I’ve just finished the Human Nature/Family of Blood post. Those who enjoy when I play absurd structural games will be happy. Those who find me unbearable when I do that will probably find September 18th a somewhat disappointing experience. Or, at least, the part of September 18th where they check my blog. I don’t want to suggest that, like, if they go out for ice cream the scoop will fall off their cone or anything.
So, the Hugo Awards happened. I am oddly fascinated by the Hugos, or, at least, the three categories in which I feel like I have any right to have opinions, which are the Dramatic Presentation awards and the graphic story award. They’re the perfect mix of actually recognizing quality and being utterly idiosyncratic. And so I am going to opine on them.
Doctor Who lost Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) for only the second time since the 2006 awards. The three Moffat episodes for 2012 were nominated, along with an episode of Fringe and the actual winner, the Game of Thrones episode “Blackwater.” This is on balance probably fair, though I’ll happily defend the virtues of The Snowmen. “Blackwater” was a really bloody good piece of television.
At this point what I’m really interested in is the 2014 awards. Dramatic Presentation is at times little more than a “whose fandom is bigger” award, which is why it was possible to guess the 2012 winner as soon as Neil Gaiman’s episode of Doctor Who was even announced. Game of Thrones frankly had an undistinguished 2013 run. One assumes “The Rains of Castamere” will get nominated, although the field is fairly open if it wants to do what it did in 2012 and compete in Long Form as a full season. But I’m skeptical that it deserves to win. Doctor Who will surely be in with both the 50th Anniversary and Christmas specials. For all that Neil Gaiman seems unbeatable, I doubt Nightmare in Silver will get nominated (though if he doesn’t win for Ocean at the End of the Lane, something went wrong). And, of course, we’ll have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which offers Joss Whedon, who beat Doctor Who with Dr. Horrible in 2009. So Doctor Who vs Joss Whedon vs Game of Thrones. It’ll be, I think, the most exciting year for the category in a long time.
Clearly the award should go to Welcome to Night Vale. You do all listen to Welcome to Night Vale, right?
In Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) we have an interesting category. The original Lord of the Rings films were bulletproof at the Hugos, to the point that in 2004 the acceptance speech they did for the MTV Movie Awards featuring Gollum won out over the season finale of Buffy and two episodes of Firefly in what is surely the single stupidest Hugo award ever. But The Hobbit clearly didn’t do nearly as well. The Hunger Games also lost out, which is less surprising. And of course one of the two Joss Whedons was going to lose, and it was always going to be Cabin in the Woods. But for The Avengers to beat out Looper, which was a terribly good proper sci-fi movie is, if not surprising, somewhat disappointing. Back in 2010 Moon, another sci-fi film that was striking in its engagement with golden age-style storytelling pulled off quite a coup, beating Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek. That Looper failed to do so feels like a real shift in the order of things, although, realistically, The Avengers was probably unbeatable.
And then there’s graphic story, where what’s strangest is usually what’s nominated in the first place. The award has been around for five years. For the first three Girl Genius held off everything, which was… strange, in many ways. For comparison, Girl Genius has never won an Eisner, which is the major comic award. Admittedly, not everything eligible for an Eisner is also eligible for a Hugo, but the disparity is strange. Last year the winner was Ursula Vernon’s Digger, which is absolutely fantastic – Vernon is wonderful, and Digger is one of the best things ever. It’s a choice I cannot argue with, but it’s an utter dark horse candidate – its victory is just mind-wrenchingly unlikely. But oh so justified. The whole thing is free online, by the way, and if you’ve not read it, you’re terribly wrong.
This year it was Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples’s Saga, which has been cleaning up every significant award to speak of, and deservedly so. But the stuff it won over is, as usual, a completely bizarre and idiosyncratic list. This is an award I reliably just stare at and fail to even understand the logic of.
So, thoughts on the Hugos? Picks for what should win in next year’s ceremony? Comments on the categories I didn’t talk about? Griping about how TARDIS Eruditorum and I should have been nominated? (No, I didn’t really expect that anyone would complain about that. Least of all me.)