Worldcon 75, to be held in Helsinki in August 2017, will exercise its right under WSFS Constitution to run a special Hugo category for “Best Series.”
The committee’s announcement today explains:
Fans voted in August 2016 to trial a new Hugo award for “Best Series”, which could be added in 2018. Each Worldcon Committee has the authority to introduce a special category Hugo award, and Worldcon 75 has decided to test “Best Series” in 2017. This follows the precedent of the 2009 Worldcon, which trialled “Best Graphic Story” before it became a regular Hugo the following year. Fans at Worldcon 75 will be able to decide whether to ratify the “Best Series” for future years and suggest revisions to the award definition at the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting held in Helsinki during the convention.
The committee says an eligible work for the special Best Series Hugo award is “a multi-volume science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, which has appeared in at least three volumes consisting of a total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the calendar year 2016, at least one volume of which was published in 2016.”
H’h. I don’t suppose we can all agree that the over bloated Dune series which bears little or no resemblance to the original novel need not be mentioned even in passing?
Did any of the Dune Series books come out in 2016?
So…technically the Alpennia series would be eligible. Perhaps by the time the series is complete it could even scrape together five nominations!
A few ideas leap to mind:
The Temeraire Series (League Of Dragons published this year)
The Foreigner series by Cherryh (Visitor published this year)
I suspect there will be some votes for The Expanse (I believe there’s a book due in 2016?)
A couple of edge cases suggest themselves:
The Vorkosigan Saga (Depending on whether Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is a 2016 work or not…); or
The Chalion series based on Penric and the Shaman being published this year
GJatRQ should be considered a 2016 work based on copyright date. However, several of the Vorkosigan stories have been nominated for the Hugo as individual works, and the same is true for the Chalion stories, They are also very clearly series of stories, not a single serialised story. The latter is, as I understand the rules, covered by the category, the former not.
I actually read one of the later Dune books, mostly with confusion that there was enough profit in the exercise to continue. I don’t appreciate being reminded of it. 😉
I’m interested in seeing how this works before it becomes an official category. There are so many series that I read that are, in aggregate, amazing, but each individual book is often so dependent on earlier entries that it’s debatable as to whether it’s award level, at least for me. I want to see if that changes with the parameters of a Best Series award.
@Heather Rose Jones, I’m guessing you could find more than five nominations just from your fans here.
I just saw Navigators of Dune on the shelf in B&N a couple of days ago. That’s as close as I plan to get to that particular volume.
After a quick look through a release calendar, here are some eligible series that I’ve heard about:
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham
Expanse by James S. A. Corey
Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh
Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Red Queen’s War by Mark Lawrence
Rivers of London / Peter Grant by Ben Aaronovitch
Remembrance of Earth’s Past / Three-Body Series by Cixin Liu, Ken Liu
Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
(I haven’t read most of them, just listing the ones I’ve heard good things about.)
The October Daye series has a new book this year.
City of Blades (sequel to City of Stairs) came out this year (Series title: The Divine Cities).
Four Roads Cross – one of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence novels – released this year.
The Fall of the House of Cabal – the fifth of the Johannes Cabal novels – dropped just the other day …
At least two of these are almost certainly going to be on my nominating ballot.
Nothing by Brian Herbert that is essentially fanfic set in his father’s universe is going to get any kind of nomination in any category from me, however.
Rivers of London / Peter Grant by Ben Aaronovitch – only if the current release date for The Hanging Tree isn’t wrong again.
City of Blades/The Divine Cities is only at two volumes; three is the minimum.
The Craft Sequence is a strong contender.
Also, my novel tbr just imploded. Arrgh.
John Scalzi weighs in:
“Best Series” Hugo Category: A Trial Run in 2017 + My Thoughts On It
ULTRAGOTHA asks Did any of the Dune Series books come out in 2016?
Navigators of Dune came out this year. It’s a safe bet that any year ending in December over the past several decades had a Dune novel published.
They’ve only managed 13
totally unnecessaryDune novels in 17 years, so it’s not quite that bad.
Also for consideration The Edge of Worlds, Martha Wells’ Raksura series.
Oh, Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series. Stross’ Laundry series – an excellent example of a series that’s more than the sum of its parts.
It seems to me that the wording “unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation” means it only need be unified by some, not all, of those elements, and so volumes e.g. in the same setting with different characters count for the length/no. of volumes/2016 eligibility requirements, but what do others think?
Only thirteen? Damn I thought it was twice that!
The odd thing is they’ve not mined this cash cow a bit deeper by doing a Concordance as I believe The Dune Encyclopedia only covered the the novel Frank wrote.
Kage and I discuss doing a Company Concordance but she became too ill for us to get it off the ground. Been a hoot too as I was supposed to interview the characters.
Perry Rhodan! It’s a European Worldcon, after all.
Mike Glyer on September 30, 2016 at 11:20 am said:
Perry Rhodan! It’s a European Worldcon, after all.
What about Necessity?
Wow, so many good series to choose from. My Mom already announced she’ll be nominating the In Death series by J.D. Robb and the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Probably the Dresden Files as well, if something in 2016 is eligible (well, there is a short story).
Here are some more ideas:
The Leandros Brothers series by Rob Thurman (there is a short story in 2016, not sure about a new novel)
The Bloodbound trilogy by Erin Lindsey (the last book comes out in September)
The Secret Histories and Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Wayfarer series by Becky Chambers
The Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron
More as I think of them. I second the Alpennia series, Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series and Ben Aaronovich’s Peter Grant series. I wouldn’t even mind Perry Rhodan – it is the longest running SF series in the world after all.
Legacy of the Demon by Diana Rowland comes out on Oct. 4, so the Karen Gillian/Demon series is eligible.
I’m idly wondering whether the original Foundation trilogy, written in days when men were men and 60,000 to 70,000 words was a good solid length for a novel, would have met the new series criterion of 240,000 words. Has anyone counted?
The internet (that well-known reliable source) claims 66k for Foundation, so I doubt it. If sequels existed beyond the trilogy they’d have taken it over the limit, of course.
And for no reason other than that it came up while googling: a chart of Brandon Sanderson’s scary march towards 4 million words of fiction…
Scalzi had some interesting takes on the category, but I never really picked up on why he thought running the Best Series only every 5 years was preferable. It seems to me that SFF series are popular enough and plentiful enough to provide a solid field in any given year. To be sure, the amount of verbiage could be daunting and it may be that the pool of nominators and voters will be among the smaller categories. That seems like a good reason for such a test-run.
Dave Langford: You already know, but it may amuse other Filers to discover Foundation already won the Best All-Time Series Hugo in 1966 with that puny word total.
And Asimov later wrote, what four or five more sequels? So that should make him eligible again…. if somebody can find a posthumous bit in his unpublished papers to put out in the next couple of months.
@Heather Rose Jones
Back when Best Series was being floated in a less concrete form I mused about whether it needed breaking out of the year-to-year structure of the Hugos, perhaps with some sort of rolling eligibility, primarily to allow more time for reading and so that e.g. two great series didn’t compete one year followed by two lesser ones the next, etc. Scalzi may have had similar motivations for his suggestion.
I accidentally prompted Scalzi to reopen his eligibility for Best Series with the following Old Man’s War haiku:
(On the off-chance that it needs saying, I doubt he was serious)
More series worthy of recognition:
October Daye and InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire
Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter
Gallow and Ragged series by Lilith Saintcrow
World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, which will have a third novel released this year, and which I think is fantastic.
The Europe series by Dave Hutchinson is really good.
The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda, just had another novel, The Gate To Futures Past, released.
The Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller had Alliance of Equals this year.
The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) has a new book this year.
The Diving Universe by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has a fifth book, The Falls, coming out in October.
I’m still pissed off at her for that ridiculous attempt to claim that women in SF have never been discriminated against. But I do love her Diving Universe and Retrieval Artist series.
I have a great fondness for the Cassandra Kresnov series, largely driven by the fact Earth is *not* an overpopulated shithole in that series. And because the main world we see has one major city with most of the population, as is sensible, and it’s not a horrible, violent shithole either, except in the immediate vicinity of the plot magnet protagonist.
@JJ: The Europe series by Dave Hutchinson is really good. And Europe in Winter is coming out in mid-November.
PhilRM: And Europe in Winter is coming out in mid-November.
That was supposed to be in my post! Thanks for catching that I missed putting it in. 🙂
Karl-Johan Norén (re Gentleman Jole…) They are also very clearly series of stories, not a single serialised story. The definition OGH quotes doesn’t specify singularity; unified plot is just one of the elements that can define a “series” — which is a good thing, because it would invite even more argument than it does already. Who gets to decide whether something fits or doesn’t fit these qualifications? ISTM that anything other than letting the nominators decide is asking for trouble. (I’m remembering the arguments over whether Lost Moon was really SF, or fiction at all….)
If this becomes permanent, should there be a formal rule that the winner is disqualified for the next year? I think this would be fair given the extended period that the award will cover, and (unlike the qualitative issues above) it can actually be ruled on easily. I see that Scalzi makes a more stringent version of this his prime suggestion (among several), while raising some hard issues for the committee to decide ad-hoc (since this hasn’t been worked over by two years’ worth of business meetings). It will be interesting to watch, from a distance, how this plays out.
@Mark (kitteh): ““unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation” means it only need be unified by some, not all, of those elements, and so volumes e.g. in the same setting with different characters count for the length/no. of volumes/2016 eligibility requirements, but what do others think?”
I read it the same way. “elements such as” means to me that they’re examples, not a required list that much all be fulfilled. If it’s supposed to mean all are required, then it should be written “unified by plot, characters, setting, presentation, etc.” IMHO that is.
That doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily nominate something with different characters, but I’m not sure I’ll nominate anything. I’m kinda against this category. But I’ll look at stuff I read in 2016 and see.
Hmm, “multi-volume” – I know what I think a volume is, but that seems vague. If the only thing out was a short story, but it’s well over the word count, is it eligible as a series?
P.S. Just starting to read Scalzi’s post, and I’m tripping over his first paragraph, as it relates to my question above. The word “novel” appears nowhere in that press release. 😉
ETA: Oh. This is exactly what he’s asking in the next paragraph. 🙂
One thing that would make me more likely to vote for a “Best Series” Hugo at a Business Meeting would be if it included Scalzi’s last bullet point: preventing nomination of a series as Best Novel. In fact, I would 100% show up and vote for that – that’s how much I hate series nominated as novels.
Hmm, my pet peeves about the Hugos, in order:
Most evil: Slating/gaming the Hugos (technically a pet peeve about Sartre, I mean, other people)
Most hated: Nominating a series as a novel
Most disliked: Best Related Work (compare a raven to a writing desk)
Most eye-rolling: Tie between Best Series (if passed) and Best YA (Not-a-Hugo, oh, who are we kidding)
Hmm, is Worldcon 75 going to use the Best Series definition that was first passed at MAC II???
Pingback: Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series | File 770
A list of potential Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series has been compiled here.
If Matt Wallace keeps up the hilarity I’d like to nominate “Sin du jour” after completion (2018). His word count should be just above the limit.
Kendall: Most evil: Slating/gaming the Hugos (technically a pet peeve about Sartre, I mean, other people) Are we feeling a little arcane today?
And why should Helsinki not use the not-yet-totally-formalized definition? ISTM they’re doing public service, providing practical data for a change waiting to be ratified.
@ Chip Hitchcock
I just commented a similar sentiment on the Eligible Series post! What’s the technical term for being cross-thread ninjaed?
Regarding the five-year thing: A test often proposed for suitability of a thing as a Hugo category is ‘are there ten plausible candidates?’ (so that getting on the shortlist will itself be an honour). Now, of course, in any year there will be ten plausible candidates for Best Series. But many of them will be the same plausible candidates from one year to the next. So if Best Series is awarded every year, it will be easier for a thing to qualify for that than for other awards; sooner or later, every successful series that harmonises with the tastes of Hugo voters has a good chance of winning. That’s a reason to award it less often.
I think, though, that in fact the five-year thing was proposed in conjunction with the idea that the award should be for completed series, and there it would definitely make sense, as not enough series are completed every year. The problem with this is that it would work only for the kind of series that moves towards a completion, and while I wouldn’t see that as too much of a problem – those seem to me to be the kind of series which most need an award – it seems generally to be felt that open-ended series should be included too.
Aargh, that should be ‘was first proposed’. Scalzi isn’t suggesting it should be for completed series.
I’d buy the argument about a 5-year cycle making it less likely that the same series would appear every year if we hadn’t gone though a lot of years of Best Pro Artist with very little list-churn.
The last time the series Hugo discussion came around, I noted my personal philosophy that I’d probably be nominating and voting only for completed series. (Which is only the least of the reasons why I wasn’t serious when I mentioned that Alpennia would be eligible.) But I certainly wouldn’t want to see someone try to enshrine that in rules.
It never occurred to me to only nominate or vote for completed series. It’s probably partly because I read a lot of UF, the home of the never ending series, but I think there’s also an underlying expectation that plans, however solid they may seem, are subject to change and that’s just as true in fiction as in life. The only famous example I can think of at the moment is Sherlock Holmes, which isn’t genre, but I’m certain there are other examples.
I’m not trying to start an argument with those who will only be considering completed series, but I am curious as to how you’ll know a series is complete? After all, not only do people change their minds, if a series is sufficiently popular, it isn’t even enough these days for the original author to die.
Same here. I also never occurred to me to nominate/vote only for a completed series. I’m also a big urban fantasy reader BTW, so maybe that influences my view.
Re: “completed series”
This is exactly why I wouldn’t want it to be a formal criterion. As long as I only worry about it for my own personal actions, then “when it feels complete to me” will suffice. A series can “feel complete” in a way that isn’t undermined by subsequent books in the same world coming out. For example, as far as I’m concerned, the Vorkosigan Saga felt “complete” after A Civil Campaign, whereas it wouldn’t have felt complete one book earlier. Obviously my gut feeling would be easier satisfied in a series that has a clearly defined overall multi-book arc, as opposed to the sort of episodic series that one often gets in urban fantasy.
I’d never suggest that anyone else need agree with me on this point, just that it’s how I’m likely to make decisions.
@Chip Hitchcock & @Heather Rose Jones: If either or both of you got the impression I felt Worldcon 75 shouldn’t use the proposed definition (Chip’s reply sounded like maybe he thought that, else why “and why shouldn’t they?” which sounds defensive to me, instead of “no idea, but I hope they do”) . . . well, that’s not what I said. I just asked a question, because I can’t tell from the press release. IMHO it would make the most sense (and be most useful) to use the proposed definition – but I have no idea what they’re going to do.
If neither of you got that impression from my question, then sorry and never mind. Maybe I’m over-reading Chip’s reply to me, even as I fear he over-read my simple question. :-/ Maybe my brain’s not in gear / in overdrive.
@Various: I remember discussions about “completed series,” maybe more than once. I’m not going to add more limitations to the category (if I nominate/vote in it) by limiting it to completed series, because those don’t feel wildly different to me. Contrast with Best Novel, where IMHO a series is a very different thing from a novel, so I’m happy to vote against series finalists in the Best Novel category. But I can sorta understand feeling like it’s tough to nominate/vote for essentially an unfinished work (a series that’s not “complete”). For one thing, what if it continues and really goes downhill? Hmm.
@JJ & @Mike Glyer: Thanks for that list (compilation from JJ & posting by Mike, I presume)! I’ll check it out.
Kendall: I remember discussions about “completed series,” maybe more than once. I’m not going to add more limitations to the category (if I nominate/vote in it) by limiting it to completed series, because those don’t feel wildly different to me.
I think that a series’ status as “Finished” is so ambiguous at this point (consider the many, many series which were supposedly “Finished” and then got later entries, some with the same characters, some in the same universe) that I don’t see any reason to have that be part of my consideration.
What will be part of my consideration is whether I feel that a series has had a satisfying story arc to me (for example, the Vorkosigan Saga), as opposed to one that I feel has not been “done enough yet” (for example, Game of Thrones).