2017 Hugo Finalist Review Roundup

Curated by JJ: Since last year’s Hugo Finalist review roundups seem to have been appreciated by, and useful to, Filers, I’ve done another round for this year. This is intended to provide Filers with a way of stimulating and clarifying their own personal responses to the finalist works, as an aid to Hugo voting. One possible methodology is to read or view a work, then read the reviews for it, to see if that provokes additional lines of thought or an altered perspective on a work. Another is to read or view all the works in the category, rank them, and then read the reviews and see whether the additional perspectives prompt a re-thinking of the ranking.

I’ve tried to select a good balance of positive and negative reviews, from a wide selection of reviewers, which were substantive and actually provided analysis of, and commentary on, the work, rather than merely summarizing the plot. The goal here is to provide a representative summary in a manageable, readable form for Filers, not a complete listing of every review done for every work. So if you posted a review but it’s not listed here, please do not feel slighted: for every 1 review I chose to include, I read 2 or 3 more which I did not include.

You are welcome to post a comment with a link to your review, or to a review by someone else which you think is especially incisive, but whether any links will be added (or not) to the main post will be at my discretion. Wine, lemon tarts, masseuses, and superfluous Commonwealth “R”s forwarded to my home address may or may not sway my judgment on that.*

Be Aware that many of these Reviews contain Spoilers!!! Don’t click on them if you don’t want to be Spoiled!

Each category begins with links to articles that review all the nominees collectively, and follows with links to reviews of individual works.

If you wish to read the works, but are not a Worldcon 75 member, you can find links to the full text, or excerpts, of some of these works in the Where to Find the 2017 Hugo Finalists For Free Online post. If you are a Worldcon 75 member, most of the works can be downloaded from the packet links on the Hugo voting page.

If you find any incorrect links, please mention it in a comment, and I’ll get it fixed.

Overall

Novel

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers

Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer

Novella

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson

This Census-Taker, by China Miéville

Novelette

“Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex”, by Stix Hiscock

“The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan

“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde

“The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon

“Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman

“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong

Short Story

“The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar

“That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn

“An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright

Related Work

The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley

The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher

Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

The Women of Harry Potter posts, by Sarah Gailey

Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin

The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman

Graphic Story

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa

Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher

Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks

The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve

Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller

Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul

Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi

Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards

Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris

Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette

The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough

Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik

Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender

Splendor & Misery [album], by clipping. (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

* I’m just joking, Camestros. No quantity of superfluous “R”s would persuade me to post Timothy’s review of Rogue One. Or his review of Ghostbusters.

33 thoughts on “2017 Hugo Finalist Review Roundup

  1. For some reason, there’s a line break problem after Tegan’s reviews. Mike will fix these when he’s back online; no need to report them.

  2. Wow, great work JJ. I’m particularly impressed that you found more than one review for “Alien Stripper…” 🙂

    (Is it going to be okay to be spoilerific in comments in this thread, or would people prefer rot13 here?)

  3. Mark-kitteh: I’m particularly impressed that you found more than one review for “Alien Stripper…”

    Yeah, I finally had to give up on that one. There were a lot of comments about it, but very few actual reviews. 😉

  4. Mark-kitteh: Is it going to be okay to be spoilerific in comments in this thread, or would people prefer rot13 here?

    I suppose we’d better use rot13 for anything really spoilery, since some people will have not read all the works yet, but may want to check out the comments for the things they have already read. Thanks for pointing that out.

  5. Wow. I think I’m going to go with the rule that I’m not going to spend more time reading reviews than I did reading the actual story…

  6. Thanks for gathering all these up! Wow 😀

    A self-serving correction: The SSS&S links are, alas, broken. They seem to be substituting a “%23” for a “#” symbol.

  7. Did you have this in previous years? I don’t recall seeing one. It’s really useful. Please continue in future years!

  8. I Googled up my own review of “San Junipero.” That episode has dozens of hits from mass-market sites, so it penetrated the public consciousness more than most. My spoilery review.

  9. I can’t help but notice that Timothy is taking credit for reviews by Camestros – methinks he’s been bribing people as part of his alt-marketing strategies 🙂

  10. Mark-kitteh: I can’t help but notice that Timothy is taking credit for reviews by Camestros – methinks he’s been bribing people as part of his alt-marketing strategies.

    (wipes lemon tart crumbs from mouth, then takes a swig of wine)
    I don’t know what you’re talking aboot, eh?

  11. DB: Did you have this in previous years? I don’t recall seeing one. It’s really useful. Please continue in future years!

    Yes, I did this last year, for the first time.
    2016 Hugo Finalist Review Roundup
    1941 Retro Hugo Finalist Review Roundup

    I wasn’t originally planning to do it this year because of all the other stuff I’ve got going on, and it’s time- and energy-intensive (this project took about 26 hours total, a little more than last year’s two roundups together, because I decided to do double the categories this year). But I finally decided that I thought I felt up to it. Whether I will feel up to it in subsequent years is unknown. Of course, Mike always has the option to publish one that he or someone else creates.

  12. I would like to salute Steve (no relation) Wright for reading everything (!) and posting all these reviews.

    Now Timothy is a Noted Critic!

    Thanks to JJ for all their hard work.

  13. lurkertype: I would like to salute Steve (no relation) Wright for reading everything (!) and posting all these reviews.

    Please note that there are a lot of people on this list who have also read all or most of the Finalist works and posted reviews of them; that I did not include all of their reviews was out of a desire to get a good mix of reviewers.

    The vast majority of the reviews I looked at were 1-paragraph synopses, followed by “I loved it!” or “I hated it!” — which I don’t think are helpful, but a lot of review sites and blogs follow that format.

    I also left off the list a lot of lengthier reviews which were what I call “hagioreviews” — massively gushing reviews which talked about everything the reviewer liked, but which didn’t really critically engage with the work (Tor.com, and a couple of other prominent review sites which will be notable by their absence from my list, tend to have a high proportion of those).

    I also discarded any review containing “SJW”, “politically correct”, “virtue-signalling”, or similar terms, as not being credible (but I have to admit that some of them were pretty hilarious, although the authors no doubt meant them to be taken seriously).

    For the two shortest story categories, I found maybe half to a dozen reviews that I felt were substantive. Making decisions in those categories wasn’t too hard.

    But for the other six categories, I ended up with one to two dozen “keepers” which I had to cull down to 6 — a difficult undertaking. And I found that I was tending to want to keep a lot of Steve’s reviews, so I started looking for categories where I could replace his review with someone else’s.

    And what I found was that his reviews were pretty consistently “here are the good aspects, here are the not-so-good aspects” balanced reviews, and that I was having a hard time finding reviews which I thought were as well-done (never mind better). So I ended up keeping a lot of them, anyway.

    ‘S good to be The King. 😉

  14. Thanks for the time and effort on putting this together, JJ, much appreciated.
    I’m most of the way through Shorts and novels, I read Steve (no relation!) Wright’s reviews, and am in fairly close agreement – though he’s too kind to JCWrong and I disagree on the Boolander short. But his reviews definitely seem to get to the essence of the story in a compact format.

    I note that it was not possible to find a positive review of JCWrong.

    Chris

  15. Chris S.: I note that it was not possible to find a credible positive review of JCWrong.

    There, FTFY. 😉

  16. Standback: A self-serving correction: The SSS&S links are, alas, broken. They seem to be substituting a “%23” for a “#” symbol.

    Thanks for pointing these out; they have now been fixed. 😀

  17. I’ve finished Raven Stratagem! Maybe we can get a post so we can discuss it in all its spoilerrific glory?

  18. ::bowing to @JJ’s awesomeness::

    ::bowing to @Mike Glyer’s awesomeness::

    Now to find the time to read some of this! 😉 ::bookmarking for soonish::

  19. Great work, JJ. Thanks for this.

    Wow, great work JJ. I’m particularly impressed that you found more than one review for “Alien Stripper…” ?

    I reviewed it, too, but in German and only for my Mom. Reading English language fiction is not easy her, so I’m doing reviews of all the fiction finalists to help her make her decision. I initially debated whether to include any info about the author, but it turns out that she hated the JCW story even without knowing who he is.

    Most of my review of “Alien Stripper” was a) explaining that dinosaur and monster erotica is a thing and b) explaining just what the hell a story like that is doing on the Hugo shortlist.

    Regarding Raven Strategem, I just started reading it and it struck me that Raven Strategem is basically an SF take on The Captain of Köpenick featuring Shuos Jedao.

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