Sunday, September 1, 1996

1996 Hugo Award Finalists

Location: LAcon III in Anaheim, California.

Comments: The odd thing about Neal Stephenson's Best Novel win for The Diamond Age is not that he won the award - he deserved to. But rather, it is that this is the first time Stephenson appears on a Hugo list in any capacity. This is, I think, an important development. Traditionally, a writer would spend the early part of his career writing shorter fiction, getting it published in the various science fiction and fantasy oriented magazines, maybe garner a few nominations for their short work, and build their career for a while before tackling the challenge of writing a novel. But while Stephenson doesn't mark the end of that model, he certainly represents the changing nature of the publishing world. By the 1990s, short fiction, quite simply, wasn't as important as it had been in prior decades. I'm not certain, but it seems that leapfrogging the process of sharpening one's skills for a couple years with shorter fiction before tackling a novel-length work is problematic for genre fiction as a whole. It can work - witness the high quality of Stephenson's work - but I think something is being lost. For fans, there is less short fiction being produced, and for writers, there are fewer and fewer markets for them to make a living while honing their skills.

In happier news, 1996 was the year that my favorite television show of all time won its first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation when Babylon 5 took home the rocket trophy for the season two episode The Coming of Shadows. As far as I'm concerned, Babylon 5 should have won the Hugo in every year that it was eligible, but didn't. In this cycle of Hugo voting Straczynski took the rather unusual step of suggesting that fans vote for one episode of the season so as to concentrate the fan vote into one bloc, which explains the absence from the ballot of other great season two episodes like Confessions and Lamentations, Comes the Inquisitor, and The Fall of Night. I also have to wonder why Apollo 13 is on the nominating ballot. Granted it is a great movie, and I love it as much as anyone, but it is decidedly not science fiction or fantasy, so why was it nominated for a Hugo Award?

Best Novel

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Other Finalists:
Brightness Reef by David Brin
Remake by Connie Willis
The Terminal Experiment (serial title Hobson's Choice) by Robert J. Sawyer
The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter

Best Novella

The Death of Captain Future by Allen M. Steele

Other Finalists:
Bibi by Mike Resnick and Susan Shwartz
Fault Lines by Nancy Kress
A Man of the People by Ursula K. Le Guin
A Woman's Liberation by Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Novelette

Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly

Other Finalists:
The Good Rat by Allen M. Steele
Luminous by Greg Egan
Must and Shall by Harry Turtledove
TAP by Greg Egan
When the Old Gods Die by Mike Resnick

Best Short Story

The Lincoln Train by Maureen F. McHugh

Other Finalists:
A Birthday by Esther M. Friesner
Life on the Moon by Tony Daniel
TeleAbsence by Michael A. Burstein
Walking Out by Michael Swanwick

Best Nonfiction, Related, or Reference Work

Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by John Clute

Other Finalists:
Alien Horizons: The Fantastic Art of Bob Eggleton by Bob Eggleton
Spectrum 2: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by Cathy Burnett and Arnie Fenner
To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction by Joanna Russ
Yours, Isaac Asimov by Isaac Asimov, edited by Stanley Asimov

Best Dramatic Presentation

Babylon 5: The Coming of Shadows

Other Finalists:
12 Monkeys
Apollo 13
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine: The Visitor
Toy Story

Best Professional Editor

Gardner Dozois

Other Finalists:
Ellen Datlow
Scott Edelman
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Stanley Schmidt

Best Professional Artist

Bob Eggleton

Other Finalists:
Jim Burns
Thomas Canty
Don Maitz
Michael Whelan

Best Original Artwork

Dinotopia: The World Beneath by James Gurney

Other Finalists:
Bob Eggleton for Dankden by Marc Laidlaw
Bob Eggleton for Tide of Stars by Julia Ecklar
George H. Krauter for Renascance by Poul Anderson
Gary Lippincott for Tea and Hamsters by Michael Coney

Best Semi-Prozine

Locus edited by Charles N. Brown

Other Finalists:
Crank! edited by Bryan Cholfin
Interzone edited by David Pringle
The New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Ariel Haméon, and Tad Dembinski
Science Fiction Chronicle edited by Andrew Porter

Best Fanzine

Ansible edited by Dave Langford

Other Finalists:
Apparatchik edited by Andrew Hooper and Victor Gonzalez
Attitude edited by Michael Abbott, John Dallman, and Pam Wells
FOSFAX edited by Timothy Lane and Elizabeth Garrott
Lan's Lantern edited by George "Lan" Laskowski
Mimosa edited by Richard Lynch and Nicki Lynch

Best Fan Writer

Dave Langford

Other Finalists:
Sharon Farber
Andy Hooper
Evelyn C. Leeper
Joseph T. Major

Best Fan Artist

William Rotsler

Other Finalists:
Ian Gunn
Teddy Harvia
Joe Mayhew
Peggy Ranson

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

David Feintuch

Other Finalists:
Michael A. Burstein
Felicity Savage
Sharon Shinn
Tricia Sullivan

What Are the Hugo Awards?

Go to previous year's finalists: 1995
Go to subsequent year's finalists: 1997

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