Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wherein your humble correspondent predicts what the voters will choose for the 2011 Hugo Awards. For rankings that reflect my Hugo voting, see the links below.
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis almost certainly will win, an unfortunate result since it was the most disappointing of the best novel nominees that I read (I haven’t read Bujold’s Cryoburn). Willis is a popular personality at science fiction conventions and the Hugo Awards are a popular-vote award. Willis has already amassed 10 Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards, including the 2011 best novel Nebula Award for Blackout/All Clear. There has been some outcry on the internet that this novel is in fact bad, so there is some chance that it will be passed over. (Read the SF Strangelove review of Blackout/All Clear.) The next most likely winner is Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold. Third mostly likely is Feed by Mira Grant. My choice for best novel, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, is a long shot.
This was the strongest fiction category with four excellent nominees and one fairly good one. “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang is the likely winner. It’s brilliant, if slow paced. The notion that artificial intelligences would need to be nurtured for years, much like human children, is one of those smack-yourself-on-the-forehead ideas that is obvious now that Chiang has dramatized it. The next most likely winner is "The Sultan of the Clouds" by Geoffrey A. Landis, which for me was the weakest story in the category. The third most likely winner is "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window" by Rachel Swirsky, which got a boost from winning the 2011 Nebula Award. My top selection, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand, is another long shot.
This is probably the hardest fiction category for me to predict, since I don’t understand what the nominating voters saw in most of these stories. I think “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly will win. It is the best of a weak category. The second most likely winner is “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele, with its fan-friendly message about reading early science fiction about Mars. “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone won the 2011 Nebula Award for best novelette, making it the third most likely to win. The Nebula Award voters didn’t share my negative opinion regarding “That Leviathan.”
Best Short Story
I expect this category to have results similar to my own rankings. “The Things” by Peter Watts is the likely winner, benefiting from fan familiarity with the movie “The Thing.” The second most likely winner is “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal, set aboard a generation starship.
Best Dramatic Presentation -- Long Form
Inception is a pretty sure bet to win here. I was disappointed by it, as I noted in my short review, yet it remains the best of a weak field. Next most likely: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, is incomplete, and doesn’t stand on its own. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and How to Train Your Dragon seem to be aimed at a younger demographic than those who are likely to vote for the Hugo Awards. I haven’t seen Toy Story 3.
About the Hugo Awards
Anyone who is a supporting or attending member of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, can cast a ballot for the Hugo Awards. This year the convention, called Renovation, will be held in Reno, Nevada. Voting on the final ballot ends tomorrow at midnight Pacific time. There are two rounds of voting, a nominating round, which ended in March, and a final ballot. The nominees with the highest vote totals form the final ballot. In each of the past two years just over 1000 voters participated in the final ballot.
SF Strangelove’s rankings for the 2011 Hugo Awards fiction categories:
Best Short Story
Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention
Nicholas Whyte: 2011 Hugo Awards: who do voters say they will vote for?