There I am, holding a glass of champagne again. The inimitable Henry Wessells and I are toasting Hope Mirrlees at a party at Henry and Mary Jo's house in Montclair, New Jersey. It was not, however, a party to celebrate the fact that the book I wrote and Henry published, Hope-in-the-Mist is currently on the Hugo ballot for Best Related Book. Nor was it held to celebrate Ellen Kushner's The Man With the Swords, which Henry published the previous Monday, though both Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman were present as well.
It was Henry's birthday.
Happy birthday, Henry -- many many more!
And, wonking happily away . . .
So does my book have a shot at the Hugo? Well, let's take a look at the ballot:
- Canary Fever: Reviews, John Clute
- Hope-In-The-Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees, Michael Swanwick
- The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children’s and Teens’ Science Fiction, Farah Mendlesohn
- On Joanna Russ, edited by Farah Mendlesohn
- The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of SF Feminisms, Helen Merrick
- This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance
I also liked Helen Merrick's book, though any book with the word "Feminist" in its title is going to find its first-place votes seriously eroded by a collection of essays about Joanna Russ. Who is not only one of the smartest writers within genre but (I'd argue) one of the smartest writers in feminist theory as well.
I haven't seen Jack Vance's autobiography but he's one of the last giants standing and one of the pioneers of modern science fiction, so a lot of us are going to feel we owe him one last award. I'd guess he's the front-runner right now.
At first blush, it looks like Farah Mendlesohn would be cutting her vote in half by having two books on the ballot. Not so. The Hugo vote is counted by the Australian ballot system, and my own experience is that having multiple works in a category is an actual advantage there. So The Inter-Galactic Playground may have a very good shot indeed. I've got the book on order from Big Blue Marble, but haven't read it yet. However, I'm anticipating it will be very good indeed. I've seen the collection she amassed to research it, and it included not only all the major works of YA and children's science fiction, but also all the mediocre works that made a lot of money and were read by millions. It's an impressive and appalling achievement, which I myself would never attempt. I can only quote the immortal words of Ruby Kipling: "You're a gunga man than I am, Betty Din."
And that leaves my own book. Its chances? Well, it was published in an edition of two hundred, which works against it. But the Hugo Award administrators are putting together some kind of virtual package of either all or most of the nominated works, which makes a Hugo not entirely impossible. Not likely, mind you. But I'll have to arrange for a designated acceptor, just to be safe.
So what do I think's going to win? For two reasons, I'm not going to say. The first is that when the voting actually occurs, everything goes chaotic. Too many factors come into play for even the most informed person to make a reliable prediction. And secondly, and more importantly, my predictions are almost invariably wrong. So I wouldn't want to jinx the person I'm rooting for (after myself, of course) but making my guess public.
But what a strong category! I'll be happy with the outcome, whoever wins.