The description of this category says it is for "a work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year." All kinds of works are eligible, as long as they don't qualify for another category. This will be interesting, I hope.
- Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)
What the heck is this? Somebody collected a bunch of nonsense jokes from the 'net, put them into a single file like one of those giant forwarded emails that the crazy old uncle sends to everyone on his email list? Does this actually have any relation to science fiction or fantasy? Is this somebody's idea of a joke nomination? How on earth did this get on here?
NOTE: It took me several days after reading this pile on utter crap to find the desire to return to any of the entries in this category to read. The nomination of this piece is clearly the puppies lifting their collective leg on the Hugo award. The message cannot be clearer, and makes me seriously consider, for the first time, simply voting all puppy nominees below No Award instead of giving them a chance. But I will stick to my principles and at least *try* to read everything, even if the people who nominated them clearly did so in utter bad faith.
- "Why Science is Never Settled", Tedd Roberts (Baen.com)
As a Fortean, some of the arguments presented here are similar to what I believe. However, this guy goes from "science is a process" to "therefore you cannot trust science at all" in just a few hundred words. In short, I get the sense that he's trying to disprove science as a whole by noting that scientists have flaws and science is just a tool for further learning. As a result, he sounds like someone who wants to tear down what exists instead of trying to find and solve problems, despite his claims that no, that's not what he's doing at all. This actually isn't a bad read, even if I strongly disagree with his arguments, but Hugo worthy? Not even close.
- Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
I can't believe it. I actually enjoyed a complete essay by this guy. His take-down of the second Hobbit movie is surprisingly funny and interesting, even the many bits I disagreed with. And I made it all the way through without wanting to throw it across the room. Not so with many of the other pieces in this collection, which would have benefitted from being maybe a quarter the length. Well, it would have benefitted me if it were considerably shorter, at least. Then I wouldn't have had to slog through it. The problem with Wright is that he starts on a topic then meanders all over, grabbing examples here and there that don't actually illuminate his point but make it seem like he's well-read, then comes to a conclusion that barely makes sense. Essay after essay of that, and you just want to crawl into a cave instead of reading any more. But it's obvious that when he's focused on a topic, he can write it well. I just wish he'd stay focused and make more of his work readable. It's a pity he doesn't seem to have any editor, because a good editor could turn him into a good writer. As it is? No, definitely not worthy of an award, much less the Hugo.
- "The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF", Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
Another interesting piece on the reality of hard MilSF ships and what they can actually do versus what they are said to do in fiction. If you are into the mathematic of thermodynamics and space, this is fascinating. If not, it's a bit technical and difficult to get into. I found it a little of both. I suspect it would be a great reference for a hard SF writer, but if the rules are always strictly adhered to, I also suspect stories have the potential to be very boring. While this is not nearly as bad as the other entries, it's still not award-winning writing.
- Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
I "bounced off" this three times, despite the fact that he starts out well. I didn't enjoy the pieces he presented, although I strongly identify with his descriptions of newspaper reporting. I just couldn't get into any of them. It might be because he presents the raw versions first, then explains how they were improved in the framing sections. I'm not sure, but the sample didn't really work for me. Not something I'd be inclined to give an award to.