Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 John W. Campbell (not a Hugo) Award for Best New Writer - My Ballot

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is not a Hugo Award but which we are permitted to vote on during the Hugo Award voting process and which is awarded at the same time as the Hugo Awards, is an award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013. 

I'm basing my ranking on the question: whose work am I most excited to delve farther into, and who would I like to read more of?

My ballot and a few spoilery comments behind the link.

1. Benjanun Sriduangkaew
I had a little difficulty. Sriduangkaew was the only author whose voter packet inclusions were all short fiction. All four other authors included novel-length works. I wasn't sure how I should compare them, much like I wasn't sure how I should compare The Wheel of Time to the single-book novels in the Best Novel category. When I applied the question above, "Whose work am I most excited to delve farther into, and who would I like to read more of?", the answer was very easy. Out of all of this year's nominees for this award, I am, by far, most fascinated and intrigued by Sriduangkaew's stories and ideas and voice. I don't just want to read more of her works. I need to.
Some of my (spoilery) thoughts on Sriduangkaew's short stories here.

2. Sofia Samatar
Samatar's novel, A Stranger in Olondria, was beautiful to listen to, but the story didn't really grab me, which would incline me to place her lower in the ranking for this award. However, I really enjoyed her short story nominee for this year's Best Short Story category. I placed her story, "Selkie Stories are for Losers," at the top of my Best Short Story ballot. Applying my question above, this is the right place for her on my John W. Campbell Award ballot. I definitely want to read more of her work.
Some of my (spoilery) thoughts on A Stranger in Olondria here.
My Best Short Story ballot with spoilery thoughts on all entries here.

Max Gladstone
I enjoyed Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, but I don't really feel compelled to read his other books in the series. It was well written and interesting; I'm just  not strongly drawn.
Some of my (spoilery) thoughts on Three Parts Dead here.

I am leaving the following two authors unlisted on the ballot. I like this philosophy I've seen on other Hugo-read-through blogs: I'm not going to use "No Award" in my voting of this category. They are new writers, and the award is meant to spotlight people who have shining potential in the field. Just because some of these authors' works do not shine for ME, doesn't mean they don't shine for others, and doesn't mean the authors don't have great potential in the field. Obviously, all of these authors shine for somebody, or they wouldn't be on the list of nominees! :) I'm leaving them unlisted on my ballot because in answer to my question above, unless I hear from someone I trust that the tone of these authors' works changes significantly, I do not want to read any more of their work.

Ramez Naam 
I really enjoyed Naam's ideas. I **loved** some of the ideas. The very, VERY graphic, unnecessary violence, I very much do not love.
Some of my (spoilery) thoughts on Nexus here.

Wesley Chu
I began to listen to The Lives of Tao. It had an interesting concept, but went STRAIGHT into remorseless, senseless, and unnecessary neck-breaking violence, and I immediately shut it off. I asked for spoilers and read others' reviews and I feel confident that my choice to put it down was the right choice for me.

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