Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reading for the Hugo Award, part 9: Best Professional Editor (long form)

Liz Gorinsky: I've only read three of her novels (Radiance, Valour and Vanity, and The Snow Queen) but I loved all three of them. I'm particularly impressed by Radiance, which is a complex and difficult novel and must have required care to shepherd it to publication.

Sheila Gilbert: I haven't read any of the novels on her list, but she works with some authors I really like (cough cough Seanan McGuire)

Jim Minz (Baen): I haven't read any of the novels on his list, but it's a respectable group

Neither Vox Day nor Toni Weisskopf chose to submit supporting information. I'm very curious about whether Toni edits Lois McMaster Bujold, which IMHO would be a huge mark in her favor. Those books are beautifully polished! Unfortunately, that information isn't readily available for someone with my poor search skills.

Reading for the Hugo Awards, part 8: Best Professional Editor (short form)

I have only a mild idea what an editor does. I guess in the case of an anthology, one can point to both the actual editing and also the selection of stories included. I'm really just feeling my way here, and I have a nasty feeling that I may make some mistakes with these later categories. All five candidates have been nominated before, which gives me an odd confidence that I can't really get this one wrong...

Neil Clarke:editor of Clarkesworld and Forever. Oh - and he's a very clever man, carefully detailing all the stories that he's edited that are short-listed for awards. A whole lot of my favorite stories of the past year are on this list, a fact which has just moved him to top of my list. He's been nominated for this Hugo before, but has never won.

Ellen Datlow: I've been reading works edited by her for, literally, as long as I've been reading in the field. I love the short stories she listed and think she did a great job of selecting them. She has previously been nominated for a Hugo in editing, and won multiple times.

Sheila Williams: looking over the issue of Asimov makes me understand just how much I like her selections of stories, too. She's got multiple Hugo nominations in editing and a recent pair of wins.

John Joseph Adams: editor of Lightspeed, which is another source of great stories. He has one previous nomination.

Jerry Pournelle: editor of There Will Be War Volume X, which I've mostly read by this point as I waded through the short stories and novelettes. Sadly, I don't see this volume as evidence of editorial skill. The e-book itself has multiple kerning errors. I also think the stories are second-rate or worse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reading for the Hugo Awards, part 7: Best Fan Writer

Best Fan Writer: all five submitted sample articles for consideration. Mike is the only one of my nominees who made the ballot, and as such is naturally at the top of my list. I was surprised that three of the five are primarily interested in media rather than literature, although props to Jeffro for writing about the intersection between the two fields.

Mike Glyer: long time writer/compiler of File 770 and previous Hugo nominee. I've always enjoyed his writing and I think he does a good job of analysis on the Baldwin issue, for example.

Jeffro Johnson: gives us a strong interview and two pieces of analysis. I don't agree with his politics, particularly with regards to his views on HP Lovecraft, but I respect his writing ability. All three articles are about the influences of SFF novels on the gaming community.

Shamus Young: writes a nice introduction to his work and submits one long analytical article. I haven't played Mass Effect so I gave up on the article about 14 pages in.

Morgan Holmes: Send in a bunch of short articles. Writing style is terse and not particularly reflective. At least she's writing about books and authors instead of movies and video games...

Douglas Ernst: does movie reviews. None of them is particularly long or introspective.

Reading for the Hugo Awards, part 5: Best Fan Artist

I have no familiarity with this area, so once again I'm going purely by what came in my voter packet, supplemented by what I can find online. Neither disse86 nor Christian Quinot submitted anything. Unfortunately for me, they're also the two whose work I liked best (from what I found online).

Matthew Callahan, AKA "the guy with the Star Wars miniatures" has cute stuff and a nice visual style. I like his work on a personal level but don't know how to compare it with the other works because he's working in a different medium.

disse86: Does very dark work, rather reminiscent of HR Giger or John Jude Palencar on a smaller scale. Not to my personal taste, but I recognize the talent this takes.

Christian Quinot: fantasy painter. Looks like he might illustrate gaming cards. Not a style I really enjoy, but competently done.

Kukuroyu: a cartoonist. Not my style, but closer to it than the other artists...

Steve Stiles: a cartoonist. Not seeing what the buzz is about.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Reading for the Hugo Awards, part 6: the John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo)

The John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo): Alyssa, Brian, and Sebastien sent in sample work. Andy and Pierce didn't, probably figuring (correctly, in my case) that most libraries will have their books.

Alyssa Wong: I've been a fan of hers since late last year. She's a terrific short story writer. Leans a little more toward horror than my personal preference goes, but that's OK.

Andy Weir: author of The Martian, which I loved.

Brian Niemeler: I've been slowly wading through The Traitor's Blade and while it isn't grabbing me, I admit that it is amusing. If I can find the time to finish it before voting closes, I'll see if it gets enough better to move him above Alyssa or Andy.

Pierce Brown: I got three chapters into Red Rising and didn't like it. But I do respect the accomplishment of writing an entire trilogy that sells well.

Sebastien de Castell: I read both his short stories and didn't like either one.

Reading for the Hugo Awards, part 4: Best Professional Artist

None of my nominees made the ballot, so I am making my judgement based upon the materials provided in the voting packet. I'm going to admit that I get really irritated by finalists who don't take the process seriously. Thus, Larry Elmore who did not submit any samples, and Lars Braad Anderson who turned in only four? Not impressing me. I also wish that Anderson and Larry Rostant had turned in artwork without the overlay of the cover, or possibly had turned in both views.

Michal Karcz: beautiful stuff. Is what gets described as hyper-realist? It's primarily SF but reminds me of Michael Whelan in the 1990s.

Abigail Larson: very cute. Some of it actually caught at my emotions; I really liked "Luca Reptoid" and on second viewing, recognized that many of these illustrations match stories by HP Lovecraft. This hits me right in my sweet spot for illustration styles but I'm not sensing the same versatility shown by some of the other artists.

Larry Rostant: did the covers of a lot of great books. I had trouble stripping the artwork out of the cover, which weakened my view of his work. He seems to specialize in human figures, often off-axis. I'd like to go back and check how closely his artwork matches the author's description of the character, but I don't know if I'll have time. I went online and was able to find some of his work without words sprinkled all over it.

Lars Braad Anderson: only sent in four covers; three were spaceships and the fourth was a gorgeous winter landscape. I looked up his website and saw some really gorgeous work there. I'm currently undecided about whether I should take this into consideration, since it wasn't submitted for official consideration.

Larry Elmore: did not submit any samples. I Googled him and found a lot of nearly-nude women and a few dragons. The images are oddly static, even the ones that are supposed to be action scenes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ten on Tuesday: 10 thinks (things) I loved about summer camp

I did not get to attend a "traditional" summer camp... my mother had no idea why anyone would want to live 8-to-a-cabin and spend the day learning to ride, swim, kayak, and shoot a bow and arrow. (Also, I'm an only child and she had some difficulty letting go.) I did ultimately go away in the summer, twice: the first time to Northwestern, where I studied Algebra II, and the second time to Hampshire College, where I studied advanced math.

Did I love it? Yes, I did! For all the following reasons...

1) Math
2) Surrounded by smart people
3) Lopsided boy-girl ratio
4) First kiss
5) Friends for life, or at least through the college era
6) Finally got my asthma correctly diagnosed
7) Friends who are boys
8) Counselors who were Really Smart Girls/Women
9) A look at life in an academic community
10) The confidence to leave home and go far away to college

I should probably explain a bit more. I spent my adolescence in a small, insular town in Indiana. Academic success was not encouraged in girls. Plus, I had acne, a mild stutter, and terrible social insecurity. Getting away for two summers really gave me a sense of what the wider world was like. When I applied to elite colleges on the East Coast, I actually knew some people who were doing the same thing, unlike my classmates in high school. Going to summer camp literally changed my life and I'm so grateful to both programs for giving me financial aid and all the encouragement I needed.

Ten on Tuesday: what I did this weekend

We were afflicted by bad weather, plus I wouldn't leave the dog at home alone, so fireworks are not on this list.

1) Ate at Ruby Tuesday. Enjoyed the salad bar and loved the crab cakes.
2) Did a lot more reading for the Hugo Awards.
3) Ate at Captain Jimmy's, a local bar. They've started to distill their own vodka and rum; we had nice house-specialty cocktails. My Cod Francaise had too much undercooked garlic but the DH liked his burger.
4) Watched a lot of Wimbledon tennis. Dominika Cibulkova had to postpone her wedding because she unexpectedly beat the #3 seed. Sam Querrey beat the Novak Dkojavik, seeded #1, in a huge upset.
5) Cooked some amazing eggplant and a cherry almond Dutch Baby.
6) Saw "Finding Dory" and loved it almost as much as I loved the first movie. I really hope they make "Finding Hank" next!
7) Put the tomatoes, basil, and zucchini plants in the raised bed garden.
8) Caught up on Scream Queens.
9) Finally finished the last season of The Mentalist.
10) Protected the little dog from all the distressing noise of Independence Day.