This is one of my favourite categories for the Hugos, and this year I think there is a clear winner.
6) Buffalito World Outreach Project, by Lawrence M. Schoen
Second paragraph of third chapter (the Bengali translation):
|প্রবেশ ফটকে লেখা ছিল,||The marquee out front read|
THE AMAZING CONROY,
|লোকদের নজর কাড়ার এক সংকোচহীন এবং আতিরক্তপ্রচেষ্টা। সেটি অবশ্য কাজেও দিয়েছিল। আমার শো’য়ের দর্শক যেদিন তুলনামূলক অল্প হতো, সেদিনও পর্যাপ্ত সংখ্যাক লোক হতো, আর দর্শক বেশি হলে তো রা জায়গা ভরে যেত। জিব্রান্ত্রর মতো ভেনুগুলোতে যেকোনো ধরণের চাহিদা নিরন্তর, আর সেখানে একজন মঞ্চ সম্মোহকারী ভালো উপার্জন করতে পারে।||and cycled through a googol of colorful hues in a blatant attempt to remain eye-catching. It worked. My smallest audiences were decent, and the large ones packed the place. Venues like Gibrahl are always hungry for any kind of entertainment, and a stage hypnotist can make a good buck.|
A single short story translated into into thirty languages, including “Croation” [sic] and two varieties of Spanish. I absolutely support its eligibility for the category – to be eligible, a nominee “if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and … is not eligible in any other category.” The story “Buffalo Dogs” itself was first published in 2001, so it is not eligible for this year’s Best Short Story or Best Novelette categories (at 7800 words it’s on the cusp between them). And the whole point of Buffalito World Outreach Project is that it’s noteworthy not for the primary text but because of the translations. You can get it here.
However, to adapt Dr Johnson, this is a case of being impressed that the thing has been done at all, rather than wondering if it has been done well. I am glad that this has been done, but the other five finalists are more worthy winners.
(Also, although Lawrence M. Schoen is the finalist, what about the thirty or so people who did the translating?)
5) Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, by Kyle Buchanan
Second paragraph of third chapter:
So, would Mad Max work just as well if it were a TV show?
A detailed account of the making of Mad Max: Fury Road, featuring interviews with many many people from the cast and crew. It’s the unabashed writing of a super-fan (and top NYT reporter), who holds both the film and the director/producer George Miller in the highest regard. I was not so blown away by the film myself, and I confess I lasted only fifty pages into an intense book about a subject which doesn’t interest me all that much. You can get it here.
4) Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir, by Wil Wheaton
Second paragraph of third chapter, with footnote:
In addition to the things we Star Trek people usually do at conventions (signing autographs, posing for pictures, answering questions, and saying “Engage!”), I took a group of people from the ACME Comedy Theatre with me to perform a sketch comedy show. The entire convention experience is chronicled in “The Saga of SpongeBob Vega$Pants,” which is the centerpiece of my first collection of essays, Dancing Barefoot.*
* I’m so proud of this little book. I often look back at my early writing and cringe (you’ve probably cringed with me a few times just in this text) but Barefoot is nothing but joyful memories and the very best I could do at the time. I don’t encounter copies of it very often (its entire run was less than five thousand), but it is where I started, and it will always have a very special place in my heart.
Again, a book on a subject that I am not all that invested in (Wil Wheaton), written by an author who is deeply and passionately committed to that subject (Wil Wheaton). In fact this is an update of an autobiographical book first published in 2004, with explanatory footnotes telling us how his life and attitudes changed between then and 2021, with Star Trek: The Next Generation probably the single topic with most coverage but plenty else as well (for instance, there’s a gruelling account of a family medical emergency).
I found the result is a bit unsatisfactory; the structure is choppy, as most of the content is recycled from Wheaton’s blog, and some of the content is repeated, usually more than once, especially the question of how lousy his parents were. And there is a running joke, which gets old rather fast, about how much he hates his editor for the crime of, er, editing. But I give a couple of plus points for actually having the footnotes at the bottom of each page rather than the end of the book. You can get it here.
3) Ghost of Workshops Past: How Communism, Conservatism, and the Cold War Still Mold Our Paths Into SFF Writing, by S.L. Huang
Second to fourth paragraphs of third section:
Milford, I was told.
And again Milford
I generally prefer my Best Related Work nominees and finalists to be books, but I am still rating this blog post ahead of two serious non-fiction monographs. It’s a straightforward analysis of how the standard model of writer training workshops among the sf community emerged from the Cold War, and how it doesn’t really work all that well for non-white aspiring writers. This is an important topic, but not a huge one, and the blog post deals with it efficiently and succinctly. You can read it here.
2) Chinese Science Fiction: An Oral History, Vol 1, ed. Yang Feng
Second paragraph of English introduction to third chapter (an interview with Liu Shahe [1932-2019], who is much better known as a poet and calligrapher than an sf fan):
Liu Shahe was not trained in the humanities; he studied agriculture at Sichuan University. Amongst the older generation of Sichuanese writers, he was one of the rare people with a profound interest in natural science. He was also curious about the unknown. When Shi Bo, the editor-in-chief of The Journal of UFO Research visited him in Chengdu, he had an entire speech about dozens of examples of humans encountering UFOs, convinced that extraterrestrial civilizations existed.
English-speakers have been given enough information through the Hugo packet to make it clear that this is a major and important compendium of interviews with seven crucial people in the history of the development of science fiction in China. Unfortunately only one is a woman (Yang Xiao), but this is clearly a work in progress. Not easily available outside China, other than through the Hugo packet.
1) Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes, by Rob Wilkins
Second paragraph of third chapter:
Granny Pratchett, Terry’s paternal grandmother, rolled her own cigarettes. Then, having smoked them, she would take the butts from the ashtray, pick the paper apart and return any strands of unburnt tobacco to the tin where she kept her supply. Waste not, want not. As Terry wrote in a short essay about her in 2004, ‘As a child this fascinated me, because you didn’t need to be a mathematician to see that this meant there must have been some shreds of tobacco she’d been smoking for decades, if not longer.’
As I wrote when this was up for the BSFA Award (which it won), this is a very good book about a very important subject. A lot of us know parts of the Terry Pratchett story – I first heard him speak in public in Cambridge in, I think, 1987, and last saw him at the 2010 Discworld Convention, and spoke to him a couple of times in between. It’s lovely to have it all between two covers, with the laughs and the tears, and with Rob also explaining the complicated nature of his relationship with Terry over the years, beginning as amanuensis and ending as nurse. I am voting for it and I expect that others will do so as well. You can get it here.
Here is a nice photo that I took of Rob Wilkins with Aliette de Bodard, the evening that they both won BSFA Awards in April. (The two winners who I myself voted for.)
Best Novel | Best Novella | Best Novelette | Best Short Story | Best Graphic Story or Comic | Best Related Work | Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) | Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist | Lodestar Award for Best YA Book | Astounding Award for Best New Writer