It was quite exciting to be in the audience of the Hugo Awards this year. We could even see the press table, where journalists were tapping away on their laptops as the awards were given. The ceremony was also making the most of the big screens behind the stage to put up live action and art and clips of film - all the Short Form Dramatic Presentations had clips shown before the award was given - which was quite Doctor Who heavy! Two Doctors were actually there - David Tennant attended the Hugo Losers party after the event, and Peter Davison was in the audience, in the reserved seats at the front, in case his short film The Five(ish) Doctors won the award.
Sadly, many winners were unable to be there in person, but they had all written speeches to be delivered by proxies.
The Hugo statuettes themselves were displayed in a mock-up of the White Tower at the Tower of London, which slid aside to show the shelves where they were standing, and at the beginning of the evening the whole thing was guarded by two men in the uniform of the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters. Later in the Con, the shelving was on offer to whoever could take it away - and it was pretty big!
The first award was not a Hugo - it was the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and that went to Sofia Samatar.
Then we had the best Fan Artist. Most of the fan art I saw in the Hugo package was pretty much on a par, but one artist stood out head and shoulders above the rest, and I wasn't surprised when she won. I learned later that this was the only category in the Hugos this year where the first vote was decisive - it's a form of proportional vote where the votes for the one who comes last are re-distributed until there is a clear winner. Sarah Webb won hands down - and apparently she's only nineteen! So she's got a great future ahead of her.
The best Fan Writer was Kameron Hurley, which I was pleased about, because I follow her blog, and her work at A Dribble of Ink blog, which won Best Fanzine and the Best Related Work category, in part because of Kameron Hurley's essay We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative (which is excellent - I recommend it). Kameron Hurley's acceptance speech is also well worth reading, and there was a good podcast on tor.com about the awards featuring Aidan Moher and Foz Meadows, too. Other Fanzines up for the award included two I follow regularly - The Book Smugglers and Pornokitsch, both of which are also excellent. There's a lot of talent out there.
The Best Related Work category had a lot of good stuff in it. I rather enjoyed Queers Dig Time Lords: a celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans who love it, and I was also very impressed by The Wonder Book by Jeff Van der Meer. In fact, I started taking notes from the extract that was included with the Hugo packet, and I bought the book at the Con. It's a writing manual, and I'm picking up a lot of good tips from it about constructing scenes and so on.
The Best Fancast was SF Signal Podcast by Patrick Hester.
The Best Semiprozine was Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton and Stefan Rudnicki, and then it was time for the Professional Artists. Julie Dillon won this one (I like her work, too) but the quality was incredible, and I liked a lot of the work that I saw.
I didn't feel I knew enough about it to vote for the Best Editor. The Long Form editor award went to Ginjer Buchanan, who came up in person - and she's about to retire, so what a wonderful thing to get at the end of her career. The Best Short Form Editor was Ellen Datlow.
In the Short Form Dramatic Presentation category, none of the Doctor Who related work won - it was The Rains of Castamere episode of Game of Thrones that took the (Iron Throne) prize. The Best Long Form Dramatic Presentation was Gravity, which some people have quibbled isn't really science fiction at all.
There was more Doctor Who in the Best Graphic Story category, The Girl who Loved Doctor Who by Paul Cornell - I liked it best, although it was clearly aimed at a younger audience than I am, but the winner was Time, from XKCD. One of the other nominees was Volume 13 of Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio, which is now on my wish list the next time I get to a Forbidden Planet.
The winner of the Best Short Story award was John Chu, for The Water that Falls from Nowhere, and he was a very emotional winner - he'd obviously encountered a lot of resistance to his work in the publishing business, some of it racist, and the Hugo was a huge vindication of his work. I went back and re-read the story after the Con, and he really is a superb writer - and I just wanted to give his main character a big hug at the end! He's an author I'll be looking out for in future. One of the other nominees in that category was Sofia Samatar, who won the John W Campbell award, with Selkie Stories are for Losers.
We were getting near the end of the evening now, and to the longer fiction. Best Novelette went to Mary Robinette Kowal's The Lady Astronaut of Mars, which was the one I liked best of the selection, though I also rather liked The Exchange Officers by Brad Torgersen.
The Best Novella went to Equoid by Charles Stross, who looked very smart in a dark kilt, and the Best Novel went to Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, who has been sweeping all before her in the awards this year.