2021 Hugo Award Nominations: First Draft

I’ve never voted for the Hugo Awards before, but I’ve signed up to do so this year, so it’s time to start figuring out what I want to nominate. I haven’t found five works that I feel strongly about in any category, so if anyone wants to put in a plug for something I’ve missed, feel free to share, and I’ll see whether I get a chance to check it out before the nominations close in March. This goes double for novelettes, which are short and of which I have read absolutely zero this year.

Best Novel

I have tried ten books that were originally published in 2020. The two that have garnered five-star reviews have been Network Effect by Martha Wells (full review) and Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (full review). Those have been some of my favorite reads of the last few months, and I don’t see any reason not to give them nominations. Network Effect is a bit odd in that it’s the fifth book in a series, and it doesn’t exactly transcend the four before it, but it was a lot of fun to read and I don’t have others breaking down the door to take that spot. Legendborn is an absolute no-brainer–it just does so many things so well.

Two more earned my highest four-star rating (16/20): Driftwood by Marie Brennan (full review) and Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (full review). I’m inclined to nominate Driftwood on the strength of the concept alone. I plan to nominate Elatsoe for Best YA Novel, but I’m not sure if it grabbed me enough to nominate for both Best YA and Best Novel. I might, if I don’t come across anything that really demands that spot.

I currently have library holds on Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse and The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, so we’ll see whether those come in before the deadline.

Best Novella

I’ve only read one 2020 novella–Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (full review)–and it didn’t really hit for me. I expect it to be a finalist, and it does enough things well that I’ll certainly vote it above No Award, but I might not nominate anything here.

Best Short Story

I’ve read probably 30-40 short stories published in 2020, and so far there have been four that have stood out to me. Still looking for a fifth, but here are my choices as of today (with free links to full text):

Proof of Existence” by Hal Y. Zhang

If You Want to Erase Us, You Must Be Thorough” by L. Tu

A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell

Best Series

I think the only series I’ve read with a 2020 release has been The Murderbot Diaries, and they are fantastic and fully deserving of a nomination.

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

I already mentioned both Legendborn and Elatsoe, but they’re easy choices here. I haven’t read any other 2020 YA, so that may be it here.

That leaves a lot of categories with nothing, but I’m new to this and don’t have extensive experience with a lot of them. So I’m happy to take recommendations, but my nominating ballot may just be sparse.

3 thoughts on “2021 Hugo Award Nominations: First Draft

  1. Nice list! I keep meaning to get myself together and do one of these. I’ve seen Driftwood mentioned as a novella somewhere, so might want to check where it fits (not read it myself)

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, Driftwood is pretty short, but assuming a standard page size of 250 words, it would have to be under 160 pages to qualify as a novella. My copy ran a hair over 200 pages and didn’t have particularly small ones (unlike Murderbot, where there are some 160-180-page books but the pages themselves are tiny), so it seems fairly safely on the novel side of the line. I haven’t seen an official word count anywhere though.

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