Let me start by making something as clear as I possibly can.
This is not a slate. These are not recommendations. If you submit a Hugo ballot that looks exactly like this you are a deeply lame human being who should feel bad about yourself.
That said, I maintain my position that talking openly about our Hugo preferences and thoughts is the best way to combat attempts to hijack the Hugos while we wait for E Pluribus Hugo to pass in August. And probably beyond that, because frankly, it’s just a good idea to have a public conversation so that more casual fans who want to play the Game of Rockets can do so.
So here we go, with selected commentary. Retro Hugos will be done another day.
The Fifth Season (N.K. Jemisin)
Easily the best of the pack here. Really hoping Patreon backers pick it for a bonus essay. This is a genuine masterpiece with a last line almost as astonishing as its first.
The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu)
Better than the first volume, as I’ve said, and the first volume was a perfectly acceptable Hugo winner.
The Vorrh (Brian Catling)
I’ve been switching this and Seveneves back and forth repeatedly, and may continue to do so as the voting deadline approaches. Or maybe I’ll drop the next one.
The Shepherd’s Crown (Terry Pratchett)
I admit this as a ridiculously sentimental pick that would not be on my ballot were it not the author’s last book. Still, a Hugo ballot without it feels unimaginable to me.
The Water Knife (Paolo Bacigalupi)
Brutally materialist SF.
Chasm (Nick Land)
More interesting and compelling right-wing science fiction than literally anything on the ballot last year. The failure of the Puppies to nominate Phyl-Undhu last year is really the best demonstration available of how, much like “Men’s Rights Advocates” do not actually advocate for the rights of men so much as attack women, they do not actually advocate for a right-wing literature so much as complain that people enjoy different books than them. I mean, Land’s even a blithering racist. What more could they possibly want?
Witches of Lynchford (Paul Cornell)
As a Paul Cornell fan who eagerly awaited the release of No Future, it’s thrilling to see him killing it in the mainstream.
Binti (Nnedi Okorafor)
I went looking for some compelling afrofuturism, because this seemed like a really good year to honor it. Man did I find it.
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (Kai Ashante Wilson)
Rolling in the Deep (Mira Grant)
An Evolutionary Myth (Bo-Young Kim)
Stumbled on this late while trawling the Hugo Nominees Wikia for a fifth choice, and was absolutely blown away by it. Easily my pick of the five.
Elektrograd: Rusted Blood (Warren Ellis)
The Dusty Hat (China Mieville)
The Corpse Archives (Kameron Hurley)
The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild (Catherynne M. Valente)
Pocosin (Ursula Vernon)
Another category with a clear and unquestionable frontrunner for me, this is one of my favorite authors at her best. You can fairly complain that Vernon has written this exact story before. It doesn’t matter; this is one of her best.
Ghost Champagne (Charlie Jane Anders)
The Goat Variations (Jeff VanderMeer)
Women at Exhibition (E. Lily Yu)
It’s About Ethics in Revolution (Kameron Hurley)
Reader, I loled.
Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons (Phil Sandifer)
TARDIS Eruditorum (Phil Sandifer)
I won’t lie, I think both of them are the equal of anything that’s won in this category in recent memory. I’m also hopelessly biased. Nevertheless, i’m nominating them. That said, the Hugos are, by design, a popularity contest, and I doubt I’m popular enough. Seriously, don’t copy my ballot exactly.
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings (Philip and Carol Zaleski)
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Felicia Day)
In a quantum superposition with Warren Ellis’s Cunning Plans. I probably enjoyed the Ellis more, but in a category long on my own idiosyncrasies due to my two self-noms I decided to err on the side of popular taste. Probably.
Invisible 2 (Edited by Jim C. Hines)
Questionable Content (Jeph Jacques)
Doesn’t look like there was a new print collection of this, so it would just be for the 2015 strips, but it’s been a consistently amazing comic, and a list that includes it, Ms. Marvel, XKCD, Digger, and Saga would make me happy.
The Wicked + The Divine Vol 2: Fandemonium (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)
It’s WicDiv; easily my favorite comic series.
Bitch Planet Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Kelly Sue DeConnick and Vallentine De Landro)
This is not a category where I’m comfortable saying I have a clear frontrunner – these are just too good a set of five – this is certainly the one I am most invested in seeing on the ballot.
A properly surprising Alan Moore comic, in that I don’t think anyone expected a fiercely intelligent, genuinely terrifying sci-fi/zombie story from him in 2015. He gave us one anyway.
A late addition that caused me to regretfully nudge Ms. Marvel off, this is Warren Ellis tackling accelerationism, with a direct parody of the CCRU from which Nick Land emerged. Beautiful and intelligent and vibrantly 2015, and also I just have no idea which of the three volumes of Ms. Marvel to drop in 2015 to pick.
Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Hat tip to Vox Day for the realization/reminder that video games are eligible for Best Dramatic Presentation. Although his selections are an underwhelming set of mediocrities, it’s a good idea, and 2015 did bring us a SF/F game whose contributions to storytelling are going to be remembered and discussed for decades; a game that’s already been voted the greatest ever. Consider this my one outright recommendation – nominate Undertale for a Hugo. Please.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
I wish people would nominate whole seasons of TV more in this category. This is an obvious one, being a discrete and single tale over seven hours.
Unequivocally the best sci-fi film of the year.
Jessica Jones Season 1
I can’t imagine nominating a Netflix series in any other category than long form.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Conspicuously edging out both Star Wars and The Martian. Notably, it’s an astonishingly good year for science fiction when neither of those films make your Hugo ballot.
Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
Heaven Sent/Hell Bent
Two nominees from Doctor Who, but in my defense, it remains the best science fiction/fantasy show on television by a mile.
I almost considered Game of Thrones for long form, as its real genius this year lay in taming Martin’s two worst books, but this episode was simply too good to pass up nominating, and long form was awfully crowded.
Blackstar music video
David Bowie is eligible for a Hugo. This is not a statement that will ever be true again (“Lazarus” isn’t SF/F). Seriously, an episode of The Flash or something edging this off the ballot would be as appalling as Annie Hall beating Star Wars for the Oscar.
John Scalzi is Not a Very Popular Author and I Myself am Quite Popular audiobook
Cause it’s funny.
Editor (Long Form)
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
David G. Hartwell
One of several categories in which my selections were constructed partially on the logic that the people Vox Day screwed out of Hugos last year should get another bite at the apple. Hartwell was not in the top five of the screwed, but given his recent passing it felt right to put him on. Yes, I know he refused the nomination for several years. But he can’t do that anymore, now can he?
Editor (Short Form)
John Joseph Adams
J.H. Williams III
Three comics artists of the sort who don’t get recognized in this category as often as they should, two safe pick perennials.
The Book Smugglers
A mixture of last year’s contenders and places that published stuff I liked this year.
The Drink Tank
A Dribble of Ink
Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men
Strong favorite of the picks in which I am not hopelessly biased.
The obvious compromise candidate: a leftist podcast that’s had Vox Day on it.
The Coode Street Podcast
The Skiffy and Fanty Show
For his astonishingly good reviews of Phonogram and his equally brilliant Have Them Fight God Tumblr.
George R.R. Martin
His not-a-blog contained what was probably the most materially important anti-Puppy writing, even if I think he took a hopelessly compromised moderate position. Also, it would be funny.
Cover artist for all Eruditorum Press books, but paid low enough that this is the right category for him.
Brad W. Foster
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Not thrilled that he’s on Vox’s slate, obviously, but what do you want? The phrase “deserves a Hugo” is problematic in many ways, but this award is famously not a Hugo, and it’s frankly unimaginable that Weir wouldn’t get it.