Shiver me Timbers! The 2019 Hugo Finalists – Part One

Ahoy there me mateys!  For the last three Wednesdays I have been working on the Series Shakedown.  This week’s Shakedown post has been delayed for quite a bit due to the massive amount of research and cataloguing yet to be done.  I underestimated the time needed for this undertaking.  Seriously the series are out of control!  Those posts will resume once I finish the preliminaries.  Keep a weathered eye out.

In the meantime, the Hugo Finalists for 2019 have been announced.  I have always loved reading Hugo award winners but have never seriously followed the awards themselves.  But looking at this year’s list, I have read quite a number of the stories and have thoughts about who I think some of the winners should be.  So I figured a) I would share; b) I would make an effort to read all the works in certain categories; and c) I will add some excitement to me year waiting for the winners to be revealed on 8/18/19.

I am using the list as published on with links to me reviews where applicable.  Under each category I will share me thoughts thus far.  I will give periodic updates as we get closer to the reveal.  I am only going to track the categories of specific interest to me.  They be:

Best Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

Thoughts:  I have read half of these.  The Valente book is not going to be read because her writing and I are not friends.  Book one of the Yoon Ha Lee trilogy is one me list of 19 for 2019 but I am not sure if I will get to the third book by the time of the awards ceremony.  I will make an effort to read the Roanhorse book by then.  While I loved spinning silver, the Becky Chambers book is the one that will get me vote because it was seriously one of the best books I have ever read.  I adored it.

Hoped for Winner:  Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Best Novella

Thoughts:  Dang is dominating this category again.  I haven’t managed to get me hands on the Robson work yet but will make the attempt.  Seriously this list kinda pains me having to choose.  If ye haven’t read these works, ye should.  But I LOVE Murderbot and ART’s relationship so that gets me vote.

Hoped for Winner:  Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells ( Publishing)

Best Novelette

  • “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (, 11 July 2018)
  • “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (, 19 September 2018)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander ( Publishing)
  • “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November- December 2018)
  • “When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)

Thoughts:  I have been meaning to read the novelettes but have read none of them.  There is work to be done here.

Hoped for Winner:  To Be Determined

Best Short Story

  • “The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
  • “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
  • “STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
  • “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

Thoughts:  I have read none of these.  I am not even sure where to find them online.  But I love short stories so I will see if I can get to them.

Hoped for Winner:  To Be Determined

Best Series

  • The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older ( Publishing)
  • The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently Publishing/Orbit)
  • Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW)
  • The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press)
  • Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Thoughts:  I have only read the Wayfarers series.  The Xuya series is on the list to read as is the Machineries of the Empire series.  I have no real interest in the October Daye series.  I haven’t even heard of the other two.  Any crew thoughts on if I should add them to me Series Shakedown list?  I will try to read the Xuya series before August.  But ultimately, it doesn’t matter that I haven’t read any of the others because I adore the Becky Chambers series.  Me opinion could change.  But I doubt it.

Hoped for Winner:  Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Side note:  The next two awards are technically not Hugos but are given out on the same day.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Katherine Arden (2nd year of eligibility)
  • S.A. Chakraborty (2nd year of eligibility)
  • R.F. Kuang (1st year of eligibility)
  • Jeannette Ng (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Rivers Solomon (2nd year of eligibility)

Thoughts:  I have read work by four of the six.  I loved Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “A Series of Steaks” which was a finalist for the Nebula and Hugo best novelette in 2017.  I know R.F. Kuang and Rivers Solomon’s writing from the vela but have several of their novels on tap for this year.  I know nothing about Jeannette Ng but I am not interested in her fae book.  I go back and forth on reading S.A. Chakraborty ‘s Daevabad Trilogy.  But Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy is seriously one of the best trilogies I have ever read.  And her middle grade stuff is fun too.  No contest for me in this category.

Hoped for Winner:  Katherine Arden

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

  • The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform / Gollancz)
  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (Little, Brown / Hot Key Books)
  • Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
  • The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin (David Fickling Books / Scholastic)
  • Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman (Random House / Penguin Teen)

Thoughts:  I have full read two of these and didn’t really like either.  I abandoned tess of the road because I disliked the main character.  The Clayton book and Black book hold no interest.  I haven’t even heard of the invasion but the synopsis holds no appeal.  This category be a bust.  Given all the hype, I expect the Adeyemi book to win.  I am in the minority about it.

Expected (but not Hoped for) Winner:  Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)

So there ye have it.  Me Hugo wishes for now.  I will keep y’all posted as I continue readin’ through the nominees.  In the meantime

Always remember:

Q:  What kind of grades did the pirate get in school?

A:  High seas!

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

27 thoughts on “Shiver me Timbers! The 2019 Hugo Finalists – Part One

  1. Cool you’re doing this!! I’m actually attending worldcon this year and can vote, so I’m also trying to read as many as possible before the deadline. Unfortunately I hadn’t already read as many as you so I don’t know how many I’ll manage before the deadline. It’s particularly hard with those third-in-series ones, but I’ll do my best!

    I wasn’t as big of a fan of the first wayfarers book (I liked it but didn’t love it) so Spinning Silver is my favourite in that category at the moment, but I also read and enjoyed the first Machineries of the Empire book so it’s possible that’ll come in second for me. I’m reading Trail of Lightning now but not really liking it, so will see how the others go.

    I agree with you about Children of Blood and Bone – I liked it but didn’t love it so I’m hoping one of the others in that category impresses me… but as you pointed out, it might be slim pickings… we’ll see!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That be so exciting that ye be going to Worldcon! I have sort of followed the Hugos before but never in a formal way. I am very much enjoying the process this year. I had happened to read a lot of nominees by accident and when I realized, decided to keep going. I will enjoy what I can get to but I am not going to stress about it.

      Spinning Silver was a close favourite. I very much enjoyed it and thought it was a five star read. I am feeling less than excited about trail of lighting because of the reviews I have seen. I am leaning towards not reading it. And I have got to get to the Machineries series. The crew that has tastes like mine are all raving.

      I hope ye enjoy the rest of yer Hugo reading and that Worldcon floats yer boat. Have ye ever been before?

      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I’m very excited to be going!! I’ve never been before (I’ve actually never been to any SFF cons before, only to more general book-related events) so I’m curious to see what it’s like.

        I hope you enjoy Machineries, it sounds like you will! I certainly did. It was heavy going in the first chapter (you’re thrown into the thick of it in a complex world) but it got much easier after that, and I loved the characters!!

        I wish I could encourage you to read Trail of Lightning… but so far I’m finding it a fairly run-of-the-mill urban fantasy without much spark to it, and the characters don’t thrill me. Maybe readers who really love the sub-genre would enjoy it, but I was hoping for something more unique.


  2. I love this article, Cap! How insightful and helpful… though I was chastened to discover how few of these books I’ve actually read. I still haven’t managed to get hold of the latest Becky Chambers, although I’ve loved the previous two books I’ve read… As for the series – it would be the Laundry series as I think it’s a tour de force:))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The third Becky Chambers is me favourite so I hope ye get to it soon. And I will add the Laundry series to me list because ye keep giving me such good books to read. I will at least give the first book of the series a shot. Glad ye loved this article. I have been very much enjoying writing these. Stay tuned for the next installment on Wednesday. Arrrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  3. See, I love the October Daye series, so I hope that wins the series award. I have another friend who would probably vote for the Laundry Files, though I tried to read the first book in that series and had to put it aside for another time because when I attempted it I found it very boring. (Probably just the set-up, though, I didn’t get very far.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read any Charles Stross and kinda forget he exists (oops!). I tried to read the October Daye series but I have an adversion to fae stories that I can’t get over so couldn’t get into it. I was sad because I love McGuire’s other works. But if it wins best series I will be happy for ye and the author!
      x The Captain


      1. That is a good reason to not like the October Daye series. It is unabashedly a fae series. And if you don’t like reading about the fae there is no avoiding them in those books.


  4. Holy buckets, Captain! You’re really staying on top of your Sci-Fi and Fantasy! I haven’t read many of these books. I’m super impressed with your ability to stay on top of this. Are you intentionally trying to read newly released books or stay on top of Hugo potentials?

    I recently read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and completely fell in love with it. I cannot wait to read the next one. Is this series completed? Is that a requirement to be nominated for that award?


  5. I love this! It’s like an Oscar’s predictions post, but for SFF nerds. 😀 And Record of a Spaceborn Few winning would be wonderful! I’m rooting for that and Revenant Gun. And I would be very surprised if R.F. Kuang didn’t win the new writer award. And I actually *am* surprised that The Poppy War didn’t get into the final list!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re not alone on the Blood and Bone book; there is a review over at Pages Unbound in which the reviewer lays out clearly why she did not like the novel at all — and she’s convincing. I know Kim over at Travelling Gladly loves the Murderbot books, too. They’ve captured my interest (I haven’t read them yet) because I love novellas that are well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually have read Krysta’s review and thought it was lovely. Ye haven’t read Murderbot yet!!! I actually just reread the first one because I had a hankering. It was so excellent the second time too. Seriously everyone needs Murderbot in their life. Thanks for visiting.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post – thanks for all the info! I used to try to read the short stories but I seem to have lost touch the last couple of years. I’ll have to search for which ones are available online… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great post, I love seeing everything broken down by category. I actually haven’t read a lot on this list, but I did love Trail of Lightning and Space Opera, but I don’t think either will win. I think if you Google those short stories you will find all the online links.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the insight matey. Trail of Lighting has gotten lots of love from the crew and it seems like the early reviews of book two seem to suggest that it continues strongly. Glad to hear that space opera was on the good side for ye. I am excited for the Hugos but the universe can take it’s time getting there. I need to catch up!
      x The Captain


  9. I cannot recommend Chakraborty’s series enough! It’s one of my all-time favorites! But I agree about Space Opera.. it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I think Valente might’ve tried too hard to be the next Hitchhiker’s Guide.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.