything worth addressing right now (Professional Artist is not frequently understood as a proxy award in the same way that the Editor awards are) but bears monitoring going forward.
  • This year’s WSFS Business Meeting didn’t make any major changes to the Hugos. The YA Award is finally named the Lodestar.
  • Judging by the longlist, the alt-right attack on the Hugos is finally over, other than their little Saturday protest. Way to protest people donating blood, dumbasses.
  • File 770 took home a well-deserved award for Best Fanzine. File 770 and its commentariat played a nontrivial role in my decision to attend Worldcon this year and it was a great pleasure to meet everybody that was at the Thursday and Friday meetups. Even if Thursday’s musical experience was an unexpected horror.
  • As may be obvious from the above comment, I had a great time at Worldcon this year. Over the course of the convention I went from “eh there is probably no way I will be able to afford to go to another one until 2021” to “… I really want to make Dublin happen.” I don’t know if I will, but I’m already starting to glance at flight prices….

If you’re interested in nominating and voting for the 2019 Hugo Awards, you can purchase a supporting membership in the 2019 Worldcon for €40 (~47 USD).

On the Hugo Award for Best Series

Last year, the WorldCon business meeting approved a new Hugo Award for Best Series. What’s eligible for this award?

A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, appearing in at least three (3) installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words by the close of 2017, at least one (1) installment of which was published in 2017.

This is, by design, very open-ended. There is no requirement that a series be completed—and that’s fine, because neither the Hugo Administrator nor Hugo voters should be expected to be clairvoyant. The 1966 Worldcon voted Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy a special “Best All-Time Series” award under the assumption that it would end with Second Foundation; in 1966, Foundation’s Edge and its progeny could not have been reasonably foreseen.

However, just because something can’t be legislated doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be kept in mind while nominating and voting. The standard I intend to apply is that to be worthy of a Best Series Hugo, a story must be fully satisfying even if no other installments are ever published. This does not necessarily mean a story must be conclusively over. For instance, while I can certainly imagine new installments in the Vorkosigan Saga, last year’s winner in the award’s trial run (and if Lois McMaster Bujold wants to write them I’d happily read them), my enjoyment of the series will not be diminished if Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is ultimately the final installment. But I don’t think a series that is clearly incomplete is award-worthy, and I’m not inclined to grant credit for future work. Everybody can think of a series that started strong and then went off the rails. I’m not comfortable coming back in the future and saying “this received the Best Series Award but you need to ignore its conclusion”. I don’t even love new books getting a “Hugo-Nominated [or Hugo Winning] Series” stamp from their publisher when the Hugo electorate hasn’t had a chance to read the book yet, although I recognize that marketers are going to pull that kind of thing regardless.

I do not intend to nominate any series that does not meet this criteria, and I urge others to do likewise. I will also likely rank any clearly incomplete series nominated below No Award, although I might consider a series whose final installment is published in 2018 before the voting deadline, as such a series would be ineligible for future nomination. And yes, I fully anticipate that I will rank something I quite like below No Award.

While I strongly believe that an incomplete series isn’t award-worthy, I’m also motivated a bit by necessary reading triage. Last year’s Best Series nominations involved, if I’m counting right, 52 novels and assorted short fiction. I might be able to read all of that in the two-and-a-half months available for voting, but it would be a close call, especially given that I occasionally like to do things with my spare time other than reading. And that’s not factoring in the six novels, six novellas, six related works, the new YA award, the Campbell Award, etc. on the ballot. (Obviously I will have read some of these already, but likely not enough to make a huge difference. I also don’t think I’ve read much from 1942, and there are Retro Hugos….) While I might want to read incomplete series that end up getting nominated (recommendations are a good thing, especially when the Hugo Packet provides free samples), I’m not going to feel pressured to do so before July.

I know I’m conflating “incomplete” with “fully satisfying if no other installments are ever published”, which isn’t completely accurate. The biggest tension here is series that are unified by setting but have neither a single overarching story nor a defined endpoint. The obvious example to me is the Discworld, which I would argue to be clearly award-worthy but also didn’t “complete” until after Terry Pratchett’s death. The old quotation about recognizing people while they’re alive to enjoy it applies. Of course, the same issues with potential future quality decline apply as well. Some questions don’t have easy answers.

While it might be difficult to find satisfactory completed series every year, N. K. Jemisin’s exceptional Broken Earth trilogy is eligible for the 2018 Best Series Hugo. I’m nominating it. If you haven’t read it, I highly encourage you to do so.