April 20, 2019

Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 10: Time and Again

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 10: Time and Again Ms. Marvel, Vol. 10: Time and Again by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the end of an era, as these are the last issues written by series creator G. Willow Wilson. Which is sad, but this is a good way for Wilson to bow out. A large part of this is due to the fact that Bruno has returned from Wakanda; his relationship with Kamala was a highlight of the series' earlier volumes. This volume feels more grounded as a whole, focusing to Kamala's relationships with her family and friends (she admits to being Ms. Marvel to the latter, only to discover they've known this for a long time). Aside from an odd little trip to 1257 A.D. to show Kamala's purportedly Inhuman ancestor, and an equally strange aside in the final issue revealing some kind of "quest game" wormhole (if it does end up reinforcing Kamala's ties to her friends), this volume feels back on track.

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April 17, 2019

Hugo Reading 2019: "The Belles," by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Beauty is being comfortable and confident in your own skin. ~Iman

This book did not work for me at all. The worldbuilding was thin and made little sense, and the characters were shallow and petty. For example, the author called her fictional world Orleans, and while I understand she was riffing off New Orleans culture, this had the unfortunate effect of throwing me out of the story each time I read it. I couldn't figure out if she intended her world to be a secondary fantasy or a post-climate-change future Earth with magic. The characters also failed to engage me. I gave this one a hundred pages, but I have far too much reading to do to push on with something I'm not enjoying. So: next.

April 16, 2019

Hugo Reading 2019: "The Cruel Prince," by Holly Black

 The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

For nearly the first half of this book, I thought there had been a Singular Logic and Plotting Fail, and I was grumbling to myself as I read. "Why is the protagonist still there? Why is she putting up with this nonsense? Is this some sort of weird Faerie Stockholm Syndrome, or what?"

But as the story, and more importantly, the characterization, continued to unfold, it dawned on me why, indeed. At the turning point of the book, I realized how carefully the author had planned her story. Given what happened and what was revealed, there was nowhere else the story could have gone, and my opinion of it did a 180-degree turnaround.

That, my friends, is some master class writing.

This is a dark, bloody tale from the get-go, with a Faerie that is the furthest thing from warm and fuzzy, or Tinkerbell-cute and treacly. These Fae, for the most part, are beautiful, charming, cruel, murderous sociopaths, and the author pulls no punches with them. None of the characters are likable, including the protagonist, but they are damned compelling, and not in a train-wreck sort of way, either. I suppose this book could be likened to a Faerie version of The Sopranos. We may think Tony is a monster...but we can't keep our eyes off him.

The book opens with a scene that sets the tone for the entire story: three young girls on a typical suburban morning, eating fish sticks and ketchup and watching TV while their parents work in the house. The doorbell rings and our protagonist, seven-year-old Jude, gets up to answer it. There is a man with greenish skin, pointed ears, and a long black coat she has never seen before, and his eyes are the same as her older sister Vivienne, vertical cat slits. The mother comes to the door, and the dialogue that follows establishes that Jude's mother was this person's (not a human) wife; and years ago, while pregnant with Vivi, she faked her death and fled. The situation escalates quickly, and the stranger kills the childrens' parents and kidnaps all three children to Faerieland.

Ten years later, our story opens with a grown-up Jude and her twin sister Taryn, living with Vivienne and her father, the redcap Fae Madoc, who is general to the King of Faerie. Madoc's position means the girls are given the same privileges as children of the Gentry, even though they are resented and persecuted (bullying is too mild a term for what Jude and her sister are subjected to--the torment borders on sadistic). Jude is concentrating on surviving and trying to earn some sort of place for herself at court.

All well and good. At least until I learned that Jude and her sister are not locked into Faerieland (or Elfhame, as it is called here); Vivi crosses back and forth between Elfhame and the "mortal world" fairly often, even taking Jude and Taryn on visits to the mall. When I read that, it about wrenched me out of the story. I thought, what the hell? Why are Jude and Taryn, or at least Jude, still in the land of Faerie, after being kidnapped and living with their parents' murderer? But I kept reading, and the reason soon became clear: Ten years of living in Faerieland has made Jude almost as ruthless, scheming and murderous as the redcap who raised her. There is no way she would be able to fit into the human world.

This is what I mean when I say the characters are not likable. The body count is high, and the manipulating and backstabbing is epic. The elder brother of Cardan, the titular "Cruel Prince," assassinates nearly his entire family in his attempt to gain the throne, and Cardan, who is introduced to us by way of his torment of Jude and Taryn, is no prize himself. But the author has cleverly cast her characters to draw the reader in regardless, and given them just enough whiffs of a peculiar and twisted kind of "honor" to keep us from turning away in disgust.  In the end, Jude plays her game to its end and puts Cardan on the throne, and ends up becoming the shadow-ruler of Elfhame behind him.

The book ends there, as the epitome of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." This story is as cruel as its characters, and we will definitely not receive any kind of happy ending. But the writing is powerful, and I will be reading the sequel.

April 14, 2019

Cartoons of the Week

Black holes were in the news this week.

Except there's more than one kind of black hole.

You generally want to avoid being drawn into one, but in this case I wish Stephen Miller would be sucked into the black hole in Trump's head and never come out again. 

But of course, Captain Redaction will always come along to save the day.

And thus endeth another week in the Formerly Greatest Country On Earth, now Greatest Shitshow (although Britain is currently giving us a run for our money).

April 10, 2019

Review: The City in the Middle of the Night

The City in the Middle of the Night The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book has an interesting concept, but the execution is....less so. This tale of a human settlement on a tidally locked planet (half in white-hot killer sunlight, half in frozen dark wastelands, with only a narrow center strip of habitable land) with slowly decaying technology, failing crops, changing climate, governmental upheavals, and deadly encounters with the native species, could have been an exciting adventure story in the right hands.

Unfortunately, that isn't this book.

There are a lot of problems with this book, but the deal-breakers for me were the pacing and the ending. This book is not well paced at all. A huge chunk of the center is simply a meandering, aimless muddle taking up pages for precious little purpose. The main characters wander here and there, get into trouble and out again, fight and escape death and settle in a new place that's worse than the first, and none of it serves to advance either characterization or plot, as far as I was concerned. Then, after the two main characters descend into the titular City and the Big Plot Point is finally revealed, the pacing becomes so breakneck there's no room to breathe or absorb what's happening. This plays right into the frankly terrible ending: with the last part (7 of 7) remaining, I realized there was way too few pages to account for all the plot threads and character beats that had been laid down. Sure enough, this book did not so much end as fizzle to a most unsatisfying halt, with all the storylines twisting in the wind. I looked at the last page and said, "Are you effing kidding me?" I'm not really one to throw books (especially hardbacks I've paid for) against the wall, but I assure you I thought about it.

The protagonists are not terribly well drawn either, and in particular there were several points where I wanted to slap Sophie. There's teenage angst, and being caught in the throes of first love, and then there's just being stupid (such as not realizing what the intensity of her feelings for Bianca really meant until the book was almost over, and repeatedly trying to redeem Bianca long after it should have been evident that there was no redemption). The book was much better--if there was a point where it could be termed "good" at all--when Sophie and Mouth were in the underground City, and Bianca was nowhere to be seen. In fact, now that I think about it, let's throw down the gauntlet and chop Bianca and her baggage right on out. Make this a tale of first contact, and the humans struggling to understand the Gelet, and the two species working together to overcome the horror of the humans' unknowingly despoiling the planet, and there might be an actual story here, instead of a mess.

That's what so frustrated me about this book, because I glimpsed the bones of what could have been, but they were almost completely buried. If there is a sequel to this book, I am not going to bother.

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April 7, 2019

Cartoons of the Week

A little more scattershot this time, with a few different stories.


Yep, that's about right.

And back to the same old well we go, like a dog returning to its vomit.

Sure enough. Never mind that a lot of his rural white voters would suffer as well. Just as long as they own the libs.

(This is called cutting off your nose to spite your face.)

In other news.....

We need to go forward, not back.

Couldn't happen to a nicer group of cowards.

I really wish he would do this, but I know he won't.

April 6, 2019

First Impressions: Star Trek: Discovery, S2 Ep 12, "Through the Valley of Shadows"

This episode of Discovery continues with this season's modus operandi--good characterizations and acting, and poor plotting. Yet this is enough for me to continue with the show, because when the first two are there, they are firing on all cylinders.

In this episode, that was never more evident than when it came to this guy.

Anson Mount has been doing great work all season, and this episode had a scene that more or less left me in a blubbering mess. Since the time suit was sucked back into the future in the last episode, Starfleet has decided they need a time crystal to save all sentient life, and the Klingon planet of Boreth (where we saw Ash Tyler and Klingon chancellor L'Rell drop off their secret baby) has a monastery where the crystals are kept with the monks. (Yes, yes, it makes no flipping sense. Just put your logic blinkers on and go with it.) L'Rell and Ash get into a fight over who gets to go down to the planet--since, after all, Tyler/Voq is supposed to be, you know, dead (although that's not a terribly important barrier, in this show)--and Pike volunteers to go instead. Once he gets there, he meets a hooded albino Klingon monk who says he will give Pike a crystal if he looks into the future one shows him and accepts his fate.

(An albino Klingon monk, guarding crystals that do funky things with time! Ooooh, who could that be? It's L'Rell and Ash's kid, all grown up! Which makes me question the "kindness" of bringing him to Boreth, since at this rate he'll be in the grave even before Discovery starts its third season.)

And we the audience know what Pike is going to see, just as we recognize the fate that's been hanging over him the entire season. His accident is shown in all its horror, and the aftermath of him sitting in his chair in paralyzed agony, and even though we know it's coming, it's a brutal gut punch. Anson Mount just kills it here, because he looks at that future and sees what is in store for him, but as a Starfleet officer he steps up and accepts it anyway.

Damn, I almost think I'd rather have another season or two of Christopher Pike (and Spock and Number One) aboard the Enterprise than the new Picard show.

In the opposing storyline tackling this episode's themes of destiny and fate, Burnham and Spock hie off together after a Section 31 ship that missed its check-in (after some more sibling banter: "I don't need saving, brother!" "Shall we, sister?" when Spock, acting on Saru's orders, insists on going along). The two have a lovely conversation, and Michael is depressed and cynical, since nothing they have done has defeated Control. Spock admits that both logic and emotion have failed him, and the only thing he has left is a sense of purpose. Then they come upon the crew of the Section 31 ship, drifting dead in space after an apparent venting, and rescue the sole survivor, a former crewmate of Burnham's from the Shenzhou.

(ALL TOGETHER NOW: "Are you sure about that, Michael? Who IS this guy, really? Should we maybe not trust him quite so fast?")

Neither Spock nor Burnham hear me yelling at the screen, however, and the three of them beam aboard the Section 31 ship. And sure enough, the Lone Survivor gets Michael alone and tries to infest her with nanobots, resulting in a rather suspenseful scene where she keeps firing at the poor guy (although maybe not that poor, since he's already long gone and reanimated by Control) until she phasers a huge hole in his midsection and a stream of nanobots comes pouring out. And Spock, finally, comes running in and hits upon the idea of magnetizing them to the deck. Apparently Michael is the one "true threat to its [Control's] objectives," and despite its confident assertion that it will win, there must be one timeline out there (shades of the Avengers and Thanos) where it fails.

Back aboard Discovery, there is a nice scene involving the bridge crew eating lunch, including the welcome return of Jett Reno (and the Six Sinuses from the Black Lagoon guy, whose name I've forgotten). Stamets is also sitting with them, at least until Culber comes into the mess hall with a different group, whereupon Stamets rushes back to his engineering cave (this is a very brief scene, but it's another fine performance by Anthony Rapp). After this, Reno goes to sickbay with a hangnail excuse, and tells Culber to stop being an "idiot whose name rhymes with Poo." She relates how her wife died during the Klingon War, and she didn't get another chance; but Culber and Stamets have another chance, and she urges him not to screw it up. These scenes were a welcome break from the overall tension of the episode, and all I can say is MORE OF THIS PLEASE. Especially Jett Reno.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as after Spock and Michael's return to Discovery seemingly the entire complement of Section 31 ships, presumably controlled by Control (groan), pop out of warp around Discovery. Since they cannot delete the sphere data from Discovery's mainframe, Michael says they need to destroy her, and Pike agrees. He calls the Enterprise to come to their location (his ship is going to get there before the Section 31 ships, which are already there, can capture them? Really?), and gives the order to begin evacuation. (Just before this, there's also another nice scene where Pike relates what happened on Boreth, or at least part of it, and you can see just how devastated he is by what he has learned. More stellar acting on Anson Mount's part.)

The episode ends there, but now I'm wondering if this is going to connect with the excellent "Short Trek" shown on All Access before the season proper, called "Calypso." This depicts a Discovery 1,000 years in the future, abandoned by her crew and ordered to wait for their return, during which the computer evolved to sentience (and not a Control-inator type sentience, either). At any rate, next week at the very least we'll get to see the Enterprise again, and hopefully Number One as well.

So: parts of this I really liked, and parts had me screaming in frustration. I'm still holding out hope that Michelle Paradise, Season 3's new co-showrunner, will fix their plotting problems. They have an excellent cast and characters, if they could just get their damn storytelling straight.

April 5, 2019

Review: Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book pretty much hit all my sweet spots.

A memorable voice and a deep dive into the history and character of the protagonist? Check.

A smart-ass AI with tremendous loyalty to his friends? Check.

A far-future world with a multispecies empire of questionable moral authority (to say the least--artificial manipulation of hormones and brain chemicals to fit in is an accepted and even mandated thing)? Check.

A thoughtful exploration of the issues raised by said empire? Check.

Ships as big as planets, with one ship parked for thirty thousand years just inside the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy? Check.

A sapient, deep-space-dwelling species that seems to be a combination of space whale/seahorse with an Ancient Elder damn near as big as the aforementioned black hole Prize? Check.

And a main character who goes on quite the tumultuous personal journey, discovering things about herself kept hidden for twenty years, who at the end makes a firm decision to break free of her previous fears and limitations, and be the person she decides she is going to be, not the person various factions have tried to force her to be throughout her life? Check.

That's this book. It is not a quick read, despite being, in many ways, a classic space opera. It is deliberate, thoughtful and chewy, and deserves to be read slowly and savored. I think it would reward multiple reads.

I loved it.

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April 3, 2019

Second Impressions: Star Trek: Discovery S2 Ep 11, "Perpetual Infinity"

Sorry for being late with this one, but the Hugo finalist announcement interfered a bit with my timeline, and general life stuff. I also went back and watched this episode again, and appreciated it quite a bit more the second time around. This is mainly due to the awesomeness of guest star Sonja Sohn as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham, Michael's back-from-the-dead-and-the-future mother. And Michelle Yeoh played a pivotal role as well.

In this episode, taking off directly from the ending of the previous one, the Red Angel is actually Michael's mother, who has spent the intervening twenty years (and 841 time jumps) trying to defeat the Section 31 AI Control, who gains the data belonging to the sphere plopped in Discovery's path in "An Obol for Charon" (by none other than Momma Burnham herself, we find out), and uses it to become conscious and exterminate all sentient life in the galaxy. (Although that's a bit confusing to me, as it already seems pretty damn conscious. I suppose the sphere data actually gives it the technology and ability to do what it ends up doing.) Discovery is trying to hold on to Dr. Burnham long enough to get some answers, and implement a plan which will sent the suit and the sphere data back into the future where Control will never get it, while severing the link between Dr. Burnham and the timeline she is trapped in, and bring her back to Michael and Discovery's present.

Naturally, Control tries its best to throw a monkey wrench into this, by taking control of Leland's body. (Done in an unpleasant scene that reminds me of the Borg, and HOO BOY I hope the writers don't go there.) Control-Leland attempts to steal the sphere data from Discovery, enlisting Ash Tyler and the Mirror Emperor--in the latter instance, appealing to Philippa the Merciless' ego and narcissism. She appears to go along with this at first, and indeed this betrayal would be right up Empress Georgiou's alley. But after beaming down to the containment facility and talking to Gabrielle Burnham (in an awesome scene featuring two Asian women over 50, abundantly meeting the Bechdel test and establishing that the writers are softening the Mirror Emperor a bit and giving her a teeny tiny conscience, which is something of a disappointment but I suppose a necessity for her to star in her own show), the Empress realizes Control has taken over Leland and enlists Ash Tyler to stop him. Whereupon Leland stabs Tyler in the gut and beams down to finish the download, kill Dr. Burnham, destroy the suit and make off with the sphere data.

There's quite a bit of hell breaking loose in the final act, as Georgiou and Leland fight--although this fight wasn't choreographed as well as previous fights have been, in my opinion--and Stamets, Tyler and Nhan destroy the containment field and sent Dr. Burnham and her suit (minus its shattered time crystal) ricocheting back into the future. The facility is destroyed, but Leland manages to beam back to his Section 31 ship with 54% of the sphere data. The episode ends with another lovely scene between Spock and Michael, and the lines being drawn for the final episodes of the season.

Honesty, Sonja Sohn made this episode, and I hope we get to see her again. I'm still skeptical of this entire Red Angel storyline, and indeed it is established here that Dr. Burnham is not behind the seven signals that attracted Starfleet's attention in the first place. What do you want to bet that Discovery itself ends up being behind those signals, by way of the Last Seven Jumps of the Magic Mushrooms? I do wish they would get out of their oh-my-god-the-universe-is-ending conceit, and concentrate more on their stellar characters. Which means, I suppose, that I would like Discovery as a whole to be more of an episodic show rather than a serialized show. That's completely contrary to the way stories are told on television now, I realize, and a strictly episodic format has its drawbacks and limitations as well. But it seems like there should be a balance between the two extremes, and Discovery has yet to find it.

April 2, 2019

Thoughts on the 2019 Hugo Nominations

The 2019 Hugo Award nominations were announced today, so I thought I'd throw out a few initial thoughts.

Best Novel
  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
(I've read all but one of these already, and own three of them. I bounced hard off Space Opera and couldn't finish it, but I can see how it ended up on the list.)

Best Novella
  • Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com publishing)
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com publishing)
  • The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com publishing)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com publishing)
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency)
(This ratio's even better: I own four of these, although only one was on my own ballot. Actually I suppose that's one and a half, since I nominated a different Murderbot novella.)

Best Novelette
  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
  • “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com publishing)
  • “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
  • “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)
(I know I've already read at least four of these, and three were on my ballot. I may have read a fourth, but if so it didn't make enough of an impression on me for me even to remember it.)

Best Short Story
  • “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
  • “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
  • “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
  • “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
(I've read five of these and nominated two. Two more were on my longlist.)

Best Series
  • The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older (Tor.com publishing)
  • The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently Tor.com publishing/Orbit)
  • Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW)
  • The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press)
  • Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
(This is where the bulk of my reading will have to be done. I did read most of the October Daye series the last time it was on the ballot, and I already own Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire books.)

Best Related Work
  • Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
  • Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee (Dey Street Books)
  • The Hobbit Duology (documentary in three parts), written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan (YouTube)
  • An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000, by Jo Walton (Tor)
  • www.mexicanxinitiative.com: The Mexicanx Initiative Experience at Worldcon 76 (Julia Rios, Libia Brenda, Pablo Defendini, John Picacio)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, by Ursula K. Le Guin with David Naimon (Tin House Books)
(I'm not even sure how you'd judge Archive of Our Own, but I guess I'll have to take a crack at it. This is really a mishmash of nominees, and I'm wondering if the Hugo committee shouldn't take a look at tightening up the definition for this category.)

Best Graphic Story
  • Abbott, written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)
  • Black Panther: Long Live the King, written by Nnedi Okorafor and Aaron Covington, art by André Lima Araújo, Mario Del Pennino and Tana Ford (Marvel)
  • Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
  • On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden (First Second)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 4, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 9, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
(I've got two of these and nominated one, although I'm disappointed that Simon Stalenhag's The Electric State didn't make the ballot.)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Annihilation, directed and written for the screen by Alex Garland, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer (Paramount Pictures / Skydance)
  • Avengers: Infinity War, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Studios)
  • Black Panther, written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, directed by Ryan Coogler (Marvel Studios)
  • A Quiet Place, screenplay by Scott Beck, John Krasinski and Bryan Woods, directed by John Krasinski (Platinum Dunes / Sunday Night)
  • Sorry to Bother You, written and directed by Boots Riley (Annapurna Pictures)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman (Sony)
(Lots of time saved here--I've already seen all of these, and four of them were on my ballot.)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • The Expanse: “Abaddon’s Gate,” written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Simon Cellan Jones (Penguin in a Parka / Alcon Entertainment)
  • Doctor Who: “Demons of the Punjab,” written by Vinay Patel, directed by Jamie Childs (BBC)
  • Dirty Computer, written by Janelle Monáe, directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning (Wondaland Arts Society / Bad Boy Records / Atlantic Records)
  • The Good Place: “Janet(s),” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (NBC)
  • The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy,” written by Megan Amram, directed by Trent O’Donnell (NBC)
  • Doctor Who: “Rosa,” written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall, directed by Mark Tonderai (BBC)
(*winces and wishes The Good Place would fall into a black hole*)
(Seriously? No The Handmaid's Tale, The Man in the High Castle, The Haunting of Hill House, or Star Trek: Discovery? I'm glad one episode of The Expanse could make it if the entire Season 3 couldn't make the Long Form ballot, which was always a long shot. I guess two episodes of Doctor Who is okay, especially since from everything I read these two were generally acknowledged to be the best. And Janelle Monae is a delightful surprise. But The Good Place? I hated it the last time I had to watch it, and I'll watch these to be fair, but I'll be gritting my teeth the entire time.)

Best Editor, Short Form
  • Neil Clarke
  • Gardner Dozois
  • Lee Harris
  • Julia Rios
  • Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • E. Catherine Tobler
(Three of these were on my ballot, but since Gardner Dozois [RIP] is there, I think everybody else is gunning for second place.)

Best Editor, Long Form
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Beth Meacham
  • Diana Pho
  • Gillian Redfearn
  • Navah Wolfe
(Two of these were on my ballot.)

Best Professional Artist
  • Galen Dara
  • Jaime Jones
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Yuko Shimizu
  • Charles Vess
(I only had one of these. There are three new names this time around.)

Best Semiprozine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • Fireside Magazine, edited by Julia Rios, managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, social coordinator Meg Frank, special features editor Tanya DePass, founding editor Brian White, publisher and art director Pablo Defendini
  • FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, executive editors Troy L. Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders, editors L.D. Lewis, Brandon O’Brien, Kaleb Russell, Danny Lore, and Brent Lambert
  • Shimmer, publisher Beth Wodzinski, senior editor E. Catherine Tobler
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Vanessa Rose Phin, Vajra Chandrasekera, Romie Stott, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons Staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, publishers/editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor Michi Trota, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue editors-in-chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien
(Also had two of these on my ballot, and plain forgot one until it was too late. Fortunately, it ended up on the ballot anyway.)

Best Fanzine
  • Galactic Journey, founder Gideon Marcus, editor Janice Marcus
  • Journey Planet, edited by Team Journey Planet
  • Lady Business, editors Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay & Susan
  • nerds of a feather, flock together, editors Joe Sherry, Vance Kotrla and The G
  • Quick Sip Reviews, editor Charles Payseur
  • Rocket Stack Rank, editors Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
(Had two of these also, and two others were on my longlist.)

Best Fancast
  • Be the Serpent, presented by Alexandra Rowland, Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace
  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Fangirl Happy Hour, hosted by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
  • Galactic Suburbia, hosted by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
  • Our Opinions Are Correct, hosted by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show, produced by Jen Zink and Shaun Duke, hosted by the Skiffy and Fanty Crew
(Unfortunately, I'm not and never have been into podcasts.)

Best Fan Writer
  • Foz Meadows
  • James Davis Nicoll
  • Charles Payseur
  • Elsa Sjunneson-Henry
  • Alasdair Stuart
  • Bogi Takács
(Two out of six here, and have read two others.)

Best Fan Artist
  • Sara Felix
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Meg Frank
  • Ariela Housman
  • Likhain (Mia Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
Best Art Book
Under the WSFS Constitution every Worldcon has the right to add one category to the Hugo Awards for that year only. Dublin 2019 has chosen to use this right to create an award for an art book.
  • The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press /Gollancz)
  • Daydreamer’s Journey: The Art of Julie Dillon, by Julie Dillon (self-published)
  • Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History, by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, Sam Witwer (Ten Speed Press)
  • Spectrum 25: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, ed. John Fleskes (Flesk Publications)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Art of the Movie, by Ramin Zahed (Titan Books)
  • Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, ed. Catherine McIlwaine (Bodleian Library)
(I drew a complete blank on these two categories.)

There are two other Awards administered by Worldcon 76 that are not Hugo Awards:
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
  • The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform / Gollancz)
  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (Little, Brown / Hot Key Books)
  • Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
  • The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin (David Fickling Books / Scholastic)
  • Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman (Random House / Penguin Teen)
(Only one of my nominations made this list--I have read another one, but I had four others I simply liked better. But I've heard mostly good things about the other books on this list.)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  • Katherine Arden*
  • S.A. Chakraborty*
  • R.F. Kuang
  • Jeannette Ng*
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad*
  • Rivers Solomon* 
 (Some of these are repeats from last year, so I'm already familiar with four of them and two were on my ballot. I've got to say though, I think R.F. Kuang is the one to beat.)

The fanzine File 770 has a post where voters can find a lot of the nominated works online, either excerpts or in their entirely, compiled by the amazing and indefatigable JJ. I've started by reserving seven books at my library (and I suppose I got there first, as no one else has them on hold ahead of me). Since this year's ceremony is on August 15, I'm assuming the voting period will extend into July, hopefully till July 31 like last year. I've got my work cut out for me, needless to say, but this is fun.