Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hugo Awards 2014/1939: Shorts to Novels

It's only a month since the 2014 Hugo Awards and the 1939 Retro-Hugos were announced, so at least I'm doing better than last year with this final segment of my rundown on the nominees. There was quite a lot of controversy this year about a slate of nominations that some people pushed for reactionary reasons, but luckily for me I didn't have to decide whether or not to vote for the nominees on their own merits, or against because of their politics, because I didn't think any of them merited the awards anyway.  Onward:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hugo Awards 2014/1393: Editors, Zines, Fan Writers, and Related Works

August has certainly flown fast! I read all of the Hugo Award nominees that I could and voted by the midnight PST July 31/Aug. 1 deadline, and then I spent time catching up with other things. Before I knew it, they were announcing the 1939 Retro-Hugo awards! The 2014 Hugos will be announced later today. I'll write this without reference to the results and add links later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hugo Awards 2014/1939: Audio and Dramatic Presentations

Once again, I'm explaining my reactions to the Hugo Awards nominees. It's a ranked vote; sometimes I'm voting in a preferential list, and sometimes I'm voting only once or twice and leaving the rest blank.

1939 Retro-Hugo Awards: 
Best Dramatic Presentation, short form (there is no long form category here):  The nominees are Around the World in 80 Days; A Christmas Carol; Dracula; R.U.R.; and The War of the Worlds.
R.U.R. isn’t in the packet. I don’t see any free audio versions in a quick Google search, although Librivox has a version in progress. I did find excerpts of a different group’s reading at http://www.sci-fi-london.com/news/festival/2010/10/rur-reading and a translation at http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/capek/karel/rur/ but obviously that is not the nominated work; the vote is for that particular dramatic presentation, not the play itself. 
As for the other pieces, they're all Orson Welles productions on CBS Mercury Theater of the Air.
Dracula was unlistenable. Well, I made it through 10 minutes or so, but they blared the LOUD CHORD OF DRAMATIC REVELATION every couple of minutes, and I had to stop listening.
A Christmas Carol and Around the World in Eighty Days were quite listenable, but nothing special IMHO. 
What was outstanding was The War of the Worlds. This was the broadcast that reportedly panicked a lot of people, although it’s been disputed just how much of the panic was real and how much was after-the-fact hype. At any rate, it definitely had quite an effect. But leaving that aside, the work itself is really, really good. It starts out with dance music being interrupted with increasingly frequent and urgent bulletins, switches to a local affiliate at the scene of what turns out to be the Martian invasion, and then follows a survivor wandering the wasteland. It’s dynamic, gripping, and still very much worth hearing. 
My vote: War of the Worlds, the rest blank.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hugo Awards 2014/1939: Art and Graphic Novels

This year, instead of writing one massive post about all the 2014 Hugo Award nominees, I'm going to write a few smaller pieces. Partly that's for my convenience, partly it's for the readers' (especially since this year, we're voting not only for works from 2013 but also Retro 1939 Hugos for works from 1938.
Today's chunk is for nominees in Art and Graphic Awards categories. As it's a ranked ballot system, I'll be listing my preferences in order.


1939 Retro-Hugo Professional Artist nominees: Margaret Brundage, Virgil Finlay, Frank R. Paul, Alex Schomburg, and H.W. Wesso. 
Finlay's pieces are fairly classic-style SF pulp covers. 
The Paul cover has more going on in it than Finlay does. 
Wesso has lots going on, good faces, AND interesting effects. 
Schomberg has some fun pieces to look at, very detailed, but they don’t draw me in as much as Wesso. 
The Brundage links provided in the voters packet don’t work for me, but an online search for her Weird Tales covers shows that in tone she's similar to Finlay, but better executed. 
My vote: Wesso, Schomberg, Paul, Brundage, Finlay.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Honoring more than one type of the fallen

A friend of mine reposted the usual Memorial Day image of a uniform with the text that starts off "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech..."

I honor members of our military for their courage and sacrifices, including my uncle whom I never knew because he died in the Vietnam War. I do want people to recognize that Memorial Day is about remembrance, not just barbecues and appliance sales.

But soldiers by themselves don't give us a free society. Just look at North Korea or any other totalitarian country. Picture what your life would be like if all you knew was what the government and the corporations wanted you to know.

In 2013, at least 70 journalists worldwide were killed in connection with their work, and there was a 129% increase in abductions, along with countless acts of violence and intimidation, jailings, and other silencings. None of these martyrs charged a nest of machine guns, but I'm sure all of them knew that they were putting themselves in real danger through their attempts to shine spotlights on everything from corruption to war crimes.

This is the day to honor members of the armed services who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. They deserve it. But nobody should try to honor them by belittling people who, in their own ways, fight (or fought) for the same ideals of truth, justice, and freedom.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Belated Hugo Awards rundown

The Hugo Awards are fan-voted recognitions of the best writing, art, and related work in science fiction. As a member of LoneStarCon3, the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention held in San Antonio, Texas, over Labor Day Weekend, I was eligible to vote for the 2013 Hugos, and did so. I took notes while reviewing the nominated works, meaning to post about them, but never got around to it. Partly that was because I wanted to go back and read through the categories I hadn't had time for before, but that didn't work out due to the job and life and stuff.

This week, nominations are opening up for the 2014 Hugo Awards, to be presented at LonCon3, i.e. Worldcon in London. I won't be attending that con unless I win the lottery, but I'm considering getting a supporting membership anyway because that will give me access to electronic versions of most of the officially nominated works, which is a great value.

Regardless, I can submit nominations now for the 2014 awards because of my LoneStarCon3 membership. And before I start thinking about that, I want to finally clear away my thoughts about the 2013 Hugos.