And even more reactions to the 2017 Hugo Finalists

In general, the 2017 Hugo Awards shortlist is less contentious than those of previous years, but were still seeing reactions trickling in. I offered my own take on the 2017 shortlist and also did a round-up of reactions from around the web here and then another round-up a few days later.

However, since then a few more Hugo reaction and discussion posts have appeared, so here is round-up number 3. As always, thanks to Mike Glyer of File 770 for pointing out some of the links I missed. I already included some of these as ETAs to the previous post, but I’m including them again here.

At Library Journal, Wilda Williams, Megan McArdle and Kristi Chadwick cheer about the quality and diversity of the 2017 Hugo finalists and also offer brief reviews of several of the nominated novels and novellas.

At his blog, Mark Kaedrin shares his thoughts about the 2017 Hugo finalists and is generally pleased.

Camestros Felapton continues his reviews of the 2017 Hugo finalists and takes a look at “San Junipero”, an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror, as well as at Splendor & Misery, the Hugo-nominated album by Clipping, and is quite impressed. Tor.com also has a bit more about the album, which at least to me was the biggest unknown among the non-puppy nominees. I have now listened to some of the tracks and watched some of the videos and agree that Splendor & Misery is clearly SF and a worthy nominee in the best dramatic presentation category. The music itself is not to my taste, I fear, but the album definitely deserves to be on the ballot.

ETA: Campbell nominee Laurie Penny offers a brilliant and scathing review of the Hugo-nominated TV series The Expanse at The Baffler. Found via Camestros Felapton who also shares his thoughts on The Expanse.

However, not everybody is happy about the 2017 Hugo shortlist. For example, Jonathan McCalmont is still grumbly, particularly about the best series Hugo, as these tweets show:

I wonder if McCalmont even has a membership for WorldCon 75, which would enable him to vote in the Hugos. And if the idea of a best series Hugo or the finalists in that category annoy him so much, maybe he should just leave the respective field blank or no award the whole category. Also, we get by now that Jonathan McCalmont doesn’t care for Lois McMaster Bujold’s work, considering he has been going on about how much he dislikes her work (apparently without ever having read any of it) at least since 2008 (some bonus “WorldCon is insular and small, Comic Con/Dragon Con are future” pronouncements in the comments – puppies and anti-nostalgics really do sound eerily similar at times).

Shortly thereafter, McCalmont’s feud with Mike Glyer and File 770 escalated into a long distance flame war with Scott Lynch and Ann Leckie among others.

Meanwhile, over in puppy land, it’s still conspicuously quiet. One could view this post by Dave Freer proclaiming the imminent death of traditional publishing and the total irrelevance of the Hugos, because they don’t bow to the tastes of true American Trump voter for Nutty Nuggets or something, as a comment on the 2017 Hugo shortlist, but in typical Mad Genius Club fashion he is rather oblique about what precisely he is referring to.

ETA: The editor of Cirsova Magazine, a puppy slate nominee in the best semiprozine category, remarks that their Hugo nomination got them surprisingly little extra traffic and media attention. They’re also together their contributions to the Hugo voters packet, so there’ll definitely be one this year.

And at Seagull Rising*, a Castalia House blogger named Jon Mollison complains that much of the coverage of the Hugo Awards focusses on the diversity of the nominees and the fact that so many women, people of colour and LGBT people were nominated, but not on the nominated novels and stories themselves. The reason for this, Mollison declares, is that the dreaded SJWs don’t read.

For starters, accusing other people of not reading is a bit rich coming from someone who blogs at a site which celebrates the rediscovery of such obscure and long lost authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jack Williamson. Though I grant him that the Castalia House blog really does review a lot of books these days, when they are not busily rewriting the history of speculative fiction (apparently, the current version is that it all went downhill after 1937). Okay, so the puppy SFF they review is not my thing at all (one review I saw praised an indie SF novel for its “feminine heroine”, who is properly subservient to the manly hero – big eye roll here), but reviewing books and recommending them to those that might like them is a lot more productive than messing with the Hugos.

Nonetheless, Mollison is wrong, for I’ve seen plenty of discussion of the 2017 Hugo finalists and already linked to a couple of posts discussing some of the finalists in greater depth in my last round-up. And besides, an overview of the 2017 Hugo finalists is not exactly the place for an in-depth discussion of the nominated works. Never mind that many of the finalists were already reviewed and discussed in depth, back when they first came out, and will likely be discussed again, once everybody who missed the nominated works the first time around has had the chance to read them, especially since the Hugo voters packet isn’t even out yet.

Meanwhile, at Raynfall, Claire Ryan is surprised to find herself in agreement with the puppies (whom she dislikes a lot) that the Hugos are irrelevant, since they are bound to traditional publishing and have rarely recognised indie books so far.

Now she does have a point that it is more difficult for an indie author to get awards recognition, though self-published works have been nominated for the Nebula Award, the BSFA Award, the Kitschies and even the Hugos and not just by the puppies either. For example, the Penric novellas by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first of which was nominated last year, while the sequel was nominated this year, are self-published. A couple of years ago, Seanan McGuire was also nominated for a self-published novelette. So yes, it is absolutely possible for an indie author to be nominated for major genre awards, though it helps to have name recognition from prior traditionally published works.

Besides, Claire Ryan falls into the puppy trap of equating sales figures with awards worthiness, even though the two are not the same at all. There are plenty of bestsellers which will never win any awards and there are just as many award-winning books which don’t sell all that well. Besides, as I’ve said before, due to a combination of Amazon’s algorithms, the fact that their customer base is predominantly concentrated in rural parts of the the US and the write-to-market ethos currently popular among indie authors, Amazon’s science fiction bestseller lists currently look like Baen’s slushpile, a lot of Starship Troopers and Lost Fleet knock-offs with the same exploding spaceship in space covers, whereas many of the fantasy lists are dominated by shifter paranormal romance featuring bare-chested men on the cover. These books clearly sell very, very well, but does that automatically make Taken by the Alien Warlord or Destroy the Last Fleet of Terra (apologies, if those are real titles) Hugo-worthy?

Are there indie SFF books that are award worthy? There absolutely are. But they’re probably not found on the bestseller lists dominated by exploding spaceships in space or bare-chested werebear shifters. What is more, a lot of the breakout indie books like Andy Weir’s The Martian, Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet or Hugh Howey’s Wool were slow burn successes that spread via word of mouth, so by the time they reached critical mass among fandom, the eligibility period had already expired. The Campbell Award specifically has different rules, hence Andy Weir was still eligible for the Campbell Award last year, even though he began serializing The Martian on his blog back in 2012.

*Does anybody else find the idea of a rabid puppy taking inspiration from Jonathan Livingston Seagull of all things as funny as I do?

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