Not a Blog

A Sadness

September 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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Jerry Pournelle has passed away. He was 84.

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.

Pournelle has been a major figure in the field for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met him in 1973 at the worldcon in Toronto, where both of us were finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (along with Lisa Tuttle, Ruth Berman, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Thurston). That was the very first year the award was given. To the surprise of no one, Pournelle won, though Geo. Alec Effinger finished so close behind the con gave him a special second place plaque, the only time THAT ever happened. (How close, you may ask? Ten votes, two votes, a single vote? No one knows. In those days, worldcons did not release vote totals).

The Hugos were given at a banquet in those days. I could not afford a ticket, so I came in after the meal for the awards. It was rather an unusual ceremony. The Hugo rockets had not arrived, so the winners received only empty bases… except for Jerry, since the Campbell sponsors (Conde Nast, in those days) HAD managed to come up with a plaque. There’s Jerry holding it, above.

The other weirdness about that night was that toastmaster Lester del Rey, for reasons only known to himself, chose to present the awards backwards. In other words, he started with Best Novel (the ‘Big One,’ then as now), working his way though short fiction and to the fan awards, and ended with the brand-new never-given-before Campbell. Thing is, people started leaving after each award was given, and by the end, there was hardly anyone left in the hall except me, Jerry Pournelle and his party, and the other nominees and their friends (I think Lisa Tuttle and Ruth Berman were there, but Thurston and Effinger were not, someone else accepted the plaque for Piglet).

I came out of the night all right. It was an honor, a huge honor, just to be nominated. And in the aftermath I came up with the idea of a Campbell Awards anthology. A couple editors told me it was an idea worth pursuing, but of course I needed to get all the nominees to sign on… and the key one was Jerry, the winner. So I bought him a drink and pitched him the notion, and he said yes (though, being the consummate pro, he made that contingent on me being able to pay competitive professional rates). Eventually that conversation led to my NEW VOICES anthology, and launched my career as an editor and anthologist… and I’m still going strong there, forty-four years later.

The Hugo voters knew what they were doing when they gave Pournelle that first Campbell; he went on to have an amazing career, both on his own and in collaboration with other writers, particularly Larry Niven. With INFERNO, LUCIFER’S HAMMER, FOOTFALL, and (especially) MOTE IN GOD’S EYE, the two of them helped transform the field in the 70s. They were among the very first SF writers ever to hit the big bestseller lists, and among the first to get six-figure advances at the time when most writers were still getting four figure advances… something that Jerry was never shy about mentioning. Though he was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards in the years that followed, he never won one… but if that bothered him, he did not show it. “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money,” he said famously.

Pournelle was fond of talking about all the help Robert A. Heinlein (whom he always called “Mr. Heinlein,” at least in my hearing) gave him when he was starting out, and he was a passionate advocate of RAH’s “pay it forward” philosophy, and did much to help the generations of writers who came after him. He served a term in the thankless job of SFWA President, and remained an active part of SFWA ever after, as part of the advisory board of Past Presidents and (even more crucially) on GriefCom, the Grievance Committee. Jerry could be loud and acrimonious, yes, and when you were on the opposite side of a fight from him that was not pleasant… ahh, but when you were on the SAME side, there was no one better to have in your foxhole. I had need of SFWA’s Griefcom only once in my career, in the early 80s, and when we met at worldcon with the publisher I had Jerry with me representing Griefcom. He went through the publisher’s people like a buzzsaw, and got me everything I wanted, resolving my grievance satisfactorily (and confidentially, so no, no more details).

His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I’m your classic bleeding-heart liberal… but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don’t need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. And while MOTE IN GOD’S EYE may not have won the Hugo in its year, it remains one of the great classics of space opera, destined to be read and re-read for as long as people read science fiction (it IS an honor just to be nominated).

The last time I saw Jerry was at Keith Kato’s chili party at MidAmericon II. He loved Keith’s chili as much as I do, another point in his favor.

R.I.P. Jerry. You were one ornery so-and-so, but you were our ornery so-and-so. Hoist a pint for me at that Secret Pro Party in the sky, and say hello to Mr. Heinlein.

Current Mood: sad sad

Tick, Tick, Tick

July 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm
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The clock is running.

Only three days left for worldcon members to cast those Hugo ballots.

And yes, of course I will be at Helsinki. See, it’s right there on my website, with a link.

(My website has an Appearances page that lists ALL the public events I have committed to, not only for this year, but for the next several years as well. Do check it regularly to see if I am going to be anywhere near you. There’s nothing that honks me off more than getting the inevitable email that says ‘How comes you never come to Trantor?” two weeks after I’ve just returned from Trantor).

I will be at worldcon all week. They are scheduling me for several signings, but those will be the ONLY times and places I will sign books. I’ll also be doing a couple of panels, but please don’t rush the stage afterward to get an autograph. I will not be signing after panels, or before panels, or when walking the halls, or on the trams, or while eating dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), or at the urinal, or at parties, or at the Hugo Awards… ONLY at my scheduled signings.

Thank you all for respecting that.

And hey, looks like GAME OF THRONES will be well represented in Helsinki. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are coming in from Belfast, and Sibel Kekilli is flying up from Hamburg.

Let’s party like it’s 1976.

Current Mood: working working

Hugo Deadline Approaches

July 10, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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For all of you who are members of the Helsinki worldcon… the deadline for casting your Hugo ballot is only five days away.

Voting will end on 15 July 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 Greenwich Mean Time, 08:59 in Finland, all on 16 July)

You have to be a member of worldcon to vote. If you are, you should have already received a personalized link to your ballot.

There’s some really good stuff up this year, so do be sure to let your voice be heard. The Hugo is the oldest and most prestigious award in SF and fantasy, don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

VOTE!

Current Mood: working working

Hugo Ballot Announced

April 4, 2017 at 7:36 pm
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That Finnish Worldcon has announced this year’s finalists for the Hugo Awards.

You can hear the nominees announced by Finns, here:

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Alternatively, you could just go to LOCUS and read the list for yourself:
http://www.locusmag.com/News/2017/04/12103/

Congratulations to everyone who made the ballot, and condolences to those who didn’t.

All in all, this is the best ballot we’ve had in several years, mostly because the impact of the slates has ebbed somewhat. Maybe it was EPH and the rules changes, or maybe they just got tired, but whatever the reason, not a single category this year was slated top to bottom. Yeah, there are some finalists that are plainly unworthy… but there’s real choice in every category, and I doubt that the halls of Helsinki will be resounding to the sound of “No Award.” I haven’t read everything that’s on the ballot — that’s one of the things the Hugo ballot has traditionally been good for, it makes a great reading list — and when I do, I probably won’t like everything. But I expect I will like something in every category, and that’s all I really ask for.

Personally, I’m thrilled to see that two episodes of GAME OF THRONES were nominated in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: our two Emmy winners, as it happens, “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Door.” I know David Benioff and Dan Weiss will be also been thrilled, along with our cast and crew and all the good people at HBO. Helsinki is a lot closer to Belfast than the US, so there’s even a chance that David and Dan might fly in for the ceremony (shooting schedule permitting), as they did for Loncon. If they can’t, the lovely Sibel Kekilli will help me represent GOT on the night, as Ron Donachie and Rory McCann did in prior years.

Of course, we face some hellacious tough competition. “Leviathan Wakes” has also been nominated, the finale of season one of THE EXPANSE, along with “San Junipero” from BLACK MIRROR, my favorite episode from that terrific show. And of course there’s an episode of DR. WHO in there, as there always is, along with a sixth nominee that I’m unfamiliar with, as yet. As it happens, there were three episodes of GAME OF THRONES that got enough votes to make the final ballot, but this year a new rule went into effect, limiting each series to no more than two nominees. That’s the DR. WHO rule. It’s been needed for years, and I’m glad to see it in place, but it’s one of life’s little ironies that the first show it bites is not DR. WHO, but GAME OF THRONES. But one must not be greedy. It IS an honor just to be nominated, and a double honor to be nominated twice, so thanks to all the fans out there who gave us one of their votes.

Those who follow my Not A Blog regularly will know that I made recommendations in a number of different categories (though by no means all) during the nominating period. Some of them made the cut, and some did not. And that’s fine, that’s the way it goes, the way it always went before the advent of the slates. You make your picks, and sometimes your fellow fans agree and sometimes they don’t, and that’s why it’s a horse race. Anyone who works in this field for long, as writer, artist, editor, or fan, will have their share of both celebrations and disappointments. I certainly have. But you know, you can even celebrate your disappointments; that’s what the Hugo Losers Party is all about.

And yes, I will confess, I am very disappointed that WILD CARDS did not get a nod in the new Best Series category, it being our thirtieth anniversary and all. On the other hand, a number of my Wild Carders did very well. In that same Best Series category, Jimmy Corey and Max Gladstone are both finalists, Carrie Vaughn got a nomination in Short Story, and the Newmans are nominated in Best Fancast. No Alfie for them this year, they may have to make do with a Hugo. Oh, and speaking of that, I was also pleased to see how many Alfie winners made the ballot. Alyssa Wong has two nominations, Ursula Vernon is up in Short Story, Liz Gorinsky is nominated for Best Editor Long Form, John Joseph Adams for Best Editor Short Form, Julie Dillon for Best Pro Artist, and JOURNEY PLANET for Best Fanzine.

Which reminds me, now that the ballot is out, one of the things I’m doing to have to ponder is whether or not I need to give out Alfies this year. My first inclination is to say, hey, maybe not, doesn’t look as though they’re necessary. But they were fun, so let me mull that a while. I still have a lot of hood ornaments in the basement.

One thing I can say for sure about the Hugo Awards: this year, like every year, there will be more losers than winners. Which means we’ll need another Hugo Losers Party.

I do hope Robert Silverberg wins. I would so look forward to seeing him in a conehead.

The Clock Is Ticking

March 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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Hugo nominations need to be in before March 18.

Only a few days left to let your voice be heard.

This is fandom’s own award, the oldest and most prestigious of my myriad awards for science fiction and fantasy… but it is only as important as we make it.

You don’t have to nominate in every category, or fill every slot… but if you’re read any books or stories that you liked last year, or watched any television and film, you should be part of this.

Go ye forth and NOMINATE.

Season 7 Is Coming

March 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm
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Seven gods, seven kingdoms, seven books (eventually)… seven seasons.

The seventh season of GAME OF THRONES is on its way. HBO has released their first teaser.

Enjoy.

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Oh, and I almost forgot… HBO has also announced the premiere date: Sunday, JULY 16.

There will be gala premieres as usual, of course. Not sure of the details on those yet. But I do know that we hope to have another premiere party right here in Santa Fe, at the Jean Cocteau Cinema… and that we will be running a Season 6 marathon in the weeks running up to the new season, so you can refresh yourselves on what happened last year, and enjoy all the action on our big medium-sized screen.

And speaking of season 6, if you enjoyed the show and would like to nominate us for a Hugo Award, you have only eight days left. Nominations close on March 18. GAME OF THRONES is eligible in two categories. You can nominate the season as whole in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (which is what I favor, personally), or you can nominate individual episodes in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. (Or you could do both, if you were so inclined). If you are inclined to take the second course, the episodes most likely to make this year’s (extremely competitive) ballot are “The Door” and “Battle of the Bastards” IMNSHO. “Battle of the Bastards” won Emmy Awards for both writing and directing this year, and “The Door” was also a finalist for directing.

((And though I am of course hopelessly prejudiced toward GOT, I will be the first to proclaim that this was an outstanding year for drama in both categories. The first seasons of WESTWORLD and STRANGER THINGS are also worthy of being nominated for Long Form, along side last year’s best SF movie, ARRIVAL. In Short Form I loved “Leviathan Wakes,” the final episode of season one of THE EXPANSE, and two great episodes of BLACK MIRROR, “San Junipero” and “Hated in the Nation.” I would love to see all of them earn spots on the ballot… along with GOT ))

But enough about last year. A new season is coming.

July 16. Mark your calendars.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Series

February 27, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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This year a new category has been added to the Hugo Awards: Best Series.

It’s not a permanent category yet. Though the idea behind the category has been discussed at various worldcon business meetings over the years, it has yet to be passed and ratified. But worldcon rules permit each concom to add one category of their own choosing each year, and the Finnish fans decided to add Best Series… rather as an experiment, I guess, to see how well the category might work.

Honestly, I have mixed thoughts about adding Best Series to the Hugos as a permanent new category. Being an old guy, I can remember a time when most science fiction novels were stand-alones. If they were popular enough, they might spawn sequels, but the series novel was the exception rather than the rule. Today the reverse is true. It has become increasingly hard to find a science fiction or fantasy novel that is NOT part of some series.

So do we need a Best Series Hugo? I don’t know. Being part of a series has not stopped the last three Best Novel winners from taking home the rocket, so it is not as if series books are being overlooked. And what is a “series,” actually? The difficulty of defining that term is one of the reasons so many worldcons have spent so long wrangling over it.

All that being said, for this year at least there will be a Hugo for Best Series. And I’d guess that almost all the leading contenders for the Best Novel rocket are ALSO contenders for Best Series (yes, there will be a few exceptions). So the only series that I am going to submit for your consideration is one that will NOT also be competing for The Big One: my own.

No, not that one. A SONG OF ICE & FIRE had no new installment published in 2016, so it’s not eligible. Besides, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be a series, not as I define the word (yes, I am aware, the rules define the term more broadly). I consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be one single gigantic story published in multiple volumes. (Seven, I hope). LORD OF THE RINGS was not a series either, nor a trilogy; it was a single novel published in three volumes.

But I do have a series, a true series, one that I’ve been working on even longer than I have ICE & FIRE, one that I am very proud of: WILD CARDS.

You know. This series here:

WILD CARDS is no stranger to Hugo competition. In 1988, when the series was only three books old, the New Orleans worldcon added a new category called “Other Forms,” just as Helsinki has added Best Series, and we were one of the five nominees. We lost to Alan Moore’s landmark graphic novel WATCHMEN, which surprised no one, least of all us… but it WAS an honor just to be nominated, and we had a great time at the Hugo Losers Party afterward.

Alas, “Other Forms” did not survive as a Hugo category, and the Wild Cards books, though they continued to be popular, never fit comfortably into any of the other categories. We called them mosaic novels, and some were indeed six- or seven-way collaborative novels, but they were never going to contend for Best Novel. Other volumes were more akin to anthologies… but the Hugo Awards have never had a ‘Best Anthology’ category (though if truth be told, I’d sooner see them add that than Best Series). I would sometimes get some votes for my editing, but never enough to make the final ballot (one year I finished seventh out of five, as I recall, but that was the closest I came). Individual stories from the books were nominated for awards and one such, Walter Jon Williams “Witness,” was a Nebula finalist. That lost too. Oh, and one year S.P. Somtow presented Wild Cards with his Icarus Award.

I can hardly be objective about WILD CARDS, but I do think we’re worthy of consideration. This year we are celebrating our thirtieth anniversary, a considerable achievement all by itself. All the other shared world series of the 80s are gone, but Wild Cards continues… and I think that most of those who have stuck with us over the years will agree, we’re better than ever. We have entertained millions of readers over those three decades, the books have been published in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Brazil (with more countries coming up). WILD CARDS has given birth to two role-playing games, two comic book series (three more graphic novels in the works), and soon, I hope, a television series. We’ve had twenty-three books published to date, three more finished and delivered and in the pipeline for publication in 2017 and 2018, more to come.

But it’s not just longevity. Together with WATCHMEN, WILD CARDS helped redefine the treatment of superpowers and superheroes in popular culture, taking a grittier, more realistic, more adult approach to the subject, with an emphasis on characterization. And with the full mosaics we only dared attempt every third book, we went way beyond any other shared world to create a whole new (and very demanding, I may add) template. And there’s been some cool world-building too, as my team played the alternate world concept central to the series.

We have had ups and downs, of course — hey, with twenty-three books and a couple hundred stories, how not? — but overall, I don’t know many other series that have maintained a similar consistencey of quality over half as many book, and I like to think that when we’ve been good, we’ve been very very good. Especially in those full mosaics: JOKERS WILD, ACE IN THE HOLE/ DEAD MAN’S HAND, DEALER’S CHOICE, BLACK TRUMP, SUICIDE KINGS, HIGH STAKES.

I’ve only been a small part of that, of course. I may the conductor, but I’ve had a hell of a band. Over the decades, I’ve had the honor of working with some truly gifted and innovative writers. Howard Waldrop, Roger Zelazny, Daniel Abraham, Edward Bryant, Stephen Leigh, Victor Milan, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Carrie Vaughn, Laura J. Mixon, Sage Walker, William F. Wu, John Jos. Miller, Lewis Shiner, Cherie Priest, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector, Walter Jon Williams, Michael Cassutt, Paul Cornell, Ian Tregillis, David Anthony Durham, David D. Levine… the list goes on and on… and of course, Melinda M. Snodgrass, who has been my right hand since the start.

And wait till you see the new writers we have in store for you in the books to come, and the characters they’ve created for us. The best, truly, is yet to come.

WILD CARDS. Best Series? That’s up to fandom. If you’ve liked the books, nominate them. But once again let me say that whatever you choose to nominate, you should NOMINATE.

((If you haven’t read any Wild Cards and would like to try a small sample before shelling out for a book, check out the FREE stories on Tor.com)).

Clear skies and tail winds.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Novel

February 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm
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The Big One.

I read a lot of novels. I became a voracious reader as a kid, and very little has changed since… well, no, one thing has changed. I no longer feel an obsessive need to finish every book I start. Some just don’t hold my interest, and I find myself putting them aside and picking up something else. Sometimes I return to the books I’ve put aside and sometimes I don’t.

One of life’s greatest pleasures, for me, is finding a book that’s so bloody damn good that it won’t LET me put it aside. The kind of book that grabs me by the throat and will not let me go. Those sorts of books are not easy to find, but I treasure the authors who deliver them regularly.

Jack Vance had that effect on me, for decades. Bernard Cornwell still does. Stephen King too. Once I start a book by any of these worthies, I am hooked. I will keep reading till the end.

Recently I have had to add James S.A. Corey to that list. Which is annoying, because I know both halves of James S.A. Corey. One of them was a student of mine. The other was my proto-minion. How the hell did they get so damned good?

However they did it, it’s done. Now, I am sure there were lots of great SF and fantasy novels published during 2016 that I have not read yet (I read lots of books, like I said, but not all are SF or fantasy, I read lots of history and mystery and historical fiction and biographies and non-fiction as well, and I read older books too, not just stuff from the current awards year, so I’m always trying to catch up). Of all the SF novels from 2016 that I have read, however, this was the best:

For me, it wasn’t even close. I expect I will fill in all six slots on my Hugo nomination form with the titles of worthy contenders, but this will be the first one I write down.

I commend it to your attention. Jimmy Corey deserves his shot at The Big One.

((Which frosts my ass. Because if Jimmy actually WINS the Hugo, Ty will be unbearable.))

P.S. The EXPANSE tv series is amazing too. Have you guys been watching season two? I’m also going to be nominating “Leviathan Wakes,” the final episode of season one, for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Professional Editor, Long Form

February 26, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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We are creeping closer and closer to the close of Hugo nominations for That Finnish Worldcon. I hope that all of you reading this who are eligible to nominate will do so. Even if you only nominated one or two of your favorite things in one or two categories, that’s better than not nominating at all.

Last year I put up several long long posts about the two editorial categories, their history, their controversies, some candidates. I don’t have the time or the energy to rehash all that again, but there’s no need… almost all I what I said last time around is still true, and you can find it (if you’re interested) just by searching for the Hugo Award tag in my Not A Blog, downstream.

Today I will limit myself to recommending three outstanding book editors for your consideration. All three are more than worthy of a nomination for Best Professional Editor, Long Form.

Let’s start with my own editor — well, actually, I have a whole bunch of editors, but she’s my main American editor — ANNE LESLEY GROELL.

Anne is the SF and fantasy editor for what used to be Bantam Spectra, and is now Random Penguin or something like that. You know what I mean. She’s edited all my ICE & FIRE books, for starts, plus several of the anthologies I’ve done with Gardner Dozois, and lots of other stuff besides. If you read any SF books from Bantam Spectra or Random Penguin last year, you’ve read work that she’s edited. Anne was nominated for the Hugo once before, but she lost, so she’s a Hugo Loser in good standing. It’s past time she was nominated again.

Next up, let me point you at JOE MONTI.

Joe is the editor at Saga, the SF fantasy imprint of Simon & Schuster. He’s had a long career in the genre, starting as a YA buyer for Barnes & Noble, then working as an agent for several years, before joining the editorial ranks with S&S, where he was giving the assignment of building a new SF line from scratch for a publisher who had been absent from the genre since the end of Timescape. He’s done that, and in fine style. Look at the books Saga published last year and you’ll see his work. Joe has never been nominated for a Hugo. Time he was.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I present to you JANE JOHNSON.

Jane is the editor and publisher of HarperCollins Voyager, one of the leading publishers of SF and fantasy in the United Kingdom. British editors are eligible for the Hugo, just like their American counterparts, but they are NEVER nominated, no matter how great their accomplishments… and that’s bollocks, as the Brits might say. Jane is one of the towering figures in our field across the pond, yet she’s never been recognized, and it is bloody well time that she was.

Yes, there are plenty of other talented long form editors in the field who did good work last year. Some of them have won Hugo awards in the past, however… some are nominated year after year. Let’s go beyond the usual suspects this year in Helsinki. I am nominating Anne Lesley Groell, Joe Monti, and Jane Johnson for the rocket this year, and I hope you will consider doing the same.

Whoever you nominate, though… NOMINATE.

Hugo Thoughts: Best Related Work

February 21, 2017 at 6:30 pm
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The last few weeks have been pretty busy, so it’s been awhile since I last made one of my Hugo posts. Right now we are smack in the middle of the nomination period for this year’s awards, with about another month to go. To nominate, you need to be a member (attending or supporting) of this year’s worldcon in Helsinki (where the awards will be given), last year’s worldcon in Kansas City, or next year’s worldcon in SanJose. Any one of the three will do… for nominating, at least.

I’ve been tackling a different category with every post. Today’s it is Best Related Work, a sort of grab bag of a category that includes books of criticism, biographies and memoirs, art books, and pretty much everything else that does not fit conveniently in any of the other categories.

Sad to say, Best Related Work is also the category that has been abused most by the slates these past two years. It’s the only Hugo category where No Award has come out on top (I won’t say ‘won,’ when No Award comes first, nobody is winning) twice in a row, where the slates swept all before them and forced all the legitimate contenders off the ballot.

Last year was especially sad, I thought, since there were at least three very different books all of which should have been nominees… and would have been, in a normal year. There was the eventual Alfie winner, LETTERS TO TIPTREE. There was the mammoth WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION, edited by Robert Jordan’s widow and two of his fans. And there was Felicia Day’s delightful YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET, a memoir of her life as a geek girl, fan, and budding actress/ writer/ gamer. It would have been interesting to see the three of them slug it out, but alas, the slates made sure not one of them made the final ballot.

But a new year means a new ballot. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something — at least ONE something and preferably more — in the Best Related Work category that was worthy of the Hugo award?

I have a couple of Related Works to offer for your consideration.

First one is Kameron Hurley’s THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION, a collection of her essays, thoughts, and personal reflections.

Hurley won two rockets just a couple of years ago, one for Fan Writer and one for her essay “We Have Always Fought,” which won for… hey… Best Related Work. That essay is included here, but the book is not all reprint, there’s enough original material to make it eligible, if I am reading the rules right. Hurley is a provocative, opinionated, fearless writer, one who says what she thinks and lays it all out there on the page. You may not always agree with all of her opinions (I certainly don’t), but she will always make you think. Whether her book leaves you nodding in agreement or muttering in annoyance, it will not leave you unmoved. By rights, this one’s got to be a contender.

The other Related Work I really enjoyed last year is a book of interviews — TRAVELER OF WORLDS: CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT SILVERBERG, by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.

Robert Silverberg is the only man to have attended EVERY Hugo Awards ceremony, from 1953 to the present. Think of that: all those years, all those rockets, and there’s never been one given out without Silverbob in the audience. He’s one of our field’s great writers, a SFWA Grand Master, a worldcon Guest of Honor. He’s won Nebula Awards and Hugo Awards aplenty, but he’s also lost more Hugos in the fiction categories than any other writer.

At my very first worldcon — Noreascon I in Boston, 1971 — Silverberg was the Toastmaster, and presented the awards with his trademark dry wit while I watched from the balcony (I could not afford the price of a banquet ticket). I remember thinking two things: (1) someday I want to win one of those rockets, and (2) Silverberg is who I want to be when I grow up. I did manage to achieve (1) a few years later. In fact, at the next Noreascon in 1980, Silverberg was once again the Toastmaster and presented me with two, on a night that will live in infamy. I am still working on (2).

In those days, Silverberg was a distant godlike figure to me, but in more recent years, to my delight, we’ve become friends. This past decade, we get together every year at worldcon for dinner. Bob is just as witty over a steak as he is at a podium, and he knows everything about the history of SF and fandom and all the writers and every book you’ve ever read and a whole lot you keep meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet.

TRAVELER OF WORLDS is like one of our worldcon dinners turned up to the max. Alvaro Zinos-Amaro must have moved in with Silverberg for a month, and I envy him that. These conversations range far and wide, and every one of them is fascinating. If you have any interest at all in writing, the history of the genre, Silverberg’s own life, the classics of literature, the greats of our field both living and dead, there’s something for you here. I only wish the book was twice as long. Like my worldcon dinners with Silverberg, it ended far too soon.

One reason that the slates have been able to dominate Best Related Work the past two years, to the exclusion of all else, is that many voters skip over this category. It never gets nearly as many nominations as Best Novel or the drama categories. But we can change that, if we want. I urge you all to take a look at TRAVELER OF WORLDS and THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION, and — if you enjoy them as much as I did — nominate them.

If enough of us do, maybe this year we can actually give a Hugo Award to a Related Work.

(And wouldn’t it be a hoot if it was Silverbob. Even though Alvaro Zinos-Amaro would likely get the actual rocket, I would still have to make Bob wear a conehead at the Hugo Losers’ Party).