Shiver me Timbers! The 2021 Hugo Finalists – Part One

Ahoy there me mateys!  The Hugo Finalists for 2021 have been announced.  I followed the 2019 and 2020 awards and 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 in December 2021 (late this year!)

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

  • Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press)
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom)
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)
  • Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
  • The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books)

Thoughts:  I LOVE MURDERBOT!! and Piranesi too.  I am avoiding the Muir novel as her work and I don’t mesh.  The other three are on the list.  I loved the Jemisin short story set in the world of this novel.  I loved the rest of the Kowal series.  And I have heard great things about the Roanhorse book.  I have some catching up to do.

Hoped for WinnerPiranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury) – Cause I loved it and Murderbot has some awards already (though I would be okay if it got more).  The other three would have to be something special to knock it out of first place (and Murderbot out of a close second!).

Best Novella

  • Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tordotcom)
  • Finna, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom)
  • Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
  • Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom)
  • Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey (Tordotcom)

Thoughts: kicks butt again in this category.  I have read four of the six.  The other two have been on the list but I haven’t gotten to them yet.  I will.

Hoped for WinnerRing Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom) – This one was wonderful and taught me so much.  In terms of impact, the others I read haven’t come even close.

Best Novelette

  • “Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2020)
  • “Helicopter Story”, Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
  • “The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine, July/August 2020)
  • “Monster”, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
  • “The Pill”, Meg Elison (from Big Girl, (PM Press))
  • “Two Truths and a Lie”, Sarah Pinsker (

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

Hoped for WinnerTo Be Determined

Best Short Story

  • “Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2020)
  • “A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, ed. Jonathan Strahan (Solaris))
  • “Little Free Library”, Naomi Kritzer (
  • “The Mermaid Astronaut”, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
  • “Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020, ed. David Steffen)

Thoughts:  Surprisingly I have already read three of these but only because they were nominated for the Nebula which I am tracking here on the blog for the first time.  I have read half of these but the ones I haven’t read are by authors whose work I love.  I am excited to read the rest.

Hoped for Winner: – “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020, ed. David Steffen) – for now.

Best Series

  • The Daevabad Trilogy, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
  • The Interdependency, John Scalzi (Tor Books)
  • The Lady Astronaut Universe, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books/Audible/Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (
  • October Daye, Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)

Thoughts:  I have read the whole Murderbot series (I LOVE MURDERBOT!!!) and most of the Lady Astronaut books and most of the Poppy War trilogy.  The October Daye and Interdependecy aren’t to me taste.  I haven’t read the Daevabad trilogy and keep forgetting about it.

Hoped for Winner:  The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells ( – Have I told the crew how much I LOVE MURDERBOT!!!!

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

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

  • Lindsay Ellis (1st year of eligibility)
  • Simon Jimenez (1st year of eligibility)
  • Micaiah Johnson (1st year of eligibility)
  • A.K. Larkwood (1st year of eligibility)
  • Jenn Lyons (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Emily Tesh (2nd year of eligibility)

Thoughts:  I have read books by Jenn Lyons, Micaiah Johnson, and Simon Jimenez.  I own an unread book by A.K. Larkwood.  I have heard of, but not wanted to read, books by Emily Tesh or Lindsay Ellis.  Though the First Mate is planning to read an Ellis book.

Hoped for Winner: Simon Jimenez – cause the last novel stuck with me and I want to see them write more work.

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

  • Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads)
  • A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  • Legendborn, Tracy Deonn (Margaret K. McElderry/ Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
  • Raybearer, Jordan Ifueko (Amulet / Hot Key)
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions)

Thoughts:  I have only read two of these and loved both of them.  They are hard to choose between.  I have no interest in the Thomas book.  I am interested in the other three.  Time will tell about this category.

Hoped for Winner: To Be Determined (currently a coin toss between the two)

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 is a ghost pirate’s favorite type of drink?

A:  Boo tea!

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

20 thoughts on “Shiver me Timbers! The 2021 Hugo Finalists – Part One

  1. I always enjoy your Hugo coverage! I’ve read so few this year (Piranesi, Riot Baby) but enjoyed both a lot and have a few more of the finalists on my TBR. I’d also love to see Legendborn win the Lodestar best YA (the only title I’ve read from that list so far) though I’ve heard good things about several of the others in that list too. Excited to see how your predictions/wishes turn out!


  2. I would love to see Murderbot win best series! The only other series I have read (so far) on the list this year is the October Daye series, and while I like those books they just don’t compare to Murderbot for me.

    I’ve now read a bunch of the short stories, and have enjoyed the ones I’ve read. I don’t normally like Hansel and Gretel retellings, but I loved T. Kingfisher’s version. (This is no surprise, since I have been really enjoying her work lately.) Though it’s really hard to top “Open House on Haunted Hill” in terms of favorite short stories. That one was just so good.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly don‘t think that Network Effect is a winner. It wasn‘t bad, but not that great. I didn‘t like City We Became, but think that it has much better chances. I haven‘t read the others.


  3. Great post, Cap:)). I don’t feel qualified to really comment on anything other than the series category – I want to get hold of The City We Became before I venture an opinion regarding the best novel – as I haven’t read enough of any of the others. And I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read ANY of the new writers… I loved the Daevabad trilogy – the progression of the storyline was utterly engrossing and managed to be epic in scope and also feel scaldingly personal and that’s a difficult balance to achieve. I enjoyed The Interdependency – until the final denouement in the final book and I found that very difficult to cope with. So I wouldn’t feel happy if it won. I’ve only read a couple of the Murderbot series – they’re too expensive and we haven’t been using the library sufficiently during the pandemic, but I do aim to get hold of this series. However I loved the dynamic and dear old Murderbot, so this series definitely would be a worthy winner – as would The Lady Astronaut series. My favourite is the final book, The Relentless Moon, so I’d be happy to see that winning the best novel, too:)). While I enjoyed the few Toby Dae books I’ve read – I just don’t think they match the other contenders in their scope and ambition. And I don’t know about The Poppy War – I haven’t read it. I would love either of your two YA choices to win – I loved them both:)).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely long comment about yer thoughts! The only reason I am even considering the Daevabad trilogy is because of yer reviews of them. Actually I wasn’t going to read the relentless moon either until I read yer review of that one. I am intrigued because it was yer favourite of the bunch. I am kinda glad these awards are later because I do think I am going to enjoy reading more of the list before the announcement.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for being so polite about my rather rambling response:)). Regarding The Relentless Moon – it’s essentially a murder mystery and cracking one at that. But quite different in tone and feel from the other two books. Some readers have found that disconcerting, however I loved it.

        I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on the Hugos in due course.


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.