2008 SF Hugo Awards

pic is of a previous year’s Hugo award

This year’s Hugo awards were given out recently and since I mentioned the nominees months ago, I’d figured I’d now mention the winners. This award is one of two major awards that cover the English SF world (along with the Nebulas). Last year the awards ceremony was held in Japan (an interesting write-up of one SF author’s experiences in Japan can be found here) and this year was held in boring Denver.

Here is a partial list of winners:

Novel: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec. 2007)

Novelette: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang (F&SF Sept. 2007)

Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)

Non-fiction Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles Vess Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Paramount Pictures)

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink” Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)

Two winners stand out for me.

I know there’s a lot of perceptions people have of SF that are flat out wrong, much like how many people think anime is either violent, cartoon pron or childish clones of Pokemon. One of these perceptions of SF is that it’s written by a bunch of nerdy guys. So while there is definitely a bunch of nerdy guys that write SF, the author with the most Hugos for fiction writing is the down-to-earth, Tupperware party-thrower Connie Willis. Her win this year gives her a well deserved 10 Hugos in all. Her writing lacks the pretension of the cultured elite, instead she writes stories that can touch your soul and leave you remembering them years after reading them. It might be a story about a vampire that helps humanity in London at night during the Blitz or a time-traveling historian that accidentally lands in a small English village on the eve of the Black Death and must try to help save her new friends from the plague; but whatever the story, it’s one that you’ll probably remember. “All Seated on the Ground” is latest Connie Willis Christmas story and it deals with the arrival of aliens and their interest in the performances of school choirs during Christmastime. Her Christmas stories always put you in the proper frame of mind for Christmas and are good SF stories to boot. I’m glad one finally won.

The other winner that stands out is Ted Chiang with his story “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate.” His career as a writer spans 18 years and during these years he has written a total of 10 stories. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, you’d be right. But of these stories, including the one mentioned above, he’s won 4 Nebulas and 2 Hugos. I’ve been a big fan of his since reading his story “Hell Is the Absence of God.” Which is about an earth where angels literally and physically tread – causing natural disasters (an act of God 🙂 ) – Hell and Heaven are visible to the naked eye and our main character, who has trouble believing in God, has to figure out a way to get to heaven to be with his wife. His stories are always inventive and never quite go where you’d think they go. In his latest tale we follow a merchant of Middle Ages Baghdad who tries to use time-travel to undo something he did in the past that he regrets. Of course, there’s more to it then that and more than likely you won’t be able to predict the end – in other words, it’s another great story from Ted Chiang. Now if only he’d write a little more often.

Next up, expect a surprise series review and my weekly anime review.

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2 thoughts on “2008 SF Hugo Awards”

  1. Ted Chiang is a remarkable writer. Here is a link to a reading of “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” from the StarShip Sofa podcast.

    [audio src="http://www.starshipsofa.com/podcast/Ted_Chiang_The_Merchant_and_the_Alchemists_Gate.mp3" /]

    Chiang’s story collection, “Stories of Your Life and Others” is possibly the best one I’ve ever read.

    Connie Willis is no slouch, either. I love her screwball comedy stories like “Spice Pogrom,” “Miracle,” and “To Say Nothing of the Dog.”

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  2. I just wanted to note here (because it was announced after I posted this) that starting next year the Hugo awards will add a new category for graphic novels. So any SF or Fantasy graphic novel that begins publication in the US in 2008 will be eligible.

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