Nominations for the 2016 Hugo Awards are still a while away, but after the Puppy debacle this year, it seems good to start considering nomination-worthy works sooner rather than later. So here are my suggestions for works to check out, if you haven't already, before nomination season begins.
OK, so YA novels don't really have much of a chance here. But there have been some utterly amazing ones released this year that really deserve recognition.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell -- an absolutely enchanting and utterly feminist Cinderella retelling, with fantastic world-building and a compelling inventor Cinderella. The book is beautiful and lyrical and surprising. (Full review)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab -- a fantastic story about different Londons, lying parallel to one another, and the struggle to keep them safe when evil travels between them. Schwab has an effortless style to her writing, making the characters and their worlds come alive as though she has plucked them from reality. (Full review)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski -- a sequel, which might be a count against it, but definitely worth checking out. Rutkoski is an amazing writing, with rich world-building, complex characters, and an excellent sense of pacing.
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray -- this is what a book should be. This is the second in a series about ghosts and supernatural powers in 1920s New York, and Bray absolutely nails it. Her prose is enchanting and ethereal, the atmosphere as flawless as her characters are flawed, and although it may start a little slow, it comes together into a heart-wrenching, gripping, powerful novel that is difficult to beat. (Full review)
Best Graphic Novel
One suggestion here: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I'm not 100% certain this graphic novel is eligible -- it was previously available on the web, but was first published in print in 2015, with a new epilogue. Either way, I highly recommend that people check it out. It's perfect mix of humor and emotion, and so, so fun to read. (Full review)
Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form
Aka best episode of a TV show. This usually seems to go to Doctor Who or Game of Thrones, so here are some different suggestions.
The 100, particularly Rubicon. This show has a lot of surprising depth and moral complexity, with some really wonderful characters, and I think Rubicon in particular demonstrates the moral challenges and shades of grey that the show is willing to delve into. Really compelling stuff. (Full episode review)
Outlander. I'm sure most people will opt for the finale, but I would recommend the witch trial episode, The Devil's Mark. The show is always beautiful to look at and incredibly well-acted, but this episode in particular had excellent writing, a tight plot, and raised some interesting questions about mob mentality and morality too. (Full episode review)
iZombie. It's hard for me to pick out one particular episode, but let's say the first season finale, Blaine's World. The series has a concept that seems so unlikely to work -- girl is zombie, works in a morgue, has visions of the lives of the people whose brains she eats, used them to solve their murders. But it strikes the perfect balance of comedy and drama, with huge plot twists and excellent character development. Veronica Mars with zombies, basically. (Full S1 review)
Unfortunately, I'll be mostly waiting for other people's lists before diving into things like Best Novella and Best Short Story, since I don't really read those categories on my own.
Unless I can start a movement to nominate Geek and Sundry's Critical Role for Best Related Work, of course. Because that D&D series deserves all the love.