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.