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 and a translation at 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.

2014 Hugo Awards:
Best Dramatic Presentation, short form: All TV episodes that I haven't seen, so I'm not voting.

Best Dramatic Presentation, long form:  The nominees are Frozen; Gravity; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Iron Man 3; and Pacific Rim.
I've been wrestling with this one, because I haven't seen Gravity or Catching Fire. But I have opinions about the rest. Should I vote? I'm leaving this until the last minute.
Frozen is a delightful Disney outing that subverts princess tropes! Sisterhood is beautiful, and the songs are great.
I was an extra in Iron Man 3, which was loads of fun, but didn’t really break any ground.
Pacific Rim is NOT just a dumb monster movie. It's full of symbolism, but in a rich, fun way, and I love Mako Mori's character arc. This review explains it wonderfully well.
If I vote: Pacific Rim, Frozen, blanks.

Best Fancast: The nominees are The Coode Street Podcast; Galactic Suburbia Podcast; SF Signal Podcast; The Skiffy and Fanty Show; Tea and Jeopardy; Verity!; and The Writer and the Critic.
Before I get started, let me say to podcasters: PLEASE introduce yourselves at the beginning of each episode, especially if more than two people are speaking. Not just by first name, but give some kind of tagline to associate yourself with (and to speak long enough to have a chance of distinguishing your voice from the other speakers). Please DO NOT ramble on for five minutes about what's going on in your career/life unless it's directly relevant to today's topic; leave that stuff for the end, when hopefully you've entertained me enough for me to be interested in you as a person. Failure to follow these principles will discourage new listeners.
Coode Street linked one episode in the voter packet, an author interview with an author unfamiliar to me. Heavy on the writing craft; did not engage me.
GS linked a long, chewy, enthusiastic and engaging discussion of Saga issues 1-12 (Vols. 1-2). I've read 1-6 but not 7-12. I think someone who hasn't read it would still find it interesting, but it's spoileriffic.
SF Signal linked four different panel discussions, ranging from a gift guide to problems with epic fantasies to how panelists became fans to a an episode of miscellany. They were all interesting and fun, much the same as last year.
Skiffy and Fanty linked a panel discussion on SF Then & Now, an interview with Ann Leckie, a movie discussion on Gravity, and their Torture Cinema discussion of Sharknado. All quite different from each other and fun. I did cringe a bit in the interview with Leckie, who wrote this year's Hugo-nominated novel Ancillary Justice; one of the guys told Leckie how great all the strong female characters in the book were, completely missing the point that in the book's culture, she/her is the standard assumed pronoun, the way he/him is in English (or has been, anyway), so some of those characters are probably actually male. The podcast does feel a bit youth-centric at times, missing some references/influences of older works when discussing newer ones, but lately they've been working to improve that with efforts such as the Mining the Genre Asteroid column on the blog. I also like what they've been doing this year with their World Tour (interviewing non-Western SFF authors), but that's not the year under consideration.
Tea and Jeopardy is an interview show with fantastic story elements included, regarding where and when author/interviewer Emma Newman holds her "Tea Parties" with featured guests. Some elements continue from show to show (what's up with the sinister butler?), and every episode ends with some sort of peril from which the interviewee, at least, and sometimes Emma and her butler, must escape. I've been a fan for quite some time. The voter packet linked one episode, with Adrian Tchaikovsky. However, I'm not quite sure this should count as a fancast since Emma Newman is a published author.
Verity, which features panel discussions about Doctor Who, linked a page with five episodes. I listened to two of them, one about fandom gatekeeping (they're against it) and one about the 50th anniversary episode. I haven't seen much new Doctor Who, and not the 50th anniversary, but I really enjoyed both the squeeful discussions and the serious bits about how fans should respect each other's fannish ways. The panelists obviously have a rich, longstanding passion for their favorite show, and share their insights in an entertaining way.
The Writer and the Critic suggested one episode, in which the two hosts discuss Joe Hill's NOS4A2 and Malo Hopkinson's Sister Mine. I haven't read either book, and they spoiled the ending of NOS4A2, but they were well into the discussion by that time, so I had plenty of warning. The discussion was interesting, anyway.
One final note to podcasters: Your podcasts are free, and links are free, so if you submit only one sample, I'll assume you do only one type of show.
My vote: SF Signal, Verity, Galactic Suburbia, Skiffy and Fanty, Tea and Jeopardy, The Writer and the Critic, Coode Street.

Next up: Editors, Zines, Fan Writers, and Related Works.

1 comment:


    (memories of the LOTR audio book where Aragorn kept saying Arr like a pirate)


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