Popular awards can be messy affairs, as we're seeing with this year's Hugo Awards. Between the ballot stuffing and haters on the ballot and a 14-volume series being considered as a single novel, it's easy to become cynical and simply dismiss the awards as irrelevant.
But I believe this would be a mistake because the Hugo Awards remain the most prominent honor in the science fiction and fantasy genre. And as always we must deal with the Hugo Awards as they are, not the ideal awards we wish they'd become.
In the coming weeks I'll be making a number of recommendations regarding this year's Hugo Awards ballot. And my first one is to recommend Interzone for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.
My picking Interzone isn't meant to denigrate the other finalists in this category. All of the magazines deserve being finalists and those which haven't yet won a Hugo will likely do so in the years ahead.
However, I feel that Interzone's amazing performance last year makes the magazine the obvious choice. The magazine not only won a British Fantasy Award for best magazine in 2013, they published great stories by Priya Sharma, Lavie Tidhar, Aliette de Bodard, John Shirley and Sean McMullen. The magazine also introduced us to new writers I'll be keeping an eye on such as Greg Kurzawa. And during 2013 Interzone remained the place for cutting-edge criticism and essays, including Jonathan McCalmont's essential Future Interrupted column.
But as with all things related to the Hugo Awards, picking Interzone isn't as simple as saying they had a great 2013. This is the 29th consecutive year Interzone has been a finalist in the Best Semiprozine category (Update: Apologies. This is Interzone's 28th time being a finalist. See Neil Clarke's comment below). But despite this impressive run, they've only won a single time (in 1995, when Worldcon was held in Scotland).
Unfortunately, as a British magazine Interzone is always at a disadvantage with Hugo voters because the vast majority of voters live in the United States. These voters are simply less likely to read Interzone than the American semiprozines which make up nearly all of the other finalists across the category's three-decade history.
And this, truly, is a shame. Since Andy Cox took over as editor and publisher of Interzone in 2004, the magazine has been as revolutionary as the original Interzone run under David Pringle. Cox and assistant fiction editor Andy Hedgecock have promoted a new, edgy version of science fiction in the pages of Interzone. These stories are both multicultural and highly literary while also expanding the genre's traditional sense of wonder and exploration of reality. Their unique approach to fiction not only won the magazine its first ever Nebula Award for "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" by Eugie Foster, it has also helped bring new writers like Aliette de Bodard, Lavie Tidhar, Gareth L. Powell, Chris Beckett and Nina Allan to the forefront of our genre.
And during this period Interzone has also meant the world to me as a writer. Without Interzone many of my stories would have likely never found a home. Interzone took a chance on me, as they have with so many other new writers over the years, and enabled me to find my audience.
Because this year's Worldcon is being held in London, there's a good chance more voters than usual will be familiar with Interzone's impressive work. Add in that the magazine had a great 2013 and a great last decade, and the choice is simple:
Vote Interzone for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.