By Grace Briggs-Jones, Clara Garnier-Barsanti and Maria Sadek
At Chengdu Worldcon, the eighty-first World Science Fiction Convention, the finalists for science fiction’s most prestigious award – The Hugo Award – were announced live on 6 July 2023. 1,847 valid nominating ballots were received and counted with the final ballot open now for Chengdu Worldcon members to vote for their winner – membership can be purchased at their website! Let’s get into some of this year’s shortlists.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a well-crafted retake of H.G. Well’s horror story by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and relocated in Mexico which follows Carlota as she starts questioning the experimentations hidden in her father’s laboratories. The Kaiju Preservation Society written by John Scalzi explores an alternative Earth where the careless experimentations on their animals could cause millions to die back on our Earth. Next is a cosy fantasy, described as “if Dungeons & Dragons had a baby with Animal Crossing you would get the absolute delight that is Legends & Lattes” by Travis Baldree. Fans of the Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir will rejoice at Nona the Ninth, one that continues defending the duality of love and grief as Nina’s world is about to be swayed by dark forces. For dark fantasy, quirky characters and a quest to save the character’s sister from her husband (and tyrant) then Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is the one for you!
A queer character that has three days to hunt the most dangerous serial-killer of Chicago in order to escape hell and grow old with the woman she loves? Here’s the fantastic Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk! To continue the Singing Hills Cycle, Chih is now confronted with old feuds while recording tales of notorious near-immortal martial artists in Nghi Vo’s third book Into the Riverlands. Next is A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow: Zinnia Gray, tired from helping princesses to fix their narratives is called to help Snow White’s Evil Queen, who is desperate for a better ending to her story. For the lovers of the anime Attack on Titan, Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky will floor you with its perspectives on slavery, human nature, rebellion, excess, leadership, greed and recklessness. With What Moves the Dead, T. Kingfisher wrote a gripping retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher where a retired soldier, Alex, has to find out Usher’s house secret before it drowns them all. Rounding out the Best Novella category is Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire, the next edition in her much-loved and award-winning Wayward Children series.
Starting this list is the Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky which features an epic story of humanity’s battle for survival, ancient terraformers awaken something better left undisturbed, and a planet hiding deeper mysteries. The Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett follows a thief sent to steal an artefact of unimaginable power, the first legendary hierophants about to be reborn, and a centuries-old mystery of the scriving’s origins. The Locked Tomb by Tamsyn Muir follows the dread adventures of Gideon Nav, Harrowhark Nonagesimus and more in epic fantasy novels mixed with funny tones, swashbuckling actions and lesbian necromancers. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye features eighteen books each following the protagonist October “Toby” Daye as she battles betrayals, her past, and her own desires. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch follows Robert Weil, apprentice wizard and police constable, as he takes on suspicious murders and uncovers dark secrets. Rounding off the list is The Scholomance by Naomi Novik who manages to create a school bursting with magic with a heroine so sharply realised and nuanced, in a series that tosses out the entire fantasy rule book.
Best Graphic Story/Comic
This shortlist features scavengers, an official graphic novel adaptation, humans and arcanics at war, a fight to rescue Britain, a contemporary classic, and a character-defining sci-fi/fantasy masterpiece. Cyberpunk 2077: Big City Dreams by Bartosz Sztybor follows two scavengers as their paths cross in their pursuit to find happiness on the streets of Night City. Dune by Lilah Sturges is the official graphic novel of the Academy Award-winning sci-fi epic DUNE featuring lavish illustrations and a thrilling new way to see the future. Monstress, Vol. 7: Devourer by Majorie Liu sees Maika and Zinn uncover painful secrets of the past whilst Tuya fights to preserve her future. Once & Future Vol. 4 by Kieron Gillen features rival kings, civil wars, and a race to desperately find a way to return Britain to its senses. Saga Vol. 10 by Brian Vaughan is a genre-blending, sci-fi/fantasy space opera about star crossed lovers from enemy worlds. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow by Tom King sees an alien girl seek out Supergirl for a vicious mission of revenge. With so many exciting graphic novels on the list, it is going to be tough to choose a single winner!
See your favourite amongst these shortlists? Be sure to vote so they take home a Hugo Award 2023! To view the full shortlists, visit: www.thehugoawards.org
Good luck to all the nominees!