Talking about sports this morning is immeasurably depressing… so I am going to talk about science fiction and the Hugo awards instead.
After several months of relative quiet, the Puppygate mess seems to be stirring again.
It is my hope — maybe a naive hope — that this time around, we can actually talk about the WORK instead of engaging in endless recrimination and name-calling. I am, I confess, not optimistic on that front, but I am going to try to do my bit, by… well, by talking about the work.
In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don’t like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them… and unless you are aware of a work, you’re not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you’re voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).
Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form.
Big Hollywood movies traditionally dominate this category. I suspect it will be the same this year. The new STAR WARS comes out at year’s end, and has to be the favorite here. I have not seen it, you have not seen it, no one really knows if it will be another EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or another PHANTOM MENACE… but it’s still STAR WARS, and I suspect it will be nominated.
THE MARTIAN should also be nominated. A great adaptation of a terrific book, I actually think it has a fair chance of upsetting STAR WARS. Fans of hard SF — and there are a LOT of those — love this one, and for good reason. I loved it too. (And wish we’d been allowed to screen it at my theatre). There seems to be some confusion about whether Andy Weir is still eligible for the Campbell Award, by the way… but if he is eligible, he should certainly be nominated.
Also, there’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I loved the old Mad Max movies (especially THE ROAD WARRIOR), and this one was a worthy successor. Deserves a space on the ballot for sure.
Those are the big obvious choices. But let me draw your attention to a few more obscure possibilities.
PREDESTINATION is an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic short “All You Zombies.” It actually came out last year (we showed it at the JCC), but had little distribution. For that reason, the Sasquan business meeting voted to give it a second year of eligibility, so it is eligible again this year. It is an excellent little film, with a wonderful performance by Sarah Snook. Very faithful to RAH. If you liked the story, you should like the movie. Seek it out and give it a look.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a comedy out of New Zealand, about four vampires living together in Wellington, NZ. I saw it first in Switzerland at a film festival. It’s hilarious. Won the festival’s audience award, deservedly. Comedy is often overlooked at awards time, if there are no special categories for it. This one deserves a better fate. Not a chance in hell it will ever win a Hugo… but wouldn’t it be cool if a small, funny film like this could make the ballot?
Finally… the Long Form category is not actually limited to movies, though those do tend to dominate. So do also consider JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL, the seven-part BBC television miniseries adaptation of the Hugo-winning novel by Susannah Clarke. A lovely piece of work, I thought, and — again — faithful to the source material (a big thing with me). It should not be forgotten at nominations time.
I am not urging anyone to nominate any of these… but I am suggesting that you might want to check them out. They’re all works I enjoyed a lot. I suspect that THE MARTIAN and FURY ROAD and the yet-unseen STAR WARS are all pretty much locks for Hugo nominations regardless, but the other three, the more obscure three, are worthy efforts that might be missed, unless people seek them out. So…