Look Upon Their Works

... And enjoy a hearty laugh at the incestuous wasteland the once-prestigious Hugo Awards have become.

Predictions that the Hugo field would degenerate into a circle jerk of olpdub purse puppies beloved by editors in New York--and pretty much no one else--have been realized ahead of schedule.

Here's a partial list of this year's finalists.

Best Novel

  • The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)

Best Novella

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))
  • The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press/Gallery)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)

Best Novelette

  • “The Archronology of Love”, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, April 2019)
  • “Away With the Wolves”, by Sarah Gailey (Uncanny Magazine: Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue, September/October 2019)
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2019)
  • Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection (Amazon))
  • “For He Can Creep”, by Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com, 10 July 2019)
  • “Omphalos”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))

Best Short Story

  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
  • “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)
  • “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (Tor.com, 24 July 2019)
  • “A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
  • “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)


One positive outcome of Sad Puppies was forcing the Worldcon crowd to admit that the Hugos reflect their clique's debased preferences, not wider SFF fandom's tastes. Indeed, that collection of finalists could never be mistaken for a list of contemporary sci fi fans' favorite reads.

Instead, it's the same Death Cult agitprop repackaged in the same handful of unimaginative oldpub covers written by the same Inner Party darlings that show up among the Hugo finalists again and again and again.

A cursory glance at the last few years of Hugo nominations reveals the well-worn Death Cult career path. Do a podcast where circus sideshow folk make approved noises about the Worldcon clique, graduate to a regular column at Tor.com reviewing books by the Worldcon clique, and finally publish a book with Tor that gets a Hugo from the Worldcon clique. Once a year, the Mad Hatter running the operation tells everybody to change places.

This morbid charade was already fascinating to watch. It's gonna get downright hilarious now that oldpub's accelerating death has turned the mad tea party into a frantic game of musical chairs.

Enjoy the show, and as always ...

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier


  1. I mentioned this on the twitter but the only things I know about from that list are:

    JMS's "Becoming Superman"
    The Series Nomination for "The Expanse."
    Die vol. 1 for the comic book category.

    As for the "big" hitters above: I don't give two shits about any of them.

    This reader finds books that entertain. These do not. I even look at the sample pages. All it does is remind me why I don't give them money.

    1. You will have exciting new opportunities to not give them money in the near future!

  2. As a Rabid Puppy I read everything offered for awards. I was beyond appalled and would never subject myself to that again.

  3. I haven't been paying attention, is this the 2019 lineup?

    Might as well be.

    1. I've never heard of any of them. Too busy crowdfunding awesome reader friendly content.

  4. The Hugo Awards, presented to Tor, by Tor, for Tor.

    1. It's gonna be awkward after Tor drops all of their authors except for the dead Campbellians they earn the lion's share of their revenues from.

    2. If it weren't for double standards, they wouldn't have any at all.

  5. The most amusing nom this year is the one they are giving to Ng for her rant/diatrible/slander against John W. Campbell during last year's Hugo Awards while accepting the best new author award.

    Talk about a circle-jerk!!

    The only good thing that came from that episode was the Hugo's throwing Campbell's name off the award. It allowed the Helicon Awards to name one of its awards in Campbell's honor:

    The John W. Campbell Diversity in Sci-fi/Fantasy Award. Which was presented to Larry Correia.

    If Brian will forgive the shamless posting of a link to the awards?


    1. Nice! At least I know more writers on that nomination list.

  6. now that oldpub's accelerating death has turned the mad tea party into a frantic game of musical chairs.

    And almost none of them are making any real money. As I’ve heard said about inside ball in academia, the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low.

    1. Excellent observation. Something doesn't wash when I can make a living in newpub while CHORF darlings with books in the Amazon top 2000 need day jobs.

  7. I guess it would be funny if I recognized any of those people, but since the heavy hitters like Correia, Anspach, Cole, Richard Fox, Mark Wandrey and Brian Niemeier aren't on the list, it's some sort of loserville loser-party for losers.

    1. In all honesty, a lot of the Torlings outsell me. But as I mentioned above, they need day jobs while I don't--mostly due to oldpub's unconscionable royalties.

    2. Sure you can pay your bills and all, but does that really mean much compared to being able to hang out with the cool kids like N. K. Jemisin and the used to be cool kids like John Scalzi. Even you have to admit that not being able to provide for your family is a small price to pay for being able to bask in the glow of such greatness. And letting publishers steal you blind is a small price to pay to be a "real" writer.

    3. I’d rather take an industrial sander to my taint and rub rock salt in it than voluntarily spend time with the likes of scalzi and jemison

    4. They might outsell you, but from what you're saying, they might need to do so by 10 times to justify their horrible business model. In effect, your books actually sell for much, much more than theirs do. There's a few different ways to look at it, but end result is that from your perspective, the market is valuing your output much higher than theirs. The market, when buying a Tor author, only really values Tor. Which might provide a market or game theory rationale for the decline in oldpub quality and sales. Their model wrecked the market.

    5. The way it shakes out is that they get about a buck in royalties for each sale of an eBook priced at $9.99, while I get $3.45 for each one sold at $4.99.

    6. Are the margins thinner on print books? I would imagine so, as an ebook has no appreciable cost sunk into duplication.

    7. Yes. Amazon takes 35% on the back end for print books, which they won't let authors price below printing costs. All of my print books are priced to net me $2.00 per sale, which is the newpub standard.
      It still beats oldpub authors who get about $1.70 per sale of a $25 hardback.

  8. Is it bad i know who literally none of these people are

    1. At last year's WorldCom most of the staff didn't know that year's nominees either. That's not to suggest that the Hugo nominating and voting process is rigged or anything. No, I would not suggest that at all.

    2. If the award has no relationship to reality, which is to say actual readership, how would we tell the difference between a bogus but honest award and a bogusly crooked one?

  9. Isaac Asimov I know.

    E. E. Doc Smith I know.

    Robert Heinlein I know.

    Arthur C. Clark I know.

    Alan Dean Foster I know.

    Gene Roddenberry I know.

    But I confess I know NONE of the above nominees.

    And I must be really behind the times when I had to look up what CHORF meant. Lord, have mercy on a sinner like me.

    1. Yeah, CHORF never seemed to get much traction outside Puppy circles. It's pretty much obsolete since Death Cult describes the Worldcon crowd much better.

  10. Speaking of old pub. Here's the independent Catalan publishers plea to buy books and pick them up later when the cofinment was lifted.


    I contacted them and pointed asked where the ebooks and audiobook. As I was frustrated I couldn't buy the books because they weren't available in ebook and or unavailable outside of Spain
    Next week is Sant Jordi when publishers makec70% of their sales and it's been postponed until September.it's a catastrophe.


  11. By the way if you are wondering why libraries cannot spike their online books right now it is because of the arcane, corrupt and greedy trad pub companies determined to screw everyone from reader to author.

    I'm done trying to convince indie publishers to sell their e-books to public libraries, but if you just offered a low price - say 3x your going cover rate, and no gruesome leasing arrangements, libraries would snap it up.

    If you can get into Hoopla or Overdrive, of course.

    1. Good to know. I've been informed that my books are in a library or two.