My Hugo Ballot 2014

The voting deadline for the Hugo Awards is tomorrow, July 31st, and I’ve read as much of the Hugo content as I’m going to have time for. So, the time has come for me to cast my ballot and put awards aside until next year. As I’ve done the last couple years, I’ve publicly shared what my ballot is going to look like, as kind of a final section of my Hugo review that is kind of an overarching look at what I thought of the categories. I didn’t read work in all the categories, so I’ve abstained from voting in those that I had no familiarity with and left them off the ballot.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with how the voting system works, it used an instant runoff scheme which allows you to rank all of your choices. First, they count everyone’s first choice. If no one gets more than half the votes, then the lowest ranked one in that scheme is eliminated, and anyone who chose that one as their first choice then has their 2nd choice tallied instead. And so on until there is a clear winner. It is possible to vote for “No Award” which you do if you would rather no one win at all than for the remaining ones to win, and in the end if too many ranked No Award above the eventual vote-winner, then no award is given.


Best Novel

  1. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK) (I reviewed it here)
  2. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK) (I reviewed it here)
  3. Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK) (will post review on July 30)
  4. Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK) (I reviewed it here)
  5. No Award

I also reviewed Larry Correia’s Warbound here but ranked it below No Award. I didn’t get a copy of Neptune’s Brood until quite late in the game. I won’t finish it before the deadline but I’ve read far enough to get an overall impression to rank it here. I originally planned to post this ballot on July 30, but decided to post my partial review of Neptune’s Brood on that day to give me a couple more days of reading.


Best Novella

  1. “Equoid”, Charles Stross (, 09-2013)
  2. “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
  3. No Award

I reviewed this year’s Novella category here for more details.


Best Novelette

  1. “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
  2. “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
  3. “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (, 09-2013)
  4. No Award

I reviewed this year’s nominees here for more details.


Best Short Story

  1. “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (, 02-2013)
  2. No Award

I reviewed this year’s nominees here for more details.


Best Related Work

  1. “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)


Best Graphic Story

  1. The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
  2. Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  3. No Award

I reviewed this year’s nominees here for more details.


Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  1. Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  2. Gravity, written by Alfonso CuarÃ’ n & JonÃ’ s CuarÃ’ n, directed by Alfonso CuarÃ’ n (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
  4. Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  5. Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

I reviewed this year’s nominees here for more details.


Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  1. Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  2. No Award

Game of Thrones is awesome, and that was one of the best episodes in the series so far. I haven’t seen the rest of the category, but I am tired of episodes of Dr. Who dominating the ballot. There ARE other worthwhile things being published in SF, people. I’d rather Dr. Who would not be on the ballot or win anymore, so I’m voting accordingly. I haven’t seen Orphan Black, don’t know anything about it–so I don’t want to vote for it with no knowledge, but to vote No Award above Dr. Who episodes there’s nothing to do but lump Orphan Black in with them.


Best Editor, Short Form

  1. John Joseph Adams
  2. Neil Clarke
  3. Sheila Williams


Best Professional Artist

  1. Dan Dos Santos
  2. Julie Dillon
  3. John Picacio
  4. John Harris
  5. Galen Dara

I based these entirely on the portfolio included in the Hugo packet. Though I do have a soft spot for Dos Santos–I have an autographed print of his portrait of Moiraine Damodred hanging in my office at home. They’re all good but I tend to like the styles that make the people seem very real, and convince me that everything unrealistic is just as real.


Best Semiprozine

  1. Lightspeed Magazine
  2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies


Best Fanzine

  1. Dribble of Ink


Best Fancast

  1. No Award

It’s not that I hate the nominees. It’s just that, with all the amazing fiction podcasts out there, I find it extremely disappointing that only nonfiction podcasts are on the ballot, and that the only fiction podcast that’s ever been on the ballot had to heavily pander to get there. If fiction podcasts aren’t going to be recognized in this category, then I hope this trial category is short-lived.


Best Fan Writer

  1. Kameron Hurley


Best Fan Artist

  1. Sarah Webb

I based these entirely on the portfolio included in the Hugo packet, which only included work from three of the five nominees for some reason.


Movie Review: The Avengers

written by David Steffen

I’ve been a fan of Marvel Comics and their various media productions for a long time. The most recent of their movie productions is “The Avengers.” As far as I know it’s unique in taking several other recent successful Marvel title superhero movies and combining them with the same actors into a single movie. Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, each of which had held the title role in a recent Marvel movie.

I’ve gotten behind on my Marvel movies in the last few years. I saw Iron Man, but not Thor or Captain America (I think it’s weird that Chris Evans plays both Captain America and Johnny Storm, but I digress), so even though I was aware of these other movies, I hadn’t seen these other characters in action until now.

The movie begins as Thor’s brother Loki crosses into our world with the intent to lead an army of warriors from another dimension to enslave the Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) calls on the disparate group of superheroes codenamed the Avengers to battle this menace. The group has yet to be formed at that point, but the group put together is made up of Iron Man, Black Widow, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. The group has been chosen for their power, not for their teamwork, which becomes clear very early on as squabbles ensue regarding who is making the decisions. But as Loki’s war looms ever larger, they have to find a way to work together to stop this dire threat to Earth.

A fair warning: this is a long movie. 143 minutes long. But that’s to be expected for a movie based around a group of 5 title characters played by big budget actors. To really make a movie based around the whole group, each character has to have some time spent on their character arc, in a way that allows them all to combine into the major plot arc. This was a difficult balance to strike, but I think they did it admirably well. Never did I feel that one of the characters was hogging the screentime, and each character got his chance at scenes that revolved around them, as well as scenes that involved lots of quick fighting and/or dialogue between them and other members of the team.

The plot was reasonably good. Was it corny at times? Sure, I mean its based around a team that includes a Norse God and an over-patriotic 1940s superhero battling space aliens, so a bit of corniness is a given. But the makers of the movie took these strange and disparate, apparently clashing elements, and made them into a cohesive action-packed riproaring good time of a movie. The interactions between these different powerhouse superhumans are one of the best parts, especially Iron Man’s cynical self-reverence onscreen with Captain America’s “ask what you can do for your country” attitude. Tony Stark/Iron Man still gets the best clever lines, and Downey pulls them off wonderfully.

THE best part, though (and this surprised me) was watching the Incredible Hulk smash… well, pretty much whatever gets in his way. I’m surprised because I would’ve expected to prefer something less predictable and more intellectual. I mean, it’s no mystery that the Hulk can pretty much smash anything and is apparently impervious to everything, so where’s the tension? Maybe that’s a way in which movies can have a different kind of appeal that written work. I didn’t feel any tension about the Hulk because I knew he’d survive and I knew he’d wreck a lot of stuff in the process, but the sheer spectacle of his fighting was like watching a natural disaster, inevitable destruction after which all you can do is try to clean up. If they’d filled a whole movie with that I probably would’ve gotten bored (I haven’t seen the Eric Bana and Edward Norton Hulk movies of the last ten years) but it was paced very well so that the Hulk only came out a few times but he stole the stage every time he did.

I’d recommend this movie for any comic fan, action fan, anyone who just wants a good riproaring time.