Art award helps, but it can’t make the tarnished 2015 Hugo Awards shine

I tried to read the short story nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards. I really did. I went to the list blind–meaning that I did not know whether or not the nominees I read were on the Sad/Rabid Puppies slate or not. However, after the first two nominees I picked up seriously disappointed me (and I shall not tell you which ones), I gave up. Of course, I know that I won’t appreciate every worthy piece of writing that is out there, so if you did find one or all of this year’s short story nominees inspiring, then great! I hope your favorite story wins.

My second attempt to look into what the Hugo Awards 2015 might bring to speculative fiction/science fiction/fantasy/horror was to look at the nominees for the Best Professional Artist category. The nominees are

*Big shout out to Rachel Neumeier for her post, and the links to these artists’ work.

I’m not an art expert, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. Let’s start with with the don’t likes: 1) amateurish cartoons, 2) boobs in my face, 3) trenchcoats. That about covers it. I try to keep an open mind, but even that basic criteria eliminates Carter Reid and Alan Pollack from my consideration.

Submerged City by Julie Dillon

Submerged City by Julie Dillon

Julie Dillon’s work is saturated with color and hope. It’s refreshing and different from a lot of art created for speculative fiction. I particularly like how she illustrates water, as in “Submerged City” here. If you’re a fan of Dillon’s work, Kiri Østergaard Leonard has a terrific interview with her that you should check out.

Kirk DouPonce’s work has that sharp, live-model-with-an-illustrated-background style that one sees on lots of YA covers. I like his work titled “Alice”.

Much of Nick Greenwood’s work seems rough to me, as if he hadn’t quite finished polishing his drafts, but I did like this piece.

Amethyst Evolution by Nick Greenwood

Amethyst Evolution by Nick Greenwood

All in all, I wasn’t blown away by any of the pieces I saw. If I were voting, Dillon’s work is the most deserving of the award in my opinion, but it seems a shame to give the award to her again when she was honored just last year, and there is sooooo much great art out there both on covers and online that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This year’s nominees for best professional artist are not bad, but I am damning them with faint praise. The situation seems to underscore that the Hugo Awards have lost their way. Everyone who loves speculative fiction needs to talk it out at Sasquan and bring some suggestions forward for fixing the Hugos overall, so we can increase, not reduce, the audience.

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