Another year, another Hugo nomination season! Once again, nominations for the Hugo Awards
are open, to anyone who is currently a member of this year's upcoming Worldcon in Dublin, Ireland
or last year's Worldcon in San Jose
. Nominations are open until March 15th, so that's plenty of time to read all those things you've been meaning to get to before nominations close… right?
Never fear, the editors of Lady Business are here to provide our suggestions as you decide what to prioritize on your TBR. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that might be worthy of a Hugo nomination, and nor is it meant to be. It's just a selection of some of the works we loved in 2018, and a few reasons why we loved them, along with a selection of the books, stories, and shows we're still hoping to check out ourselves. Each editor's opinions are their own, although we suspect you'd find a fair amount of agreement if we had sat down to discuss our picks.
Best NovelHead On by John Scalzi
— I'm sure everyone else will be focusing their enthusiasm on The Consuming Fire
, and they aren't wrong to do so, but I love this series even more, and I found this particular story of sports and murder to be particularly engaging. [KJ]Witchmark by C.L. Polk
— In 2018, I didn't uhhhh read that much SFF? So Best Novel, like many categories, will be a delightful surprise to me! I am definitely nominating Witchmark
, though, for its fabulous world building, excellent characters, and exploration of power. I chatted with C.L. Polk for Fangirl Happy Hour
and she's got so many incredible ideas! I can't wait to read all the books she writes. [Renay]
Best NovellaArtificial Condition by Martha Wells
— Murderbot continues its journey, and makes new friends despite its best efforts. Picking just one of the three novellas that came out this year was difficult, but I have to give this one the nod thanks largely to ART, one of my new favorite characters of all time. [KJ]Prime Meridian
by Silvia Moreno Garcia — The perfect novella for everyone who wanted more 'mundane' SFF last year. It's a very simple story about a woman with dreams that seem way out of reach, working a job she doesn't like, and isn't really suited for, to make enough money to keep going. Moreno Garcia is the master of pulling wonder out of the ordinary. [Jodie]The Tea Master and the Detective
by Aliette de Bodard — I loved
this novella. I gave it a glowing recommendation
last year and stand by every word. [Renay]
Best Short Story"And Yet"
- A C Greenblatt (Uncanny magazine) — This is the category I've read the most from so far, so I've tried to narrow down my recs but there's A LOT of great, eligible short fiction out there. What I'm saying is that there are quite a lot of recs from me in this category #sorry/notsorry. Let me start by recommending this fantastic haunted house story about a disabled narrator intent on investigating parallel worlds. It's a creepy, creepy story about growing up, fear, and family, and I loved the narrator's final choice. [Jodie]"She Still Loves the Dragon"
- Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny magazine) — She Still Loves the Dragon is a story I'm still making my mind up about, but which I'll give serious consideration to nominating because it's such a thinker. It's about a female knight who visits a dragon, and finds love but, surprise, it's complicated. Really I think it's a story about trust, healing, and re-building, but yeah I'm still pondering it. [Jodie]"The Date"
- R. W Kalwa (Uncanny magazine) — A sensuous story about a woman who goes on a date with a monster woman, and loves it. This story is invigorating, and a lot of fun if you like reading about confident, vibrant women who could destroy anyone who displeases them. [Jodie] "A Priest of Vast and Distant Places"
- Cassandra Khaw (Apex) — An emotional, quiet story about a priest of airplanes caught between her love for home and her calling. It's tender, bitter-sweet, and very original. [Jodie] "Wild Ones by Vanessa Fogg"
(Bracken magazine) — This is one of the most tender, poignant short stories I read last year. It's about the tension between realising your wildest dreams and the tethering love you feel for those around you. [Jodie]"Five Functions of Your Bionosaur"
- Rachel K. Jones (Robot Dinosaurs) — One of my favourite stories from the Robot Dinosaurs! Project that started last year. It's a beautiful, short 'five things' piece about aging tech and friendship that manages to hit both sad and heartwarming sweet spots. [Jodie] "What to Do When It's Nothing But Static"
- Cassandra Khaw (Apex) — If you like mundane SFF or Pacific Rim fic I think you'll enjoy this story, which features kaiju driving Aunties reminiscing and hanging out. The story is overlaid with deep emotional feelings about a missing member of the group. [Jodie] "The Good Mothers' Home for Wayward Girls"
- Izzy Wasserstein (PseudoPod) — A creepy, feminist story about a sinister "school" for girls controlled by mysterious guardians who claim to keep the girls within the walls for their own good. [Jodie]"A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies"
by Alix E. Harrow (Apex) — This story is already getting quite a bit of awards buzz, and it deserves every bit of it. It's about librarians, and how books can help people in trouble, but with a magical twist which makes for more practical assistance. It's very heartfelt, and I think will appeal to any readers invested in the power of stories. [Jodie]"Flow"
- Marissa Lingen (Fireside Fiction) — Such a well constructed story about disability, family, magic, nature, and finding yourself as a woman. [Jodie]"The Triumphant Ward of the Railroad and the Sea"
- Sara Saab (Shimmer) — Just one of the oddest, most intriguing stories I've read all year about a competitive eater, a train, a set of strange towns and the sinister call of the sea. [Jodie]"Snake Season"
- Erin Roberts (The Dark) — A story that does not at all go how you assume it will at the beginning. This tale of a mother's concern about the development of her children is full of creeping unease. [Jodie]
Best SeriesThe Arcadia Project by Mishell Baker
— The first book of this series, Borderline
, got quite a bit of buzz, but I feel like the attention waned as further volumes were released, and that's a shame. The trilogy continues Millie's growth, brings her into satisfying relationships and fascinating political intrigue, and I loved every minute, even when it was difficult to read.[KJ]The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older
— I enjoy a good political thriller, and this trilogy delivers three in a row, not to mention the overarching story linking them all. Add to that a whole lot of thought-provoking ideas about the purpose and practice of democracy, and the power of information technology, and you've got a whole pile of KJ bait. And that's before we get to the great characters and some compelling romances. [KJ]The Chronicles of St Mary's
by Jodi Taylor — The series that got me through 2018. Knowing I could always pick up another adventure with the 'tea soaked disaster magnets' of St Marys kept me going through some days
last year. This is an often fun, often extremely emotional series about a set of historians who travel into the past in order to settle some of the biggest historical questions going. It's full of wonder, and snark, and unexpectedly big emotions. [Jodie]The Invisible Library series
by Genevieve Cogman — I love following Irene and Kai on their increasingly dangerous adventures to steal books for the Library, and preserve it from harm. These are just really fun adventure SFF books for readers who like alternate worlds, books, and thrills. [Jodie]The Three Dark Crowns
series by Kendare Blake — This series is YA so it's worth keeping it in mind when you're considering what to nominate for the Lodestar Award. I haven't read the most recent volume in the series yet, but this is one of my favourite series at the moment. It's about three magical sisters, separated at birth, and groomed by powerful factions for an age old contest to the death. It's a dark series full of political plots, secrets, and elemental magic red in tooth and claw. I particularly like its focus on female power, and family. [Jodie]Xuya
by Aliette de Bodard — This series, made up of many interconnected pieces of short fiction, is eligible this year due to the publication of the (excellent) The Tea Master and the Detective
. If y'all like sentient spaceships and space opera founded on alternate history premises and relationships between women, what are you waiting for!!! [Renay]
Best Related WorkThe Archive of Our Own
by The Organization for Transformative Works — I want this nominated every single year because it is an absolutely amazing trove of speculative fiction works and speculative fiction works ABOUT speculative fiction works and speculative takes on existing cultural narratives and basically it counts, it counts, it counts. There are major contributions from the dev team every single year, so every year there's a new reason to nominate! [Ira]The Archive of Our Own
by The Organization for Transformative Works — No, you're not seeing things, I am reccing this again. Guess what! The platform itself! Is a piece of fanwork! By fans! Anyway, I have been on this bandwagon for about four years now and I'm back on my bullshit in 2019. I love AO3, that it exists, that we no longer have to worry about the fanwork we share there getting monetized or deleted because investors are having a temper tantrum, I am so grateful to all the fans who work hard (as volunteers! At butt o'clock, sometimes!) to make it possible, and it's great and important. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. [Renay]Fanlore
The Organization for Transformative Works — I absolutely know the AO3 counts, but I also
know that Fanlore counts. This is an irreplaceable resource on the history of fandom and how fans relate to media. It's not as well known as the AO3, but it deserves a nod just as much! [Ira]
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)Black Panther
— I mean, seven Oscar nominations. Do I need to say more? Black Panther
is truly an amazing feat of storytelling, costuming, and characterisation; all wrapped up with a real commitment to presenting a political superhero film. I would nominate this film for Letitia Wright's turn as Shuri alone! [Jodie]Black Panther
— Any rec for Black Panther
cannot be seconded hard enough! I wrote a whole post on how this is an entirely different and yet very back-to-the-roots superhero film
, and the movie also came up in a different post on portrayals of black femininity
and how men relate to black women. CLEARLY I am ready to talk about this movie A LOT anytime, but for now I will just say it is excellently crafted speculative fiction and will be on my Hugo ballot. [Ira]Dr Who, Series 11
— While there are individual episodes of Series 11 that I loved, I really feel that this series not only deserves to be recommended as a whole, but works best when viewed as a whole. Everyone on the team for this new series, and new direction, should be SO PROUD. I honestly never
thought we would see a female Doctor in my lifetime (I'm in my thirties so let that sink in). And I'm so glad the creative team for this series include diverse writers, and actors; given the chance to tell a whole range of stories. I love the team of companions, and Jodi Whittaker, and I think everyone involved reserves to be recognised. And, despite the fact that Series 11 is very much a series of made up of a set of individual stories without a huge, joined up arc, to me that kind of recommends that it be nominated as a whole. You need to view the entire thing to see how many moments of revolutionary newness this series contains. [Jodie]She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Season 1
— This show is absolutely amazing whether you're a returning She-Ra fan or totally new to the franchise. The show passes the Bechdel Test without a sweat like every minute, let alone per episode, and it gives an incredible diversity of female characters in terms of body types, skin colour, interests, gender presentations, sexualities... I mean it's a show about a bunch of young women and ACTS IT. I know the show's been criticized for retreading ground covered by Steven Universe
or Avatar: The Last Airbender
but I am really not understanding the problem with young people getting more media that's diverse, feminist, queer-friendly, and tackling complicated themes like abuse and colonialism. I mean... what's the problem here? More voices speaking about a problem? Yeah this is a very emphatic rec from me! [Ira]Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
— The best animated film I've seen in a very, very long time, certainly the best Spider-Man film ever, and just an all-around wonderful movie. Not only because the writing and vocal performances are steller, not only because the story centers Miles Morales and his black and Latinx family, but because of how perfectly the art and animation serve the storytelling. [KJ]Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
— SECONDING ANOTHER REC with absolutely no shame because this is a benchmark
movie in terms of the craft of animation. The staggering
amount of sheer artistry
that went into this film is absolutely above and beyond, and that's not even getting into its politics. It's diverse, it's feminist, it's amazing. Vote for it. [Ira]The Haunting of Hill House
— On an entirely different mood from my previous rec, this show is incredible
. It is impeccably crafted, impeccably acted, and a delight to rewatch once you have the whole picture. It's hard to discuss this show at any length without spoilers, but it is haunting and creepy in the best ways. It's a family drama at heart, wrapped up in a ghost story, but what matters is the way the family members relate to each other. The show has incredibly smart things to say about the nature of shared trauma and how the same events can be experienced and interpreted so differently by different people. This is a truly excellent use of a speculative fiction framing to tell an incredibly human story. [Ira]
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)Agents of Shield: "The End"
— I have maintained, and will continue to maintain, that AoS is one of the best SF shows on television, and the Season 6 finale is an excellent example of why. Character growth, the long-term consequences of choices and actions having real effects, interesting ideas about organizational dynamics. The show took a couple of sharp curves at the end of the season -- it has rewritten the rules of its own universe before, and it's rarely afraid to take those changes to the logical conclusions -- and I'm excited for what might come next. Unfortunately, there's no good stand-alone episode from 2018, so I think the finale is the best choice. [KJ]The Good Place: "Janet(s)"
— The last episode of 2018, near the end of season 3, is just so good and so hilarious so poignant and I don't want to say anything else about it. Just, please watch this show? It's so, so wonderful. [KJ]The Haunting of Hill House
: "Two Storms" — This episode is the pivot point of the series both chronologically and thematically, and, in a show already crafted to precision, this episode shines
. The cinematography and direction is beyond stellar, telling two chronologically disparate stories through the use of immaculately crafted continuous shots that transition between the time periods. This episode deserves so many awards on technical merit alone, but it also shines in its writing and its delivery of good, good haunt. Just a round of applause, well deserved. [Ira]
Best SemiprozineThe Dark Magazine
— This quarterly horror magazine is run by Sean Wallace and Silvia Moreno-Garcia so you know it's going to be full of quality stories (again, one of which has made my list of recs for Best Short Story). The Dark is where I go if I want atmospheric, surprising horror that does more than shock. And the magazine makes a big effort to publish stories by chromatic authors. [Jodie]Fireside Fiction
— I almost want to nominate Fireside just for publishing Flow
, it was that good. Their choice to publish the Fisher of Bones
serial by Sarah Gailey, which ended in January 2018, also does much to recommend them. Outside of fiction, they publish the #BlackSpecFic
report every year. [Jodie]Uncanny Magazine
— I've been reviewing stories from Uncanny for SFF Reviews and they've had a really great year publishing a ton of great stories (three of which have ended up in my recs for Best Short Story) and articles. [Jodie]The Book Smugglers
— This hurts me because this is the last year The Book Smugglers is eligible in this category, because they had to end the publishing arm. I loved all the work Ana and Thea were doing on The Book Smugglers, and I'm so sad they couldn't find a niche of readers for the excellent fiction they were putting out. They introduced me to so many new authors I hope to follow, they published so many stories that were so excellent, they worked so incredibly hard to bring diverse voices to SFF and I will miss them in the short fiction field. [Renay]
Best Fan WriterFoz Meadows
— Foz continues to knock it out of the park with excellent fandom meta on her own journal, and now she writes a monthly column
on enjoying pop culture for The Book Smugglers. [KJ]
Lodestar Award (Best YA Novel)Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
— I started this book without realizing it was the first in a series, and so I ended it with my jaw on the floor and unable to accept that I couldn't have the rest of it in my hands right. Now. Fortunately I only have to wait another month or so. A story about two young women discovering their own power, and a young man learning about the limits of his, and what you do when you discover your world is built on the bones of violence and oppression. [KJ]Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
— I just finished this novel about African American girls being trained to be 'Attendants'; women who protect rich, white women from zombies in an America where slavery has been outlawed but similar systems still keep racial inequality in place. This book has a great premise, a solid structure which keeps the reader on their toes, and good surprise twist at the end. The narrator, Jane, is snarky, practical, brave, and very aware of how the world works. And I enjoyed seeing the enemies to friends storyline develop between her and Kate. [Jodie]
The TBR (Planning to read/check out before the nomination period ends)
I want to check out Girls of Paper and Fire
by Natasha Ngan, Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman, Two Dark Reigns
, and The Cruel Prince
by Holly Black for the Lodestar Award. And I fancy trying The Poppy War
by R. F. Kuang, The Book of M
by Peng Sheppard, The Psychology of Time Travel
by Kate Mascarenhas, Before Mars
by Emma Newman, The Calculating Stars
by Mary Robinette Kowal, and Rosewater
for the Best Novel category. I have one eligible Novella left lying around the house unread which is In The Vanishers' Palace
. Are short story collections eligible in Best Related Work do we think? If so I'm going to finally finish Kameron Hurley's short story collection Apocalypse Nyx
, get to The Underwater Ballroom Society
, edited by Stephanie Burgis and try to pick up N. K. Jemisin's How Long 'til Black Future Month?
. Yeah, good luck, me :P [Jodie]
As usual, I need to spend the next month or so catching up on all my short fiction reading. Once the Nebula nominations are out, I'll make a point of reading as many stories as I can from the short list. I also want to look at The Underwater Ballroom Society
, largely for the story by Stephanie Burgis that it contains, and watch Janelle Monae's Dirty Computer
. Finally, I don't know if I have time for more novels, but if I do they'll probably be The Calculating Stars
by Mary Robinette Kowal and Witchmark
by C.L. Polk. [KJ]
I'm basically going to panic the last two weeks we can nominate and hit up the Hugo rec spreadsheet
for stuff I've forgotten about, which is fine, since that's what I made it for—additions welcome! :D :D :D [Renay]