Some Comments on the 2022 Hugo Award Winners and the Hugo Ceremony in General

Now that I have somewhat recovered from the excitement of the past few days, here is the detailed Hugo commentary I promised you. The full list of 2022 Hugo winners may be found here and the detailed voting and nomination statistics breakdown here.

Hugo commentary is somewhat muted this year – and what there is often focusses solely on the Dramatic Presentation and Best Novel winners – but you can find more comments and analysis by fellow Hugo finalist Camestros Felapton (with bonus stats analysis here), my other fellow finalist Chris M. Barkley, my pal Steve J. Wright, Doris V. Sutherland, Kristenelle of the SFF Reader BookTube channel and deputy Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte as well as some strongly worded comments from Peculiar Monster (really strongly worded, so if you’re a finalist/winner and don’t want your moment spoiled, don’t click) here.

ETA: I don’t necessarily agree with everything everybody says in the commentaries linked above.

The local free paper Weser Report wrote a nice article about my Hugo win. You can read it on page 5 of their electronic flip edition or check out the screenshots below:

Hugo article

The actual article from the Weser Report

Weser Report front page

And here is the front page of the “Huchting Stuhr Brinkum” regional edition of the Weser Report with me featured in the top right-hand corner. Looking at the other editions, I knocked the local football team Werder Bremen off the front page, which is huge. Okay, so I won and Werder lost, but it’s still huge.

Furthermore, I was also the top news item in last week’s edition of the Thews You Can Use sword & sorcery newsletter. Considering how many articles about the Hugos only focus on the Dramatic Presentation or Best Novel and often can’t even be bothered to list all the winners (which I accept in a print mag or paper, where space is limited, but not online), it’s nice to be the headline news item for once.

But before we get to the detailed discussion of the winners, I want to say a few words about the ceremony itself. You can watch the entire ceremony on YouTube BTW. I’m up at the 30 minute mark.

All in all, it was a very good – and most importantly, fairly brisk (the YouTube video is two hours and four minutes long) – Hugo ceremony. I particularly appreciate the latter, considering I survived the neverending Hugo ceremony from hell of 2020. We should probably put that on a badge ribbon. Toastmasters Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders were charming and funny hosts. There were also some fine guest presenters, including 2022 TAFF winner Fia Karlsson and Mary Anne Mohanraj. Finally, there was also a land acknowledgement read out by representatives of an indigenous youth group from Chicago. According to them, there are 75000 indigenous people living in Chicago, which I for one did not know.

Unlike previous years, there also was very little in the way of controversy. There was no controversial sponsor this year, unlike the Raytheon debacle of 2021. Google did provide the automatic captioning again, which has improved a lot since the Dublin Hugo ceremony, though unintentionally hilarious gaffes still happened. For example, when the staff of Best Semiprozine winner Uncanny thanked their supporters, the Space Unicorns, the auto captioning software turned that into “space urine corns”, which sounds like spilled pee droplets you might find floating around the ISS. I should probably check the auto-captioning of my acceptance speech to see what the software made of He-Man and Man-e-Faces.

There were also no names mispronounced that I noticed – and mine was pronounced correctly, so thank you to Annalee and Charlie Jane – though the hosts forgot to read out Marguerite Kenner, editor of Best Fanzine finalist The Full Lid. There was also some unpleasantness involving Best Semiprozine finalist Strange Horizons, who have a large staff and have long fought for all of them to be listed. The hosts did not read out the entire long list of names, which was agreed upon with Strange Horizons beforehand, but the dramatic pause before “…by the Strange Horizons editorial collective” generated laughter in the auditorium, which may not even have been ill intended, but which nonetheless hurt the Strange Horizons people, especially given the crap they’ve gotten over the years, e.g. last year when many people blamed Strange Horizons for complaining about the (eventually repealed) “only four people plus ones at the Hugo ceremony and reception rule”, even though it was a completely different team that complained. Finally – speaking as someone who’s been there three times now – it is a thrilling feeling to hear your name read out at the Hugo ceremony. Having that thrilling feeling marred by having your name mispronounced, omitted or people laughing about it is not cool. I was still in the finalist Zoom green room with Sonia Sulaiman of Strange Horizons, when Best Semiprozine was announced, and I could tell she was hurt. That said, Annalee and Charlie Jane have apologised by now.

Last year, the virtual finalists who couldn’t attend were “beamed” into the Hugo reception and after-party via Zoom and a mobile tablet. This was nice, because it allowed virtual and on-site finalists to interact, admire each other’s gowns, etc… Sadly, this was not repeated this year, so the virtual finalists were very isolated in the Zoom green room with hardly any contact to the in person finalists. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if there was a Hugo after-party this year, since I haven’t seen any photos.

Warning: I will be discussing the winners, finalists, placements and also the nomination statistics, so if this sort of thing bothers you – e.g. I know that there are finalists who do not want to know the rankings – you may want to stop reading now.

So now I’ve discussed the ceremony, let’s get into the meat of the post, namely the Hugo winners in the various categories:

Best Novel

The 2022 Hugo winners for Best Novel is A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine. I have to admit that this win surprised me a little. Not because A Desolation Called Peace isn’t a good book – it is – but because sequels and later books in series rarely win Best Novel. There are exceptions, of course. All three volumes of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy won Hugos as did Speaker for the Dead and several of the later Vorkosigan novels.

Besides, the 2022 Best Novel ballot was one of the strongest in years. There was only one finalist I didn’t care for, everything else was excellent and I had a hard time ranking the top four finalists and even my number five would have been a good winner in a weaker year.

Looking at the longlist, there are a lot of very good novels, which would have made excellent finalists as well. All in all, 2021 was a very strong year for SFF novels.

Best Novella

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novella goes to A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. This isn’t a huge surprise, because a) it’s a very good novella, though it wasn’t my personal favourite, and b) Becky Chambers is a great author and popular with Hugo voters.

A look at the nomination statistics reveals that Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells had more than enough votes to make the ballot, but that Martha Wells declined her nomination, making way for the excellent novella Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente just missed the ballot, though Cat Valente was nominated for The Past Is Red in the same category and also had nominations in Short Story and Novelette this year. 2021 certainly was a strong year for Cat Valente.

Looking further down the longlist, there are novellas by Nnedi Okorafor, Nino Cipri, Lois McMaster Bujold, S. Qiouyi Lu, Arula Ratnahkar as well as two novellas by Premee Mohamed, who’s an author I hope we’ll see on the Hugo ballot eventually. We also finally see some novellas not published by Tor.com.

The final novella on the longlist is interesting, because it’s a novella called “Flower of the Other Shore” by A Que. Now I’d never heard of neither the novella nor the author. A bit of googling reveals that “Flower of the Other Shore” appeared in Sinopticon, an anthology of Chinese SFF, edited and translated by Xueting Christine Ni.  I suspect that this novella was nominated by the Chinese fans who joined DisCon III to vote in site selection and had nomination rights this year. We will see some more examples of the Chengdu effect further down the ballot.

Best Novelette:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novelette is “Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer, the sequel to her 2018 winner “The Secret Life of Bots” in the same category. It’s a fun story and very worthy winner.

I’m a bit surprised that “O2 Arena” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki finished in last place, since I found it one of the strongest stories on what was in general a very strong ballot.

Looking at the longlist, there are a lot of fine stories by fine writers, including yet another story from the Sinopticon anthology, “Tombs of the Universe” by Han Song.

Best Short Story:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Short Story goes to “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker, which also won the Eugie Foster Memorial Award on the same weekend. This was another very strong category, where every single story would have been a worthy winner. I’m also happy that “Unknown Number” by Blue Neustifter finished in third place, given the initial grumblings about a Twitter story being nominated for a Hugo.

Looking at the longlist, I spot three of my own nominations, “The Cold Calculations” by Aimee Ogden, which just missed the ballot, “Let All the Children Boogie” by Sam J. Miller and “Things From Our Kitchen Junk Drawer That Could Save This Spaceship” by Marie Vibbert.

Two Chinese short stories in translation, “The Algorithm of Everything” by Dhew and “The Hand of God” by Wang Yuan, both translated by Roy Gilham and published in Galaxy’s Edge magazine, also made the longlist. Next year’s Hugo finalists are certainly going to be interesting.

Best Series:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Series is Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire. Now Seanan McGuire has been nominated with different series in the Best Series category ever since its inception five years ago, so I’m happy for her that she finally won. That said, Wayward Children is not my favourite of her many series – I would have preferred October Daye or InCryptid.

My personal favourite in this category was Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer, because it was by far the most ambitious work and also won’t have any more chances, because the series finished with Perhaps the Stars last year. Terra Ignota finished in fourth place. I’m also a bit surprised that the delightful Kingston Cycle by C.L. Polk only finished in fifth place.

Looking at the longlist, we see two more series by Seanan McGuire, namely InCryptid and Ghost Roads. Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher made the shortlist for World of the White Rat and the longlist with the Saint of Steel series. The Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, which I’ve been nominating in this category since its inception, also made the longlist. Finally, I’m happy to see that my friend Marshall Ryan Maresca made the longlist with his Maradaine series.

Best Graphic Story

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story goes to Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell. This is the first time since 2015 that a mainstream superhero comic (Far Sector is a Green Lantern spin-off) wins Best Graphic Story, probably because a) N.K. Jemisin is very popular with Hugo voters, and b) it’s a very good comic, though it wasn’t my favourite.

I’m a bit surprised that Strange Adventures, which I enjoyed a whole lot and ranked fairly high, finished in last place.

A look at the nomination statistics reveals that the work with the highest nomination count, Ghost Spider: Party People by Seanan McGuire and Ig Guara, was disqualified due to coming out in 2020.

The longlist shows some interesting works as well, including a graphic novel from Finland and two graphic novel adpatations of Liu Cixin novels.

Best Related:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Related Work is Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders.

This was not my top choice in this category, nonetheless I’m happy about this win, because as regular readers of this blog know, I have a strong preference for SFF-related non-fiction books in Best Related Work over the various edge case finalists that at times threatened to overwhelm Best Related Work in recent years. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a non-fiction book and a very good one, too, and exactly the sort of finalist I want to see in this category, so I’m of course happy that it won. BTW, this is the first time since 2018 that an actual non-fiction book won Best Related. Last year’s winner was a book, Maria Dahvana Headley’s new translation of Beowulf, but it was not non-fiction, but a work that simply didn’t fit elsewhere.

Looking at the rankings, I find it a sad that True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abe Riesman finished in last place, because it is a very good and critical warts and all biography of an important figure in our genre.  I guess this is a similar case to 2019, when the hands down best finalist Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee not only lost to Archive of Our Own, but came dead last, namely that many Hugo voters simply never got around to reading the book, but assumed what it would be about based on the title. And yes, I have explicitly heard this from people who noted how very impressed they were with both Astounding and True Believer, once they got around to actually reading them.

Considering that I started the Non-Fiction Spotlight project (there will be more of those coming soon) specifically to promote SFF-related non-fiction for Best Related Work, I was of course particularly interested in the longlist to see if any other of the books I featured made the longlist.  It turns out that one other non-fiction book I featured, Out of This World: Speculative Fiction in Translation from the Cold War to the New Millennium by Rachel S. Cordasco, made the longlist in addition to three non-fiction books I featured – True Believer, The Complete Debarkle and Dangerous Visions and New Worlds – that made the ballot.

There are also several non-fiction books I did not feature – either because I didn’t know they existed or had no way of contacting the author – that made the longlist such as F. Brett Cox’s Roger Zelazny biography and Claire Tomalin’s H.G. Wells biography as well as The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jesse Sheidlower and The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perr. I was aware of the two biographies, but could not contact the authors in time, and I was also aware of The Bright Ages, but would not have considered nominating it in Best Related, so I never even tried to cover it. The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction completely passed me by.

The rest of the longlist is made up by an extensive article about queer readings of Lord of the Rings, a Jenny Nicholson video documentary about The Vampire Diaries, a Twitter thread, LeVar Burton Reads and the 2021 FIYAHCon.

So the top sixteen nominees in Best Related Work for 2022 were ten books, three articles or documentaries, which are not my preferred type of finalist in this category, but which do fit here better than anywhere else, and only three true edge case finalists. LeVar Burton Reads is a very worthy project, though personally I think it would fit better in Semiprozine or Dramatic Presentation. No idea what to do about the Twitter thread, though we have had Twitter fiction nominated in Fan Writer and Short Story this year. FIYAHCon is the only one which really doesn’t fit anywhere else. Does this justify splitting Best Related in Best Non-Fiction and Best Fannish Thing/Best Miscellany? I don’t know. Maybe the flurry of edge case finalists was a temporary phenomenon and the category is settling down again.

Best Dramatic Presentation Long:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form goes – unsurprisingly – to Dune, as I already predicted in my Dragon Award winner post. If there was one foregone result on this ballot, it was this one. After all, it is Dune, a story beloved by Hugo voters for almost six decades, which has been nominated for a Hugo on five different occasions (serial publication, novel publication, 1984 movie, 2000 mini-series, 2021 movie) and won twice. Besides, this is best of the filmic Dune adaptations, so of course it won.

The two Marvel productions, WandaVision and Shang-Chi finished in second and fourth place respectively. The two very good, but least mainstreamy finalists The Green Knight and Space Sweepers, finished in place five and six, because Best Dramatic Presentation Long ends to be a category where mainstream blockbusters have the edge. I’m a bit surprised that Encanto finished fairly strong in third place, because I found it the weakest finalist on the ballot by a large margin. But then, I’m really not the target audience for CGI-animated sing-songy Disney/Pixar movies.

Looking at the longlist, Spider-Man: No Way Home, the most successful movie of 2021 and one of the most successful movies of all time, just missed the ballot. Further down the longlist, we also have Black Widow and season 1 of Loki holding up the Marvel flag. Eternals did not even make the longlist, which must be a first for a Marvel movie. But then Eternals was rather dull and the closest Marvel has come to a dud in ages.

There are two more animated kids’ movies on the longlist, Raya and the Last Dragon, which does not surprise me, and The Mitchells versus the Machines, which does, because the movie barely pinged on my radar at all. We also have the entire first season of the animated series Arcane: League of Legends on the longlist, which had an episode nominated in Short Form and was one of the most pleasant surprises on the entire ballot for me.

The longlist is rounded out by popular movies like Matrix: Resurrections, Free Guy and Don’t Look Up, which I personally found unwatchable, but which was an Oscar nominee.

Finally, I’m very pleased that the German romantic science fiction comedy I’m Your Man made the longlist, because I championed this movie, once I realised it was Hugo-eligible, and persuaded Olav Rokne, Chris M. Barkley and others to champion it, too. Okay, so I’m Your Man did not make the ballot, but thirty nominations are respectable for a foreign language movie with limited distribution. Though it would have lost anyway, because there was no way Dune was not going to win this category.

Best Dramatic Presentation Short:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form is The Expanse episode “Nemesis Games”. Again, this isn’t a huge surprise, because The Expanse is hugely popular, both as a novel and TV series. And since both novel and TV series ended last year, this was the last chance to honour The Expanse.

ETA: ErsatzCulture pointed out on Twitter that an Expanse novella entitled “The Sins of Our Fathers” was published this, which means that the book series The Expanse will have one more shot at Hugo glory next year.

My personal top choice in this category, the Loki episode “The Nexus Event” finished in second place, Star Trek: Lower Decks in third place. I am surprised that the animated series Arcane finished in last place, since it was one of the most pleasant surprises on this ballot for me.

An episode of WandaVision would have made the ballot, but was disqualified because the entire season was nominated in long form. Looking at the longlist, we have more episodes of Loki, The Expanse, Star Trek: Lower Decks, WandaVision, The Wheel of Time and Arcane as well as an episode of Resident Alien and a Lil Nas X music video.

Conspicuous by its absence from the ballot and the longlist is Doctor Who, which makes this the first Hugo ballot in sixteen years without an episode of Doctor Who.

I’m also disappointed that Masters of the Universe: Revelation did not even make the longlist, neither in long nor in short form, because it was the dramatic presentation that surpised me most in 2021. I went in expecting a bit of nostalgic fun and got so much more.

Best Editor Short:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form is Neil Clarke. This is a highly deserved and long overdue win and I’m very happy for Neil. I’m also happy that Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki finished in second place.

Looking at the longlist, I see a lot of very worthy editors. Many names are familiar, but there also are new names such as David Steffen of Diabolical Plots and the Longlist Anthology series, Dave Ring of Neon Hemlock Press and Lezli Robyn of Galaxy’s Edge magazine.

Best Editor Long:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Editor Long Form is Ruoxi Chen. Though sadly, once again Best Editor Long has the lowest vote count of all Hugo categories and came perilously close to the 25% hurdle. Thankfully, the noxious clause 3.12.2 of the WSFS constitution, which mandated that if less than 25% of the total Hugo voters vote in a category, that category is no awarded,  was struck at Chicon 8 Business Meeting, though the decision will have to be ratified next year in Chengdu.  As someone who co-signed the proposal to strike 3.12.2, I’m very pleased about this.

The nomination breakdown in this category reveals a couple of very interesting things. For starters, there were four disqualifications – Lee Harris, Diana M. Pho, Liz Gorinsky and Devi Pillai – in this category, because they informed the Hugo administrator that they had not actually edited enough works in 2021 to qualify. This demonstrates a huge issue with the Best Editor Long category, namely that it is very difficult to tell who edited what. A public eligibility list or just crediting the editor in the front matter of the book would do a lot to help here.

Toni Weisskopf of Baen also had enough nominations to make the ballot, but declined – just as last year. I respect and understand her decision, because there is a realistic chance she might have been no awarded, especially since the issues surrounding calls for violence on some subfora of the Baen’s Bar forum flared up again during the voting period. However, Baen authors and readers do not get to complain that Hugo voters don’t recognise Baen, when Toni Weiskopf has declined a nomination for the second year in a row. Also, Baen has other editors beside Toni Weisskopf. Maybe nominate one of them next year rather than Ms. Weisskopf, who clearly isn’t interested.

The longlist is rounded out by freelance editor K.B. Spangler, Carl Engle-Laird of Tordotcom, Oliver Johnson of Hodder, Sheila Gilbert of DAW and Joe Monti of Saga Press.

Best Professional Artist:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist goes to Rovina Cai for the second year in a row. I’m also happy that my friend Alyssa Winans finished in second place.

The nominations statistics reveal that John Picacio declined his nomination in what is a classy move. Galen Dara was disqualified due to not having any qualifying work in 2021. There are also many talented artists on the longlist.

Best Semiprozine:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine is Uncanny Magazine. Now Uncanny is an excellent magazine and does great work and I’m happy for their success.

However, there are a lot of excellent semiprozines out there, starting with the other five finalists. So maybe we could vote for some other zine once in a while? Especially since four of the six finalists this year, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Escape Pod and PodCastle, have never won. Also, why does PodCastle get so little love, considering they do great work?

A look at the longlist shows a lot of other worthy potential candidates such as Mermaids Monthly (who shut down, so this was their only shot at the ballot), Khoréo Magazine (sorry for the spelling, but WordPress doesn’t recognise the diacritics), Diabolical Plots, newcomer The Deadlands as well as established but underappreciated mags like Fireside, Apex Magazine, Interzone or GigaNotoSaurus. At least one mag on the longlist, Clarkesworld, isn’t actually a semiprozine. Finally, I’m very pleased to see the fine science fiction podcast Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times, edited by my friend Jean-Paul Garnier, at number 10 on the longlist.

Best Fanzine:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine goes to Small Gods with words by Seanan McGuire and art by Lee Moyer.

This is one of the controversial wins of the night, because Seanan McGuire and Lee Moyer are best known for their professional work, though Small Gods is absolutely a fanzine according to Hugo rules. As for pros being nominated in fan categories, that issue has been debated for years. I first became aware of the debate in 2008, when John Scalzi ended David Langford’s nineteen-year-winning streak in Best Fan Writer, though it goes back even further than that. In fact, in 1967 Jack Gaughan won both Best Fan Artist and Best Pro Artist in the same year. Fans often become pros and most pros are also fans, so the boundaries are fluid. Should someone known primarily for their professional work accept a Hugo nomination in a fan category? That’s something everybody affected needs to decide for themselves.

Besides, the Business Meeting proposal to “clean up” the fan categories defined “fan” so strictly that it would have knocked out pretty much the entire Fan Writer category except for Chris Barkley, which is probably why it was repealed.

My good friends of the Unofficial Hugo Book Club blog finished in second place, my other good friends of Journey Planet in third, my very good friends of Galactic Journey in fourth place, while my good friends of The Full Lid and Quick Sip Reviews tied for fifth place. You get the point. Pretty much everybody in this category is a good friend, I have been published in two of the zines (Galactic Journey and Journey Planet) and everybody would have been a deserving winner, though there can be only one.

The longlist contains even more great zines such as Black Nerd Problems, Speculative Fiction in Translation, Women Write About Comics, Astrolabe or The Rec Center. There also are two zines who recused themselves, File 770 who recused themselves permanently and last year’s winners nerds of a feather who recused themselves for 2022. Banana Wings and SF Commentary hold up the flag for the traditional print fanzines. Finally, there is the Stone Soup newsletter, which I suspect is Sarah Gailey’s newsletter, though there are at least three other newsletters called Stone Soup.

Best Fancast:

The winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Fancast is Our Opinions Are Correct, hosted by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders. This is another win that was somewhat controversial, because a) Annalee and Charlie Jane are both pro writers, b) Our Opinions Are Correct has won twice before and c) Annalee and Charlie Jane also happened to be the toastmasters and hosts of the Hugo ceremony this year.

Now I’ve already discussed the fan versus pro thing above. And there has never been a Hugo rule against multiple wins in any one category, see David Langford and his nineteen year streak for an extreme example or Uncanny or Ellen Datlow or File 770 or Locus or any other multiple winners. As for toastmasters also being Hugo finalists, again there is no rule against that. John Picacio was both toastmaster and a finalist for Best Pro Artist in 2018. And in 2019 and 2021, the chairs of the Dublin Worldcon and DisCon III, James Bacon and Mary Robinette Kowal respectively, were also Hugo finalists. Again, there is no rule against this, as long as the chair has no influence on the Hugo voting process, which is handled by the Hugo administrators anyway.

As for some grumblings that Our Opinions Are Correct should have declined their nomination, again this is a decision that only the finalists can make for themselves. It’s also not an easy decision to make. Of course, we can all think that personally, we would have declined a nomination under such and such circumstances, but in the end the only one who can make that decision is the finalist themselves. The Hugo voters have to respect this decision, though they can of course choose to no award a finalist they feel shouldn’t be there. And in fact, I have no awarded finalists that I felt were misclassified or shouldn’t have been nominated, but it is not my place to tell anybody whether to decline a nomination or not.

My good friends of Worldbuilding for Masochists finished in second place, my other good friends of Hugo, Girl! finished in third place and my other good friends of Octothorpe finished in fifth place. Also, considering that Fancast can easily get stale with the same six podcasts nominated over and over again, it’s great to see two brand-new finalists – Hugo, Girl! and Octothorpe – in this category, while Worldbuilding for Masochists are on their second nomination.

The longlist has even more great podcasts, including my friends of The Skiffy and Fanty Show, Hugos There and The Journey Show.

Best Fan Writer:

I’m the winner of the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer and I’m obviously very happy about winning. Once again, many thanks to everybody who nominated and voted for me.

A look at the voting and nomination statistics shows that I had the highest number of nominations, twice as many as the second placed finalist, and also led in the final voting from the first round on. Bitter Karella started with the second highest number of first place preferences, but finished in fourth place, probably because what Bitter Karella does – namely satirical Twitter microfiction – is very different from what the rest of us do. So someone who likes what I do is more likely to also like what Jason and Paul (who finished in second and third place), Chris and Alex (who finished in fifth and sixth place) do.

Best Fan Writer is always a category that’s no awarded a lot, usually by some cranky older fans who don’t accept anybody who does not publish in print fanzines. So there were 45 people who no awarded the entire category, because they didn’t like any of us. You can’t really help those people and I wouldn’t bother about them. By the end, I was up against 60 no awards, so there fifteen people who liked someone on the ballot enough to vote for them, but didn’t like me. Which is fair – not everybody has to like me and my work.

A look at the nomination statistics reveals that the person with the second highest number of nominations, my pal Camestros Felapton, declined his nomination, because a lot of what he wrote in 2021 was the Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War series, which was also nominated in Best Related Work, so he might have been nominated for the same work twice. Again, there is no rule against this and it occasionally happens that people are nominated e.g. in Fan Writer and Fanzine or Best Related for largely the same work. Nonetheless, I think that this was a classy move by Camestros and made the way free for Jason Sanford.

A further look at the longlist shows Alasdair Stuart, James Davis Nicoll, Arturo Serrano, O. Westin, Charles Payseur and Claire Brialey, all of whom are great people doing great work. Amanda Cherry, who just missed the ballot, is a new-to-me name, but I will definitely check her work out. I have to admit that I don’t really connect with Stitch’s work, but then not everything had to be for me. Finally, Jorts the Tweeting Cat actually made the Hugo longlist for Best Fan Writer. I suspect if Jorts had made the ballot, none of us would have stood a chance, because you can’t beat a cat, especially one who tweets.

Finally, while I certainly wouldn’t mind being nominated or even winning again, I have a shiny rocket trophy, even though is currently hanging out in Memphis, Tennessee, according the shipment tracking. So let’s spread the Hugo love around and nominate someone else next year. There are plenty of great folks (and cats) on the ballot and the longlist. I’ll also post a list of some overlooked fan writer favourites during the nomination period.

Best Fan Artist:

The 2022 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist goes to Lee Moyer. This win was controversial for much the same reason as Small Gods winning Best Fanzine, so I just refer you to my commentary there. Also, I’m apparently the least controversial winner in all four fan categories, which is interesting.

Besides, let’s not forget that while Lee Moyer and Nilah Magruder (though no one seems particularly upset about her nomination) are primarily known as pro artists, we also have four artists primarily known for their fanwork on the ballot, namely Sara Felix, Iain J. Clarke, Lorelei Esther (who’s also the youngest Hugo finalist of all time) and Ariela Housman, all of whom do very different, but excellent work.

A look at the longlist reveals even more great fan artists. Richard Man, who just missed the ballot by one vote, is a new to me name. He’s a digital artist and photographer known for excellent portraits of SFF writers, editors and others. Photographers don’t get nearly enough love in the art categories of the Hugos – I can recall only one photographer who was nominated for photos of Star Wars figures, i.e. a very different field from portrait photography – so maybe we can change that next year.

Other names on the longlist that I like are Spring Schoenhuth, by whom I own a beautiful necklace, Grace P. Fong, Laya Rose, Alison Scott and Maya Hahto. Orion Smith, Amy Rae Hill, Francesca Resta and Godwin Akpan are new to me, though I’m excited to check out their work.

Lodestar:

The winner of the 2022 Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Novel is The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik. This is another win that’s controversial, because even though the characters in The Last Graduate are young and the novel is set at a magic school, it was marketed as an adult novel.

Now I’m absolutely not the target audience for The Last Graduate, because I’m completely over school and university settings and have been for years and would be happy to never have to read another school setting again, but the novel did feel young adult to me, even if it wasn’t marketed that way. Never mind that YA is as much of a marketing phenomenon as a category and that plenty of books that would be considered YA or even Middle Grade these days such as Ender’s Game were sold and marketed as regular science fiction back in the day.

A look at the longlist reveals that Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, which was a finalist in Best Novella, did make the longlist for the Lodestar. Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker, who is Seanan McGuire by another name, also made the longlist. I’m also very happy to see Sirena by my friend Gideon Marcus on the longlist, sandwiched between the two Seanan McGuire books, especially since small press books are often overlooked by the Hugos.

Astounding:

The 2022 Astounding Award for Best New Writer goes to Shelley Parker-Chan, whose debut novel She Who Became the Sun was also a finalist for Best Novel this year.

In general, the Astounding ballot was very strong this year, though for some reason my personal two top choices, Everina Maxwell and A.K. Larkwood, finished in fifth and sixth place.

The longlist shows a couple of familiar names such as Gautam Bhatia, Lindsay Ellis, Aiden Turner, Natalie Zina Walschots, Kel Coleman, Lauren Ring or Freya Marske as well as two names I didn’t recognise, J.R.H. Lawless and Lucien Telford. Some googling revealed that both are indie or small press authors with devoted fans and that Lawless actually made the longlist for the Astounding Award last year as well. Finally, I’m happy to see my friend Janice L. Newman on the longlist.

All in all, this was a good Hugo year with a fine set of winners. And no, I’m not just saying this, because I’m one of them. Not every winner is to my taste and at least one winner was my lowest ranked choice, but then it’s impossible to like every single winner. Also – and I think this is a first for me – nothing I no awarded won.

Discussion of and grumbling about the 2022 Hugo winners is strangely muted. Not even the usual suspects on the far left and the far right felt the need to let us know that we are all unworthy and only won because of political correctness/a conspiracy/because we were too left/centrist/right/neoliberal, etc…, which deprived me of the fun of responding, “Guess who has a shiny rocket. Hint, it’s not you.”

One debate that did rear its ugly head was the usual “Why are only women winning Hugos these days?” debate. Since we’ve had that debate ad nauseam in recent years, I’ll just point you to this post from 2016, which already says everything I would have said now.

And if you were in person at Chicon 8 and were able to snag a copy of The Gatekeeper, the one-of print-only fanzine published by Olav Rokne of the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog, my satirical article therein was a preemptive to the whole “Why are all of those women and writers of colour winning Hugos?” complaints we get every year.

Also, my piece in The Gatekeeper should make me a “real fan writer(TM)” in the eyes of those 45 people who no awarded the entire fan writer category, since my articles in Journey Planet and The Drink Tank obviously didn’t do it.

Anyway, that’s it for the monster 2022 Hugo commentary post. I’ll probably have photos of the trophy – which has now arrived in Cologne after a stopover in Memphis, Tennessee – to share soon.

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7 Responses to Some Comments on the 2022 Hugo Award Winners and the Hugo Ceremony in General

  1. Mike Glyer says:

    Don’t poison your soul with the false narrative that No Award votes really have anything to do with you. Those are mostly (1) votes against the existence of Fan Hugo categories, or (2) expressions of resentment that the finalists are “a bunch of people I never heard of” (contrasting with how most people of that opinion just skip the category). It’s not about you.

    By the same token, however, you invited people to click through to the “strongly worded comments” of Peculiar Monster, many of which complain about Seanan McGuire being up for Best Fanzine (and winning, of course).

    You make it clear you really do have an opinion, so I wish you had said it instead of going with “That’s something everybody affected needs to decide for themselves.”

    (Patrick Nielsen Hayden used to verbally whack me when I did that kind of thing. I still bear the scars…)

    • Cora says:

      Oh, I don’t think that the 45 No Award voters specifically dislike me. They seem to be people who dislike the fan categories in general or all the finalists.

      Also, much like you, I occasionally link to things I don’t necessarily agree with, though I have added a note to that regard.

  2. David H. says:

    There’s no period in “A Que”, it’s a pen name, not an initial. He’s published several stories in English with Clarkesworld since 2015, so had I read Sinopticon, I would’ve recognized his name (I really liked “An Account of the Sky Whales”, for example).

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  4. Thank you for your (very detailed, thorough, and well-researched) thoughts! Your commentary always merits a close read. And congratulations again on your much-deserved Hugo!

    And… wow, that Peculiar Monster blog post is a piece of work, isn’t it? I wonder what exactly Cat Valente’s side of that story might be. I have a lot of respect for her and suspect that when she lays the verbal smackdown it’s at least somewhat deserved.

    • Cora says:

      Thank you very much, both for the praise and the congratulations.

      My one brief interaction with Cat Valente at the Dublin Worldcon was pleasant, though I don’t know what might have happened at that Readercon panel to so upset the blogger.

      And yes, the post is harsh (which is why I’ve added a warning), but I would also have linked to the usual reactionaries pointing out that we are all unworthy and people only voted for us because of political correctness, only that I haven’t found anything along those lines.

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