Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hugo Awards: Done Voting

I read as much as I could. And then I watched as much as I could. And there are only a few days left for Hugo votes, so I locked my votes in.

I'm not going to go too deeply into my voting, but I will go briefly over why I voted as I did:

I've mentioned before that too many people confuse Good with Fun, and think that fun things are deserving of awards, when they aren't. And that is sorta the root of the Puppy issue from a few years ago. Books that they liked weren't winning awards.

The Hugos are the only major award that is fan-chosen, and it's a self-selecting group of fans: People who are willing and able to spend money to vote on an award.

They didn't break any rules. Not any written rules, at any rate. But they hijacked the system last year nonetheless. And this year, they hijacked it again - only worse, because last year they learned that dominating the ballot won't necessarily win them any awards, so they filled the ballot with complete crap.

I did not read the obvious joke nominees (although I did try in at least one case). I did not read the hit pieces.

I read as much as I could of the others. I looked at the art nominees.

And then I grabbed an excel spreadsheet and rated everything based on a +10 to -10 scale of "Good" and "Fun." I plotted that on a graph, and figured out where my "No Award" point was - it's equivalent to 0 Good, 0 Fun. Anything with a score worse than that scored below No Award.

I also weighted the spreadsheet in favor of Good.  So a Good 5, Fun 0 work will have a better score than a Good 0, Fun 5 work.

Remember that this is zero average. Mediocre scores for good and fun are the +2 / -2 range. 3-5 is good, 6+ is great.  -3 to -5 is bad. -6 and less is awful.

Then I fed it to a formula to determine the distance from 10,10, as if it were a triangle and I was calculating the hypotenuse. So low numbers were good, high numbers bad.

0, 0 in my spreadsheet, BTW, comes to a final score of  11.53, so anything above that level was out.

I'm going to discuss two categories, tell you how I voted, and discuss each nominee in that category. I'm going to discuss Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form.

And yes, I know. I crazy-overthought this.

In the Novel category, my vote looks like this:

The Fifth Season: Good 7, Fun 3 (Final score: 5.02)
I liked this book. It was really good. But the changing POV - even though it made sense by the end - drove me up a tree. Second-person writing is also a rough one for me, even when handled well. These made it difficult for me to get into and through the book, even though it was very good.

Ancillary Mercy: Good 3, Fun 4 (Final score: 7.80)
My biggest concern with this one is simple: Does it stand on its own? I've read the earlier two books in the series (and I very much liked them), but this didn't feel like a standalone novel. Not only that, but felt like the second half of a book more than it felt like the third book in the trilogy. This pushed its "Good" score down a bit for me. I will say that book one, Ancillary Justice, is very much worth reading. If you like it, move on to books 2 and 3. If you don't ... well ... then don't.

Seveneves: Good 5, Fun -2 (Final score: 8.52)
Stephenson is always a slog for me. He's one of those authors who feels like he's using more words than he needs to make his point, sometimes. His books are nearly always good, but I often really really struggle to get through them.  Seveneves was no exception. In fact, I'm not completely through this one as of this writing. His Good score may drop a bit, but I suspect his Fun will be pretty stable. I'm told by a couple of friends that it stumbles in the last third or so of the book. Worth noting: This was a Puppy nominee. Widely believed to be one of their "human shield" nominees who were there to make straight anti-Puppy voters feel bad for voting down actual quality work.

Aeronaut's Windlass: Good -3, Fun 4 (Final score: 13.45)
I really enjoyed this book, but it was not good. Not at all. It read like many of the Star Trek novels I have sitting on my shelf. Not because the characters fit the Star Trek character roles, but because it felt like he was trying to hit specific beats. It's like someone challenged Butcher to write a steampunk novel, and he was working his way through a steampunk checklist. And he didn't bring anything new to the genre in the process.  Don't get me wrong: I'm going to buy the sequels to this, too. At least the first couple of them. But this is The Expendables. This is The Fast and the Furious. Rollicking fun summertime fare, but not something that should win awards. This is below No Award on my ballot.

Uprooted: Fun -3, Good -7 (Final score: 15.47)
I couldn't. I just ... this book was really not for me. I hated every page of it that I read, and I gave up pretty early. I'm not a fan of Novik's writing - I got through the first two Tremeraire books before giving up midway through the third - and this book utterly failed to change my mind about her talent. She has potential to be a fantastic writer, I just haven't liked anything she has ever written.

In the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) category, my vote looks like this:

Mad Max: Fury Road: Good 5, Fun 6 (Final score: 5.50).
I loved this movie. It wasn't a transcendent experience, and it was a bit of an odd duck (post-Apocalyptic films haven't been A Thing for a while, now). But it was well-directed, well-acted, and a ton of fun. Some of the most fun I've had watching a movie in a while.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Good 2, Fun 9 (final score: 8.02)
It was a little too derivative of the originals for me, and the whole "Luke is missing!" mystery at the core of it was ... forced. And not well, either. Having Artoo hold the key to the whole thing was also a bit of an almost-too-literal deus ex machina. But it was fun.

The Martian Good 6, Fun -3 (final score: 8.47)
It was good. Really good. Fantastic, even. But it was also dull. Through most of the film, nothing happened. It's done well enough to (mostly) distract you from that realization, but man. I could just watch Survivorman on TV and get much of the same degree of escapism. Because really, this really was just Survivorman on Mars.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Good 0, Fun 4 (Final score: 8.71)
I think I'm the only one I know who was less-than-impressed with this one. The effects were good, the story was cliche-ridden. The worst of the Marvel movies that I've seen (I didn't see the second Thor movie). Nowhere near the promise shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, either. It was mediocre but fun - and that fun keeps it above No Award on my ballot.

I haven't seen Ex Machina, so I don't know how good it is or isn't. So I'm just leaving it off of my ballot. There also aren't any films in the category which scored below No Award, so I'm leaving No Award off of my ballot, as well.


  1. I don't know about over-thinking, but it's a fascinating process for developing your personal rankings.

    1. I'm honestly pretty sure I'm overthinking. But I'm probably thinking too much about that, too. :)