A few thoughts on pushing boundaries and the Hugo Awards

This morning the 2010 Hugo Award winners were announced. Unlike my excited reaction to the recent Nebula Awards, I'm mixed on these results. While the winners for Best Novella, Novelette, and Short Story are very good--they are respectively "Palimpsest" by Charles Stross, "The Island" by Peter Watts and "Bridesicle" by Will McIntosh--I don't feel they were the strongest stories in those categories. This isn't to say I don't recommend these stories. I simply prefer the Nebula Award winners for those categories.

However, I'm thrilled with the tie for Best Novel between The City & The City by China Miรฉville and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. While I prefer The Windup Girl, both are amazing novels which pushed the boundaries of the genre. And that actually sums up why the short form winners don't excite me--they lacked the ambition of the novel winners. The ambition to take the reader some place new. While they are very good stories, they are still merely variations of stories I've read before.

This ambition to take people somewhere new is also why I'm happy that Clarkesworld Magazine (edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan) won the Best Semiprozine Hugo, and StarShipSofa (edited by Tony C. Smith) won the Best Fanzine Hugo. Clarkesworld is one of several magazines pushing the storytelling boundaries of our genre--the others are Interzone, Fantasy, and Strange Horizons. And StarShipSofa hasn't simply pushed the boundaries, they've exploded past any sense of being bounded by proving that there is a massive audience for podcast stories, interviews, and insightful genre commentary.

Despite my mixed feelings on this year's awards, congrats to all the winners. And special praise to all those writers and editors pushing the boundaries.