July 17, 2020

It's Hugo Time! Best Related Work

Best Related Work is sometimes a sort of grab-bag, stuff that doesn't readily fit anywhere else (witness Archive of Our Own's win last year). Occasionally I think the rules need to be tightened a bit, to better define exactly what a "Related Work" is...but on the other hand, the inherent goofiness of a category that can encompass cookbooks, art books, serious academic biographies, restaurant guides, filk CDs, YouTube videos, and websites has a wacky charm all its own. That being said, I don't think some of the goofier nominees should necessarily win.

Sorry, No

Jeannette Ng's 2020 Campbell Award Acceptance Speech

I want to make it clear that I applaud what Jeannette's speech actually did (although I think Alec Nevala-Lee's book Astounding had a bit of play in the outcome as well). Her speech was the catalyst for the SFF community rethinking who it wants to honor, and whether people for whom awards have been named in the past really deserve such recognition today. My problem is that I simply cannot compare a two-minute snippet of video, no matter the important paradigm shift it inspired, to a beautifully filmed documentary, an exhaustively researched biography, or a harrowing and ultimately uplifting memoir. I kinda wish CoNZealand could bestow a Special Award for Best Related Moment to this, to acknowledge what it accomplished.

Knocking On the Door

Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones

Thank goodness for the Hugo packet this year, as two of the books in this category, including this one, were unavailable at my library, in either print or ebook. There was only a two-chapter excerpt included, but that was enough to reveal that this book was rather dry and meh, to me. 

We Have a Winnah!

These last four places were really tight. This is another chessboard of moving pieces, with this the current order...but I still have a few days to change my mind.

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, Mallory O’Meara

(Full review here)

I nominated this. This story of the forgotten woman who designed the last great Hollywood monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is equal parts sad and infuriating. 

"Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin," produced and directed by Arwen Curry

This is a lovely documentary, filmed with love and care, highlighted by some rather neat animated sequences to illustrate Ursula's books. 

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, Farah Mendlesohn

Fortunately, this book was also part of the Hugo packet, and we got the whole thing (thank you, Unbound Publishing). I haven't quite finished, because damn it is a dense read, wading far into the analytical weeds. But I've read enough to make my placement. I do tend to tilt in the analytical direction, and any other time, I probably would have ranked it first...

...except for this. 

Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood, J. Michael Straczynski

(Full review here)

I don't know if this book will win, because it's such a harrowing story to read. You should be prepared for this, because it needs ALL the content warnings. It's a profoundly disturbing tale, but in the end it is also an inspiring one.

Next up: Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (Not-a-Hugo)

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