I’m a few months late in writing about this but what else is new.
I attended Worldcon for the first time this year and thus was eligible to vote for the Hugo Awards for the first time ever. As a lifelong science fiction and fantasy fan, this was a big deal for me.
How it works is those eligible to vote (those with Worldcon memberships that year and the previous year; maybe others, I’m not sure) submit nomination ballots. The works with the most nominations go on to the final slate of nominations. (Ok, I don’t know how the ballot counting process actually works but I’m guessing it’s something like that.) I was able to put in nominations for Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentations (Long Form and Short Form) but most of the other categories I had nothing to nominate.
Happily, two novels (Redshirts by John Scalzi and Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed) I nominated made it to the final ballot and a bunch of the Dramatic Presentation ones too. Voters get copies of all nominated works, so that you can catch up on everything that you haven’t read/seen if you want, before the final vote. This allowed me to read Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, which I voted for as my first choice on the final ballot for Best Novel (it lost to Redshirts). I took it upon myself to read all the nominees in the shorter fiction categories (best novella, novelette, and short story). And of course, this is why I felt compelled to write this post!
I haven’t actively any short fiction since, I don’t know, the 80’s? I had a subscription for a time to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for a while back then. I had trouble finishing the issues before new ones came and I eventually gave it up. Now, after reading through the Hugo noms for 2013, I can’t get enough of it!
“Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu reduced me to tears and went on to win (yay!) in the short story category. Aliette de Bodard had a short story and a novella nominated and, though neither was my top choice in their respective category, I found her a writer I definitely want to read more of. Catherynne Valente and Seanan McGuire were already on my “to read” radar when I read their novelette noms. I already knew Brandon Sanderson was amazing, since I had read his contributions to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but his novella The Emperor’s Soul simply floored me. (And by the way, he turned out to be a genuinely kind and humble person when I spoke to him at his signing at the Convention itself.) I had seen Nancy Kress’s After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall in the bookstore but didn’t give it a second glance. Whoa. Also an amazing novella.
Being introduced to the works of all these great writers made me want to read more of their stuff, of course, but it also made me want to read more short fiction period. A big motivation for this is being able to actually nominate stuff for next year’s Hugos. So I went looking for the avenues to achieve that.
I had forgotten that for the last couple of years I had a subscription to online SF&F magazine Clarkesworld (I got it at the behest of a John Scalzi blog post and never actually read it), which won the Hugo this year for Best Semiprozine. Lots of back issues to catch up on. Mostly short stories, heavily science fiction, with some fantasy. Also lots of interesting related non-fiction articles. Glad I had been passively supporting it for so long!
I also decided to get subscriptions to other Best Semiprozine nominees Lightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Lightspeed is a good mix of SF and fantasy, with no non-fiction but lots of author interviews. BCS concentrates on “literary adventure fantasy.”
Apex Magazine and Strange Horizons round out the 2013 Semiprozine noms. Also lots of good stories there. My final source of stories is Tor.com. I’m feverishly trying to catch up on all the great short stories, novelettes, and novellas they have published this year.
I already have lots of ideas on what to nominate for the Hugos in 2014. I’m not planning to attend Loncon 3 but a supporting membership will allow me to vote. Woo-hoo!