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Seriously, I was busy watching the Women's World Cup Football. So, I guess I should be almost grateful to the racist misogynists for poisoning the Hugo ballots with poor quality work as it meant I had a lot less reading to get through. Except by the time I got round to reading the shorter-than-a-novel works, I'd forgotten how pervasive the poison was.

Full of good intentions, I started on the Best Short Story category. The first one was Turncoat and I didn't get far before... whyyyy is this so bad? Oh dear. And I promptly consulted a website which would help me avoid the bad.

So for the record, Best Novella, Best Short Story and Best Related Work got No Award from me. Best Novelette had one possible candidate, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, the Dutch author who's been nominated for the third year running. Unfortunately for him, I couldn't decide how much of The Day The World Turned Upside Down was pure metaphor and I disliked his protagonist anyway, so put No Award down for that category too.

Actually, it would get boring if I listed all my No Awards. But I wanted to take some responsibility, because although it doesn't affect me so much personally, I know a lot of people have agonised over what's happened to the Hugo Awards in the last couple of years and they have spent a lot of time deciding what would be the fair and right way to vote.

By the way, someone once gifted Wingnut a stamp that does actually say, "I don't have time to read this crap". I love that stamp. It was originally meant for students, but I wish I knew which box it was in.


Hugo Awards: Best Novel 2015

Months ago, I knew I would have a hard time choosing between The Goblin Emperor and Ancillary Sword. With the Hugo Award voting deadline coming up, I finished The Three-Body Problem this week and found myself with a Three Book Problem that I needed to have a good night's sleep on.

(1) The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison This promised to contain much court politics and intrigue and I was definitely looking forward to having a good wallow. As an added bonus, it's about what happens after a downtrodden individual has become the Chosen One, ie, emperor in this case, and how they come to terms with it. But what makes me want to give Addison the Hugo is that she presents us with a protagonist who is a fundamentally decent person.

(2) Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie The first novel in this trilogy, Ancillary Justice, was a compactly written space opera that won all the awards last year. Instead of going bigger and better with Sword, Leckie chose to explore her themes of colonialism, power and identity in a smaller setting with a more intimate focus on her protagonist. A good choice and I'd be happy to see Leckie win another Hugo for it.

(3) The Three-Body Problem - Cixin Liu This book is massively popular in China and has now, several years after its release, been translated into English by Ken Liu. In this first book in a series, messages are secretly being sent to aliens who might be invaders or saviours, or both. The numerous old school scientific info dumps were enjoyable, the numerous old school plot and character info dumps less so and they slowed down what could otherwise have read as a great tech thriller. That said, I look forward to reading more of this series and I wouldn't be at all upset if this got a Hugo.

(4) No Award Unfortunately, some racist misogynists got together and succeeded in getting their preferred works on the ballot. Because... they hate the Hugos so much that they want their side to win some. Even though some of "their" side turned out not to be on their side. Whatever, I don't have time for this, so No Award goes above their selections.


Or, what the hell just happened there?!!!

It's as well I couldn't watch the final live because I'd never have gotten to sleep afterward. This match had the extra interest of being a rerun of 2011's final, which Japan won after the USA fell apart in the penalty shootout.

The USA was my pick (just like, ahem, last time) because they were the most complete team. But I didn't think I'd be sitting there with my mouth hanging open when Carli Lloyd scored within three minutes of the whistle blowing. And that was just the start...

5' Why did I bother to close my mouth? The USA open up the Japanese defence again, so that their captain can score, again.

13' Lauren Holiday takes her turn. 3-0. I'll just keep my mouth open for the rest this match like I'm catching flies, it'll save time.

16' Just as well I was still catching flies. Hattrick for Lloyd with a shot from halfway! 4-0.

27' The Japanese clearly aren't going to lay down and die. That was one beautifully measured goal by Ogimi. 4-1. They sub on two fresh attackers, including veteran Homare Sawa who captained Japan to victory four years ago.

52' Own goal by Johnston thanks to a Japanese free kick. 4-2.

54' Should've kept eyes as well as mouth open. I blinked and there was another goal for the USA. 5-2. You can see all the goals here, btw.

The teams didn't seem to think this was enough because there was still plenty of attacking play. But there was no coming back for Japan. USA's set pieces were better and they didn't leave Japan a whole lot of time for their passing game. Big congrats to the winners, it was very much deserved.

As both teams have a number of big names who will be retiring soon, I look forward to seeing what the refreshed teams bring to the game in France in 2019!


New Year's Resolution - Take Up Your Pens!

hand writing a letter
Even though we're halfway through January, this seems like a good day to share the only New Year's resolution I ever made. I'm not sure what sparked it off, but a few years ago I decided to do something on the broad theme of human rights every day.

To increase the chances of my resolution succeeding, the actions had to be small and measurable. The main one was writing letters to governments and embassies regarding human rights abuses in their countries, mostly based off Amnesty's cases.

The actions also had to become a habit for the resolution to succeed. So that's how I wound up eating breakfast with one hand and saving the world with the other hand, every morning.

Due to the recent murders in Paris, I'm doing it again, although this time with slightly more focus on freedom of speech matters. Will you join me?

It doesn't have to be every day, if that doesn't work for you, but something regular would be good. Letter writing, signing petitions, they do have effect and it's better than putting your head in your hands in despair and doing nothing. Although that last is an understandable response to the horrors in Paris, Nigeria and elsewhere. Just not every day. Pick up a pen. Do something. Please.

My Hugo Votes: Best Novelette 2014

It's sad to have to employ the No Award Hammer again, but once it's out, it's out.

(1) “The Waiting Stars” - Aliette de Bodard. Here De Bodard brings the same high quality space opera that made me vote her into first place last year. The ending has a twist, which I only just saw coming.

(2) [Hugo winner] “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” - Mary Robinette Kowal. A lovely story about family. What happens when you get your dream, lose it and are offered it back at a high price? Unfortunately, the addition of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz doesn't actually add anything.

(3) No Award

(4) “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang. New technology contributes to widening gaps in how people perceive events and relationships. The story is destroyed partway through when a character misremembers something important about his daughter in a way that is absolutely not credible.

Right, I think that's all I'm going to get through tonight!