Reading the Hugo Nominees

This year my husband signed up to vote in the Hugo Awards, and together we’re reading as many of the nominees as possible.  Voting runs from May 11 to July 31, and the awards are announced in August at WorldCon in Dublin.  As described on their website, the Hugo awards are awards for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, voted on by fans.  I think it’s pretty cool that regular people can vote in an award like this (you have to pay for a ticket).  Though in the past it’s led to controversy, when an anti-diversity slate called the Sad Puppies tried to take over the voting, and Hugo consequently changed its nomination format to limit the impact of bloc voting.

I never used to be interested in the Hugo Awards, but in the last few years they’ve really increased the diversity of their writers (see controversy above), and I love seeing so many women nominated and winning awards.  Last year’s winners included N. K. Jemisin, Martha Wells, and Rebecca Roanhorse.  More importantly, they are nominating the science fiction and fantasy I like to read.  One of my favorite reads this year was Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, a former Hugo winner. 

There are a lot of different categories, but listed below are the ones we’re focusing on.  Of the novels, I’ve read two (Spinning Silver and Trail of Lightning) and my husband’s read Space Opera.  Kowal’s book looks great but I’ve been mixed about  her other novels, and I’m not as big a Chambers fan as most people are. I haven’t read any of Yoon Ha Lee’s novels.  

I’ve read all but one of the novellas already (Beneath the Sugar Sky).  I’m leaning towards Artificial Condition though Binti and Lucky Peach make this category difficult to pick, and Wells and Okorafor have already won in this category. 

Neither of us have read any of the novelettes or short stories (a novelette has between 7,500 and 17,500 words).  I’m looking forward to reading Zen Cho and T. Kingfisher, and the nice thing about short stories is I’ll discover new authors I like.

For best series, the husband loves Stross’ Laundry Files.  I like October Daye but he feels more strongly than I do, and he’s the one voting.  I’ve never heard of the Centenal Cycle so will have to look that one up, though it seems unlikely to come close to the popularity of the other nominated series.

Which of these books have you read and what do you recommend?  And have you ever voted in the Hugos?

Best Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

Best Novella

  • Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells ( publishing)
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire ( publishing)
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor ( publishing)
  • The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark ( publishing)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson ( publishing)
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency)

Best Novelette

  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (, 11 July 2018)
  • “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (, 19 September 2018)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander ( publishing)
  • “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine25, November-December 2018)
  • “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld145, October 2018)

Best Short Story

  • “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
  • “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine25, November-December 2018)
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
  • “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
  • “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine23, July-August 2018)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

Best Series

  • The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older ( publishing)
  • The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently publishing/Orbit)
  • Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • The October DayeSeries, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW)
  • The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press)
  • Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

  2 comments for “Reading the Hugo Nominees

  1. May 19, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I’m sending The Calculating Stars to a lot of people, though haven’t read it myself yet. I did love Catherynne Valente’s novel Radiance, and Space Opera has a gloriously bonkers premise; and Chambers’s work is jolly, which often works for me. Not incredibly keen on the very hard sf of Yoon Ha Lee.

  2. May 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    I voted in the Hugos for a few years, and then let my membership go because I felt pressure to be sucked into all the politics that were rampant online at the time (and maybe still are?). it was the height of the puppies at the time, and I just nope’d myself right out of the whole thing.

    I’ve read very few of the above, but of what I have read, I most enjoyed Artificial Condition by Martha Wells, the Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee, and A Witch’s Guide to Escape by Alix Harrow.

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