Revisiting the Hugos

Hugo Nominees: 2000

The 2000 Hugo Awards were presented in Chicon 2000, in Chicago—and next year’s Worldcon will be in Chicago again. Maybe a good time to buy a membership!

The Best Novel Hugo went to Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky (post), a space opera about interstellar slower than light civilization, awesome aliens, and a future with finite technological advances. It’s an excellently written book doing exactly what I always want science fiction to do, and it’s an excellent Hugo winner. It’s in print, another volume in the series is coming out next month, and it’s in the library (the Grande Bibliotheque upholding our library standard as usual) in English and French.

There are four other nominees and I’ve read three of them.

The one I haven’t read is Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio. I haven’t read it because it was a near future technothriller about “something sleeping in our genes waking up,” which just never seemed appealing enough to pick up. I’d have read it if I’d been voting, but I wasn’t and I didn’t. It’s in print and in the library in English and French.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign (post) is another volume in the Vorkosigan series, it’s a science fiction romantic comedy, it’s very enjoyable but it doesn’t stand alone very well and it isn’t really breaking new ground. However, seeing this nominated shows that the image of nominating fans as stuck-in-the-mud older geeky males had pretty much evaporated by the end of the twentieth century. It’s in print, and it’s in the library in English and French. (And the French title is Ekaterin.)

Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (post) an absolutely brilliant generational novel about cryptography and society and the possibility of keeping secrets. People argued that it wasn’t SF, but it does contain the philosphers’ stone, which makes it fantasy. I really love it and I think it’s an excellent nominee, the kind of quirky unusual thing I like to see on these lists. It’s in print and in the library in English and French—in three volumes.

I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because it was nominated. It’s a boarding school story which brilliantly replaces the class snobbery books like this had in my childhood with snobbery over magical talent. I thought it was pretty good, and I went back and read the first two books afterwards. I may finish the series one of these days, or maybe not. The phenomenon of the worldwide passion these books inspire leaves me completely baffled. It’s in print and in the library in English, French, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, and in braille in English and French, making it the best library represented Hugo nominee of all time.

So, two women and three men, four Americans and one Brit, one fantasy children’s book about wizard school, one space opera, one near future technothriller, one generational novel about cryptography and a planetary SF romance. What else might they have chosen?

SFWA’s Nebula Award went to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents, which wasn’t Hugo eligible in 2000. None of their other nominees are Hugo eligible either!

The World Fantasy Award was given to Martin Scott’s Thraxas. Other nominees were: Gardens of the Moon, Steven Erikson, The Rainy Season, James P. Blaylock, A Red Heart of Memories, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Tamsin, Peter S. Beagle, A Witness to Life, Terence M. Green.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award went to Deepness, with Darwin’s Radio second, Norman Spinrad’s Greenhouse Summer third, and Jack Williamson’s The Silicon Dagger and Peter Watts’s Starfish receiving honourable mentions.

Starfish would have been an interesting Hugo nominee, but it was an early work—and an early sign of an emerging major talent.

The Philip K. Dick Award was won by Stephen Baxter’s Vacuum Diagrams with a special citation for Jamil Nasir’s Tower of Dreams. Other nominees were Code of Conduct, Kristine Smith, Typhon’s Children, Tony Anzetti, When We Were Real, William Barton.

The Tiptree Award was given to by Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Conquerer’s Child.

The Locus SF Award was won by Cryptonomicon. Other nominees not yet mentioned were Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card, Forever Free, Joe Haldeman, Precursor, C. J. Cherryh, (post) On Blue’s Waters, Gene Wolfe, The Naked God, Peter F. Hamilton, Teranesia, Greg Egan, The Cassini Division, Ken MacLeod, The Martian Race, Gregory Benford, Waiting, Frank M. Robinson, Time: Manifold 1 (US edition Manifold: Time), Stephen Baxter, All Tomorrow’s Parties, William Gibson, Bios, Robert Charles Wilson, The Far Shore of Time, Frederik Pohl, Finity, John Barnes,  Ancients of Days, Paul J. McAuley, Souls in the Great Machine, Sean McMullen, Singer from the Sea, Sheri S. Tepper, The Extremes, Christopher Priest.

I love Precursor but nobody’s going to nominate book 4 in a series that starts out rockily. The Cassini Division would have been a terrific nominee if it had been eligible—staggered US/UK publication probably means it wasn’t.

The Locus Fantasy Award was won by the Harry Potter. Other nominees not yet mentioned: The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett, Fortress of Owls, C. J. Cherryh,  Dark Cities Underground, Lisa Goldstein, The Eternal Footman, James Morrow, Enchantment, Orson Scott Card, Mr. X, Peter Straub, A Calculus of Angels, J. Gregory Keyes, The Marriage of Sticks, Jonathan Carroll, Dragonshadow, Barbara Hambly, Black Light, Elizabeth Hand, The Stars Compel, Michaela Roessner, The Sub, Thomas M. Disch, Saint Fire, Tanith Lee, The Wild Swans, Peg Kerr, Sea Dragon Heir, Storm Constantine, Rhapsody, Elizabeth Haydon.

The Mythopoeic Award went to Tamsin, and the only nominee not yet mentioned was Yves Meynard’s wonderful The Book of Knights.

Is there anything all these awards missed?

There’s Lawrence Watt Evans’s Dragon Weather, a surprisingly original fantasy take on the Count of Monte Cristo, with dragons, Pat Cadigan’s Promised Land, Kage Baker’s Sky Coyote, Walter Jon Williams’s The Rift, Madeleine Robins’s The Stone War, and Amy Thompson’s Through Alien Eyes.

But on the whole, I think this was a year where the nominees did a pretty good job. I’m not excited about Harry Potter, but goodness knows a lot of people are. Really, this is the first year in a long time where there isn’t anything that strikes me as clamouring to be on the shortlist.

Other Categories


  • “The Winds of Marble Arch,” Connie Willis (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “The Astronaut from Wyoming,” Adam-Troy Castro & Jerry Oltion (Analog Jul/Aug 1999)
  • “Forty, Counting Down,” Harry Turtledove (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Hunting the Snark,” Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Son Observe the Time,” Kage Baker (Asimov’s May 1999)

I’d have put the Turtledove first, one of his best stories. And that’s one of Baker’s best as well. By the way, watch this space for an interesting thing I’m hoping to do with some of these Hugo nominated novellas starting in a month or so.


  • “1016 to 1,” James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Jun 1999)
  • “Border Guards,” Greg Egan (Interzone #148 Oct 1999)
  • “The Chop Girl,” Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s Dec 1999)
  • “Fossil Games,” Tom Purdom (Asimov’s Feb 1999)
  • “The Secret History of the Ornithopter,” Jan Lars Jensen (F&SF Jun 1999)
  • “Stellar Harvest,” Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s Apr 1999)

And novelette was having a great year, too.


  • “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur,” Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Jul 1999)
  • “Ancient Engines,” Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 1999)
  • “Hothouse Flowers,” Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “macs,” Terry Bisson (F&SF Oct/Nov 1999)
  • “Sarajevo,” Nick DiChario (F&SF Mar 1999)

In fact all of the short categories were in very good form as they closed out the century.


  • Science Fiction of the 20th Century, Frank M. Robinson (Collectors Press)
  • Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide, Karen Cooper & Bruce Schneier (Rune Press)
  • The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Science of Discworld, Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen (Ebury Press)
  • Spectrum 6: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)

I’m really glad I didn’t have to vote on this. I have no idea how you can compare things this different to rate them. It’s an excellent restaurant guide, I’ve used it, and The Science of Discworld is entertaining and informative. How is the Sandman volume non-fiction? Oh well.


  • Galaxy Quest (DreamWorks SKG; Directed by Dean Parisot; Screenplay by David Howard & Robert Gordon; Story by David Howard)
  • Being John Malkovich (Single Cell Pictures/Gramercy Pictures/Propaganda Films; Directed by Spike Jonze; Written by Charlie Kaufman)
  • The Iron Giant (Warner Bros. Animation; Directed by Brad Bird; Screenplay by Brad Bird & Tim McCanlies, from a book by Ted Hughes)
  • The Matrix (Village Roadshow Productions/Groucho II Film Partnership/Silver Pictures; Written and Directed by Andy & Larry Wachowski)
  • The Sixth Sense (Spyglass Entertainment/Hollywood Pictures; Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan)

I love Galaxy Quest. Indeed I’ve seen the first three of these nominees, and for once that’s three films that actually deserve to be on a Hugo ballot. I’m prepared to take the other two on truat and say that here we have five films that are all Hugo worthy and which it might be hard to choose between. If only that were the case every year! On the whole, I still think Dramatic Presentation delenda est….


  • Gardner Dozois
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Stanley Schmidt
  • Gordon Van Gelder


  • Michael Whelan
  • Jim Burns
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Donato Giancola
  • Don Maitz


  • Locus, Charles N. Brown
  • Interzone, David Pringle
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction, Kathryn Cramer, Ariel Haméon, David G. Hartwell & Kevin J. Maroney
  • Science Fiction Chronicle, Andrew I. Porter
  • Speculations, Kent Brewster


  • File 770, Mike Glyer
  • Ansible, Dave Langford
  • Challenger, Guy H. Lillian III
  • Mimosa, Nicki & Richard Lynch
  • Plokta, Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott


  • Dave Langford
  • Bob Devney
  • Mike Glyer
  • Evelyn C. Leeper
  • Steven H Silver


  • Joe Mayhew
  • Freddie Baer
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Taral Wayne


  • Cory Doctorow
  • Thomas Harlan
  • Ellen Klages
  • Kristine Smith
  • Shane Tourtellotte

Well, an excellent winner. Cory won on short work, his first novel didn’t come out until 2003. He has gone on from strength to strength, including a Hugo nomination in 2009 for Little Brother. He’s clearly a major writer and it’s nice to see him getting the recognition right at the beginning of his career.

Thomas Harlan was nominated on the strength of his first novel, Shadows of Ararat. and he has gone on to publish another novel almost every year since. A good solid Campbell choice.

Ellen Klages had only published short work at the time of her nomination. She has gone on to write some wonderful YA novels and more amazing adult SF and fantasy at short lengths. She’s amazing.

Kristine Smith was clearly nominated on the strength of her well received first novel, Code of Conduct. She won the Campbell Award in 2001. She has published four more novels since.

I wasn’t familiar with Shane Tourtellotte. He seems to have been nominated on the basis of short work in Analog, and he has gone on since to write more short fiction mostly in Analog.

Who else might they have nominated? It’s hard to know who’s eligible, but China Mieville? Peter Watts? Juliet McKenna? Justina Robson? Steven Erickson? They all had first novels out that year. Campbell eligibility is weird, but all of these people were new writers in 2000 and have gone on to become major writers.

This is the last year I’m looking at, but there will be a final post in this series next week summing up the experience, what I have learned from it, and whether and how often I think the Hugo nominees are doing a good job of finding the five best books of the year.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two poetry collections and nine novels, most recently Among Others, and if you liked this post you will like it. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.


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