The Hugo Award Winners were announced last week and if you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, these books can expose you to authors you might not have heard about before and gives you a sense of some new books to read, as summer wanes. Many of the prior winners went on to have long lasting careers and modern writers such as William Gibson and Neil Stephenson continue to pen novels to this very day.
The Hugo Award is an annual literary award for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year, given at the World Science Fiction Convention and chosen by its members. The Hugo is widely considered the premier award in science fiction. The award is administered by the World Science Fiction Society. It is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. Hugos were first given in 1953, at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention, and have been awarded every year since 1955.
Best Novel: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options. In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity. Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.
Best Novella: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot. Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
Best Novelette: Bots of the Lost Ark” by Suzanne Palmer
Suzanne Palmer is a writer, artist, and Linux system administrator who lives in western Massachusetts with her kids, lots of chickens, and an Irish Wolfhound named Tolkien. She won the 2018 Hugo for Best Novelette for her Clarkesworld story “The Secret Life of Bots,” and its sequel, “Bots of the Lost Ark,” is a winner for the 2022 Hugo. She has no idea what color her hair is anymore.
Best Short Story: Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather by Sarah Pinsker
The form of this story is the comments on a site called “Lyricsplainer,” discussing the lyrics and history of a folk song called, “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather.” It appears to be a tragic romantic ballad, about a pair called Fair Ellen, and William. There is debate about what “fair” means with reference to Ellen. William might be the butcher’s son, or he might have stolen something from the butcher’s son, or he might be named William Butcher. Commenters make suggestions, downrate each other’s suggestions, occasionally the moderator steps in. Some of them are doing research elsewhere. One of the points of interest is a previous commenter, who went off to visit a likely location for the original story, but hasn’t been heard from in a year. The more they learn, or think they learn, the creepier it gets. Very absorbing, and quite well done.
Best Series: Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire
The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire is the story of Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a boarding school for children who come home from portal fantasy worlds and can’t adjust to their new lives. The reviewers said about the first novella Every Heart a Doorway: “This is a gorgeous story: sometimes mean, sometimes angry, and always exciting.” –Cory Doctorow for BoingBoing, “A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll’s and C. S. Lewis’ classics.
Best Graphic Story or Comic: Far Sector, written by N.K. Jemisin
The first murder in 500 years. Twenty billion suspects. One hope. The City Enduring, a booming metropolis at the edge of the universe, hasn’t experienced a violent crime in generations. The Emotion Exploit has erased its citizens’ full range of feelings, allowing three resident races to overlook their turbulent history and coexist peacefully—until now. Rookie Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein is still adjusting to her assignment to protect this strange world when a brutal murder rattles its social order, threatening to undo centuries of controversial progress . As the populace rises up against the legacy of the Emotion Exploit and leaders grapple for power under threat of a new war, Jo must rely on her unique instincts—as a Green Lantern and the only human in this sector—to solve the crime and guide the City Enduring toward a more promising future. Hugo Award-winning author N.K. Jemisin joins bestselling Naomi and artist Jamal Campbell in the Eisner Award-nominated sci-fi murder mystery Far Sector, collecting all 12 issues, concept art and character designs, and an introduction by Gerard Way.
You can buy the series HERE.
Best Related Work: Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
From Charlie Jane Anders, the award-winning author of novels such as All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night, this is one of the most practical guides to storytelling that you will ever read.
The world is on fire.
So tell your story.
Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But we’re not helpless: we have minds, and imaginations, and the ability to visualize other worlds and valiant struggles. And writing can be an act of resistance that reminds us that other futures and other ways of living are possible.
Full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish during the present emergency, Never Say You Can’t Survive is the perfect manual for creativity in unprecedented times.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.