Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.
This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so. Not only that, but if you participate in one year, you still get to nominate the next year. This year, thanks to a rule change, we nominated up to 5 entries, and the final ballot included the top 6.
The John W. Campbell Award is technically not a Hugo, but gets voted on by the same population and awarded at the same ceremony. It's intended to honor new professional sff writers. Authors are only eligible if their first professional sale was in the last 2 years. Below are this year's finalists, listed in the order they appeared on the official announcement, with my notes on each.
Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility) - The voter packet included one short story (Haunted) and a hyperlinked list of this story plus 4 more. I follow Gailey on twitter and have read several of her essays, but not her fiction. Turns out her fiction is interesting and well written, but Haunted reminded me a little too strongly of a Daniel Abraham short story I read a few years back. She'll be high on my ballot, but may not be the top.
J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility) - Not impressed by the prose, interested by the narrative, or really drawn to anything about the included "An Equation of Almost Infinite Complexity." I didn't finish it. I don't think I'll include Mulrooney on my ballot.
Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility) - The voter packet includes 3 short pieces and a novel. I'm impressed enough by the short fiction, Rupture in particular, for Older to easily hit the top of my ballot. Solid prose, great characters, interesting content. I haven't yet read Infomocracy as I'm trying to fit in everything on the ballot before the Mid-July cut off, but I'm sure I'll come back to it.
Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility) - I tried to read Too Like the Lightning last year, and it was not for me. Palmer is clearly quite good, but not my kind of thing. She'll rank high, but not at the top of my ballot.
Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility) - Four interesting, but not amazing works were included in the voter packet. I didn't find Penny's prose particularly compelling, but thought her work was fun and imaginative. She'll likely be towards the bottom of my ballot.
Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility) - The packet included 3 works, of which I finished zero. Really nothing here for me. I don't think I'll include Robson on my ballot.
So to wrap up, pretty sure I know who goes in positions 1 and 4, and who I'm just not going to include. The middle positions, though, will probably get reordered on my ballot a good dozen times before the deadline.