2012 Hugo Awards

As you may or may not know, the Hugo Awards are sort of like the Oscars for science fiction and fantasy stories. I don’t follow them much (or, to be honest at the risk of losing my geek cred, at all), but when I saw the list of this years’ winners, and recognized a few names, my interest was piqued.
The winner for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (which apparently means “Best TV episode”) was the Doctor Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife,” written by Neil Gaiman, who accepted the award (and said he was currently writing another episode for the show). This is from Series 6; I am currently half way through Series 5.

Best Graphic Story went to the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon, which I recently reviewed. I personally wouldn’t rate it higher than the amazing Gunnerkrigg Court, but Digger is definitely worth the time of anyone who reads my blog.

The other name to catch my eye was Catherynne M. Valente, who apparently was part of a fancast along with Doctor Who-writer Paul Cornell. I don’t know what a fancast is, but it sounds like some kind of discussion panel that is broadcast…for fans? With fans? By fans? Ceiling fans? I don’t know. But I have respect for the writing ability of both these people, and would definitely be interested in hearing them talk about their stories or those of others.


  1. mjschneider says:

    Have you watched Game of Thrones? I see that it won for Long Form Dramatic Presentation. (The other nominees were Hugo, Captain America, Source Code, and Harry Potter 7 Part II. But no X-Men: First Class, Midnight in Paris, Cabin in the Woods, Thor, Immortals, Tree of Life, Melancholia, Fright Night, Adventures of Tintin, Hanna, Kung Fu Panda 2… I only list them because it seemed odd to me that 45 people voted for “no award.”) Game of Thrones strikes me as a show that you probably wouldn’t enjoy, but I found it to be surprisingly compelling. “Surprising” in that I expected it to be prurient and nihilistic, but it turned out to be empathetic and very much in the way of honoring heroism, albeit in the fleeting glimpses one catches of heroism in a very fallen world.

    1. David says:

      Game of Thrones strikes me as a show I would love, were it not for the sex, nudity, and graphic violence. Since it contains these in strong measure, I cannot watch it. Other elements, from the myriad character-driven politics, world-building, slow introduction of magic throughout each season, and awesome costumes and weapons, exercise a strong appeal for me, but are not worth what I have been able to see of the content. I’m glad to hear that the show isn’t as nihilistic and anti-heroic as it sounds (that is, as it portrays itself in the ads, and the general feel I’ve got from reviews and fan discussion), and it probably deserves the Hugo. I’m passing on it, though.

      It would have been amazing if Hugo had won a Hugo.

  2. emilykazakh says:

    Mr. Gaiman was quite pleased with his award and was pleased to tweet and retweet his pleasure recently. I’m satisfied with his episode winning. It is my favorite from the season: terribly witty and clever with very entertaining characters. The Doctor’s “wife” and how Gaiman presents her is an idea I’ve seen hinted at in Who but not explored, and he made her both realistic and lovable.
    It’s a great stand-alone episode. I’m excited to see what Gaiman writes next.
    The others I haven’t looked at yet, but they sound interesting, so I’ll have to do so soon.

    1. David says:

      I look forward to that episode. I also highly recommend trying out the webcomics: they are an emerging art form with some really fantastic standouts, and they deserve more attention!

  3. Urania says:

    I don’t exactly (that is, at all) follow the Hugo Awards by the year, but I have tried to get some of the Hugo winning novels on my list of books to read. I read Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal over the summer (1966 winner along with Dune, another favorite book), and it was good, though it doesn’t unseat the Amber books for my favorite Zelazny novel. But anyway, I’m really glad Gaiman was recognized for The Doctor’s Wife, which was an excellent episode (and of course, I’m not biased at all).

    1. David says:

      I’m a little over half way through Series 5 now! I’m so proud of my progress. Also, I’ve started Larry Niven’s Ringworld because it seems like a fast-paced read and I’m tired of having not read any of the foundational “hard” sci-fi novels. However, I’ve got the Amber books by my headboard, in a stack with others, and I look at them every other day at least, and the more I look the more I want to read them, so I very well may start them soonish. Apparently Zelazny is a big deal.

      1. mjschneider says:

        I just read Ringworld last year and thought it was masterful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, although I didn’t think it’s that much of a hard SF novel. The central premise (and I don’t mean the titular Ringworld) is incredibly speculative, though interesting. I’ve got Ringworld Engineers sitting on my shelf, but I haven’t dug into it yet. Looking forward to your review.

        1. David says:

          It certainly has elements that demand suspension of disbelief that comes with the sci-fi territory (FTL travel, teleportation, stasis chambers, felinoid aliens…). But Niven seems to have really done his work to make his central conceits fairly plausible. His mathematical and physical extrapolations are enough to convince a non-scientist like me to suspend disbelief, at least, and I’ll grant him speculations about alien materials and tech that can help accomplish the great feats in his futuristic world. But all I have to compare him to at the moment besides Doctor Who and Star Trek is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a much more limited kind of sci-fi story with fewer speculative needs (at least if you ignore the ridiculous monolith and the wormhole sequence at the end).

          I only just realized that Ringworld is part of a whole series. If I like the book enough, I might check out the others later on.

  4. Urania says:

    When you say “hard” sci-fi, exactly what do you mean? I know it’s difficult to separate sci-fi and fantasy, because they do overlap often enough. “Speculative fiction” possibly covers a wider range than either of the former terms alone. Anyway, I just want to make sure I’m on the same page.

    It’s funny; I tend to fluctuate in what I’m currently “in to” as far as sci-fi and fantasy go. I don’t read much right now, but based on the tv shows I watch, I’m kind of more into sci-fi right now. Yay!

    Zelazny is totally a big deal.

    1. David says:

      Well, in my understanding, hard sci-fi builds its world around technology that at least has some real science behind it and is extrapolated from things already known or hypothesized as plausible. Soft sci-fi mostly makes up science-y jargon just to explain all the cool spaceships, time travel, teleportation, and other things that it needs (or just wants) to tell its story. Soft sci-fi writers (like those of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who) don’t usually have degrees in the higher sciences or mathematics, while many hard sci-fi writers also publish research in various scientific fields (like Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein). But the subgenres blend a lot, just as sci-fi and fantasy blend a lot. Even Ringworld, in which Niven has clearly done a lot of math to explain things, also has things like hyperdrive and quantum drives that can travel lightyears in minutes, and technology that can move planets as if they were spaceships (conjuring to my mind the Doctor Who episode “The Stolen Earth,” in which it looked goofy when the Daleks did that). And the aliens Niven comes up with could just as easily be fantasy creatures, but with reasonably well thought-out biologies. I think there’s still some handwaving though.

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