Shiver me Timbers! The 2020 Hugo Finalists – Part One

Ahoy there me mateys!  The Hugo Finalists for 2020 have been announced.  I have always loved reading Hugo award winners but last year was the first time I seriously followed the awards themselves.  I loved it so much that I be doing it again.  Arrr!  Looking at this year’s list, I 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 8/2/2020.  It’s gonna be a virtual con this year.  Crazy huh?

I am using the list as published on with links to me reviews (click the titles) 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 City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir ( Publishing)
  • The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)

Thoughts:  Ouch this be a bad year for me.  I read and abandoned ship on three of these – gideon, memory, and middlegame.  I didn’t even write reviews for two of them because I was so annoyed that I wasn’t enjoying them.  I also have abandoned two of Kameron Hurley’s prior books and think her books are not for me.  And while Charlie Jane Anders has one of the best novelettes ever written, I abandoned her debut novel and so be hesitant to pick up her nominee.  What be wrong with me?  Some of me picks for this category would have been the raven tower, the winter of the witch, gods of jade and shadow, the girl with no face, and finder.

Hoped for Winner:  The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK) (by default even though I didn’t love it and just liked it)

Best Novella

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador)
  • The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga Press/Gallery)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark ( Publishing)
  • In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)

Thoughts:  While I love, it is great to see some other publishers on this list.  This be where the lack of open libraries hurts.  I rarely buy novellas outright because they are usually too short to justify the high cost if I don’t end up liking them.  I only buy ones that I know I will reread.  The Ted Chiang short story collection ebook is on hold at the library but the list is a million people long and so we shall see if it comes through in time.  I want to read the Clark story but would prefer an omnibus of his novellas to date and the libraries don’t have it on ebook either (bah!).  I read the four others and abandoned two of them – time war and the deep.  Both were well written but I just couldn’t get into the plot or characters.  I could give the deep another go but I am not going to push it given how much I be struggling to read this year.  I adored absent dream and but the Chambers book was awesome and the experience of how I read it heightened it for me.

Hoped for Winner:  To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager; Hodder & Stoughton)

Best Novelette

  •  “The Archronology of Love”, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, April 2019)
  • “Away With the Wolves”, by Sarah Gailey (Uncanny Magazine: Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue, September/October 2019)
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye”, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, July-August 2019)
  • Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin (Forward Collection (Amazon))
  • “For He Can Creep”, by Siobhan Carroll (, 10 July 2019)
  • “Omphalos”, by Ted Chiang (Exhalation (Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf; Picador))

Thoughts:  None.  None of them.  There is work to be done here.

Hoped for Winner:  To Be Determined

Best Short Story

  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing”, by Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons, 9 September 2019)
  • “As the Last I May Know”, by S.L. Huang (, 23 October 2019)
  • “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger”, by Rivers Solomon (, 24 July 2019)
  • “A Catalog of Storms”, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2019)
  • “Do Not Look Back, My Lion”, by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019)
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”, by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, May 2019)

Thoughts:  None again.  Dang it.  I will try to track all of these down.

Hoped for Winner:  To Be Determined

Best Series

  • The Expanse, by James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • Luna, by Ian McDonald (Tor; Gollancz)
  • Planetfall series, by Emma Newman (Ace; Gollancz)
  • Winternight Trilogy, by Katherine Arden (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)
  • The Wormwood Trilogy, by Tade Thompson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Thoughts:  I have read the Planetfall series, Winternight trilogy, Luna trilogy, four books in the Expanse series (later abandoned), and the first book of the Wormwood trilogy which I loved though I abandoned book two partway through.  I love Seanan McGuire’s work but have not read her InCryptid series because urban fantasy tends to be a miss for me.  While I loved Plantfall and Luna, this is a no brainer.  Winternight is one of the best trilogies I have ever read especially because of how the three books work together.

Hoped for Winner: Winternight Trilogy, by Katherine Arden (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)

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

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

  • Sam Hawke (2nd year of eligibility)
  • R.F. Kuang (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Jenn Lyons (1st year of eligibility)
  • Nibedita Sen (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Tasha Suri (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Emily Tesh (1st year of eligibility)

Thoughts:  I have read books by Jenn Lyons and R.F. Kuang.  I have heard of, but not wanted to read, books by Sam Hawke, Emily Tesh, and Tasha Suri.  I had never heard of Nibedita Sen until her 2020 short story nominee and will read that in due course.  Of Lyons and Kuang, I do think Kuang’s writing is much stronger.  I actually liked book two of her trilogy better than book one!

Hoped for Winner:  R.F. Kuang

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Thoughts:  Even though I have only read two books in this category, one of them is currently the main contender.  I absolutely adored dragon pearl.  I also read catfishing which was cute but the short story was better (and won the Hugo in 2016).  I have no urge for the wicked king.  Deeplight be on the list to read already.  I have been meaning to read Kingfisher for forever so I can start with this and somehow I missed Wilde’s book altogether.  I will try to read the remaining three books and see if Yoon Ha Lee gets pushed out of the top spot.

Hoped for Winner: Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee (Disney/Hyperion)

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

43 thoughts on “Shiver me Timbers! The 2020 Hugo Finalists – Part One

  1. Great you’re doing this again this year! I’ve read almost none of these and it’s turning out to be a slower-than-usual reading year for me so far, so I don’t think I’ll try reading them all again, but I’m looking forward to following along as you do.

    That’s sucks you’re not into any of the best novel nominees though, it would be nice to have one to really be cheering for – but hopefully the other categories make up for it.

    I’ve still only read the first of Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy and have been meaning to continue. You’re the first person I’ve seen mention that the three books work together in a nice way (I thought they were all totally independent of each other) so that makes me curious. And stupidly enough I only just now realised that ‘To Be Taught, If Fortunate’ isn’t part of the Wayfarers series. Makes me more interested to read it since I don’t have to have read all the Wayfarers books to understand it (unless it’s connected and I should?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am having such a slow reading year too. For example I have only read 3 (no 2 sheesh!) books in me 20 in 2020 this year. But I am going to try to find the time somewhere for these Hugo stories. It makes me happy that ye care to follow along in me journey.

      And aye, the winternight trilogy ends so well. I actually debate meself on whether the first book was the perfect standalone and should have stayed that way or whether book three needed to exist. I tend to cheer on all three but if readers just stop with book one, it is still a glorious ending that way too.

      ‘To Be Taught, If Fortunate’ is not a Wayfarers book at all. It is still a sci-fi but with a very different feel than the Wayfarers series. I adored it. People who didn’t like it seemed to go in thinking it would be written in a different style based on her other work. I think ye should give it a shot. Arrrrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah I know the feeling – Goodreads keeps reminding me I’m 4 or 5 books behind on my reading challenge 😦 Oh well, fingers crossed that changes for both of us as the year progresses!

        And that’s really interesting about the Winternight trilogy – I think I will read the other books because I’ve heard so many good things and am intrigued, but I do like that the first one also works really well as a standalone. And I’ll definitely give ‘To Be Taught, If Fortunate’ a shot then! I never used to be a big novella fan but since I started reading Murderbot I am finding myself much more open to them 🙂


  2. Ah, sorry to hear you didn’t get on with A Memory Called Empire (one of the highlights of my 2019 reading). I’ve not read Gideon yet – I love the concept and yet I’ve been hesitating to read it, so… But I love your alternate suggestions. I’ll be reading Gods of Jade and Shadow for Wyrd and Wonder next month (aaaaaaaaah it’s here already, I am not ready, I am never ready) and really looking forward to it – I generally enjoy Silvia M-G’s work and this is such a fab concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow I didn’t realize that these comments were so old! I really do wish that the Empire book worked for me. I am not adverse to trying that one again at some point but I don’t know what mood would make me want to try it again. I love Wyrd and Wonder though the time is flying by and I am not participating as much as I would like this year. I haven’t seen a review for the jade and shadow book. I hope I didn’t miss it. I have a lot of backlog blog reading to do!
      x The Captain


      1. I haven’t got to it yet 🙂 I’m really struggling to settle these days, so I half heartedly started it then put it down to come back to (and haven’t yet). Starting to think it’s all rereads for me for a bit, seems to be where I’m at.


  3. Last year I read all novelettes and short stories. This year I didn‘t even try, I wasn‘t in the mood. So the only one of those I read was Emergency Skin, as it was in a bundle of free Audibles (via Kindle Unlimited). I liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m impressed by how many of these books you’ve already read. I feel like these lists come out and I’ve maybe read a handful of them total.

    That being said – I think I enjoyed book one of the Winternight trilogy and then never had the enery or the power to pick up book two never mind book three. I feel like there were a bunch of plot holes in the end of book one that I was discouraged from book two even though I rated it fairly highly. I’m totally pulling for Luna though I don’t think it really has a chance.

    I do want to try Charlie Jane Anders new one, and I really loved Jemisin’s Emergency Skin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another like for Jemisin’s work. Of course I tend to love her stuff so I be looking forward to that story. I also don’t think Luna has a chance but dang was that first book fun. As for Winternight, I love the whole thing but do understand how people could stop with book one. The series didn’t need to continue even if I adored book three.
      x The Captain


  5. I saw the Hugo award lists announced and am interested in seeing what will win even though I’ve not actually read any of these books yet- several are on my TBR! There are a few in the Best Novel category though that I don’t think would be a good fit for my reading taste (based on reviews I’ve seen) so I can sympathize with you finding it a bad year for you there. I’m still preoccupied with the Women’s Prize and also don’t have library access right now (of course) so I’m not sure how much I’ll actually read here, but I look forward to your posts along the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved following yer Women’s Prize posts! Though that list seemed lackluster to most of the group. As does this Hugo list for most of me crew. But who knows if I will find some shiny gems amongst all the flotsam and jetsam. Thanks for the comment.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Memory was one of those books that I could appreciate for all the work that went into it but I also felt like it was trying too hard to be clever? I felt so mixed on that one. Glad to see Ten Thousand Doors on the list though. Last year’s awards I had read a lot of the finalists but this year I’ve only read 2 of the novels! I love Hurley’s essays but confess I don’t have much interest in her fiction….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to admit that I don’t know the difference between a novella and a novelette. Gonna look that up. I am not a sci fi / fantasy reader by nature but usually am drawn to a few titles in those genres a year. I’ll be interested in following the journey so I know what to try!


    1. The hugos have their own definition for novella and novelette that some people dispute. Since ye are not a crazy sci-fi/fantasy reader like me – what are some of yer favorites? Thanks for reading.
      x The Captain


      1. Well, I really loved Jeff Vandermeer’s Area X Trilogy, and Kelly Link’s short stories, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred and her short stories. I like the weird, speculative end of fantasy/sci-fi, I guess. I’m down with magical realism as well.


      1. It’s been a bit slow the last few months. For whatever reason, the creative juices have been sparse. I’m still trying though. I need to put another short story on here sometime. I hope you’re staying safe!


  8. I loved Middlegame, but I’ll admit that I was also a bit disappointed in the Best Novel list. I was at least happy to see that Gods of Jade and Shadow is on the list for the Nebula Best Novel.

    I bought an ebook copy of Tram Car, and even at a novella length I think it’s worth the price. I really enjoyed that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I somehow missed the Nebula announcement so I went and looked it up. I do like their picks for best novel better. And I really want to read all of Clark’s work cause it be awesome. I might give in and buy Tram Car because I don’t mind supporting authors that I love.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I recently tried listening to The Deep by Rivers Solomon, but I found it challenging to follow on audio. I wonder if a text version would be better? It IS interesting, though I’m not convinced the characters are mermaids (they have front fins), and I don’t know how they got a pet human. I think I missed something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried the ebook and don’t think the audiobook would work for me either. I do think it be interesting that I now take medium into consideration when thinking about certain books. While there isn’t a ton, there are some books that I feel I should experience in audiobook first.
      x The Captain


      1. Absolutely. Especially regional books in the U.S. (especially around Chicago or in the south) and books set in Eastern countries — these have all been good fits for audio. Books that require pausing a lot, like The Deep, aren’t great fits.


  10. I was surprised at the list for best novel too. I loved Middlegame and Ten Thousand Doors, but there are so many other books that fall through the cracks because they just aren’t as well known, like The Girl with no Face😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I also hope Ten Thousand Doors of January and the Winternight trilogy win. I want The Haunting of Tram Cr 014 to win for beat novella, but I don’t think I’ve read the others yet. My library doesn’t usually get novellas. Probably because of length vs price.

    How did Gideon the Ninth get nominated??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wish the novellas would be a dollar. Then I would buy them all. And I kinda liked Gideon the Ninth’s world building concept but the writing and tone completely irked me. I don’t understand how it made the list either!
      x The Captain


      1. I wish they were cheaper, too. I usually enjoy them. I managed to find The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Wood on BookOutlet for a few dollars each, and my library did get Prosper’s Demon (which I didn’t finish), bit overall, I have to pass on the novellas.


  12. Bad year for you? At least you have read some of the books on the list! I haven’t. I hope Tasha Suri wins New Author as both Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash are great, and i hope Katherine Arden wins Best Series because I absolutely loved her Winternight trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that 2019 was so hit or miss for me. I had so many favorites and then sooo many lower rated and abandoned books that I honestly expected to love. Though I did read broadly as I have been working to have a better understanding of how to choose better reads for meself. Glad to hear ye loved Suri’s work. I only hope the 2020 gets better because I am reading so little these days. Thanks for the comment.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fingers crossed that things improve! Real life and circumstances (and those are crazy at the moment!) get in the way of reading sometimes.


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