I’ve shared before that I don’t feel this year’s Hugo Awards ballot truly represents what readers and fans see as the “best” of Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2014. This is certainly a personal opinion, but of the dialogue that has occurred online since the ballot was announced is any indication, I’m not even close to alone in this assessment. In light of this, I’ve been looking for other sources to find great recommendations that might help guide me in finding some of the “best” works that I’ve yet to read. I’ve looked at blogs, I’ve taken recommendations from friends and readers, and I’ve even read some additional works just to see where I think they rate.
One source that I think closely resembles what the Hugo Awards ballot may have looked like if it hadn’t been gamed is the list of Locus Awards Finalists. Like the Hugos, the Locus Awards are also fan-driven, with nominations open to anyone (though additional weight is given to nominations by subscribers of the Locus Online magazine) but some of the categories are different, providing some unique lists and, in some cases, space to recognize additional works (see that Locus subdivides Best Novel into separate Science Fiction and Fantasy categories, where the Hugo does not).
Interestingly, there are only two works on this list that I personally nominated for the Hugo:
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (is on the Hugo ballot)
- City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Despite this, I look through this list and feel far more comfortable with its composition. The nominees here make sense. Many of them are works I’ve heard of or when I look into them further, I can understand why they were nominated. There are no questions of quality for me here and nothing close to the questions surrounding integrity that exist on the Hugo front. I’ll definitely be pulling several titles from this list to read in my spare time (ha!) over the next few months and will be looking forward to seeing who takes home these awards in June.