I had wanted to get more posts up on Hugo-worthy works than I did, but time, as always, proved fleeting. I previously posted on the Best Novel, Best Graphic Story, Best Fan Writer, and Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form categories. Below are some updates to those categories, as well as several works in categories I haven’t covered previously.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted may be the best fantasy novel I’ve read since A Game of Thrones. Hell, it may be the best fantasy novel I’ve read since Lord of the Rings. It’s a beautifully, evocatively written standalone that still manages to combine epic magic and evil with deeply human characters.
The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen
Why does it seem like people aren’t talking about The Dark Forest? It may be even better than The Three-Body Problem—my pick for the Hugo last year and the eventual winner. Liu is still greatly concerned with Big Ideas of science and society, and the storytelling is better.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan, Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove, The Red Trilogy by Linda Nagata
The Sunset Mantle by Alter Reiss
There is a terrific great, final battle at the end of the book, but Sunset Mantle is driven for most of the book by Cete acting against and reacting to his enemies within the law and custom of his people. Review here.
The Builders by Daniel Polansky
A mouse, a stoat, a possum, a salamander, a badger, a mole, and an owl walk into a bar . . . and from that one-note joke comes a damn fine, and dark, weird western. Review here.
The Lord of Ragnarök by Albert Cowdrey (F&SF Sept/Oct)
It’s atmospheric and a little bizarre and most of all full of characters entirely unbeholden to modern thinking.
BEST SHORT STORY
DreamPet by Bruce McAllister (F&SF Nov/Dec)
McAllister’s story manages to be incredibly dark, deal with serious family drama of the “literary” sort, and have a distinct and integral speculative element.
BEST RELATED WORK
How Star Trek Explains the Decline of Liberalism by Timothy Sandefur
Star Trek has always reflected American liberalism—or, more accurately, American leftism—and Sandefur uses the history of Star Trek to show how American leftism has degraded to the point that it can’t fairly be labeled as “liberal” at all. Link.
A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte
I think it’s safe to say at this point that there have been far more books written about Tolkien and Lewis than they ever wrote themselves. Loconte’s book is exceptional in tying the two together and to both their faith and their experiences in WWI. When their contemporaries were resigning themselves to the Lost Generation (albeit while making some damn fine literature of their own) Tolkien and Lewis reacted to the Great War by rejecting the moral cynicism and fierce anti-war sentiments that embodied the post-WWI years in favor of an insistence “that war could inspire noble sacrifice for humane purpose,” and that despite their shared belief that victory in this world was unattainable. That belief in both evil and good, and in the ability and value in fighting against impossible odds, help make their works so special.
(I should also point out that the work of everyone I talked about in my Best Fan Writer post is eligible in this category as well, as each wrote a series of related posts.)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
It’s a testament to the quality of the writing that much of the movie, and the early part at that, is devoted to telling a story seemingly unrelated to time travel or Ethan Hawke’s character’s quest and that it still works. The twists look to telegraphed at first, but by the time you’ve figured one out the movie is well on its way to setting up a few more.
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Among other works, Monti edited Going Dark and The Trials by Linda Nagata, and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu.
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
John Picacio has to be my favorite artist active today. I don’t like his work this year quite as much as I do past years, but it’s still just tremendous art. Link to 2015 art.
Gianni did the wonderful artwork that fills George R.R. Martin’s collected Dunk and Egg stories.
Chan is a guy who, like John Picacio, is head and shoulders above most other artists with pretty much every piece of art. Also like John Picacio, I have his work (the new cover for A New Spring) up at my house. He’s drawn some pretty incredible stuff this year too, including the above.
Simonetti is a French artist with a really incredible artist with a really incredible portfolio, including the above from 2015.