I’m a big believer in trying to read all of the eligible works in a category before voting, 1 but I sometimes, hypocritically vote in some of the “fan” categories for sites or writers I regularly read. Obviously these awards shouldn’t become popularity contests in terms of site readership, but by the same token, unless an institutional website that I follow is nominated, I feel OK rewarding a nominee that I have read consistently. Not really philosophically defensible, but here we are.
1. The Book Smugglers
I don’t read the Book Smugglers as much as I used to, but I religiously go to their mid-year and end of year content, particularly their best of lists. The thing I like most about the book smugglers is that they primarily review SFF that I wouldn’t normally read – younger skewing and more, I don’t know, progressive focused (?!) 2 while still reviewing enough of the big releases (and old school science fiction) to give me a baseline to work off when expanding my horizons. Most importantly though, both Thea and Ana are very good at expressing why they liked books, and are not afraid to look at the warts of works that they are really recommending, as well as consider works outside their wheelhouse.
Given they are now into publishing, this will probably be the last year I give them a small enough to vote for without considering other nominees pass.
1. Abigail Nussbaum
Abigail Nussbaum doesn’t publish that much content on her blog;3 sometimes a month will go by without a post. When she does publish though, what comes out is how much she has thought about the work (be it book, film or TV show). I think there are few authors on the web who are so good at articulating what makes a piece of fiction good or problematic on a substantive level, and even when I find myself disagreeing with her point of view, I almost always feel like I have learnt something new about the piece.
Since I decided to vote in the Hugos this year, I have put off a number of her “reading round ups” until after I completed my reviews. For a clear example of the quality of her discussion, I submit her review of “Too Like the Lightning“, which covers broadly the same ground as my review,4 but with vastly more depth.