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Hugo Night 2019

September 8, 2019 at 10:00 am
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The annual presentation of the Hugo Awards is always one of the high points of worldcon.   I have been attending the Hugo ceremony since my very first worldcon in 1971.   The awards were presented at a dinner back then, and I could not afford a ticket (they were priced outrageously, at something like seven bucks), so I watched the proceedings from a balcony, standing.   Robert Silverberg presided, and it was all incredibly exciting.

Fast forward to this year’s Hugo Awards in Dublin.   They had their own excitements, perhaps more than any year since 2015 in Spokane, the Year of the Puppies (and, more happily, the Alfies).   Let’s just say they were… fraught, with some amazing high points and a few low ones.   Of course, your view of which points were high and which were low may vary from mine.

There were many worthy winners, to be sure… and as ever, many losers that were also rocket-worthy.   Since I feel more like Thumper than Alice Roosevelt Longworth today, let me focus on my favorite parts.

Like Charles Vess.   The artist category had some amazing talents nominated this year, and I was seated right next to one, the incredible John Picacio.  But John was applauding just as loudly as me when Vess won for Best Professional Artist.  A very well deserved win for an artist not previously honored.   And then, just moments later, Charles returned to the stage to collect the Hugo for Best Art Book as well, for his illustrated edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea stories.   A double win!!!   Lots of people win Hugos every year, but winning two in a single night is a rare accomplishment (I did it myself in 1980, the second person to do so, and it remains one of the high points of my career).  And with Charles Vess, it really could not have happened to a nicer guy.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vess in the past… he illustrated the limited edition of A STORM OF SWORDS… and he really is as sweet, genial, and pleasant as he appears, in addition to being enormously gifted.    Nice guys DON’T always finish last, kids.  I am hoping to be able to work with Charles Vess again, soon… I have just the project in mind.   But we shall see.

I will never be able to work with Gardner Dozois again, sadly… but Gardner’s victory as Best Professional Editor (Short Form) was the other highlight of the evening for me… and for many, many, many others who loved Gardner, had the privilege of being edited by him, or the simple joy of knowing him.   I have edited a lot of anthologies of my own over the decades, but I’ve never enjoyed doing any of them so much as I enjoyed the ones I did with Gargy: SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, ROGUES, SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH, DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, OLD MARS, OLD VENUS.   We wanted to do more, but alas, it was not to be.   Gardner left us all too soon, and a lot of laughter and love left the world when he did.

But on Hugo night, when his name was read out one last time, a bit of it returned, just for a moment.  His son Christopher Casper was on hand to accept the award for him… and just as Gargy would have, he said the award really belonged to the writers.   Gardner said pretty much the same thing every time he won a Hugo, and he won a lot of them… deservedly.

I am not a believer in any afterlife, and I don’t think that Gardner was either… so as nice as it would be to think that he was looking down on us from the Secret Pro Party in the Sky, I can’t.   But the award certainly meant the world to Christopher, to me, to all of Gardner’s other friends, and to the myriads of writers, the generations of writers, who filled the pages of ASIMOV’S during Gardner’s tenure there, who learned from him at Clarion and other workshops, who were fished out of one slush pile or another by the pre-eminent editor of his times (I was one of those).   No one knew our genre better, no one discovered more new talent, and no one had a better eye for a good story… or a better sense of how to make a flawed story work… than Gardner Dozois.  And no award that was handed out in Dublin last month was more well deserved than Gardner’s last Hugo.

I also want to say a word or two in praise of Michael Scott and Afua Richardson, the hosts and presenters on Hugo night, who kept the ceremony moving at a nice pace under sometimes trying circumstances.   Scott was eloquent and informative, and Richardson provided one of the most moving moments of the night when she spoke of the influence that Nichelle Nichols had upon her life and career.  Afua also sang beautifully and played the flute.

All of which was tremendously intimidating.   Next year worldcon is in New Zealand and I’m the Toastmaster, so it will be be my task to present the Hugos.   Afua is a helluva hard act to follow.   You really don’t want to hear me sing.  Maybe I should start taking flute lessons….

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Hugo Recommendations – Editing (Redux)

February 21, 2019 at 9:42 pm
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For Best Editor, Short Form:

GARDNER DOZOIS

Of course.

 

We lost Gardner last May.   A lot of love and laughter went out of the world when he died, and a tremendous amount of talent as well.   He was a gifted writer who did not write nearly enough… and an amazing editor, the single most important and influential editor in our field since John W. Campbell Jr.   It was my privilege  to co-edit half a dozen anthologies with him.   That was a joy and a pleasure, and I will always regret that we can’t do any more.

Gardner loved science fiction with all his heart and soul, and the field loved him as well.   He won more Hugos for editing than any other editor, past or present.   But that does not mean we cannot give him one more.   THE BOOK OF MAGIC, his last original anthology, was published in 2018, along with the final volume of his annual BEST.   Great works, both.

I’ll be putting Gardner’s name on my ballot for Best Editor, Short Form.   I hope you will as well.

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Hugo Eligibility – Best Series

February 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm
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I have seen here and there that some people are suggesting A SONG OF ICE & FIRE (by that name, or as GAME OF THRONES) as a possible nominee for the new(ish) Best Series category of the Hugo Awards.   It fits worldcon’s very broad definition of a series, I agree… but as I said below in my post about FIRE & BLOOD, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE a series, and even it was, FIRE & BLOOD is not really part of it.   More a Related Work, the category where it fits best.

WILD CARDS, however, IS a series by anyone’s definition, and is definitely eligible for nomination.

And for what it is worth, WILD CARDS had a hell of a year in 2018.

We published not one, not two, but three new original mosaic novels in the series:  LOW CHICAGO came out in June and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM in November, both in the US, while KNAVES OVER QUEENS was a June release in the UK.   I don’t know any other contending series that put out three new books last year.  And while I am admittedly far from objective, those three books rank among the strongest volumes in the history of the series.   I am very proud of them, and the fans seemed to love them too.

That’s not all, however.   We re-released one of the old books too: ONE-EYED JACKS, volume eight from the original series, was released in August, after decades of being out of print.   But it was not a straight reprint.   We also added two brand new stories to the original text, a Magpie story by Kevin Andrew Murphy and a tale of Lady Black from Carrie Vaughn.

In addition, we had three brand-new stand-alone Wild Cards stories published over on Tor.com:

— “EverNight,” by Victor Milan, published in February,
—  “The Flight of Morpho Girl,” by Caroline Spector and Bradley Denton, published in April,
—  “Fitting In,” by Max Gladstone, published in November.

That’s a huge amount of original Wild Cards content.   If you haven’t tried any of it, you should.   There’s some great stuff there.   I am a lucky editor, and I’ve assembled an amazing team of writers in Wild Cards.

And 2018 was our thirty-first year.   We now have twenty-seven volumes in print, with three more in the pipeline… and probably a lot more to come, especially if the TV shows take off on Hulu.   No other series comes close.

I hope the Hugo nominators will agree.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Hugo Recommendations – Best Professional Artist

February 18, 2019 at 1:19 pm
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Nominating for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist is always especially difficult.   There are so many terrific talents working in science fiction and fantasy just now, it is next to impossible to settle on just four or five as being worthy of a nod.   Nonetheless, that’s the way it works, so…

Once again, I’ve had the honor of working with some astounding artists during the past year.   Let me bring a few of them to your attention.

MICHAEL KOMARCK, who has been the cover artist for most of the Wild Cards books since Tor revived the series, once again excelled this year, with knockout covers for both LOW CHICAGO and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.   Take a look:

Komarck is a meticulous craftsman who always takes great care to get the characters right.  I can’t imagine anyone capturing Bubbles or Khan any better than he did on these covers.   It is truly past time that Komarck got another Hugo nod.

We had so many Wild Cards titles released last year that Tor brought in other artists to spell Komarck.   One of them was DAVID PALUMBO, who did the art for the reissue of ONE-EYED JACKS, featuring the Oddity.   Palumbo was also the artist for Bantam Spectra’s illustrated edition of NIGHTFLYERS: the cover and the gorgeous interior plates were all his.

Of course, no discussion of Wild Cards artists would be complete without a mention of JOHN PICACIO, who illustrates all of the stand-alone Wild Cards stories that appear on Tor.com.   Here are a couple of the pieces he produced last year, to illustrate Victor Milan’s “EverNight” and Max Gladstone’s “Fitting In.”

 

The biggest book I published during 2018 was not a Wild Cards mosaic, however: it was FIRE & BLOOD, the first volume of my imaginary history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros…. published on November 20 by Bantam in the US and HarperCollins Voyager in the UK in a stunning hardcover edition (still in the top ten on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list, some two months after publication, I am pleased to report).  The edition was extensively and lavishly illustrated by DOUG WHEATLEY.

 

Last… but certainly not least… let me draw your attention to JOHN JUDE PALENCAR, whose powerful (and disturbing) paintings for the 2019 SONG OF ICE AND FIRE calendar make it one of the strongest and most unforgettable in what I like to think has been a very distinguished series.  (Though the calendar covers 2019, it was first released at Comicon in July 2018, so the artwork therein is eligible for this year’s awards).   JJP’s take on Westeros and its denizens is like none other, and I have already arranged to buy several of his originals for my own walls.

(If you are one of the many who no longer uses wall calendars, but loves great art, you can get signed copies (signed by me, not the artist, alas) of the JJP calendar from the bookshop at my Jean Cocteau Cinema).

So there you are: Michael Komarck, David Palumbo, John Picacio, Doug Wheatley, John Jude Palencar.   Keep them in mind when making your Hugo nominations.   I know I will.

 

Current Mood: artistic artistic

Hugo Recommendations – Fan Writer

February 8, 2019 at 8:19 am
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Best Fan Writer.   That’s a clear cut category.

My recommendation is ADAM WHITEHEAD, for his work on his blog THE WERTZONE.

He’s come close a couple times, but has yet to make the ballot.   Maybe this is the year.

Take a read, and judge for yourselves:

http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/

I’d also love to suggest KATY RASK, who writes the marvelous Wild Cards Reread posts for Tor.com.   However, my understanding is that Tor.com pays her for those columns, which makes her ineligible.   Which is a pity, since she does a great job.   Take a look at one of her posts for a taste:

SFF Archaeology: Excavating the Superhero World of the Wild Card Series

Good stuff, I think, and there’s lot’s more where that came from.   Read the whole series, and you’ll be as impressed as I am.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Hugo Eligibility – Fire & Blood

February 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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I had a big new Westeros book published last year (official publication date November 20, 2018) — FIRE & BLOOD, covering the history of the Targaryen kings from Aegon’s Conquest to the regency of Aegon III.   It’s been doing rather well, thank you.   Debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and is still in the top ten two months later.  And just last week, we got a great review in KIRKUS, a notoriously tough journal.

The question of its Hugo eligibility is… well, trickier than usual.

FIRE & BLOOD is eligible, certainly.  But what category does it belong in?

There’s Best Novel, the “Big One”  A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, A FEAST FOR CROWS, and A STORM OF SWORDS were all nominated for the Best Novel Hugo in years past (they all lost, to be sure, but never mind).   In all of the promotional interviews I did leading up to the book’s release, however, I took pains to stress that FIRE & BLOOD was not a novel  but rather a work of imaginary history (I used to say “fake history,” but some of my readers objected).    I did not want anyone buying the book under the misapprehension that it was the latest volume in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   After saying over and over again “this is not a novel,” it would be rather disingenuous of me to accept a Hugo (should it win, which I must admit is rather unlikely) or even a nomination in the Best Novel category.

Alas, there is no Hugo category for “Best Imaginary History.”

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of FIRE & BLOOD makes me eligible for nomination in the new (relatively) Best Series category.   Well, yes, I suppose.  It depends on one’s definition of what constitutes a series.   Worldcon’s definition is considerably broader than my own, for what it’s worth.   Many SF writers have set their stories against a common background or “future history,” a term originated by Heinlein and popularized by Campbell.  My own Thousand Worlds stories fit that template, but I don’t consider them a series.   They share a background, but that’s all; except for the Tuf stories, there are no recurring characters, and the tales are set hundreds of years and hundreds of light years apart.   (The Haviland Tuf stories, a subset of my Thousand Worlds, ARE a series, as I define the term).  At the other extreme, you have what I’ll call “mega-novels,” stories spread across many books because of length.   Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS was not a series, as I see it, but one long novel published in three volumes.

Those are my definitions, however.   Not worldcon’s.   The Hugo rules are much looser, and would seem to include future histories, mega-novels, and true series all in the same Best Series category.

For what it’s worth, I do not consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to be a series.   It’s one story.   A huge complicated story, admittedly, one that will take seven volumes to tell (once I finish the last two).  And in any case, FIRE & BLOOD is not strictly speaking a part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.   It’s imaginary history set hundreds of years before any of the characters in SONG were born.   Yes, I suppose if you bundle FIRE & BLOOD, the five ASOI&F novels, and the three Dunk & Eggs novellas (collected as A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS) together, you have a series of sorts.   I wouldn’t even know what to call it.   The Westeros series?  The Seven Kingdoms series?  Not GAME OF THRONES or ICE & FIRE, certainly.   So…

I don’t know.

So… if not Best Novel, and not Best Series, where would FIRE & BLOOD fit on the Hugo ballot?  If anywhere?

My suggestion: Best Related Work.

That seems to be the best description of what the book actually is.   It’s an imaginary history, related to five published ICE & FIRE novels, but not a novel and not a part of that story.   A WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, the concordance we published several years ago, was its closest precursor.   That volume got some nominations in Best Related Work, though it did not come close to making the final five.  But there’s a precedent of sorts, so…

If you read and enjoyed FIRE & BLOOD and would like to nominate it for a Hugo, I would urge you to consider Related Work rather than Novel or Series.   (If you haven’t read it yet, hey, you can still get autographed copies from the bookshop at the Jean Cocteau Cinema).

And while I am the subject of the Best Related Work Hugo, let me make a recommendation that has nothing whatsoever to do with my own work (though my name is mentioned once, fwiw): ASTOUNDING, by Alec Nevala-Lee, an amazing and engrossing history of John W. Campbell Jr and his authors, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert A. Heinlein.   Insightful, entertaining, and compulsively readable, it brings Campbell and his era back to life.   I thought I knew a lot about Astounding, Campbell, and his authors, but Nevala-Lee goes way way deeper than any previous history I’ve read, and his book is full of stuff I never knew.  Of course, I’d love to have my own book nominated (I value the Hugo more than any other award), but I suspect that ASTOUNDING will win the rocket in the end.   It certainly deserves to.

 

Current Mood: confused confused

Hugo Recommendations – Editor

January 18, 2019 at 9:16 am
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As I was saying… nominations are now open for the 2019 Hugo Awards, to be presented this August in Dublin.   You need to be a member of either the Dublin worldcon, or last year’s gathering in San Jose, to nominate.

There are two rockets given for editing.   As with drama, the editorial awards are split into Long Form and Short Form.  In simple terms, the Long Form award is for those who edit books (novels, mostly), and the Short Form for magazine and anthology editors.   (Before they split the award, the magazine editors won everything, and the book editors got nothing).

Lots and lots of good editors out there.

In Long Form, I recommend you strongly consider two of my own editors:  ANNE LESLEY GROELL of Bantam Spectra/ Random Penguin in the US, and JANE JOHNSON of Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   Anne and Jane have both been doing amazing work for decades, and have been criminally unrecognized.   Anne has only been nominated for a Hugo once, and Jane has never been a finalist at all… though she has been one of the major players in the British SF scene for as long as I can remember, and has built Voyager into one of the top UK genre publishers.   Last year, both of them did some incredible work… especially for me.   They were the editors on FIRE & BLOOD, my book of imaginary Westerosi history.   Let’s look beyond the usual suspects this year, and nominate these two amazing women.

In Short Form… well, we have the usual suspects here as well, in a category usually dominated by the editors of the major magazines, both print and electronic.   Anthology editors are eligible as well, however, so let me blush modestly and suggest that perhaps you might consider… well… me.

I have been editing the Wild Cards series since 1987, thirty one years and counting, and we’ve published some amazing stories over the years.  I’ve edited my share of reprint anthologies and theme anthologies (many with Gardner Dozois), demanding gigs both, but neither one is as tenth as hard as editing a shared world anthology and pulling it all together.   I did come in seventh on the long list once for my editorial work on Wild Cards (back when five works made the ballot), a decade or so back, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come.  (No matter, it’s a labor of love, I sure don’t do it for the money). Wild Cards had an especially strong year in 2018, I believe.  Though I’ve lost lots of Hugos as a writer, I’ve never lost one as a editor.   Maybe this is the year.

 

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Hugo Eligibility – Drama

January 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm
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Nominations are now open for the 2019 Hugo Awards, to be awarded this August in Dublin at the Irish Worldcon.

The Hugos (as most of you know) are the oldest and most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy.   They’ve been giving them since 1953, and the list of winners… and nominees… is a Who’s Who of our genre.   Dublin 2019 will also be presenting the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, which dates to 1973, and the brand new Lodestar Award for YA fiction.

It is a huge honor to win a Hugo… and almost as great an honor to lose one.  I should know.   I’ve won a few, lost a lot more, and in 1976 Gardner Dozois and I started the Hugo Losers Party.   (It still feels like a punch in the gut to type Gargy’s name, knowing he is gone).   To nominate, you need to be a member of either Dublin 2019 or last year’s worldcon, Not ConJose II.

Paper ballots are available for those who want them, but these days most voting is electronic.   Worldcon members will be sent a link to the nominating ballot by email.   Nominations close on Friday March 15.

For more details about the awards, go to https://dublin2019.com/hugo-awards-wsfs/the-hugo-awards/

My most recent Hugo wins — and losses — have been in the Dramatic Presentation categories, where GAME OF THRONES has been been a strong contender.   However, there were no episodes of GOT telecast in 2018, so the show is not eligible this year (the seventh season was shown in 2017, and the eighth and final season debuts this April).   As it happens, however, I have another series for your consideration:  NIGHTFLYERS, SyFy’s sf/horror series based on my 1980 novella (a Hugo finalist, and Hugo loser, in its day), all ten episodes of which were shown between December 2 and December 12.

There are two Drama categories in the Hugos, Long Form and Short Form, as determined by running time.   Feature films usually dominate Long Form, and television shows Short Form.   You can nominate a TV show in Long Form, but in that case you are nominating the entire season (GAME OF THRONES won its first Hugo in Long Form, as it happens).   In Short Form, you need to nominate a specific episode.   So if you’re a fan of NIGHTFLYERS, you can nominate the entire first season in Long Form, or one or more of the following episodes in Short Form:

01    “All We Left Behind”
02   “Torches and Pitchforks”
03   “The Abyss Stares Back”
04   “White Rabbit”
05   “Greywing”
06   “The Sacred Gift”
07    “Transmission”
08   “Rebirth”
09   “Icarus”
10    “All That We Have Found”

I expect the competition to be very tough in Dramatic Presentation, Short Form this year.  This is a golden age for science fiction on television.   Not all that long ago, we were lucky to have one or two genre shows worthy of nomination, but today, in this age of max tv, there are science fiction and fantasy shows everywhere you look — on the broadcast networks, on cable, on the streaming services.   Recent winners THE GOOD PLACE and THE EXPANSE both had new episodes in 2018.   Fans of superheroics had the Marvel shows on Netflix and the DC shows on the CW to choose from.   Zombie lovers had THE WALKING DEAD and Z NATION.  Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIANS had a fun third season.  If starships and aliens were your thing, there was a new STAR TREK show and Seth McFarlane’s THE ORVILLE.   And of course there is always DOCTOR WHO, a perennial powerhouse, this year with a brand new Doctor, the thirteenth.   I’d be very surprised if there were not at least two episodes of DOCTOR WHO on the final ballot (recent rules changes make it impossible for there to be more than two).    I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some other shows as well, and there may well be British and Irish shows of which I am entirely unaware… there’s just so much out there, that even someone deeply involved in television on a professional basis, like myself, cannot keep up.

I would like to recommend one series that has never been nominated, but IMNSHO deserves to be:  OUTLANDER, based on Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novels.   I have a feeling that Hugo nominators tend to overlook the series because they think of it as a historical or a romance rather than science fiction.  It IS both those things, of course, but it is also a time travel show… and more importantly, it’s superb.   Amazing production values, well written (and quite faithful to Diana’s books), well directed, and well acted.  The cast is doing fantastic work, especially the leads.   If you haven’t watched OUTLANDER, you should check it out… and nominate your favorite episode, if you like it as much as Parris and I do.

Whatever you watch, whatever you like, NOMINATE.   It IS a singular honor just to be nominated, and far fewer people nominate than vote on the final ballot, so this is your chance to let your voice be heard.

I will talk about some of the other categories in subsequent posts, over the next few weeks.

 

Current Mood: busy busy

Hugo Nominations Announced

March 31, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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The San Jose Worldcon has announced this year’s list of nominations for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award.

LOCUS has the full list of finalists at:

http://locusmag.com/2018/03/2018-hugo-and-campbell-awards-finalists/

The Hugo is the oldest and most prestigious award in SF and fantasy. If you want your voice to be heard, there’s still plenty of time to join the San Jose Worldcon and cast your vote. There’s Attending memberships, if you actually plan to attend, and Supporting memberships, if you can’t, but either way you get a Hugo ballot.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Some of you will carry home a silver rocket come August. More of you will be Hugo Losers, but that’s almost as good. (I’ve lost lots of them myself).

Sad to say, Wild Cards did not get any love this year (sob)… but I was very pleased to see that our Wild Cards editor, Diana Pho, is one of the finalists for Best Professional Editor. You go, Diana. Win it for Jetboy!

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Wild Cards Artwork

March 2, 2018 at 11:21 am
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The Wild Cards series has been blessed with some really amazing artwork since we’ve been published by Tor. Let me introduce you to some of our artists.

MICHAEL KOMARCK Has been our main cover artist since INSIDE STRAIGHT, and he’s still hitting it out of the ballpark. Here’s his cover for LOW CHICAGO, due out in hardcover in June.

The amazing JOHN PICACIO has been doing all the “cover” art for the Wild Cards stories on Tor.com. Here’s his two latest, for Vic Milan’s “EverNight” and Melinda Snodgrass’s “When the Devil Drives.”

David Palumbo has been building quite a buzz for his recent cover work. If you haven’t seen his cover art for Nnedi Okorafor’s BINTI, look it up, it’s stunning. We’re thrilled to have snagged him for Wild Cards. Here’s his cover for the forthcoming reissue of ONE-EYED JACKS.

Bastien Lecouffe Deharme is another artist new to Wild Cards, but he did a knockout cover for our most recent mosaic, MISSISSIPPI ROLL. See below. We want to get him back for more covers!

Remember those four names when you are making out your Hugo nominations for Best Professional Artist: Michael Komarck, John Picacio, David Palumbo, Bastien Lecouffe Deharme. You can find lots more examples of their art on their respective websites.

Current Mood: excited excited