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The Gernsback Continuum
August 9, 2009 10:58 PM   Subscribe

The 2009 Hugo awards have been announced at Worldcon. Winners include Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book for best novel, Ted Chiang getting best short story and Elizabeth Bear getting best novelette. Best Related Book was snagged by MeFi's own jscalzi. The award for best semiprozine, which was to be scrapped, has been saved, this year being won by Weird Tales - a surprise upsets as it's main problem was that it had essentially become the Locus magazine award for best Locus Magazine. As well as the Hugos other awards such as the Prix Aurora award for best Canadian SF and the Chesley Awards for SF art have been announced, and Cory Doctorow accepted the Prometheus award for Libertarian SF. Convention reporter provides continuing coverage (the convention still has another day to run) and Starshipsofa spin-off Sofanauts has an excellent series of podcasts with regular Amy H. Sturgis and others reporting from the con.
posted by Artw (63 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Libertarian Futurist society sounds like one of the delightful punchlines in a jscalzi book.
posted by smoke at 11:03 PM on August 9, 2009


Hilarious Libertarian Futurists
posted by Artw at 11:05 PM on August 9, 2009


Doctorows acceptance speach, which is covered in either the first or the second of the Sofanauts podcasts, actually sounds pretty interesting - and that's despite my not particularly caring for Libertarians or his public persona. The Prometheus award nominies are in general pretty interesting, and to me pretty suprising because they usually sweep in a fair number of outright lefties.
posted by Artw at 11:09 PM on August 9, 2009


Does his speech involve launching a steampunk blimp with his own hot air?
posted by orthogonality at 11:15 PM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was just reading Gaiman's reaction on twitter.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:16 PM on August 9, 2009


Like Charles Stross, here chatting with Paul Krugman at Worldcon.

Oh, and: previously.
posted by Artw at 11:19 PM on August 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a webcomic addict, I was delighted to hear that the "Don't Call It Steampunk" Girl Genius won the first ever "Best Graphic Story" Hugo, for Volume 8 of the ongoing story that started on paper then went to the Web with physical publication following.

And if I'd known The Scalzi was going to win a big award for his hate mail, I would've been a lot less nice to him.
posted by wendell at 12:32 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Memo to Ted Chiang: RITE MOAR PLZ

One short story per year? C'mon, man, pick up the pace! Of course, every story is masterful and meticulously made. Is he a cult author yet? He should be.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:34 AM on August 10, 2009


Yay! E. Bear!
posted by kalessin at 12:35 AM on August 10, 2009


I very much enjoyed The Graveyard Book.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:41 AM on August 10, 2009


I suspect that if Ted Chiang wrote at a different pace he wouldn't be Ted Chiang. You wouldn;t want him just banging stuff out.

Wikipedia says "He currently works as a technical writer in the software industry and resides in Bellevue, near Seattle, Washington", so I also kind of suspect he spends 98% of his writing time writing manuals for (reading between the lines) Microsoft, so hey, buy lots of boxed versions of their stuff and read the manuals, you may hit on a hidden Ted Chiang classic.
posted by Artw at 12:47 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to write some Hugo nominated novels just so I can sit down for a chat with Paul Krugman.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 AM on August 10, 2009


Full text of Ted Chiang's "Exhalation", for those who don't want to listen to the ~40 minute podcast.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:21 AM on August 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I was just reading Gaiman's reaction on twitter."

It should be noted that the entirety of Gaiman's Hugo Award winning "The Graveyard Book" is watchable/listenable online.

What I find most interesting about Gaiman's Twitter is that he has apparently been staying up late to speak to Amanda Palmer on the phone, who is in Russia... and just said in reply to her...

"going to sleep now. Love you. Miss you. And "I expect I will" is definitely more probable than a "Probably"

Amanda Palmer -- from the Dresden Dolls and recently recording solo -- either is or was Trent Reznor's fiance just a few months ago... but she collaborated with Neil on a photographic book and recently toured around the West Coast while doing book signings with Neil.

During the course of their collaboration, Neil Gaiman wrote a modern-day torch song, which Ms. Palmer has been performing occasionally. ( I saw her perform at The Crucible's Fire Arts Festival... and at the signing afterwards, Neil drew me a rather large & lovely mouselike character... another unexpected talent, I guess.)

Getting a Hugo Award would be a nice coup. Winning over Amanda Palmer when your competition is Trent Reznor? That would be far better.
posted by markkraft at 2:36 AM on August 10, 2009


Wait, wait, wait... no Dave Langford!?! That can't be right... I mean the sun still came up this morning?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:29 AM on August 10, 2009


a surprise upsets as it's main problem was that it had essentially become the Locus magazine award for best Locus Magazine.

The concensus seems to be that this was a deliberate attempt to punish Locus and frankly they deserved it.

Related, if there is any such thing as a semiprozine (which there isn't) then it is Electric Velocipede. Which won Best Fanzine.
posted by ninebelow at 3:59 AM on August 10, 2009


Oh, and Campbell Award eligibilty is pretty stupid too, although Acacia does sound interesting.
posted by ninebelow at 4:01 AM on August 10, 2009


"Dr. Horrible" won a HugoBest for Dramatic Presentation - Short Form, and a sequel is in the works, with rumors that this project will be substantially larger than the prior... to be filmed next Spring.
posted by markkraft at 4:13 AM on August 10, 2009


Related, if there is any such thing as a semiprozine (which there isn't)

There are a lot of broken categories, and the trend is to add more of them. I started to write a long rant, but then I realized -- this isn't my world. I know how to advocate for change here -- join the sitting Worldcon, attend the business meeting, and advocate changes to the constitution.

The people who are paying their money and time to do so? They get to decide how the award should be run.
posted by eriko at 5:02 AM on August 10, 2009


Semiprozine is a weird kludge invented for the Hugos to bridge the gap between fanzines and professional magazines, and I don't actually mind the category that much. The part I find weird is that there's no definition of professional - I would consider Locus, which AFAIK employs several people on a full or part-time basis, to be a professional magazine. Also it seems possible to have two very similar magazines, which both publish fiction, pay contributors, have a cover price, and have professional distribution/printing, but they end up in different categories.

I've come round to the idea of keeping Best Semiprozine, since there are so many small print run/online fiction magazines which deserve recognition, but I think it would be beneficial if the eligibility rules were changed (basing them on print runs in an age of online magazines isn't very useful) and a proper definition of professional included with them. Maybe even a definition of fanzine which excludes magazines which pay their contributors/aren't available for 'the usual'.

I would put my money where my mouth is and propose these changes at a Worldcon business meeting, but I don't have several thousand pounds to spare on it.
posted by penguinliz at 5:41 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo. What the hell, Hugo Awards?
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:04 AM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


markkraft: Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman confirmed they were dating a while back.
posted by kmz at 6:06 AM on August 10, 2009


either is or was Trent Reznor's fiance just a few months ago

Uh, no? Trent is engaged to Mariqueen from West Indian Girl. They'd been dating for over a year, I think, when they announced the engagement at the beginning of the summer.

Whilst Dresden Dolls opened for NIN on the first leg of the With Teeth tour, to my (admittedly limited) knowledge, Amanda and Trent have never dated.
posted by elfgirl at 6:07 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Congrats to jscalzi. I didn't realize the Hugo looked like a giant dildo.

Maybe it's the hotel room setting.

What's a "Related" book?
posted by rokusan at 6:11 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's a "Related" book?

'This award category is defined in Article 3.3.5 of the Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society as a work, "which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text".'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:22 AM on August 10, 2009


I didn't realize the Hugo looked like a giant dildo.

It's a rocketship, rokusan. A steel-hard, powerfully-thrusting, surprisingly long rocketship. Now get yer mind out of the gutter.
posted by aught at 6:26 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Trent engaged? Oh no!!! Where will the angst fuel come from then? Is this really the last tour then? Aiyiyeeeee then!
posted by cavalier at 7:09 AM on August 10, 2009


A steel-hard, powerfully-thrusting, surprisingly long rocketship.

Which we keep on the nightstand in a dimly-lit hotel room.

Nothing to see here, indeed.

This award, it vibrates?</small?
posted by rokusan at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2009


Oh, man, I open a thread about nerd books and get an article from Tiger Beat for Old Goths.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:13 AM on August 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


I noted elsewhere recently that many Hugo awards must have been used in sex acts. But I couldn't find any pics to back this up.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:21 AM on August 10, 2009


Ha. Nice messed up <small> tag, there, genius.

Size matters.
posted by rokusan at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2009


Congrats jscalzi.

A couple of us Philly MeFites (misanthropicsarah, polexa and monochromaticgirl) belong to the same Sci Fi book club, which is doing The Android's Dream this month. Thanks for writing. Keep it up.
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:41 AM on August 10, 2009


Semiprozine sounds like a drug, and I am afraid that I must formally insist that it be used as such.
posted by aramaic at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is {Ted Chiang} a cult author yet? He should be.

Yes on both counts. Ted Chiang is one of those touchstone authors where you know that, if the person you're talking to has never heard of him, they don't really know what's going on in contemporary speculative fiction.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:47 AM on August 10, 2009


Graveyard Book? Really? Everybody I know who's read was underwhelmed so I stayed away from it. Maybe I'll take a look at it now, though.

Somewhere deep in my science fiction loving soul there is a neverending sob over the fact that fantasy novels win the Hugos now. I know it's irrational and stupid but there it is.

Ted Chiang, Elizabeth Bear and Nancy Kress (who won best novelette) are all writers who I'll drop anything to read, though. I'm very happy that they won.
posted by Kattullus at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2009


I would recommend listening to Gaiman read it online over actually reading it. The material doesn't justify your full attention. It's nice and fun and it's a fable, but there's no meat there. It is a children's book after all. Also Gaiman does great voices and his performance of reading the book is fantastic.
posted by edbles at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2009


I'm super psyched Ted Chiang won. I've had the privelege of running to him at a couple parties, and he's been very nice about my desire to bow in front of him.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:14 AM on August 10, 2009


I just don't keep up with current speculative fiction, I went through an Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke etc. phase years back. I'd never heard of Ted Chiang before this morning. Based on the comments here, I just read Exhalation.

Holy shit. That's the coolest piece of fiction I've read in awhile. That was a lunch break well-spent.

Damn Metafilter, always making me learn new shit.
posted by marxchivist at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2009


I am really impressed with the quality of readers StarShip Sofa gets for their fiction. Lightyears better than some of the other SF podcasts out there. Check out this reading of another fantastic Ted Chiang story, The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate.
posted by straight at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2009


What a cursory search turned up:

The Erdmann Nexus by Nancy Kress (Best Novella)

Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear (Best Novelette)

Exhalation by Ted Chiang (Best Short Story) [more]

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog (Hulu)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 11:15 AM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


My one regret about this year's Worldcon: that I had to head home before I could attend the Hugos.

Backup regret: I didn't have time to try poutine. Le sigh.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:42 AM on August 10, 2009


Oh, man, I open a thread about nerd books and get an article from Tiger Beat for Old Goths.

Yeah, sorry about that. Between Reznor (whilst he was still on) and his girl, and Gaiman and Palmer, this summer's been quite the love-in on Twitter. It's all kind of sweet, really.

Goths =/= Emo. We actually like romance. As long as it's all very tragic, at some point.
posted by elfgirl at 12:14 PM on August 10, 2009


I thought semiprozine was still awaiting FDA approval.
posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on August 10, 2009


markkraft: Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman confirmed they were dating a while back.

Oh, cool. What a great match.
posted by homunculus at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2009


She ain't posted enough to earn no mefi's own Amanda Palmer though.
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2009


Neil has had this kind of rock star aura around him ever since I first met him (circa 1985, I think). His signing queue this morning was a thing of beauty and terror; I don't want to be that famous, it'd give me carpal tunnel syndrome!

Biggest regret of the worldcon: betting that Neal Stephenson wouldn't turn up, and therefore not bringing along a book I have wanted to get his autograph on for fifteen/sixteen years, dammit. (At least I got to have a discreet fanboy squee moment at him during the Hugo Loser's Party.)
posted by cstross at 4:06 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


No Mistborn?
posted by lundman at 6:23 PM on August 10, 2009


I just read "Exhalation". Holy shit. That's the coolest piece of fiction I've read in awhile.

I read "Tower of Babylon" for the first time a couple of years ago. It easily passed the Emily Dickinson test. (Namely: "If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." Substitute "SF" for "poetry".)
posted by Creosote at 6:57 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks to everyone who's passed on congrats. Coming as I do from a non-fiction background (years at a newspaper and I wrote several non-fiction books before I started writing novels), this was actually a Hugo I've wanted to nab for a while now, so I'm totally chuffed to have gotten it.

Also, this year's Hugo is absolutely gorgeous in real life. The hotel lighting of that picture (via my cell phone camera) doesn't even come close to doing it justice. Also also, the damn thing is heavy, because the base is solid granite. I got a cramp carrying it around. No, I don't expect sympathy.

NB that the Hugo Winners this year are an excellent crop, but I also encourage everyone to seek out the other nominees on the ballot as well, in all categories, for your reading pleasure. Despite grumbles from the hinterlands, this was an exceptional year for the Hugo ballot, and you'll get a fine idea of the state of SF/F today from it.
posted by jscalzi at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2009


My girlfriend just started reading The Android's Dream. Her pedantry: She's a UCLA biomedical librarian; you got the UCLA science libraries wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 PM on August 10, 2009


Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang
posted by jhc at 8:34 PM on August 10, 2009


First, congrats!

and you'll get a fine idea of the state of SF/F today from it.

I'm not exactly sure this is true. Note: I'm absolutely not talking about quality only whether the Hugo ballot would give a good picture of the state of SF/F as a whole today. As you yourself have said the Hugo ballot self-selects for a certain kind of SF, and the Best Novel Hugo (in particular) is full of books who are good representatives of that kind of SF. But other kinds of SF are real and vibrant and not always well represented.

This is somewhat less true of the shorter fiction categories although still not entirely untrue.

For a better idea of the state of SF/F today I'd definitely recommend looking at the Locus recommended reading list for any given year rather than any of the awards. As I said, this has nothing to do with quality: The Locus recommended list for last year includes all of the nominees for Best Novel (including yours, yay!) and virtually all of the shorter fiction nominees.

For anyone interested here is the Locus recommended reading list for 2008 which is, I believe, intended for exactly the purpose of giving one a good idea of the state of SF. I look at it every year and pick up a couple books I would otherwise have missed.
posted by Justinian at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2009


My girlfriend just started reading The Android's Dream. Her pedantry: She's a UCLA biomedical librarian; you got the UCLA science libraries wrong.

jscalzi: I strongly urge you to invoke the Bradbury defense.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 PM on August 10, 2009


Is the Bradbury defense akin to "Hey, it takes place in the future and in the future it's exactly like I say it is"? Because that's the defense I usually use.
posted by jscalzi at 8:43 PM on August 10, 2009


I believe the Bradbury defense is

e2-e4
f7-f5
d2-d3
Ng8-h6

and then you step on a butterfly and intelligent dinosaurs rule the Earth.
posted by Kattullus at 8:51 PM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Weird, there is no actual link in my post. So I'll try it again: Locus 2008 recommended reading.

Is the Bradbury defense akin to "Hey, it takes place in the future and in the future it's exactly like I say it is"? Because that's the defense I usually use.

Some of the details vary but this from everything^2 is fairly representative. This is Bradbury talking:
A horrible little boy came up to me one day and said, "You know in your book, the Martian Chronicles?"

I said, "Yes?"

He said "You know where you talk about Deimos rising in the East?"

I said, "Yes?"

He said, "Nah."

So I hit him.
posted by Justinian at 10:28 PM on August 10, 2009


Weird, there is no actual link in my post. So I'll try it again: Locus 2008 recommended reading.

That's fine and all, but that list appears to have considerable crossover with the Hugos, and in fact contains every single one of the best novel nominations.

It also ccontains Mattet and House of Suns, which were my personal ones that I thought were missing.
posted by Artw at 12:20 AM on August 11, 2009


Gah. Stupid futuristic phone devices and their lack of beer compensation.
posted by Artw at 12:23 AM on August 11, 2009


That's fine and all, but that list appears to have considerable crossover with the Hugos, and in fact contains every single one of the best novel nominations.

Yeah, I said that myself in my comment. In the part where I said that I wasn't saying the Hugo nominations were of poor quality, only that they were not a good picture of SF as a whole. Being part of the Locus list reinforces that point, not contradicts it.
posted by Justinian at 2:22 AM on August 11, 2009


Photos at i09.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:19 AM on August 11, 2009


So they're what, a subset of a good picture of SF? The forest is made of trees.
posted by garlic at 4:11 PM on August 11, 2009


So they're what, a subset of a good picture of SF? The forest is made of trees.

The forest is made of a lot of different kinds of trees. You wouldn't point to five maple trees and say that by looking at these maple trees you have a good representation of all trees. You'd want a maple tree, an oak tree, a couple perennials, a willow, some deserty stuff. You get the idea.

It's like saying that watching "The Godfather", "The Godfather part II", "Goodfellas", "On the Waterfront", and "Casino" are a good representation of American cinema as a whole. Of course they're not. Some truly excellent movies are among those five but it's a rather narrow slice. Yeah, using movies involving organized crime (particularly the Italian mafia) to get at the heart of some kinds of American experience and so on has a long tradition here but there are a heck of a lot of other kinds of movies.
posted by Justinian at 6:52 PM on August 11, 2009


Neil Gaiman's Bookshelves
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on September 4, 2009


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