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.
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer gets voted on by the same population and awarded at the same ceremony. 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.
- Katherine Arden - Adren's The Bear and the Nightingale is really well written but bored me out of my mind. After 30% of what I assume is a 4,000 page novel, I just put it down.
- Sarah Kuhn - Based on the Heroine Complex sample included in the voter packet, Kuhn has a good sense of humor and understands pacing. That sample was a lot of fun, and only the time crunch to complete my ballot kept me from continuing on with the rest of the book.
- Jeannette Ng - I've tried her debut novel, Under the Pendulum Sun, and while the prose is quite good, it is just not for me. She's an excellent writer, and this is a very impressive debut.
- Vina Jie-Min Prasad - Two of Prasad's works are on the ballot this year. "Fandom For Robots" is at the top of my ballot for the short story category. It's just so warm and oddball.
- Rebecca Roanhorse - Roanhorse's short story Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM is on the ballot for this year's Hugos, and has already won a Nebula. The link goes to the full text of the story in Apex Magazine. It's a lovely little mindfuck of a story about authenticity, stereotypes, and navigating expectations.
- Rivers Solomon - I started An Unkindness of Ghosts and it is amazing. It's also completely not at all what I'm in the mood for. So even though I'm setting it aside, I plan to come back to it at some point. Solomon is a hell of a writer.
5 really solid writers. Even the ones who's work I don't love, I can see are very talented. I think Solomon may be the strongest. Ng and Prasad are next, but I'm having trouble picking which to put first. Kuhn, Roanhorse, and Arden after that in that order. Tough call, and there are no wrong answers here.